I’ve been reading this book. It’s about vampires, but not the kinds that drive around in expensive convertibles and charter planes to remote islands; I’m talking about the ones who suck you dry of any sense you have and leave you nearly lifeless. These creatures are called Emotional Vampires.
Not just annoying people, but darkly seductive. Emotional Vampires draw you in with charm, beauty, talent and pulse pounding excitement. Then they drain you – not of blood but of every last drop of emotional energy.
I’m reading it because I have always had to battle my own perceptions of people who hurt me in my life. I used to think that bad people happened to me, but after reading this I realized that I let bad people in and worse yet, I made it impossible for them to leave. I was in denial about my own contributions to my messed up life for so long that I couldn’t see the part I played. I’m not saying that I wasn’t a victim, but many times I allowed myself to become victimized. I let things happen to me that never should have.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself so far.
I have not believed in myself enough. If it looks bad, sounds bad and feels bad, it’s bad. Other people know instinctively when things are wrong, and they don’t second guess themselves, but I have. Whatever it is, I have to trust my intuition. I remember forcing myself to believe that something wasn’t true even if all the signs were lit up in front of me like a freeway billboard. I would consciously make the decision to ignore the facts in exchange for what I felt was security. It was more than being gullible, really. I wanted to be wrong so many times. Wrong about love that wasn’t deserving, trust that was misplaced, and insecurities that I refused to see in myself.
I am highly intelligent, but infinitely stupid. My sister called me that once, in the middle of a breakdown and it made me stop, frozen in anger. How dare she! The audacity to call me stupid when she didn’t know what I was feeling. She couldn’t see why I was crying. What I recognized as loss she saw as deliverance. I invited lies and distortions to control my emotions and then I acted accordingly. It’s not so much self-doubt as it is my desire to believe what others see, thinking they may be more objective than I am. I never once considered that I was throwing my hair back and inviting vampires to go for the jugular.
This year, like no other year in my life I am different. I am in control. I can face my own deficiencies and be okay with them. I can also admit to my own faults and weaknesses and love myself anyway. I can look at someone and say with perfect confidence that I won’t let what they think of me affect how I see myself, even if it hurts that they think that way. I can feel something immensely painful and decide to move on. My feelings are spontaneous, my thoughts sometimes faulty and that’s okay, but I control my actions. That’s pretty damn good.
For those of you who think I may be talking about my divorce, I am just a little, but that’s just a teeny part of it. It was a hard time in my life, but not the worst thing I have ever had to endure. It was also the best thing that ever happened to me. A very respected friend once said I would die if I stayed in that marriage, and he wasn’t far from the truth. I was dying, year by year, month by month, day by day. I almost died, but I didn’t. It saved my life and I am grateful for it.
I am looking back on years of letting myself fall prey to people and their motives rather than being led my own. Even as I write this I think of the times just in the past few weeks that I recognized a moment that could have gone awry with emotion and took control of it. I feel a sense of pride that I can see these things as clearly as I see my own depression and separate truth from fiction. It doesn’t mean things don’t hurt, it just means I know they won’t hurt forever. Jennifer, the Bloggess said it in her post once, depression is a liar!
Now that I’ve thoroughly digressed from my original post, let me just say that I haven’t read this book to discredit anyone or to say that everyone out there is out to get me (or you). In examining the unhealthy relationships that I have been involved in and preparing myself to battle the future ones, I have also been able to identify my own tendencies to manipulate people. I am what the book calls an OCD Vampire. There’s an old saying about the journey being way more important that the destination. For me, the destination is everything. In fact, I could drive myself straight into a tornado just to prove it can be done and done right. For people like me, the journey becomes fraught with worry and intricate detail; so much so that getting to the destination pefectly consumes me. I must learn to prioritize for my life and not for the present. I must also learn to let things go, to be playful, to praise instead of criticize and judge less, lest I be judged. Most importantly, to love without boundaries, even when I am afraid.