You know the type – they suck the emotional life right out of you. They are the victims, the needy; the person with a hole in their heart you can never hope to fill. Most of us know someone like this, many of us are in a relationship or related to at least one. Some of us work for one. No matter what the connection they never seem to get enough, you can never seem to give enough.
They come in many shapes and sizes – from the passive-aggressive relative who constantly makes you feel guilty about not paying enough attention to them, to the romantic interest who can’t live without you and needs you to constantly emotionally carry them. Emotional vampires are everywhere. They are takers.
There are three kinds of relationships in this world. There are those people who, after you have spent time together you feel refreshed, more alive. There are those people who are neutral; being with them is a wash. Then there are the vampires. They drain your emotional tank, and if you are not careful they will suck you dry.
For years I did not understand the importance of my emotional tank. I was taking martial arts and working out. I was reading and learning and growing as a person. I had an active and engaging spiritual/philosophical life. So why was I battling a low grad depression? Why didn’t I care about people like I used to? I didn’t understand that I had an emotional tank that I was constantly taking withdrawals from and not replenishing. I had no one who was filling my tank. Like many of you I was raised to get much of my self-esteem from helping people. Nothing was more important than being needed and meeting needs. Unfortunately I had no way of knowing that there is an endless number of people who wanted a piece of me. There is literally no end to the number of people who need help.
Those of you who are caretakers have it the worst. In my groups I will turn to the women at this point and ask how many of them are mothers? Undoubtedly most will raise their hands. Then I will usually say, “And you moms are the worst.” Why? Because mothers seem to be trained to be givers, to love and live sacrificially. They are the worst at self-care. They are the least selfish. While this is a wonderful character trait is can be a psychologically damaging way to live. You are constantly giving with regard to your own emotional tank. Is it any wonder than that so many middle-aged people are battling meaninglessness and depression? So many of us have emotionally burned out. We have nothing left to give.
So I ask you the same question I endeavor to ask myself on a regular basis – How is your emotional tank? Are you taking care of yourself? Do you equate self-care with selfishness? Do you feel guilty doing things for yourself?
Have any vampires in your life?
- 9 Warning Signs That Your Friends Are Emotional Vampires (toddlohenry.com)
- Ever Been Bitten By A Vampire? (lovecoach.com.au)
- Beware the emotional vampires who feast on our souls at work and in life (theprovince.com)