Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Emotional Vampires

In Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, there is a character, Dandelo, who unlike the traditional vampires that feed off of blood, feeds off emotions; capturing and torturing others with laughter, sorrow and fear. I’m coming to believe that these are in fact, not fictional characters.

There are a handful of people in my life, probably a couple reading this, that are slowly draining me of any feeling and leaving me exhausted. These individuals require so much attention and need, I cringe when I see them on my caller I.D., get a text or email from them or the worst thing…showing up unannounced at the door. I know I’ll be spending the next hour or two being drained from the complaining, “Woe is me, no one has it worse off than me” stories. There is something that every one of these people have in common and that is laziness and poor social skills. They all want others to do their work, give them money and pretty much have others live through their crap.

I know for a fact that this is mostly my fault. I have a thing for helping unfortunate people in need. I blame my mother for giving me such a tender heart for the downtrodden, because she has the same benevolent mind: because we have so much, we must learn to give to others. Unfortunately, I don’t have it in my mind or soul to say “NO”.

One of these “vampires” has even been recently assigned by the Bishop of my church. He told me that this woman doesn’t have any friends and since I’m a friendly person and I get along with most people, that I should comfort her and introduce her to others. Well, I know why she doesn’t have friends; she’s about the most annoying, non-reliant person who holds a grudge for years over the smallest thing. I’m talking about how unforgiving she can be over something that was said to her in the 2nd grade by a classmate (I wish I was kidding about this). Most people that I introduce to her tell me that they do not want to be around her again, because she is so draining and very unpleasant to be around, but for some reason I stick around because I feel that everyone deserves a friend, even if it means making myself miserable.

Another individual is a man in his 40’s that has a family, a good job but for some reason has the need to borrow money from me because of his "financial hardship". I find myself a huge sucker for him because he tells me stories about how his children are in need, even though he lies to get welfare and money from his church that pays for his rent, his car and his food. I’m a sap when it comes to kids. Even though I know he’s lying through his teeth, I always have that scraping at the back of my mind “What if the kids ARE suffering?”

These are just two of the people that are taking a major toll on me. I honestly don’t know what to do, because of my guilt factor in saying “No”. I know that my health is taking a toll because of these people, as well as my pocketbook, but even worse, I'm slowly turning into one of them by complaining about life.

I’m looking for any kind of advice to deal with people like this. Better yet, I’m looking for a doctor that will prescribe me a 3 month vacation.

Quirky Quote: As none can see the wind but in its effects on the trees, neither can we see the emotions but in their effects on the face and body. ~Nathaniel LeTonnerre


Debra said...

I know exactly the kind of people you're talking about. In fact, I have written abuot the energy/emotional vampires before. I fall victim to them, and sometimes I worry about becoming one of them when I let people in on my troubles.

The most important thing you can do for your health is to say no. Of course, for some people (like me) that isn't an easy thing to do. But it really is empowering when you do that.

If you can't do that, you can set limits. Be firm and stick to them. You have to take care of yourself or you can't take care of others. For example, I was sick of my ex-best friend sapping all my energy and holding grudges and being childish, etc. I was sick of her flaking out on me only to expect me to drop everything for her. So I set a limit and said, "If this doesn't happen, then we won't be friends anymore" in so many words. Well, she had agreed to that arrangement and then flaked, so that was that.

You can tell the woman, "I'll introduce you to people if you _____." That might be tricky because sometimes people don't want to hear what they need to hear like, "Sometimes you come on really strong and that can be off-putting" or whatever. Same with the man. "I'll LEND you $40, but you have to pay me back before I will lend you any more. I have to take care of myself. It's not that I don't care. But perhaps I'm wondering if it would be more helpful to go over some budgeting. And that doesn't have to be with me, but I think you could use a long-term fix like that more than you could use a little extra money."

Good luck!

orangemily said...

I like your quote!
You need more friends that take care of you! Sorry I'm in the middle neither draining nor helping.
You are way too kind, try taking care of yourself first!

Heather said...

I think you need to try and distance yourself a little bit more from them if it is pulling you down. There is nothing wrong with being someone's friend that needs one, but you can't let them pull you down. Some of my friends have a mutual, unspoken rule. If there is someone they don't really want to do something with one on one, they say something like, "I think I'm doing something with Heather, do you want to come with us." This way it's not a one on one session. This will allow you another realease. You are still being their friend, but you are not stuck. If you need someone to go with you when you are with this friend, I am willing to come. I would even invite others to join if needed.

As far as the money. If he is lying to others to get money then he's probably doing the same to you. I know it can be hard to say no, especially when there are children involved. Rather than giving him money, what about giving him groceries? I think to pull away from that more easily without him feeling betrayed. You need to say, "I can't give you money right now, but I can give you a bag of food." Something that will still help the situation, but you know where the money is being spent. As time goes on, and he realizes you aren't going to give him money, this behavior may stop. If it continues, then you can ask him a series of questions to find out why he is needing money. I can help you with the questions so it doesn't come off too strong, and feel to you or him like he is being attacked or judged.

I know these things are easier said than done, but it willk be worth it in the long run to do something now.

Debra said...

Ooh... I like Heather's money idea too. I try to give food or something like that to people with signs that say they're hungry. One time I gave a couple men around my age some groceries and the rest of a gift card. They seemed gracious, but they just put the food away instead of eating any of it.