Monday, April 16, 2012

Beware the Joy Vampires

Vampires, vampires…they’re everywhere these days. I’m not talking about movies and make believe. I’m talking about the real ones. They don’t look like this guy. Oh no, they’re much scarier than that. 
They are stealth. 
They will sneak into your life disguised as friends and family members, and then when you least expect it- ZAP. You’re drained of all your joy and life energy, and you have no idea why or how it happened.

A vampire will suck all the joy out of a room before you know what’s hit you. Every time you see her, you leave feeling depressed and tired. You no longer want to share good news with him because it seems pointless. But go on a rampage about someone or something and the vampire taps right into that vein with you, until you both are spiraling downward. Beware…for if he bites you, you become like him.

Years ago, I had a friend*- well, I thought she was a friend because she was there during a dark period in my life. But as I got stronger and began pulling myself up out of the muck, she turned on me. I was so hurt and confused. My therapist said this to me: A true friend is not someone who only stands by you when you’re down, it’s someone who stands by you when you’re up.

This friend wanted me to wallow in misery with her. This friend didn't want to see me happy.

A true friend wants to see you at your best, is happy to see you strong. True friends celebrate their victories together. True friendship gives a symbiotic energy that both people benefit from.

Joy vampires thrive in fear. They don’t have the emotional courage to stand up for their own lives, so when they see your strength and happiness, they’ll want to suck it right out of you.

I used to want to save the Joy Vampires. They were so damaged and sad. I must not be alone in this sickness because our culture romanticizes vampires. But if my own Joy and Purpose were to survive, I had to think about self-preservation. What did I want my epitaph to read one day? How about this: 

“She lived an authentic life and spread joy in the world.”  

If I’m going to live that life, I have to guard my positive energy. If I allow Joy Vampires in, I won’t be able to do it. And I’m not just talking about them being in my life physically, I’m talking about allowing them space in my head as well - that is where they are most stealth. Vampires you haven’t seen in twenty years could still be sucking your life’s blood simply through your thoughts.

I have a personal remedy for ridding myself of vampires, and its simple, really.  I release them.

I’ve held vampires captive in my head through my own anger- an anger that sunk its hooks in and wouldn’t budge.  But here is the garlic, the stake through the heart, the silver bullet that finally worked: I wished them peace, healing, and I let them go.

I also added a ritual, because I’m a concrete thinker, and like to do something physically to make clear what I’m doing. I write the vampires names on a piece of paper. I hold the paper in against my heart and say a loving prayer, letting them go. Then I burn the paper in my fireplace, and watch the wisps of smoke go upward, out the chimney, away from me.

“I wish you peace, I wish you peace…” I say until the smoke is gone.

I need to do this from time to time, because, as I said, vampires are stealth. They’ll sneak in through an open window, riding on the tails of anger, through a crack in my armor. And once again, with love and peace, I send them packing.

No one comes into this life wanting to be an emotional vampire. They were bitten by someone else and didn’t know how to free themselves. I know they need peace and healing as much as I do. I also know it’s not my job to save them, and I’m no longer sitting around waiting for anyone to save me. I make the choice to save myself. I make the choice to live a good life, because maybe if I do that, maybe, just maybe, someone else will witness it, and want to step out of their own dark shadows.

* Because I've already had two friends call and ask who the above referenced friend is (be assured, it's none of you, my darling ones!) - I'll just say it was 16 years ago. This woman spiraled downward so far she sadly became an addict and overdosed. A very tragic story. Ultimately, she turned on herself. 


  1. Thinking about this very thing this morning-- excellent. I think the word you want in two places is "stealthy." xj

    1. I think too many of us can relate to this one, Jenne! Thanks for the input.

  2. ADDENDUM: This post has ruffled some feathers, and let me assure you it was meant only with love. We all have times when we are down and sad- Lord knows I've had more of my share and through this blog, you all held me up through it. I don't mean that I avoid people who are sad sometimes. We're all sad, and I'm happy to be a shoulder and lend an ear. That doesn't bring me down at all.
    When I reference vampires, I'm talking about people who want to steal your joy, who don't wish you well, don't want to see you succeed, who are mean spirited and backstabbing. Fortunately, I no longer have people like that in my life.

    Love, love and more love to all of you....
    And peace to the vampires.


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