Owning our ability to create healthy boundaries is a radical act of self-care that allows us to reclaim our power and protects us from those who drain us
When it comes to Energy Vampires, BOUNDARIES are the key!!
One of the most powerful steps anyone can take to evade the dangers of energy vampires is to set up healthy and consistent boundaries. Establishing boundaries is not a skill that most empaths possess. We tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and often set ourselves up to be used by others.
But once we see the pattern, we can change it. And the result is far better health and relationships on all levels.
Here’s an example:
One of my friends, we’ll call her Carol, recently met the man of her dreams, we’ll call him Jeff. Both Jeff and Carol are divorced and have adult children. And as is commonly the case, Jeff’s former spouse Joyce has all the characteristics of an energy vampire. Despite the fact that she and Jeff divorced 29 years ago, Joyce still blames Jeff for all her problems and continually complains about him to their adult children. She has never remarried or even had a long-term relationship. Jeff’s adult children have trouble dealing with her, but still feel as though they must divide their time equally between she and Jeff when they are in the area (Jeff’s children live out of state).
This past summer, Jeff’s daughter Sibyl planned to visit her father at Carol’s home. Now this is where things got interesting. Carol had not only read Dodging Energy Vampires, she herself had also been on the front lines of this kind of relationship, having divorced a very narcissistic man 20 years before meeting Jeff. She had also been through some other energy vampire/empath type relationships with business associates and colleagues (yes, they come in all forms).
Needless to say, she knew a thing or two about her own tendency to be people-pleasing and empathetic. She also felt badly for Sibyl and her struggles with her mother. Carol wanted to be a healing figure in Sibyl’s life and knew that this was important to Jeff. After all, Jeff had spent decades trying to be the parent who made up for the difficulty that his former wife kept creating in the life of his children.
When the time came for the visit, Sibyl wanted her mother Joyce to drive her to Carol’s home after her visit with her mother. Sibyl shared this plan with her father — and Jeff mentioned this to Carol. And this turned out to be a major turning point for Carol and Jeff. She wanted to make things easy and comfortable for Sibyl and her visit. But at the same time, she found herself feeling very uncomfortable with the prospect of having Joyce come to her home. She realized that having Joyce anywhere near her or her home was a significant boundary violation. And she had to stand up for herself on this — even at the risk of the inconvenience for Sibyl or Jeff’s discomfort.
She also knew that, in the past, Jeff would have very likely asked her to bend a bit on this to make things more convenient for his daughter. Not only that, but she herself would have talked herself out of her own discomfort with the usual thoughts like…
What could it hurt? I can suck it up and tolerate meeting Joyce at least once. It would make it so much easier for Sibyl.
But this time, Carol’s tendency to just ‘go along to get along’ was gone. Or — in the words of the country song, ‘Her Give a Damn Was Busted’.
And so she told Jeff that Joyce was not welcome anywhere near her home — now, or in the future. Carol had heard far too many stories of Jeff’s life with Joyce. And she was no longer willing to risk bringing that kind of negative energy into her home — or her relationship with Jeff. She knew she was taking a risk by standing up for herself and her boundaries. Growth of any kind almost always feels uncomfortable at first. And many people — especially empaths — tend to feel guilty when we stand up for ourselves.
But Carol stood up for herself this time — even at the risk of disappointing Jeff and his daughter. She had come too far in her own healing and self-care to allow herself to go back to being a doormat — no matter how subtle. And here’s the good news. Carol’s taking a stand for healthy boundaries between Jeff’s ex-wife and his adult children and her, actually improved their relationship and brought in more intimacy and love than before. It was a significant turning point for both of them — given that both of them had had very significant relationships with energy vampires.
Yes — healing is possible. But first you have to know what you’re dealing with, understand your own empathetic nature — and then take action to protect your own energy and personal space.
This makes all the difference!! And can change the lives of everyone involved.
No is a complete sentence.~ Anne Lamott
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