I did a round up of all the Energy Vampires in my life years ago when I got serious about healing. I realized my neck was available to too many hungry little suckers.
I had grown up believing that I was only valuable if I was giving myself away. My worth hinged on making other people feel good—my feelings and needs were secondary.
This kind of conditioning is nothing new in our culture, especially for girls, and it’s something all of us in the helping industries have to keep a close eye on. The desire to be of service needs to come from the soul, not the wound/ego, and it can never be a surrogate for our own self-love.
When you lay a boundary down with an Energy Vampire, they tend to freak out and slime you. You’re suddenly “mean”, “cruel”, “selfish”, “unloving”, “withholding”. These are not truths about you. They are projections and tantrums from the person who is struggling to accept the transition from all-you-can-eat-buffet to a thoughtfully portioned meal plan.
As is true with all transformations, if we take the surface level of the experience as the whole truth, we will stop short and fail to cross the threshold into new terrain. We are challenged, when we dedicate ourselves to changing, to go deeper than the initial feelings. They are like ripples on the top of the lake. There is something more, something wiser further down.
The truth is, it may indeed feel mean when we first start working with boundaries in our relationships. Our work is to go beyond the discomfort of these feelings and to remember that they will have a particular hold on us if we weren’t raised thinking of ourselves as people who are allowed to ask for space or dictate the terms of our own lives.
There is a paradox here: Our feelings, while sacred signposts in our lives, don’t always tell us the whole truth.
My meditation teacher used to say, “Remember to remember!” This is a bit of a riddle, but it’s not an impossible one. We can remember, in the midst of big changes, that we are allowed to TRUST ourselves to know the difference between our own true feelings vs. the stuff someone else is projecting onto us. Just because they’re laying it down doesn’t mean we have to pick it up.
If you’re practicing boundary work for the first time, be gentle with yourself and know that you are precious. The odds of being born are around 1 in 400 trillion. You have the right to regard yourself as rare and sacred and to protect your energy intentionally.