Wednesday, August 29, 2012
My Mistake With A Vampire
We all make mistakes. Let me tell you about one of mine.
Recently I went unconscious for a nanosecond and picked up the phone even though I knew it was a call from someone who I experience as draining my energy (no psychic ability involved on my part, just call display.) Energetically it's a vampire-prey relationship (which I’ve been understanding more as I read Unholy Hungers: Encountering the Psychic Vampire in Ourselves & Others by Jungian analyst Barbara E. Hort.) I ended contact with this person a couple of months ago when I realized it was the only way I could not feel fed upon.
I’m not saying there aren't other ways to stop energy-draining patterns in a relationship, just that I could not find one in this case. I’d tried being explicit about what I could not do, being brief, making contact less frequently, only having contact when others were around, being open-hearted and compassionate, being fierce and direct. I’d looked at my part, and I’d had some insights. I’d understood what was happening and why, but the energy drain continued. So, I stopped having contact. I didn’t offer a lot of explanation (had been down that road many times in trying to shift things.) I just said (as much to myself as the other really,) “I’m done.”
We can all, at times, be unintentionally draining to others- yes, there’s a little shadow vampire in everyone, and yes, some folks’survival strategies lean more this way than others. Sometimes it’s a pattern in a particular relationship- as it is with this person and me. When we didn’t have contact- as happened recently when I was on retreat for two weeks- I noticed a real and sustained increase in my own energy.
No one likes to lose a habitual source of energy and comfort. So, I wasn’t surprised when the phone calls continued. I did not pick up. I deleted the messages. Each time I sent a quiet prayer for the other, that they find what they need and know they are loved. (Yes, you can love someone and know that contact is a bad idea.)
But recently, inexplicably, I picked up the phone one evening when it rang, knowing it was this person. It may have been a moment of weakness or a moment of strength, a moment when I was too tired to think straight or thought I could “handle” it. Whatever it was, for an instant I went unconscious about what I know. Sometimes that’s all it takes to revert to old habits- a moment of unconsciousness. As we spoke I could feel my energy plummet as the other's voice became increasingly animated. It was very strange- like watching water being siphoned from one container to another. I got off the phone in seven minutes, and that’s when things got interesting.
My inner critic went nuts: “Well, that was brilliant! Finally get the energy to write and just throw it away. How stupid was that!? And now the door is open. It’ll be a long spiral down into days in bed. And the calls will keep on coming. . . . “
You can always count on the inner critic to start catastrophizing. I was disappointed in myself and, for a moment, more than a little scared that there might be some truth in the critic’s dire predictions. I lay in bed and took long slow breaths into my belly, asking myself, “What is actually happening in my body?”
I could feel a dull sensation behind my eyes- like a black fog- and a heaviness in my legs. I realized that the precious feeling of being solidly awake and embodied that had been so vivid in the last few weeks had dimmed a little- where it had been, in the centre of my body, there was a wobbly feeling. The critic chimed in again, but I over-rode it, keeping the tone of my inner self-talk gentle but firm.
“It’s okay. I made a mistake. I’ve made this one before and survived and regained equilibrium. This time was brief, so recovery will be speedy. I am learning. Learning takes time. Old habits die hard, and new ones take time to establish. Being fully conscious in every second is not possible, so mistakes are inevitable. Nothing dire has happened. I caught it quickly, and I know how to recover from much worse. It will be okay.”
And slowly, I relaxed and moved into a deep, restorative sleep.
We all make mistakes. What matters is what we do with them. Brene Brown's research shows that we do not learn more or learn faster if we are shamed by ourselves or others. The shamanic path in which I was trained emphasised the willingness to learn from our mistakes, and one of the things we can learn is to offer ourselves tenderness and mercy, and then- we begin again with renewed energy and deepened wisdom.
Oriah (c) 2012