Driving the Stake Through Emotional Vampires

I seemed to disappoint him. “Sweetheart, your hair has no shape to it,” he’d say, or, “You could stand to lose a few pounds.” And, when I hadn’t eaten all day, the truly mortifying “Oh, darling, your breath!”

I could improve on dental hygiene but I was never going to morph into one of the tall, athletic women he favored. I was petite with soft curves that were resistant to cultivating any hard edges. Through our early interactions, I came to expect that regret after sex was a normal default, as well as a malaise that stuck around for days. Only later, through my evolution as a woman, would I come to understand that this uncomfortable feeling in my gut signaled I had sold myself out. Like muscle memory, it would be activated time and time again, until I learned how to guard against it. But back then, I was putty in his hands.

Out of curiosity or maybe boredom, I’d looked him up on a recent trip I made to attend a wedding. In the 10 years since we’d last been in touch he had been through a difficult divorce, and what began as a catch-up lunch turned into another round of dating. As a grown woman, I was much less puppy-like and wondered how I’d fare with him. Could I dance close to that old flame without getting burned? The short answer was no. The holiday fling had another awkward ending and I kept ruminating on it. Once again I’d let him have too much power over me and beat myself up over it. Vampire or not, I wanted to be free of that negative dynamic once and for all.

“Really see him and feel his energy, before you say goodbye,” the shaman said.

I did my part and conjured him up, as instructed.

“Hold onto the thick cord that binds the two of you. Now, imagine taking a heavy sword and slicing through it and send him away with love,” she directed. “Then take the part you’re left with and rub it into your belly, so you don’t create any psychic wounds.”

I cut through the imaginary cord and sent him on his way. With love.

When it was over, I felt elated.