A few months ago, I final read Dr. Christine Northrup’s book, Dodging Energy Vampires. It had significant meaning not only for my clients but for my personal life. I have had significant trouble maintaining my own energy around certain people and it took me a long time to realize that I am an empath. Like many empaths, I had to learn the hard way and undo the damaging conditioning done by our society that always referred to me as “too sensitive.”
Yet, rather than feel validated as I read this book, I felt that there was a slight tone of negativity that made me believe, for just a hot second, that I must be stupid for not realizing that there are toxic people in the world. We all know there are. What I’ve learned from my practice is that the majority of these people need healing too. The conventional advice to simply stay away from all people who you identify as an “energy vampire” seems to promote a dualistic view that people are either all good energy or all bad energy.
And that’s not realistic.
Having worked with domestic violence and sexual assault trauma victims (and at times, perpetrators), I’ve learned that people will be open or closed to intervention at different points in their life. A custody battle will turn highly contentious with a narcissist involved but the system (if it is working correctly) can intervene and make a statement. Does it always happen? No. The most toxic energy vampires are master manipulators but that does not mean we should run and hide in a cave our entire lives. Some of the most toxic men I’ve come into contact with have also been the most hurt and damaged by their own relationship history (You can watch an episode of Mindhunters and listen to the serial killed Ed Kemper talk about his mother – just saying). They are trying to survive as much as you and I are.
I like to think that the tone of Dr. Northrup’s book is a familiar one. I’ve certainly tried to save clients from bad decisions by being more direct in session. Yet, from my experience, people must walk his or her own path. They must learn and when they are ready for change, we can all be there to cheer for them. What the toxic vampire needs is for his or her victim to grow strong enough to reject them so they can be forced to begin their healing process. While some will never choose to heal in this lifetime, it doesn’t mean that, as an empath, we don’t take the opportunity to do our own work.
Assessing, acknowledging and separating yourself from toxic vampires is only the first step in healing.
What needs to happen as you have this opening to realization is a profound and deep healing process that starts with finding your authentic voice and bolstering your insecurities. It means diving deep into your own dark side, swimming in what is there, and emerging from the other side with the knowledge of what it is about you that finds these people intriguing and attractive. An energy vampire is essentially the Universe telling you that it is time to get to work on YOU.
If you miss the call or do not heed the warning, you will repeat the process with someone even more toxic (Freud called it the repetition compulsion). It will keep happening until you are strong enough to leave this dynamic behind. When you reach that level of strength, you will no longer need to blame, criticize or judge the vampire. You will feel safe and be able to acknowledge that he or she is simply on their own path and that you have the CHOICE to decide if you will be a part of their own healing journey. Choosing to not be at this stage of healing creates a sense of well-being and empowerment.
The types of relationships that give us the most trouble as empaths are karmic ones. They are the ones that feel magnetizing and amazing – like you’ve known each other for years on the first date. Most often, if we have not done our healing work, these are not soulmate relationships. They are here to wake you up and teach you something. Often, these relationships will be with energy vampires. So while it is always good to run the other way, without doing the work to heal, you will never truly be free. Often, they also will never leave you alone! This is especially true if you are living in a culture where abuse and violence is a natural part of the way men and women communicate.
Energy vampires are not pleasant people. They are, however, our greatest teachers and the people who probably need the most compassion. But it is not the job of an empath to take care of them. On the contrary, it is the job of the empath to fight like hell to heal so that his or her authentic voice can be heard when they set their firm boundaries with loving kindness. It is the job of the empath to grow when they are being held back. It can be so easy to resign oneself to life “as it is” but with the advent of technology, a re-emergence of spirituality, and a heck of a lot more knowledge about energy medicine, we don’t have to sit around and hope that things get better – we can take action.
Finally, part of the healing process is radical self-care. Energy vampires show up to signal to you that you are. not taking care of yourself. You may be physically unhealthy, drinking too much wine, not exercising or working 90 hour weeks. If you are an empath, heed the sign that YOU need to make some life changes. The energy vampire is not there to help you change but if you can recognize his or her purpose, you may realize that they are a Universal gift and a real opportunity for transformation. Even if you are living in a community where physical escape is not possible, you can transform your emotions and your mind. No captor is ever really able to take your soul if you know that you have a greater life purpose. I like to think that as empaths, part of our journey is learning how to care and protect ourself AND to speak our truth.
I like to send gratitude to all the people I have identified as an energy vampire in my meditation practice. I will not be spending personal time with them but if they are showing up or around in some way, rather than get defensive and judgmental, I let go and say thank you. They have been my greatest teachers.
Dr. Jennifer Rhodes
Licensed Psychologist and Founder of Rapport Relationships
Dr. Jennifer Rhodes is a relationship expert and licensed psychologist. She provides dating strategy, consultation, and date coaching services to clients all over the world. Dr. Rhodes is a frequently sought out media expert on the topics of seduction, sensuality, dating, divorce, and relationships.