Don't be hypnotized by an emotional vampire.
Being hypnotized by an emotional vampire can take us pretty deep. Deep enough that we can stay under their spell for years and years before we recognize that they are hypnotizing us.
What is an Emotional Vampire?
An emotional vampire is someone in your life who you trust, but who emotionally hijacks you for his or her own benefit and pleasure. They literally drain you of your emotions (hence, the name vampire) and enjoy causing you pain and distress. Emotional vampires can be diagnosed pathologically with personality disorders, but they don't have to be. They could simply be exhibiting these behaviors without ever being diagnosed.
The Hypnotic Spell of an Emotional Vampire
The good news is that we don't stay under their spell forever. Often times we begin to snap out of it. The awakening can happen differently for everyone. It can be the wakeup call of cancer or an autoimmune disease. It could be that you make a change (diet, more exercise, loss of weight, education, etc.) that strengthens your self-esteem in such a way that you are able to glimpse a different life for yourself outside the reach of the vampire.
Once you have left the vampire, though, establishing a healthy way of behaving can be extremely challenging. Especially if they have been happily preying on you as a parasite for some time.
Divorcing an Emotional Vampire
If living with and breaking up with an emotional vampire is challenging, divorcing one takes it to a whole other level. How do you handle co-parenting with an emotional vampire? What about the insane amount of legal paperwork during divorce that an emotional vampire will fire at you, not to mention the nasty, twisted and backstabbing ways of interacting in person or over email? All of these things can create more confusion on your part and unnecessary engagement/interaction that can cause immense amounts of emotional stress and even a great amount of financial strain.
Emotional, Financial and Legal Repercussions
One of the surest ways to know you are divorcing an emotional vampire is that they seem levelheaded and rationale over email — and completely manipulative in person. In fact, an emotional vampire will often twist the situation around enough that it makes it look like you are the one at fault. In turn, you might pay an attorney $350/hour or more to try to not only console you but to also explain your side of the situation that in the end won't hold weight with the judge.
3 Quick Ways To Tame Your Vampire During Divorce
In my Divorce Wellness Coaching practice, I specialize in dealing with these difficult endings. Emerging from the hypnotic state can be slow or fast depending on my clients' willingness to draw clear and consistent boundaries with their vampires.
I often times remind them that vampires are like 2-year olds. They need clear and consistent discipline and within divorce that usually means that you keep in mind the following guidelines:
- They do not think like you do. First and foremost, remind yourself that vampires' brain chemistry responds differently than yours. They are out to help themselves and can convince themselves that what they want makes total sense. They don't see that manipulating and controlling you is harmful and they don't care about how it hurts you. They don't feel that. They don't feel empathy and they get excited when you react.
- Parallel parent instead of co-parent. When you have children, switch to a method of "parallel parenting" instead of "co-parenting." This can be challenging to do and communicate to your children, but you can contact me for more information. There are ways to do this playfully in order to develop incredible flexibility and resiliency in your children.
- Be Unresponsive. Don't respond immediately to emails or phone calls and when you do, a good rule of thumb is to try to do it with bullet points. Bullet points take the emotion and feeling out of your communication.
- Avoid Seeing Them. Restrict in-person interactions to the very minimum.
Learning More About Emotional Vampires
Last week on my show, "The Mother Rising," I hosted an interview with Al Bernstein, PhD and author of Emotional Vampires. His description of emotional vampires and how they function during the show was just the tip of the iceberg. But callers and listeners of the show and readers of my article last week wanted more. They wanted to learn the nitty-gritty details of day-to-day strategies and scenarios for not only taming their emotional vampire, but also retraining themselves to create new boundaries.
Tune in this week on "The Mother Rising" where I will lend my expertise in dealing with difficult endings. You will see the bigger picture and be able to not take the intensity so personally. Some strategies require a great amount of courage on your part; however, when you do them, you will be amazed at how effective they are. I promise you, you will feel so much freer!
In order to get the most out of this show, make sure you are willing to drop the drama around your emotional vampire. These techniques will create some new initial drama and then as you refine your strategy with your specific vampire, you will be drama free. More time for joy and love and freedom, right?
1 -- Call me to schedule time to talk about your emotional vampire that you are divorcing, FREE 30 minutes.
2 -- Join me this week on The Mother Rising on Thursday May 1, 2014 at 4pm PDT
3 -- Email me your specific issue with you vampire ahead of time. Don't be shy. Send me your big challenges and I will answer them on the show: Mom@themotherrising.com
4 -- Phone in live to the show and explain your challenge 1-888-326-9141