I believe in vampires.
OK, not the kind who sleep in coffins or sparkle in the sunshine. Not the kind that bite you on the neck and drain your blood.
The kind that invite you to coffee and drain your energy.
I believe in this kind of vampire because I've encountered it numerous times. Some call it a psychic vampire or emotional vampire. I call them life suckers, because if you're not on your guard, they'll suck the life right out of you.
Over-dramatic? Maybe, but man, it sure feels accurate.
The longer I live the more I'm convinced there's an energy exchange between people who spend time together. I'm not going to postulate on how it works. All I can tell you is how it goes in this creative girl's life.
In my experience, there are three kinds of people: inspirers, life suckers and neutrals.
Neutrals are inconsequential. They're those people you interact with, say, at the store or pass in the hallways at school or work. You might smile or have a brief conversation, but there's a distance that keeps the exchange from having much, if any, effect.
Inspirers are those whose company you enjoy, who recharge your batteries, who -- after you've spent time with them -- make you race back to your creative work. When you spend time with an inspirer, it's like what happens when you rub a balloon on your head. It's electric. You're charged up with life.
And then there are the life suckers. Those are the ones who sap your energy, spin you around their center, turn you in circles until you're dizzy and exhaust you with their persistence. When you spend time with a life sucker, it's like what happens when you let the air out of a balloon. You feel limp. Lifeless. Sans ambition. All you want to do is nap.
I won't go into details, but let's suffice it to say I've spent time with enough of those suckers to know to run from them and not look back.
William S. Burroughs gave this advice:
"If, after spending time with a person, you feel as though you've lost a quart of plasma, avoid that person in the future."
The key, I've found, in caring for your creative soul is to spend more time with the inspirers (and learn to return the favor by being an inspirer yourself), and to severely limit the time you spend with life suckers.
No brainer, right? Well, it took me years to get this.
Because a good friend always listens, right? A good friend is always there. A good friend gives up her time and energy to help. And who doesn't want to be a good friend?
It took me waaaaay too long to understand there's a difference between helping a friend, giving your time and energy out of love, and letting that person bleed you dry. They go away feeling energized. You, not so much. You're left a limp, sad noodle.
So be aware of this exchange. Evaluate how you feel after spending time with people, and then decide if it's good for your creative soul to continue spending time with them. If it isn't, well then, oops, you're conveniently too busy, thanks.
And for those times you have no choice but to be around a life sucker?
Wear a high collar and stink of garlic.