"Biting Back takes a compelling look at self-care, setting boundaries, and protecting ourselves from friends, loved ones, enemies, and sometimes even ourselves. Written in a page-turning and warm style, Claudia’s refreshing addition to the self-help shelves offers empowering solutions to effectively remind us to stop inviting troubleinto our homes and souls." -- MELODY BEATTIE, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF CODEPENDENT NO MORE



Dear Madame Slayer,

I have a vampire living next door to me. She only calls me when she needs something, she asks me to watch her kid and just drops him off before I can say no, she borrows things from me (a baby sling, a stroller, milk, eggs) always with the promise that she'll "pay me back (Tuesday)." So this is the thing: I'm done. I've had it. I'm sick of feeling used, but every time I try to get up the courage to tell her off, some sad story about how her husband works all the time, how depressed she is, or how bad her life is, sucks me in again. And so the whole thing starts all over again. I need to change this, but I don't know how. I think I am too afraid of being "mean," but this has gotten out of hand.

You know the trouble with vampires is that once we invite them in, they are free to come, and go, and feed whenever they want to. It's not fair, I know, but that's the rule: Vampires are special that way; they only need to be invited in once.

On the fair side, however, there is a way out. When we've made up our minds that we we're through with a vampire (and it sounds like you are), we simply revoke our invitation. That's what it's called when we tell our vampire to hit the road: "Revoking our invitation."

A good rule to know when it comes to revocations is this: Vampires do not, under any circumstances, “take hints.” You probably know about this rule if you’ve ever tried to get one to leave you alone by glancing at the clock, yawning, telling them you’re busy, demonstrating you’re busy, saying you have a headache, telling them you’re broke, or whatever. They simply have no receptor sites for that kind of innuendo, and I mean none. So beating them over the head with hint after hint is never going to work.

Successful vampire Slayers issue revocations that are effective because they have two simple and indispensable qualities:
1. They are clear.
2. They are precise.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? But the principle that so often gets overlooked here is that before we can be clear and precise with our vampires, we are first going to have to be clear and precise with ourselves.

This is only practical. If we've been trying to put our vampire off with diluted revocations like, "I can't afford it, I can't see you anymore, or I can't lend you my baby sling," we're going to have to knock that off, get into the light, and get clear about who we are and what we want: We stop pretending that our decision to cut the vampire off is about “being unable” to feed the vampire, and instead recognize that our decision to cut them off is actually about “not wanting” to feed them anymore. We notice that once our will is recognized, our message to the vampire becomes clear, changing automatically to powerful (and honest) invitation-revoking language like this: “I won’t lend you money, I don’t want to see you any more, and I don’t want to lend you my baby sling, oreos, etc."

Once the will is engaged, we start using those “w” words like crazy.

And one last thing: Often, when I catch myself in the light, I see that it was not only my invitation, but my misleading behavior toward the vampire that kept it coming back for more. When that is the case (and it usually is) I say something like, “I’m sorry misled you. By lending you my baby sling, my stroller, and the contents of my refrigerator, I probably gave the impression that it was okay with me for you come over here any time you like and “borrow” things, but I was wrong to do that. I want to be clear with you now. Please do not ask to borrow my things any more. I will not be lending them to you.” Something like that.
Let me know how it goes!


Anonymous said...

i am a girl from greece,24 years old.
i like vampires due to the films i have seen and a lot of strange things happened after i become 18.
i remember i must be asked for this invitation.one nigth i was alone at home and trying to sleep.so someone (a vampire?) got into the house (i dont know how)and knocked the inner door so soft.
i didnt know what it was.i thought maybe it was a gost.so i didnt do a thing and now im so depressed because i lost this opportunity.

also i have seen the black rose while i was awaking in the middle of the night.

moreover, i will give you a lyric: i am the nightmare waking you up from the dream of love.

i will wait to see your answer and opinion.
can you tell me what should i do know?

claudia said...

Dear Anonymous in Greece,

I am sorry to hear of your difficulties and dreams, they do not sound easy.

The vampires that I speak of in my blog and book are really just the people and situations that we "invite into our lives" that are draining to us. You see, I use "the vampire" and "the invitation rule" as a metaphor for the people and situations we deal with every day -- not actual blood-sucking vampires -- to help solve our problems with these things. I am sorry to say I cannot offer you help in this area of dreams and strange happenings, although I am sure there are those who can.

Have you thought of speaking with your clergy or with a counselor or doctor? These are people who might be able to help you get started on a path to the help and life you are looking for.

Best of luck and prayers to you,


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