"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


The Heart Of Practical Vampire Slaying, Part 1

Dear PVS,

I was reading back through your archives and a thought occurred to me: Is it possible that we could be our own worst vampires at times? Some might call that internal editor inside an inner demon, but I think your vampire definition holds (holy) water here too. I mean, when we listen to that voice, it drains energy and light from us, right?

What do you think?


A Reader

Dearest Reader,

Thank you for this amazing question. It's a real can-of-worms opener for sure! In fact, I'm going to have to take it in 2 parts.

I have heard that "it is the part of ourselves we refuse to look at that rules us," and for me, that's always been the case.

The nice thing about our vampires is that -- even when they live on the "outside" (as in unhealthy or draining relationships with others) -- they lead us inevitably to the task of self-examination. After all, how can we tell our vampires what we want if we don't even know what that is ourselves?

That is totally the upside of having insatiable, bloodsucking friends -- they force us into relationship with ourselves.

For instance: Before I could revoke my invitation to an old boyfriend I'd broken up with who was stalking me after the breakup, I had to know what it was inside of me that was allowing him to treat me that way. Why was I putting up with that crap? What was I afraid would happen if I told him clearly to knock it off?

In my case it turned out to be fear, mostly: fear of hurting him, fear of defining myself without him, fear of financial insecurity, and mostly a big, fat fear of making a mistake -- because what if my decision to leave him was a mistake? What if I'd just been crazy on the day I'd left him and I would one day regret it?

On some level (and by that I mean the level of myself I refused to look at) it seemed like a good idea to keep the door to that relationship slightly ajar...just a little insurance in case I ever wanted to walk back through it, you know?

Problem is, you can't close the door to something and keep it open at the same time.

So there was this price I was paying -- a little premium on that insurance policy, if you will -- and that premium, of course, was my sanity. I was confused, in pain, and starting to get pretty freaked out about being followed around and ambushed by him all the time.

Sheesh. It was getting so I couldn't even walk from my car to my house at night without wondering whether he going to jump out from behind the bushes.

I blamed my vampire for that, but the truth was that I hadn't been clear with him about wanting to end the relationship for good and all. I'd been telling him that I "couldn't" be with him, and that left the door open because it's not a clear statement of my will. It also let me off the hook, too, since I'm not responsible for what I can or can't do -- I'm only responsible for what I will or won't do.

I can't swim.
I don't want to swim.

I can't go to the game.
I don't want to go to the game.

I can't have a relationship with you.
I don't want to have a relationship with you.

See the difference?

Before I could revoke my invitation and close the door, I had to take responsibility for my own will -- and to take responsibility for my own will, of course, I had to know what my will was.

Which brings us back to...?

You got it: self examination. I had to make a decision to shine a light on the part of myself I'd refused to look at that was ruling me: my doubts, my fears, and my insecurties -- you know these guys: the inner vampires.

Next time: More on the inner vampires of which you speak, dear Reader.


Angela said...

Well, I should've asked sooner. This is a fantastic post, Claudia, and one I'm sure interested in. Even when I manage to keep my outer vampires at bay, those inner ones keep sucking away!

claud said...

Hi Angela, and thank you!

You know I've always heard people say things like, "you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else," or, "you have to forgive yourself before you can forgive anyone else," but you know what? That's not my experience.

A lot of my experience has been working from the outside in, so to speak: reconcile with outer vampire, reconcile with the inner (and myself).

It's all I know -- I can't even imagine "forgiving myself," just -- you know, outright like that. I need help, and I need a taste of what that is before I can know what I'm trying to do. For me, that starts with forgiving others. And sometimes forgiving others starts with revoking my invitation.

Oh geez, see what a can of worms this is?!

Thanks for coming over,


Jaye Wells said...

Excellent post. I especially liked the difference between can't versus don't. What a lightbulb idea.

claud said...

Twas an excellent question, too!

Thanks, Jaye!

Merry Jelinek said...

Hello Claud,

I just found your blog here through a comment you left elsewhere and just wanted to say what a great conversation you've got going on here!

My mom always called them psychic vampires, everyday people who drain you emotionally and physically. Often they're people you love best, too, because after all, misery loves company.

I'm going to peruse some of your other posts, but I just wanted to drop you a comment really quick to say hi.

claud said...

Hi Merry!!

I love the spelling of your name. I bet you hear that a lot, though...

I just took a quick peek at your beautifully written blog and I see we have a couple of mutual friends. Isn't that so cool about cyberspace? I really love that.

I'll make it a point to visit regularly from now on.

Thanks for stopping in and for your comment!


jennifergg said...

This is really it in a nutshell, isn't it? Vampires require us to be clear, and to do that, we must be clear with ourselves, too.

I love what you say about working from the outside, in. It's true for me, too...I can forgive everyone in the world, just not myself. I think a lot of people are that way, too.

Excellent post!

Feemus said...

Claud, you're so smart.

I always learn something important over here.

I really like your comment about not starting with oneself. I think that "you have to love yourself first" business maybe misses the fact that we are social beings and that whatever relationship we have with ourself is to some degree modelled on or conditioned by the relationships that we have with others.

And your point about revoking an invitation in order to forgive? Well, that is simply inspired! I am going to be mulling that over for a while.

thanks, C.

claud said...

Aw, you guys make me feel so good!

I heard someone say one time that when they cannot bring themselves to consider "forgiving" someone else, that they can replace that word with "accepting" what that person did -- NOT accepting it as "right" but accepting that they did it, period.

That doesn't look important on the face of it, but how many times have I not accepted what politicians do? Or child molesters (snort: those two practically in the same sentence)? I'm so busy "not believing" it, that I don't think I ever really do just accept it.
And that's where I think the link to revoking our invitations comes, because I have to get real with myself about what's happening to revoke my invitation. I have to stop saying,"they shouldn't have" and start saying "they are."

He doesn't mean to be stalking me.
(as opposed to)
He IS stalking me. And it's messing with me big time.

Geez. Worms everywhere!

Thanks, Jen.
Thanks, Feem.

M. said...

Excellent topic! I'm looking forward to reading part two.

Along those same lines, one problem I've noticed in myself is that I'll be miserable and unhappy, but a weird little part of me will want to stay miserable and unhappy because it's a familiar feeling. Happiness became a little scary in a way, partly because it wasn't what I was used to, and partly because I didn't know if I wanted to go to the trouble of getting there just to lose that feeling again. Wheels within wheels.

claud said...

Hi M!!!!

How good to see you!

And yes, I get it about the whole "staying safe" thing. I honestly wonder if that isn't at the root of everything. Remember our pal Vonnegut saying that all anyone really wants to know is that "Everything is going to be okay and we love you."?

I agree with him, and my experience, too, is that there has to be a place within me where that information is known...I mean Known, you know? So I guess I think it's ultimately a spiritual thing.

But then again, what's not?

Angela said...

Okay Claude,

I hate to do this to you, but your readers are just dying for part 2. Help us out here, will ya?

Anne Bradshaw said...

Most interesting outlook. I found my way here via another blog and had to stay and read. I appreciate just how resilient we humans really are when I consider all the ways our character can be assassinated. Yet, most of the time, we bounce back and keep going, if we make a conscious choice so to do. Wonderful!

claud said...

Hi Angela, and thanks for the nudge! I've been a little under the weather and am just beginning to get straightened out...I'll do part 2 soon.

And Anne! How nice to meet you and find your comment here! I will be visiting your blog as soon as I can.
Thanks so much for coming over!

Anonymous said...


I just found this interesting blog here.
The Conversation is really amazing, but I am wondering that the word "Vampire" is somewhat wrong and that "Deamon" or "Devil" would be more precise?

So I am just wondering why you are using the word "Vampire".

(Forgive me, if my english is kind of wrong sometimes, it is not the language I usually speak.)

Anonymous said...

I'm interestd in this guy the stalker. I'm sure he was a real asshole - A VAMPIRE NO DOUBT. But what was your part? Were you faithful and honest? Reading your blog I get the idea that you are so intent on IDing vampires in your life that you fail to recognize the vampire in yourself. Thank Budda that the prodigal son (a vampire no doubt) had a father that allowed him back into his life. It all seems to "cute". Just love each other - turn off your computer - go outside and look at the stars. I forgot my question

Viagra Online said...

I really like to see your blog it is really interesting even I don't believe in vampires but I think that probably you're so smart to write about it.