Exhausted from my latest in a string of friendships with energy vampires, I decided to make a change.
I asked myself where I was responsible for feeling so drained in our interactions.
I envisioned myself, abdomen sliced open, entrails fallen out and scattered on the ground around my friend’s feet. An offering of sorts.
In fact, my vision depicted perfectly the way in which I’d sacrificed myself for her and others. The way I’d not managed my energy and had instead put in under someone else’s charge. The way I’d not maintained boundaries—given when I didn’t have it in me, acted polite when all I wanted to say was, “So what?” or “Who fucking cares?” All because I wanted the friendship to work—and because I wanted it to be something other, something better, than it was.
I envisioned myself pulling my intestines, blood, fat, and other viscera back into my body and sewing the wound shut, a scar forming as a reminder to sacrifice myself no more, to be in charge of my own energy.
For a few weeks I saw little of this friend. Still feeling unsure of my ability to maintain my energy, to not be her victim, I kept a distance. Not avoiding, just giving myself time to rest and grow and get ready to re-engage in a relationship that was and is important to me.
And then I went for it. Complete reengagement from a place of knowing I have dominion over my energy. I used no specific formula. I was only conscious of my commitment to not return to the way things had been before.
What happened during our first interaction post-entrail control was that the best of me came to the forefront. I think the best of her did as well. We laughed, we held meaningful conversation, and I felt engaged, happy, and fulfilled. It was amazing.
I am a listener by nature, and I pride myself on it. I listen out of curiosity and out of respect and to connect and to show that I care. What I’ve learned is it that it isn’t necessary to listen and connect deeply with everything other people say. It’s OK to connect more, meaning invest more energy, when someone tells me she doesn’t feel good about her upbringing, weight, or marriage and less, meaning invest less energy, when she tells me her dog ate her shoe or her kid dropped an f-bomb. I’ve also learned that what I call being a good listener is sometimes my way of pretending to be interested, engaged, or caring when I feel otherwise. And it’s all because I want the relationship.
Being aware of these things allows me to give from an inspired place and honor my boundaries by not giving or pretending or playing nice when I’m not feeling it.
Authenticity in this regard is scary. Because it involves people I care about.
I used to be far more unkind. Over the course of several years the pendulum swung in the other direction—towards people pleasing. Because I was so needy.
Now I’m practicing keeping it centered and steady.
Because I want to connect and I want to be me—centered and steady.