Saturday, January 07, 2006

Maxine Tells it Like it Is!


Maxine doesn't mince words, does she?

There are days when I'd like to carry this cartoon around with me in large format and flash it to nearly everyone I see. Why is it that some people just
scream *stupid* with everything they say or do?
I've been in kind of a bad mood for several days; no particular reason and I can't blame it on PMS since I timed out of that a long time ago....lol. Poor Mr. Kenju bears the brunt of it, I'm afraid. The good thing is that my bad moods don't usually last very long, and then I turn back into my normal sunny (or maybe just neutral) self. My glass is always half full instead of half empty.

There is a woman I am thrown into the company of now and then and she drives me crazy. She has a lot of problems (don't we all?) and she has battled depression for a long time, it seems. After a few hours with her, I am also battling depression. She never sees the bright side of anything, and prefers to regale me and anyone else in earshot with her ailments, her money troubles, the antics of her spoiled and ungrateful daughter...... on and on, ad nauseum.

I cannot say to her what I would like to - but last week someone else did. This other person told her that she needed to pull herself up out of her depressed state and quit dwelling on her troubles, which only serves to magnify them in her mind. Furthermore, she said, if you never look for the silver linings, you begin to believe that they don't exist and you lose all hope of a better life. It is impossible to gauge whether that conversation will have a positive impact on the depressed woman, but I surely hope so. I am not insensitive to her problems, and I know that depression cannot be cured in a flash, but I do know that one must concentrate on having a better attitude in life or even the smallest things will get you down.

Many years ago, I was friends with a woman whose children attended the same school as mine. We seemed to have a lot in common, so we began to spend a lot of time together, talking over coffee and cigarettes. My family noticed a change in me when I had been with her for the afternoon; I was moody, dark of attitude and grouchy to the point of snapping your head off if you spoke to me.

I didn't realize it at the time, but that woman was what some people refer to as a "psychic vampire". They suck the life out of you without your knowing it. And she surely did. Little by little I realized that all she ever talked about were the bad things in her life; from the childhood where she was not loved to the marriage where she was not appreciated, to the children who were not perfect, the house not adequate, the money never enough. After an hour or two with her, I was as drained as if I had run a marathon.

After I had known her for about 5 years, we moved to another neighborhood. We gradually grew apart, and I have not seen her for more than 20 years. Once I realized the horrid impact she had on me, I vowed I would never get into that kind of trap again. We have a choice: we can allow people to have a negative effect on us, or we can choose not to allow it. Life is too short to dwell on the bad parts all the time. Cheer up and expect the best. Even if you don't get it, you'll be happier along the way!



38 comments:

deputyswife said...

Hello, Michele sent me!

Good Grief, I cannot believe I am reading this! Tonight, I was talking on the phone to a "friend" who constantly complains about her life. I always feel drained after talking to her. And I have been sitting here wondering how we can "drift apart" with a little help from me.

margalit said...

I've never heard the term psychic vampire, but I too had a friend like that. Note the key word "had". She sucked the lifeblood out of me before I'd had enough. Now she's probably doing it to someone else. Blech!

Michele sent me.

Mama B said...

Hello, Michele sent me! Enjoyed reading your blog!

WendyWings said...

That is a great name for it pyschic vampire. I have had a couple of people in my life that fit that description well.
Michele sent me tonight.

Juggling Mother said...

Ah, the way to deal with people like that is to gloat over how famntastic your life is compared to theirs, as they tell you how terrible everything is, you respond with how good it is. That way you walk away feeling rejuvenated rather than drained:-)

Here from Micheles

mar said...

Hope you are having a bright day today, kenju! this was a lesson my mom always told me, to avoid negative people.Her best friends have always been smart women who have made the best out of the little things they got from life. Some of them had all the reasons to be just down on the floor, but they found happiness in a small raindrop falling just for them on their heads and wore a big smile for everyone. I also want to be around those people!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Yes, these things can be draining..for sure..but, I also try to understand that 'looking at the sunny side' is just not possible for some people, and they cannot help it. If they could, I believe they would...
Just my opinion, Judy...I'm not saying you shouldn't feel as you do, but...if it were that easy to change one's mood in certain cases, I truly believe a person would, in a heartbeat! No one really wants to feel lousy and shitty...at least, that's my feeling about it.

Star said...

You gotta love Maxine. I had a friend like that once. I didn't realize the effect she had til my husband pointed it out.He said he left in the morning and I was happy. When he got home I was stewing over problems that weren't mine. I never heard the term psychic vampire but it is accurate.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Just before I go back to Zzzzzland, Michele sent me here, dear Judy!

ribbiticus said...

i have tried to steer clear of emotional vampires before diving into a friendship. that's not to say i blow them off and don't try to get to know them. sometimes, i do my best to try to get them out of their funk. if all else fails and i feel like their burdens are starting to become my own, i try to extricate myself from the situation as deftly and carefully as i can. is that bad?

Peter said...

A great post Judy, I thought immeadiately of my friends depressed son who took his life because he couldn't cope with his situation, but I knew him as a young man never really contented with his lot sadly.

terrilynn said...

I love Maxine. My favorite birthday card this year had her on the cover and said, "I was going to get you one of those birthday cakes with your face on it...it's a great way to say "bite me" to lots of people at once."

Prego said...

I have a co-worker like that.

I go out of my way to avoid a chafe. People like that latch on to any ear that will lend itself. The key is not to lend an ear. I'd much rather have somebody think that I'm a stuck-up, unsympathetic jerk (not TOO far from the truth) than to have to get an earfull of soup from a malcontent.

Have a wonderful, sunny day. Here from Michele's, Kenny, but you know you're my gal!

love,
p

brendalove@gmail.com said...

You KNOW I love Maxine!!!!!

Depression is a terrible thing but like you said, you have to TRY to rise above.

Sandy said...

Oh the vampires. I've had a few "toxic friends" throughout my years. It takes some work, sometimes, to see them for what they are and remove them from a sphere of influence.

There's a fine line in dealing with the depressed. You want to be sympathetic without enabling the wallowing. My mother used to head up a crisis hotline. They're way of "active listening" did a great job of reframing and handing it back to the person to look at from a new vantage point.

Something like "I can tell you're feeling overwhelmed by all this. It sounds like you've got a full plate you're trying to manage and it's getting to you."

Many a time the person stops, stutters and says "Yes, I do feel overwhelmed."

Follow-up with "It sounds like you feel like there's no end to the tough times."

Sometimes you'll get a "well it's not THAT bad." :) The point is, the person FEELS like you heard them. They feel like someone gets it and in the interim they've gotten to actually HEAR what they're saying.

Good luck

Michele sent me today.

Pirate said...

psychic vampire. good description. I use to work for a great woman years ago that put this same cartoon out every day for us. They were funny, insightful and most often on target. Thanks.

Jamie Dawn said...

With people like that, it seems that even if you see them from a distance, if feels like your energy gets sucked on sight. There will always be bad things to deal with in life... always. It's not easy to try and look on the bright side of things, but it sure beats being a depressed, psychic vampire!

Wordnerd said...

Another Maxine-lover here -- isn't she the greatest? I happen to have the very cartoon you posted on my bulletin board at work, and I've referenced that particular expression many, many times...excellent post -- and thanks for reminding me I'm not alone with all the self-absorbed people!

utenzi said...

Michele sent me to see you, Judy.

My tenant, Stephanie Davies, has a similar theme in her post today, Judy. But while I don't agree with hers, yours is right on the money. The "psychic vampire" you knew and others like her can have so much impact on a person's mood. And mental well being, I guess, in extreme cases. It's fortunate that you moved and were able to escape her influence. You and your family benefited from that.

Tasha said...

Why do you feel people get like that? I have to say- I can be a negative person at times...lol. I see you are from NC. I was raised there- close to the Outer Banks. Thanks for visiting my blog and come back anytime!:)

Seamus said...

You do have to extract yourself from these toxic relationships if they are not willing or able to change. There are so many avenues of help for those suffering from depression (spoken from experience).
Well written! :)

colleen said...

Having had to deal with some variety of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since my mid 20s, I learned early that some people drain energy and I can't afford that...so I have learned to have radar for folks like that. Even some people's voices can drain me.

Have you ever read the book "Your Body Doesn't Lie?" It's about how certain things do literally drain or give energy and why.

Tammy said...

What a great post. You have such a great way of putting things into perspective.

Michele sent me...this time!

Carmi said...

Hi Judy. I nodded all the way through this entry (as I so often do when I read your blog, but I digress...)

I refer to folks like these as toxic personalities, and I fully agree that they can and do bring the rest of us down.

Soon after we married, my wife and I befriended a couple who had gotten married around the same time as we had. Over time, the woman's whining about the dark side of everything began to really bring us down every time we went out with them.

Moving away was the best thing for us, for it gave us an easy excuse to drift away. No more wasted evenings being dragged down to share in her mirth.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Went back on Michele's cause it looked like I had left you out!! And there were another three people after that...AND, I had already visited 3!! (lol)

Fun!!!

Ananke said...

I have a similar relationship with a coworker. It took a while, but I noticed that whenever she complained about things, I would always agree with her and offer support (even if I thought she was overreacting; that's what friends do, right?). Yet, when I had a problem I wanted to talk about, all I ever got were comments like, "That's not true," or "Well, I don't see it." When I finally called her on it, she wouldn't even admit there was a problem. Well, of course not, at least not from her point of view. I was giving her the support she wanted while I got blown off and made to feel like crap. Sometimes you just need someone to listen to you and she wasn't up to it. We "drifted apart" when I stopped taking breaks and lunch with her. Now I sit at my desk and read a magazine. I'm a lot happier now, too.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Ha! Someday EVERYBODY will be converted to the Ol' Hoss school of mental well-being: "So it goes" and "Keep smiling."

Also, "Do unto others before they do unto you" works, too.

Minerva said...

I have the same problem but this person is in my family and I can't escape her..but you are right... Half an hour in her company and I feel completely drained...

You put it really well..now can you tell me how to get away?!

Minerva

Joy said...

Who is Michele?

This is from a psychologist friend in an email to a friend about her husband: Depression isn’t his fault, but how he deals with it is his responsibility. Haven’t you soldiered on when you felt like shit?

I agree with it and have had some experience with depression. The woman you described sounds like she's gotten into a negative rut and spreads it around. Some people do suck the life out of you being around them. I try to stay away from those people, too. Now that I'm retired, it's easier.

Interesting post!

Hope said...

I had friends who thought pouring out their troubles was what our friendship was based on, sort of a misery loves company. It was draining and distructive. We all have to be careful not to turn into that person. Although, the ones who are always chipper like they don't have the mental capacity to grasp the severity of a situation make me want to shake them.

srp said...

I had a neighbor in Mississippi like this. She was sweet and knew everyone and was ALWAYS walking but if you stopped to chat it turned into how bad she felt and how she couldn't take hormones and how many surgeries she had had and nothing seemed to help her. Yet she walked two to three miles every day. She had a longsuffering husband.

srp said...

I had a neighbor in Mississippi like this. She was sweet and knew everyone and was ALWAYS walking but if you stopped to chat it turned into how bad she felt and how she couldn't take hormones and how many surgeries she had had and nothing seemed to help her. Yet she walked two to three miles every day. She had a longsuffering husband.

justrose said...

i TRY not to be a psychic vampire myself but i am of the melancholy sort at times. sometimes there's nothing worse than a miserable chatty person (a description i resemble). some days i just wear a garlic necklance around other people, too, though. :) i like maxine. she tells it like it is. i aspire to be like her!

Romanduck said...

I 100% agree with you on this one!!!! Don't let the drags drag you down!!!!

Sonia said...

Judy, I like so much this post! I know people like this "psychic vampire". Very, very wise your statement and I quote it: "We can allow people to have a negative effect on us, or we can choose not to allow it. Life is too short to dwell on the bad parts all the time." Well done!

Merle said...

Hi Judy ~ Interesting post. Some
people always see the glass half empty.
And we do not need to be drained
of our energy. Sometimes a kind word may help them, but most of us prefer to dodge them.
Thank you for visiting my site
and your kind words.

Merle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

Maxine rocks for certain moods of mine lol. I have a good internet friend who has a knack for finding the funniest Maxines online. It makes my day when she emails them to me.

Insightful post, BTW.