About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college English professor and writer from Chicago who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and Creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.
If you have been keeping up with the Derrick Jaxn fiasco, you witnessed him sit beside his wife in a cringy live Instagram post where he readily admits to cheating on his wife. His wife sits beside him on the couch in a black bonnet or skullcap, sad-looking and defeated. Derrick Jaxn, the self-proclaimed relationship guru, is nothing more than an emotional leech who has emotionally drained his wife. His wife probably is thinking, I gave him my all being loyal and faithful, yet he still cheated. Why? His wife represents a multitude of people betrayed by friends and family they have saved from evictions, unemployment, bad relationships and much more, so many can relate. What those who have been betrayed do not realize is, they are too good for some whom they let into their lives, and now it is time to let those emotional leeches go.
Here you are again, grace under pressure, listening to your friend bawl her eyes out about a guy you TOLD her was poison; or your best friend needs another ride to work, even after you advised him betting his last at the dice game was not a particularly great idea. No matter how irritating or needy they are, you’re there for your friend. Yet in your greatest need, they are unreachable, literally and emotionally. They have no time or empathy for you. These people are emotional leeches — parasites — and it’s time you burn them off, figuratively speaking.
You know what pain and failure feel like, but you listen to everyone else’s problems without fully resolving your own. Right now, you have a deadline to meet, a child to pick up drop off, an assignment to complete or other work. You’re stressed, overworked and underpaid. You can rise above this, but you must first silence your phone. Yes, your mother wants to talk your ears off about the new puppy she equally loves and hates; your friend needs relationship advice; your other friend needs someone to talk to. You need to do you, so what’s more important: your success or their drama?
To those whom you can not call on in your time of need, those emotional leeches, burn them off. Talking with, not to, others about your issues and empathizing with and listening to theirs, can be therapeutic. However, not having that person actually hear you out and empathize with you can be overbearing. Emotionally, it will drain you. Unintentionally, you become their emotional landfill l, a dumping site. You inherit their problems, compounding your own. This may lead to depression. This person is not your friend or loved one.
Furthermore, how do you confront an emotional leech? First, you must talk to this person alone. Start with a preamble expressing how serious you are about what you’re about to say. Tell that person you are not looking for an excuse or defense but understanding. Make sure they understand this. Then, tell them what the issue is. Maybe they don’t answer when you call. Sometimes, they may flake out on you at the last minute. Or they just don’t listen to your issues. Whatever it is, express that. Still, what if they don’t hear you out?
If the person you’re trying to reason with can not understand why you’re bringing up the issue of them not spending enough time with you or their inability to empathize with you, you must leave this person behind. Imagine showing up to have a conversation, but instead of getting the tall, lanky person you expected, you encounter a brick wall. That is what it is like trying to reason with someone on the defensive. They are their to argue, not reason. For every real concern you have, they have an equal, brutal gaslight or lie armed and ready to fire. Everything no matter how small or how large, is an attack to an emotional leech. They can not be helped.
Moreover, emotional leeches are crafty with excuses, gaslights and lies, so yo must use logic when choosing to burn them off like unwanted fat. For example, you’ve tried calling Shelly six times, but she has not answered or returned your phone calls. Her Facebook Messenger shows she’s been recently active. You confront her about this when you finally she her, but she says her phone was dead, but you know she always keeps her charger, and she has never let her phone go dead as long as you’ve known her. You bring up Messenger, but she says Messenger is wrong. Add up the evidence: do you believe her or the accurate Messenger timestamp? These types of people will never admit they are lying or wrong. You must end it with them, no matter whom they are or how long you’ve know them.
That said, it is perfectly fine to be that shoulder to lean on in a rough time. There is nothing wrong with relating with others, taking in their issues and helping them overcome those issues. However, you must be mindful of your own physical and mental health. You also need someone to talk to and be understood by. You are not a mindless drone or disposable sponge meant for soaking up the filth of ungrateful people who can not even return a phone call. Put yourself first and take care of yourself while limiting the number of people whom you choose to be there for, because they may not be there when you need them.
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