Callie Leuck is a writer, dancer, tea-drinker, amateur photographer, and Oxford comma enthusiast. She is currently daylighting as a proposal writer for an IT company in northern Virginia and moonlighting as a science-medical writing grad student. Callie keeps a blog which she remembers to feed slightly more often than her fish, Frankie II.
A priest gave me the best advice about relationships.
It was one of those days where all the religion classes at my church were offering Confession: hundreds of children with the kinds of confessions an elderly priest later described as “being pelted with popcorn.”
The three priests based at my parish were assisted by a handful of priests from surrounding parishes. So of course I chose one I didn’t know, so I didn’t have to have an incredibly awkward conversation with a priest I saw in the vestry every Sunday, before the 7:30 am mass, when I was pulling an altar server robe over my church clothes.
At the time I was having trouble with a friend. Maintaining the friendship had become an exhausting and unrewarding chore that made me dread being around this person. I felt guilty about this. The visiting priest I was talking to sighed, leaned forward, and said, “Callie. You don’t have to be friends with everybody.”
This was quite a revelation.
I don’t have to be friends with everybody? Wow. That’s... wow.
Over the years, remembering this has helped me from having my soul sucked out through my eyeballs by vampiric relationships. I think many people have vampiric relationships at some point. I’m talking about the kind of friendships where you walk away from encounters feeling like... well, like your soul has been sucked out through your eyeballs and you need to go have a quiet lie-down in a dark room for a day or three.
I’m not saying you should trash-talk these people. I’m not saying you should fight with them. I’m not even saying they’re bad people or that you shouldn't be nice to them. All I am saying is that sometimes there may be people in your life whose association with you sucks the joy out of your life, and you don’t have to be friends with them.
I've been thinking about this because although talking about emotional vampires sounds depressing, I personally frame it in a positive way: I can choose who my friends are. I can choose to have joy in my life. I'm writing about this for a guest post for Sarah (who hopefully will have a joyful reason for her blog absence to share upon her return) because Sarah is one of the happiest-seeming people I know. She always seems so upbeat: even when she’s down, she’s positive. And she’s always talking about joy.
Sometimes, I think, you have to remember that having joy in your life is important. Sometimes that means not holding on to toxic things and people who suck that joy out of your life.
Why keep emotional vampires close to you, sucking out your joy? There are tons of people who love you, who care about you, and whose friendship buoys you up and brings joy to your life.
So today I’d like to challenge you to tell some of these people that they bring joy to your life and you appreciate that. Because that’s important. It’s important to have joy in your life, and it’s important to tell people they bring good things to your life.