Monday, July 10, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living: Day 10

A few times a week, the neighborhood cat, Gladys, puts dead birds and moles on the doormat. These unwelcome gifts made my chest tighten, so I bought her a collar, one with bells. But she was a born killer, and tiny bodies continued to appear on my porch.

You might know at least one person who drags strange or upsetting things into your life--not to please but to torment and manipulate. I want to call these folks narcissists, but they are something else:

Imps can be men or women. Friends, spouses, bosses, etc. 
Known for superficial charm and an inability to love anyone but themselves, Imps have a way of worming themselves into our lives. Before we can say "scat," we have entered into a dance, one where the Imp calls the tune. Always. Or else.

Imps lie with impunity about what they ate for lunch, so how can you trust their answers to bigger questions? Worse, they believe they are the most truthful people on the planet.

 Hoping an Imp will change is like expecting a killer cat to become besties with a mouse. And it's not as if you can confront the Imp, using logic or psychology. They'll just get angry and self-righteous. Imps don't believe for a second that they possess damaging qualities, because they've bought into their own hype: they are perfect. You are the problem.
Deep down, they have zero self-esteem, but they're in denial about that, too.
So the craziness continues.

Shunning an Imp isn't easy, especially if you are related to one by contract or blood. You can build an emotional wall, but walls can collapse. Very often, an Imp will swing a sledgehammer, hoping the bricks fall onto the victim. "See how much you need me?" the Imp will say.
Sometimes Imps leave gaps in the wall, inadvertently allowing their prey to escape. If you ever see a gap, run like hell and don't look back. If you're stuck, pray for guidance and grace--and a Teflon-coated spirit.

You cannot change an Imp, but you can stop carrying him on your back.  You can stop hoping the Imp will change. That kind of hope turns into a burden.
Lay down your burden.

Redemption is often beyond an Imp. They are damaged in childhood: the hand that rocks the cradle has warts and claws. Needy, infantile Imps grow into needy, infantile adults, emotional vampires that will suck you dry.

Like any emotional terrorist, they understand the cycle of hurting and wooing. After a cruel act, the victim won't receive a fistful of bloody feathers; they might be offered a pearl necklace, a bottle of merlot, a fancier house or car--anything that can be bought. Anything with a price tag.
But nothing from the heart.
No love, loyalty, empathy.

Today, I won't let anyone steal my power.
Today I choose joy.


  1. So true, it is difficult to release toxic people from our lives at times but it is so much better not to let them stay. Sometimes it means making adjustments in my response to them, just not to engage, no matter how hard that is. It usually is only a short time to grit my teeth around certain family members, then I don't have to see them again for a long time. Take care of yourself.

    1. True! Oprah covered the art of detachment as a coping mechanism. Sometimes it is the only way.

  2. Wow. Spoken like a survivor. Excellent entry. I'm saving this one. Thank you.

  3. Boy! did that ever hit home, just this morning I spent time I did not have to help one of these imps, only to be told "Oh never mind". I did not say what she wanted to hear. Thanks to you, I will do my best to move on.

    1. I'm sorry you had to go through that, Nonie. It's frustrating when we try to help others, but they don't really want help. 🤦🏻‍♀️

  4. Wonderfully written and so very true. Keeping our joy in the midst of toxic people is a true act of grace!

  5. Wow. Great insight into the imps who are everywhere: related, friends, fellow workers, media, etc.

  6. You are really hitting your stride with this series. Another book in the making? Seriously!

  7. So true! I may add the most hurtful are the toxic family members. What I actually did was to leave them outside my life. I paid for the price, it was a hard decision but enough is enough. Thank you for sharing!

  8. WOW! no words...

    saving this post to my important files....

  9. Oh my goodness, I just about cried when reading this one! Truly, I think you were writing to me, Michael Lee. I agree with Sarah, this needs to be made into a book. You are really hitting home!