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I was thinking about bats. You see, I’m part of a local group that is creating a community garden. My practice is sponsoring an herb garden (which I plan to name after Gwen ferch Ellis, the first woman killed for being accused of being a witch in Wales. She was, of course, an herbalist and traditional healer. Which was the point of the witch hunts: to get rid of midwives and female healers to make way for the new institution of modern medicine). But I digress! We discussed at the most recent meeting perhaps putting up a bat house since our town has quite a few of them. And so, that’s how I came to be thinking of bats as I drove into work this morning.

A family of vampires heads to their Air BnB

My next thought, naturally, was vampires. This idea that vampires can turn into bats and fly away and then turn back into a vampire. Of note, my vampire likes bats and has a bat box which I will be removing when I move back into the marital home after equitable distribution is complete. Ahhh I digress again! Maybe I need a snack so I can focus better.

So, what does this ability to go back and forth between being the blood sucking undead and a flying rat translate to in our narcissist analogy? If you’ve ever lived with a narcissist, you know.

When you finally leave a narcissist you find yourself spending a lot of time trying to explain to people who know you both that the narcissist is a very different person behind closed doors than they are when they’re in the outside world. Narcissists can be very charming (recall the glamouring) in order to get what they want. They have spent their entire lives (some for as long as 51 years–almost 52) studying human beings and learning how they should act in any given situation to get what they want. Often times what they want is to be admired. Or pitied (they are the ultimate victims when they want to be). Sometimes they want money. Sometimes they want a job. Sometimes they want to gain your trust in case they need you as a flying monkey later. (A flying monkey is different from a flying rat; we’ll get into that soon enough). In any case, they put tremendous energy into containing who they really are. They remain remarkably lifelike. When someone from their home then tells you, no, they’re actually a really old blood sucking undead creature, you find it hard to believe. You find them hard to believe. And then you remember how the vampire confided in you that his entire family has mental health issues. And you think, poor woman, out of her mind and thinking her wonderful husband is a very old blood sucking undead creature.

And so, when the vampire violates the PFA, you hold onto the warrant she went through hell to get and don’t serve it. And when you hear whisperings around town about it, you say “well it’s a he said, she said so we really can’t know. They’re probably both partially right. Divorces are like that.” Because who wants to believe a vampire lives in their neighborhood anyway? It’s really so much easier to take comfort in the glamouring and try not to think about it.

But as time goes on, the vampire can’t keep the image going. He is too entitled, too arrogant, too self-centered, too mentally ill to not begin to slip up. Rules don’t apply to him and neither do boundaries. So, one day he borrows something from your shed without asking while you’re not home. He knows better than, well, everyone, so he begins to challenge your authority in the local club you’ve been running for years that he just joined. And when you politely attempt to contain him, he pushes and pushes and pushes until his glamour starts to wear off and you realize how cold his hand is and how pale his skin. He does you favors you didn’t want him to do and then becomes upset when you don’t thank him. And you just generally begin to realize he’s full of shit.

And so, he must move on to another neighborhood. Another church. Another job. One where he can glamour again. In a cloud of smoke, he turns into a bat and takes flight in the night. He is the fastest, most beautiful flying rat you’ve ever seen. He eats more mosquitos than any bat. He has better sonar than any bat. And when he finds a new hunting ground, he lands and transforms back into a very old blood sucking undead creature with a large nose and an increasing number of gray hairs. And goes about glamouring again. All the people who rejected him in his old neighborhood fade away and he is happy once again and full of fresh, warm blood.

A woman with a bad haircut looks at the phone of a shirtless man, implying they’re a couple where the man has cheated

Vampires are lustful and very good with women. They cheat. And they think no one knows. But people do. And when the human they pretended to love finds out for a fact the vampire has cheated, she makes sure everyone in the neighborhood knows. And everyone in the church. And so, it’s good that he left before the humiliation began. There, in his new home, he is the image he wants to be. And this time, it will be different. This time, he will settle down and be almost human. For the vampire slayer that ruined him did not follow. He is safe from her here in his new home. and he’ll make sure not to take up with another one.