A toast to blood donors
Blood donors are great. Seriously. Let’s raise a glass and give a hand to all of our blood donors.
No, this is not another April Fool’s article, by the way.
I was surprised at the response to my article about the nurture of blood donors. The number of donors who commented about sang abandonment was interesting indeed. It saddened me to see that people who understand something which is, let’s face it, pretty weird to the outside world had their heart broken for caring enough to give.
Now, I know there are two sides to every story. I will attempt to cover some of these points here. Still, I wanted to write this piece to share my personal appreciation of donors and share some thoughts about blood donation.
Always welcome at my hearth
Donors are always welcome at my hearth. Donors were instrumental in me accepting myself as a sanguivore as I grew up. Like most, I struggled with guilt, shame and fear with my blood feeding urges. One site that was crucial to my acceptance of myself was Black Swan Haven. It was so refreshing to me to see with my own eyes that we DO have allies and willing donors. People that accepted this in a way that, at the time, I could not. People that wanted to help. It gave me hope that the future wasn’t as bleak as I thought it was. Donors will always have a special place in my heart because of that. The forums taught me how to start taking blood safely.
To me, they are kind people who care and want to help us. This isn’t an easy thing to understand or accept if you don’t live it. Further, it’s asking someone to be cut or stuck with a needle in order to help. Like with the Red Cross, donating is an act of giving. It’s caring. It is supporting us in the areas that our body can’t sustain itself. When I get to know someone, if I am to establish a true friendship or bond, they have to know all of me. This is a massively important part of my life. It was central to my formative years. I do not want to have to wear a mask around my closest people. When someone responds with kindness and care, it is appreciated. Someone considerate enough to understand my need without fear or hatred and to want to help is always welcome.
A further discussion around donors was the need (or lack thereof) for separate spaces. I, personally, believe both have merit. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t support separate spaces despite advocating for the importance of separate spaces for med sangs; supportive, teaching environments with those of like-mind who can find camaraderie. I think the same should be true for vampire-identified people and donors. I actually supported a secret donor only group several years ago because I’ve always felt this to be the case. We CAN have separate spaces. We simply wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing all the nitty gritty of certain things in front of other types of people. Sanguivores can ‘twoof’ and say things to each other that they would never feel comfortable discussing with others who don’t experience it.
That said, I firmly believe everyone should have an equal voice and that donor voices should be heard just as much as everyone else. They are the other side of the coin. They are involved and invested in us as well. Donors, currently, just aren’t represented enough. There aren’t many who are visible. Many want to just help their sang and that’s it. In overall group gatherings, they deserve a seat. There are issues unique to donors that aren’t well reported. An issue I’d noticed but have never seen discussed publicly was referenced in my last article, and suddenly donors began talking of how often it had happened to them. I wonder if some feel like they would get resistance if they became more outspoken. I hope not.
The (often uncomfortable) expectation of intimacy
However, there are problems on our side of the coin that can be problematic and influence how we act with our donors. A major one I come across is the expectation of intimacy from a donor. Certainly not all, but some see vampire movies and want the same sort of intimacy. Others have a soft spot for the person they are donating to and see it as a way to get close to them. This can be incredibly uncomfortable for the sanguivore. Many I know see the exchange as transactional. Some of us are already in established relationships. A lot of us don’t want intimacy or emotional entanglements, yet it is all too often expected of us. Donors who would agree to donate with a needle, but who would want ‘contact feeding’ and mouth to skin contact as well with the donation being dependent on agreeing to the latter. This leaves us in a bind. Do we agree and be uncomfortable, or refuse and potentially be in a very bad way with our health? Personally, I’ve always taken it to mean that someone doesn’t care that much if they’re willing to put me in that position, so I refuse to take from them and end the arrangement there and then.
I don’t compare all to me, but personally, I have always generally been a colder person. We do have predatory natures. We need a source of sustenance. Emotional entanglements have made me avoidant entirely of potential donors. I’ve had people want to donate to me for years and live only 30 minutes away, but they showed a warmth and interest that I didn’t feel comfortable with. As soon as someone shows the possibility of more than a friendship interest in me, I leave. Perhaps I’m spoiled, but it’s just not comfortable for me. This isn’t to say I’m an asshole (well I may be, but that’s a separate issue) and I have no feelings. I love art, literature, fashion, people. But people getting attached to me has always been extremely uncomfortable. That has only had one exception, and it has been with another sanguivore. I know some other sangs feel the same and too much attachment makes them uncomfortable; then the insistence on contact feeding that seeks to cement that attachment can make the sang bolt. Many of us are independent, predatory, solitary. Several claim to be incapable or unsure of romantic attachment at all. Is this physiological or a side effect from needing to take blood from humans all our lives? It undoubtedly does change a person. We shouldn’t have to have sex or engage in an intimate act beyond our comfort zone in order to get the substance we need to stay healthy. When entering into a donation arrangement, be implicit and clear with boundaries to avoid suffering down the line for both parties.
Donors, people, just like us
We are all people. Ultimately, blood drinkers and donors are all unique and we need to be clear in establishing boundaries from the start. Some people can be amazing, and others can be shitty. I’ve even known donors to be abusive in the past. Get to know your person before entering into any kind of arrangement with them. I’ve never treated donors any differently from myself. Same with non-donor allies. Respect is the most important aspect, as well as understanding. As I said, we are all people living with different experiences and different burdens. We should treat each other as people, and not be bound by labels or expectations. All people deserve a voice and representation in their respective circles.