I love this time of year, but for some it brings out their best, and for others it brings out their worst. I was picking up a prescription at a local drugstore when the lady behind the counter decided I was her new friend.
“I just hate Christmas,” the sad-eyed, middle aged clerk said as she scanned the Christmas gift bags I was buying. It was a deal—2 for a dollar, and they were good, sturdy bags. I was thrilled to find such a bargain, and ready to get my prescription and go home. The look on her face, and the disgust in her voice caused my Christmas joy to suddenly begin deflating. If you were standing near me, you could have heard the high pitched squeal it made. “I know that I’m a scrooge, but I can’t help it.”
“Really? I love Christmas.” I told her, trying to stay positive, and hoping to make a quick escape.
“My son was killed, and that was his favorite holiday. Now I can’t stand it because it reminds me that he’s not here to enjoy it.” Again, stated with an air of disgust.
“I’m sorry. I can see why it would not be a hard time of year for you.” I wanted to acknowledge her hurt, but by doing so, I unwittingly opened an opportunity for her to spill her guts. So, for next 20 minutes, I got to hear about his unexpected death several years before, the impact it has had on her and her family. I have a hard time being intentionally rude unless I’m angry, so I found myself caught listening to the drone of an unhappy person, with unhappy things happening around her all the time, and wanting to die myself if I had to hear another word. (Mind you, I had just had surgery and was on my way home. The longer she talked, the more I needed that Percocet. But she never asked a thing about me.)
I finally found a chance to escape and briskly walked away, hoping to find a sharp knife for some wrist slitting. As I got into the car, I realized two things – 1. I will never purchase anything from that pharmacy again, and 2. I don’t want to be that person who sucks out your joy, so she won’t be the only sad person around.
I’m not minimizing her hurt, but I believe that if you dwell in the atrocities of life, you become an easy target for more hurt. And I believe that this is a time of year to celebrate. Celebrate life you have right now. Celebrate the good things you DO have. She is letting other people and circumstances define her. We all do that to an extent, but to lament over it to a stranger is odd. I wonder how many others she has lamented the same story to since then? She is a cloud of despair, and I pray she finds peace. I hope I have enough insight, and have tapped into my codependency well enough, to not lose the peace I’ve finally managed to obtain.
This is one example of codependency gone wild. Life is too short