Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Spirits

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


Phyllis Renée said...

My first thought was that maybe she doesn't have anyone to talk to, but that's not always the case. There are some people who just tell everyone everything.

I'm curious though about your "codependency." How do you define that? Because I would think that someone who is truly codependent would still be listening to the woman.

Kristi said...

Just as I think I've outgrown my codependency, I find myself in a situation--or more likely, a relationship--where it crawls out of the woodwork. I suddenly look around and realize--wow, I am still jacked up!!! But I guess the key is recognizing that codependent behavior.

Kristi said...

FYI, I think the reason I listened initially was because I thought this was recent, or something she needed to talk about. But then her impending divorce arose, her physical health, etc. By then I realized she was just a very unhappy person. I've been her before, and that's a terrible place to be. But it's self-inflicted to a certain extent, because you refuse to let go things, and you allow them to define your life.

FHL_Always said...

It sounds like you've created a relationship, and isn't that the point? Next time, if you decide to go back, your relationship with her will grow deeper. I think Whitney said once or Vicki that life works in cycles - while someone is up, someone else is down. And the person who is up at the moment can encourage the other person.

The passing of a son or daughter at Christmas I think would be a traumatic life event, not just a circumstance to get over in my opinion. I've never had such an experience, but I don't think time heals all wounds. And I don't think that people can really "move on" without someone's help sometimes.

I think there are also people that attract someone's conversation. That people felt drawn to speak to someone like you, Kristi. Maybe it's just your personality. I don't think it's necessarily a "codependency" issue and I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Sure, it can get annoying at times...

I don't mean to sound all "religious" or "spiritual" or whatever, and I wasn't there. But, to me what you described sounds more like an opportunity than a burden. Again, just my opinion.

luke said...

Sounds like it was an opportunity AND a burden! So many things are like that, aren't they? I would have listened for much shorter than 20m, so I'd consider your reaction saintly, Kristi. ;) It's really hard to talk to such desperate people - "cloud of despair" I think is a perfect description.

One of our friends has struggled with depression, but he makes a concerted effort to get past it, which makes him actually very fun to be around. But if someone is just engrossed in their own despair and doesn't talk about anything else, I don't know how much outsiders, especially chance encounters, can really affect them. Listening and praying for her are what I probably would have done too.

Phyllis Renée said...

Just a note - completely off topic - I'm so jealous you have so many comments on your very first pot. I'd been blogging for about 2 years before I received so many comments! I see successful blogging in your future. :)

Phyllis Renée said...

That shoud say "post." I hate it when I do that!!

Kristi said...

Sheesh. Now I feel bad for wanting to leave her presence so badly. Ha! Actually, I tend to have people randomly unload on me very personal stuff that I don't know how to respond to. Maybe Kelsy is right--something about my personality makes them think it's safe to open up.

The hard part is knowing I can't help this lady, though. And sometimes, when you listen too much, you enable. That's a fine line, though.

I have struggled with depression since I was 10. So I understand it's grip. And I've worked hard to be a functional person in light of it. Hmmm, I may have to blog on my experiences. I've overcome some stuff, and I honestly think God helped me in it.

You know how ex-smokers can be the worst at condemning smokers? I think I have little patience for people who don't seem interested in getting out their pit.

FHL_Always said...

You do have a lot of comments! I think you're very good at writing things that spur people's thoughts.