You'll never find it in a psych text book, but...

One of the great things about my life is that I have a sister who is wonderful at empathizing. She does it perfectly. First, she listens. Then she says, "That does suck." Then she may or may not offer helpful solutions, depending on whether I'm open to that or would prefer a good wallow. And then, she offers me a gem or two from her Jerry Springer Collection. Her JSC is an arsenal of stories she has saved up, some about her, most about her friends or friends of friends, that will invariably make anyone else feel lucky simply because they are not that person.

For example, tonight she told me about a friend's friend, let's call her S. S had two children at the time that her life fell apart. Her husband went on a trip to Vegas and came back acting very weird. Saying weird things, moping around all moody and depressed, skipping work. After a week, S confronted him about his behavior, suggesting (as I might do in such a situation) that he get over himself and suck it up. His response? He started accusing her that his children were "the spawn of the devil." S became so fearful for her own and her children's well being that she immediately threw them in the car, with no shoes! (C always adds the perfect level of detail to her stories), and drove them around for two hours. At which point she returned to the house to see if her husband had calmed down. Turned out, he hadn't. He'd taken a shot gun and began shooting off the deck into the backyard, prompting a neighbor to call the police. Then, when the police arrived, he shot himself. S pulled into her driveway and was greeted by squad cars and yellow tape. Later she found out that her husband had lost all their money. I'm not sure if that happened in Vegas, or was not related to said trip at all.

Anyway, that tale has a happy ending (believe it or not, I know it's hard to believe it!). But it served its immediate purpose. All night I've been thinking, no matter how bummed I am right now, thank God I'm not her.

Most people will tell you this kind of misery one-upsmanship is not actually helpful to people who are upset. As a therapist by training I'd tell you that too. But her JSP works every time. Like ice cream for a scraped knee: it shouldn't help in the healing process, but it does.

 

11 comments:

~The South Dakota Cowgirl~ said...

Maybe it's because her stories, make you reflect on how fortunate you are? I always feel like if we focus on the positives in our life, that we'll be happier than if everything is doom and gloom. So I try to make a rule that for every negative thought I have, I have to focus on two positive things in my life. I totally get your sister's JSP working! I'm glad that you have her!

11:38 PM
Bina said...

Holy Crap! Seriously???? Oh my God. I don't even know what to say to that story.

But ya know, I just HATE when people try to one-upmanship me. I mean, just listen, sympathize, and shut up, ya know? My ex friend, no matter WHAT anyone talked about, had one better or worse, and she would interrupt you to tell you about it and act like she never even heard what you just said!

I love your blog by the way. Did you design it?

7:27 AM
Cat said...

Dude, I'm the Queen of Sheba compared to that lady. You're right, it shouldn't make me feel better, but it totally does. Thanks for sharing that!

8:24 AM
DeeMarie said...

Wow. I guess there's always that one person that has it worse, huh?

Glad it made you feel a bit better. Thankful you have a sister for just such occasions!!

8:30 AM
Mel said...

Someone ALWAYS has it worse, and sometimes it's so reminding of our own blessings to hear it. I often need that kind of detail to snap me out of my funk, to remind me that my life isn't the worst in the world with shoeless children to boot. (ps-I love those kinds of details, btw; it's like my best friend telling me about the toothless santa her kids posed with at the bass pro shop last week. Yes, I love living in Texas, it's so awesome)
*hugs*

9:16 AM
calicobebop said...

I hear you, I've often said similar things to myself. "It may be bad right now but it could be so much worse." I'm glad that woman's story was able to lift your spirits - and I hope she is doing well herself!

10:12 AM
Crys :D said...

oh my god, my jaw dropped. that's craziness.

ok. so don't stalk me, but here's a combo: Ontario, K1N 6Z6.

:)

10:25 AM
alison said...

Crazy, crazy story! She should write a book of JSP stories. :)

11:49 AM
HeatherPride said...

I guess now when my husband and I argue over finances, I can at least be glad that we have money to fight about!!

11:55 AM
Swishy said...

OH MY GOSH!!!! What a story.

Your sister sounds awesome. I would like to borrow her for an afternoon, please :)

1:10 PM
Danifred said...

I've always wanted a sister- and that is exactly the reason why!

5:31 PM