Dry Bottom Girl over at No More Merlot was kind enough to comment on one of my posts yesterday. In it she paid me the highest compliment anyone could pay me when she said I was funny. Yep, that is the highest compliment for me…mainly because I don’t believe you when you pay me any other compliments. But that’s another post entirely. Anyway…thank you Dry Bottom Girl – you made my day!
Author’s note: In the following post, any reference to being funny refers to sarcasm, snide remarks, off-color humor, etc. It in no way is meant to convey that I’m good at telling jokes. In fact, I suck at telling jokes. You know that person who, when trying to repeat a joke always ends up letting the punch line slip? Yeah…that would be me. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.
The reason it’s such a big deal to me is because it’s the only way I have managed to survive in life and come out just a little more normal than the rest of my family. When I was a kid I used humor to distract my parents when they argued (which was always – even when my dad was sober they argued). I would make goofy faces or snide comments (well beyond my years) and sometimes they would burst out laughing and the argument would be over and peace would be restored. (That last part was a joke in case you didn’t pick up on it.)
Later as I got older and went through a horrendous puberty – weight gain, a bad case of acne, thick unruly hair – I used humor as a way to befriend the guys and get at least some of the attention I craved from men. They saw me as a buddy. Someone to confide in and someone who made them laugh. Not exactly what I wanted but I would settle for it. In addition, using self-depricating humor was the best way for me to deflect mean-sprited kids who wanted to make themselves feel better by making fun of me. If I laughed at myself first, it took all of the pleasure out of their comments for them. They ended up looking stupid and I ended up looking secure in myself and funny. (Notice I said looking secure in myself.)
Fast forward to my first real career move and meeting my husband (who is actually my second husband but practice marriages don’t count – you know, like if you eat Oreos in the dark the calories don’t count – same concept). He is 13 years older than me but since I was born 30, we clicked. And I clicked with his friends, except when I didn’t. For those times I used humor to gain acceptance. I can’t tell you the number of times someone said to me, “I can’t believe you just said that!” Because I would let my filter slip from time to time (on purpose mind you – for the laugh) and people just couldn’t believe how “up-front” I could be!
But laughter and humor has been most helpful to me in times of sorror. When my dad had a massive stroke and was lying in a hospital bed dying (he was already brain dead – we just had to wait for his body to catch up), the raucous laughter coming from his room must have made the hospice people think we were crazy! (Or not – those folks are amazing and they’ve likely seen all kinds of grieving.) It’s just that when I’m in that much pain, I seek ways to self-soothe, and for me laughter is the best medicine. Cracking jokes and releasing that tension is just my way of coping.
I dealt with my mom the same way. When things were really bad between us, I would crack a joke or make fun of one of us and all of a sudden we were laughing. When she was really depressed (as she was often toward the end of her life), I would make some off-color remark or make fun of my sister and she would snicker and, I hope, feel a little better.
I also love to laugh as much as I love to make people laugh.
One of the things that I’ve found in sobriety is that being the only sober one at a party is a drag. It’s hard when you don’t get the joke. I find it exceedingly boring. People laughing at the stupidest (is that a word?) things…things that I used to think were hi-la-ri-ous! Now? Not so much. You know that old saying, “I’m not laughing at you I’m laughing with you.” Guess what? At those parties I am laughing at you. But not in a good way. More in a, isn’t that pathetic, way. It’s not that I think I’m better than the drinking people, quite the contrary. It’s just that I see so much of my drunken self in them and, at least for now, it’s more pathetic than funny.
However, one wonderful and glorious thing I’ve find in sobriety is that I laugh so much more now! And when I do laugh it’s real, and deep and I actually feel it. I have passed on my sense of humor to my children and they can make me laugh like no comedian or other person on the planet can make me laugh. When I was drinking I was isolating so much of myself that I wasn’t experiencing that simple pleasure as much as I should have been. Now I seek it out. I will do crazy stuff like dance to music on commercials just so they will make fun of me and make me laugh. They are quick witted and charming and I love to be around them. Thank you God for getting me sober so that I could experience that joy again.
So that’s it for my Friday post. Now I’m going to get to work and find something (or someone…maybe myself) to make me laugh. And if all else fails I’ll log back in and look at that baby at the top of my post. I have no idea who that child is but that look of pure joy says it all to me.
You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything – even poverty – you can survive it. ~ Bill Cosby