Life Is Better When You’re Laughing
“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”
The above title is the writing on the outside of my private journal. Understand comedy however you wish but for me it has gotten me through a lot of situations both good and bad. I have always prided myself on the fact that regardless of what events have taken place in my life, my ability to laugh and find humor in most situations was never damaged. Often times humor was used against me as a form of humiliation and embarrassment.
As a child, I’m not sure if I was humorous or not. However, with my dad’s quick wit and grandmother’s lack of a filter, in any capacity, there was always a reason to laugh. In my teen years, clowning around became second nature and a form of survival. I became a class clown that followed me into adulthood. In most treatment centers and psychiatric units you can most assuredly find me as the guilty party wherever roars of laughter might be exhibited. This is not because I like attention. I do, however, love laughing with like minded individuals. Things I Have Learned on Psychiatric Units is another blog where some of this very humor was captured.
I am usually telling stories related to my late grandmother’s antics especially when birds, squirrels, her individualized driving abilities or lack thereof and Wal-Mart scooters are the topics. She never could quite understand the fact that birds and squirrels have co-existed for thousands of years together. She also never realized that both birds and squirrels can survive on food even if you don’t personally feed them every day. There were many days when you would catch her screaming at the squirrels in a murderous rage about staying out of the bird feeder because they had their own food (corn cobs) placed securely onto a tree. After throwing random objects from her house such as knives, spoons, cooking pots, a tea pot and house slippers at said bird feeder and using language that would make even the most liberal of southern Baptist blush she would then proceed threatening them with verbalized thoughts of a mass squirrel genocide. Even after her death some of those same house slippers were found buried beneath leaves of the once violent anti-squirrel tyrant. The blog post Birds and Squirrels also reiterates some of these same scenarios played out by one of my greatest friends….my Nannie.
Her driving consisted of her ignoring street signs, mainly speed limit signs, because they were viewed as a suggestion rather than law. My family and I started driving her around soon after we all realized that safety behind the wheel was not her goal or a priority. When I would take her to Wal-Mart my 80 year-old grandmother used the same lack of driving skills on the scooters. There were times when I would look up with her driving solo to the women’s clothing section right up into a clothes rack. She then proceeded to tell me the scooter was broken and that’s why the incident has occurred. Never once did she acknowledge operator error. She would somehow cuss her way into leaving the area on the “broken” scooter only to leave a trail of blouses that had been ripped off the rack. She would also drive down to another section of the store with additional clothing and hangers swirling around and grinding in the tires. I’m sure Wal-Mart wrote these damaged items off because they most assuredly could not be sold after my Nannie had done her damage.
The ability to laugh at our own shortcomings allows us to not take life so seriously. Laughter helps to reduce pain, strengthens immune function and decreases stress. Whenever I feel some type of major depressive episode coming on I’ll usually find a movie or a standup performance by one of my favorite comedians/actors to help chase it away. Granted this doesn’t always work but laughter has been some of the best medicine for me. Some of my favorite comedians are: Kevin Hart, Katt Williams, Dane Cook, Tyler Perry, Rickey Smiley, Jim Gaffigan, Aries Spears, Gabriel Iglesias, Will Ferrell, Jim Carey, Dana Carvey, Margaret Cho, Amy Schumer, Ellen Degeneres, Tig Notaro, Melissa McCarthy, Mo’nique, Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes, Cedric the Entertainer, Jeff Dunham, Mike Epps, Russell Peters, Darren Knight (Southern Momma) and the late Robin Williams, Chris Farley, Bernie Mac, John Candy and Ralphie May.
While my ex-husband could be comical, he used his humor in a very demeaning way against me. And in public or around family is when he would let these skills reverberate with only me having the knowledge that this was not done in fun. I picked up on those comedic verbal sniper attacks very well. Also, since tears and real emotions were not considered “safe”, humor whether appropriate or inappropriate was always acceptable. To this day, I’ll deflect most emotions other than anger or humor because it just doesn’t feel safe even with safe people. Luckily, my “coach” already knows this and gets my attention when deflection seems to be my goal instead of feeling uncomfortable feelings.
Learning how deal with feelings through laughter is ok. However, using humor as a way to avoid feelings can be detrimental and deadly if taken to extremes. Re-learning how to deal with feelings appropriately is not an easy task. But I will still take time out with telemarketers to let them know that I have to end the call because I have a cow on fire in the front yard. Again, another part of life where I must learn and accept the importance of moderation and balance.