Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Funny Thing Redux

This was not my plan. I had hoped to blog on a different topic today, but the day got away from me, and Hubby and I must depart to the land. So...

I just got home from one of the best meetings I've been to in a long time. The topic was humor, which we almost never get to talk about in an Al-Anon meeting. As one member put it, "What we usually talk about is the opposite of humor."

So true. I've only been to one other meeting on humor in Al-Anon, and it was a meeting in which I had an insight about myself and the effects of this disease. I blogged about it at the time. It was one of my first posts. I didn't have many readers then, and few of them are still around.

So in the tradition of public radio, I offer you this archive edition of "Grace Calling."

Today, there was one thing I heard today that I'd like to add. One woman shared that she had decided to pray for more joy in her life, and the past month was one of the best she'd ever had. The difference? She started saying "yes" to things. In the past, she had always said "no."

It's always up to us.

Or, to quote our "Just for Todays," As Abraham Lincoln said, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."

If you'll be so kind as to let me know you stopped by, I'll return the visit when we get home. Now, without further delay...

Funny Thing

The other day at an Al-Anon meeting the topic was humor.

Normally at a meeting, the inside of my head sounds like a garden party, with various members of my "committee" chiming with with their two cents about what I should share. As I find things to relate to in each successive share, the voices multiply so that by the time my turn comes around there's a veritable din in my head.

The other day, the topic was humor. The response from my committee?


I got nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Humor? What did I have to say about humor?

I thought something would surely come to me as I listened to other shares.

Thing is, most of the people in my group seemed as flummoxed as I was. As we went around the room, one thing did occur to me. Nearly everyone, to a person, confessed to being deadly serious.

There were only two exceptions. Interesting, to me, is that both were also members of a different fellowship. (Does anybody but me think AA meetings are just more fun??) One of those two people confessed that she used humor as a shield to deflect from her feelings.

I never thought of myself as being deadly serious. I've been mostly happy in my life. I'm just not what you'd call lighthearted, fun, devil-may-care. I said this to my sponsor during our weekly call time.

"You're way serious," she said.

My sponsor has always told me the truth. I have no reason not to believe her.

So sitting in that room it occurred to me that maybe, like so many things, my serious nature was not hardwired but an affect of this disease. And if that were true, than restoring me to sanity might also mean restoring me to good humor. It's an intriguing thought. I warmed to it.

Before I came into Al-Anon, I thought I knew myself. I didn't know anything.

I've always believed in an examined life. There are so many things about myself I thought were just "who I am." I accepted this. In Al-Anon, I'm finding out that so many of these things are not "who I am" at all. They are traits I share with so many people in this program. All the "isms" of this disease: perfectionism, the need to control, people pleasing.

Now I see that most of these characteristics were self-defense mechanisms that overshot the mark. The good news is that, with a program, I am beginning to unlearn the old behaviors that now stand in my way.

Will my future self include Funny Girl? Probably not. But I'm guessing she'll be a lot lighter. I can hardly wait to meet her.


  1. Wow, your quote from Abraham Lincoln is conviction. I need to keep that before me as a reminder.

    I think I'm way serious when it comes to myself and others say I beat myself up. ???

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I look forward to the time in my recovery when I am called "silly". Great post. The bit about as happy as we choose to be is so true.

    It's strange to me - once we give up trying to control others, we are given much more control/choice. I get to control how I react. I get to choose happiness. Recovery, even in my early stages, is wonderful.

  3. I can see why you wanted to share this again, it gives me hope:) I use humor to protect myself at times, but I have noticed that I am not saying "yes" to things lately and I am a bit more serious. This post was very useful in pointing those things out to me as I didn't realize it so much, just thought I was getting older!

  4. I have a gift of humor in that I can use it to make the people I love laugh. I can use it to lighten moods and dissolve sadness. However, when I am alone, it is rare that I laugh. It is rare that I find things funny, let alone funny enough to break a smile.

    Unfortunately, my humor does not help lighten my moods or dissolve my sadness. That would be too easy.

  5. I can so relate. Humor and making light of a situation has a lot of the time been my M.O. to cover up my pain. Great post Kathy, thank you.

  6. I also think that I am way serious too. Yet, I have a very funny side. I can lose my sense of humor though and come off feeling sad. Alcoholism isn't very funny, is it? Now there are moments of great peace and good humor. I'm grateful for those moments.

  7. Delighted to meet you today. I hope you don't mind if I splash around a bit to get to know you better. This looks like a delightful place to slip off my shoes and splash around.


  8. I love what you said about the committee and what they wanted you to share at meetings--mine works overtime, too. Eventually there's too much there and my sharing comes out all jumbled. A lot of times I go first for that reason :-)

    I took myself way to seriously before I started going to meetings. The change was gradual, but when people started pointing it out (some in a positive manner, some not too pleased with the differences) all of a sudden I realized I was taking more chances and life was more fun.

  9. Kathy,
    Believe it or not I used to be "so serious" and depressed. The first forty years of my life were serious and now the next 40 plus are going to be joyful. He changed my name from Super Serious one To Joyful One. I am learning to laugh at myself and life alot more.

    It is a nice change.

    Halelujah, what a saviour!


  10. Kathy-
    Delightful is too short to not laugh, laugh, laugh.

    "We are sure God wants us to be happy, Joyous and Free!!"


  11. One of the first meetings I used to go to was in a room right next door to an AA meeting hall. Their meeting started a half hour before ours, and by the time we were solemnly saying the Serenity Prayer, the meeting next door was buzzing with raucous laughter. Many of our attendees were appalled that 'they' could laugh when we had been so damaged by "their" behavior. Being new I kept my mouth shut, but I wanted to say, "I hope one day we sound alot more like they do, and much less like a somber group of martyrs wallowing in our own pity party!". Luckily I found my way into a different group, and we laugh all the time - at ourselves, with each other, and at the irony of life. I'm having a much better time now. Thanks for your share!

  12. Sounds like a really great meeting!

  13. You have such a following here... and yet like me, you seem to question who is reading. It is a common thing - this sense that what we do is not worthy or maybe just not appreciated. But I find so much in your blog. I love reading it. There is always something of value...

    Humor is something I need to think more about. I'm pretty sure they do not have meetings on that topic in CoDA - or at least I have not come across one yet.

  14. I had a job interview years ago and was asked what I do for fun... I replied "scrapbooking". I got the job!
    Can so relate to the garden party - that made me laugh (notice the "fun"?).
    Al-Anon is teaching me so much to see the glass as half-full. I've also found by just praising God my outlook can improve.

    Loved both this post and the archive post.
    God bless.

  15. Howdy!
    ya got to laugh at lest once aday, to make it a good day!

    something I have heard all my life,( laugh and people will laugh with ya, cry and ya cry alone)

    ya have a very good day! ya heard :)

  16. In a way, when I step back and examine my life- there is such irony, it is funny. I find humor the best medicine, the easiest form of deflection and oddly, the quickest way to face reality! I laugh because it is acceptable, to cry is weakness to others. I love your blogs, I love your insight! Thanks.

  17. hi kathy~ another great post :) i can very much relate to the feeling of being really serious. in fact, i used to feel angry when people would joke around. i grew up in an environment where people told offensive "jokes" and used humor to shock and upset people, because they thought THAT was funny. so i grew up with anger connected to "humor." it wasn'tuntil i went to college, away from my family, and finally met actual friends and like-minded souls, that i finally found my own sense of humor. it's somewhat unique (i haven't found many people who seem to laugh at the things i think are funny), but that doesn't matter. i'm ok with that. i'm just glad i finally discovered my laugh :)

    i read something the other day, that part of our healing can include making sure each day to schedule in some time for laughter. maybe watch a favorite sitcom, or read a funny cartoon you love each day. that if we actually not only give ourselves permission to laugh, but actually make it enough of a priority to include it in each day, that we'll be happier in general :) i thought that was a great idea. so now, if i go all day and realize i haven't laughed yet, i try to take care of that "need."

    wishing you well!~

  18. Instead of waitng for happiness to find me, I spend each day finding happiness.

    Wonderful blog!

  19. I'm one of those people that immediately makes a joke if things get serious. Definitely a defense mechanism.

  20. those garden party voices live in my head too! i'm still a little bit funny... i think. but i am way too serious also. great post!