Friday, September 18, 2009

Life Is A Carnival.

A friend gave me an AA speaker cd last night at the meeting, and I put it on when I got home. The first speaker had me laughing so hard I had to stop and wipe my eyes. He describes his thought processes when he was still drinking, and after the roars of laughter die down, he says, "Normal people wouldn't find that funny." This truth makes everyone laugh even harder. Just try to describe our lunacy to anyone not in 12-Step - they'll begin to give you that "whites of the eyes" alarmed look, as they casually sidle away.

I'm deeply grateful for the way Al-Anon has developed my sense of humour. I used to take myself, and my misfortunes, very seriously. I had no ability to view myself with any objectivity, so would be relieving the pain or discomfort, each time I spoke of whatever was occupying my mind.
It was through attending meetings, reasoning things out with my sponsor, and working the Steps, that I slowly, (ever so slowly) began to recognise my absurdities of thought and action.

This marvellous lens of humour has become a wide-angle lens, encompassing my entire field of vision.

I take great delight in reciting to a program friend, a pattern of my thinking which I've just realised is completely bonkers. I know they'll enjoy it, they've most likely experienced it themselves. Laughter removes the sting of shame, and realisations delivered in a burst of laughter, seem to have better staying power. Once I've had a good laugh over some aspect of myself, I can never go back to my original dramatic and somber viewpoint - humour has crumbled that away into the sea, and I've got a whole new promontory from which to gaze.

I've sat in meetings where a member is describing what to anyone not in 12-Step, would sound like a soap opera come to life - one tragedy after another; meanwhile, the speaker is laughing so hard she can barely talk, and so is everyone else at the table.

The first time this happened, when I was relatively new to program, the woman sitting beside me glanced over, and patted my arm, saying "It's ok, dear, we're not laughing at her, we're laughing at ourselves." I remember thinking, "Oh, right. Okay."

Only the fact that the speaker was laughing hardest of all, made it possible for me to grasp that, in some way I didn't understand, the laughter was a shared delight, and not disprespectful of her pain. It was completely beyond me, but I wanted some. I wanted with all my parched soul, to be able to laugh like that. I'd let alcoholism steal my sense of humour completely. I'd become what my grandpa used to call a "sad sack."

I've seen myself in newcomers a few times since then, when I'm describing some absurdity, and laughing, and I glance up to see their look of puzzlement - "How can she find that funny? Why is everyone else laughing?"

Keep coming back - you'll find out.


  1. I find things can be so humorous and we regularly laugh in meetings. I never used to understand how anything could be funny about alcoholism. But now can laugh right along with the rest of the group.

  2. My brother can tell us about the morning he woke up to find a big man spitting on his face while he lied on his bed in a jail cell and when he's through with the story we are wiped out from laughing. I thought we were just a really perverted family. Glad to read your post.