My Humorless Self

The Scream

As long as I could remember, my mom dominated the house with her rules. She was a strong creative, and a very complex woman.

From the time I could talk, I’m sure, there was the no talking rule and no laughing rule. To talk to her or to laugh would bring upon one of her rages, especially at the dinner table. I learned very early on not to laugh at home, and there was no humor in my parent’s relationship with one exception.

With her friends, she was a different person. She laughed, she flirted, and she played. I observed this in astonishment, because this was not the mother I knew. My parents had monthly parties with their group of friends, and they drank and laughed and made sexual innuendos with each other. At home, quiet was the rule and I was to stay in my room away from them and not bother them.

I have always been attracted to funny men. They let me play and laugh, which was downright dangerous as a child. They were free of the rules I had grown up with and I love to be made to laugh, even at my own expense, because I know how serious I am.

I have also had a lot of serious things happen to me. I almost died from polio as a child and had to endure the torture of painful physical therapy to get well. I spent a whole summer in full leg casts.I had a surgery when I was ten for a tendon transplant in my right leg. I was brutally bullied by the neighborhood boys and girls as a disabled child. There was nothing funny about my childhood.

I developed bipolar disorder and suffered. I married an abusive man and acquired PTSD. I was plagued by nightmares, flashbacks, and migraines almost daily. I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and succumbed to psychosis at times. Later on, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have had surgery twice for it. There was very little that was funny about my adulthood.

Then I met Frank. He was funny. He poked fun at me, and gave me the permission to play. He taught me to enjoy watching and laughing at comedy. He is the perfect yin to my yang. We’re a lot alike in temperament, but I get the added bonus of having his jokes to laugh at, and his tickling to squirm from.

When I met him, I knew he was fulfilling a lot of childhood needs I had that had gone unmet. His physicality and gentle stroking of my cheek filled a void that the absence of affection in my childhood had caused. His patient listening made me feel valued and heard, even though what I was saying was trauma related and frightening oftentimes. I was badly broken, and he told me I would heal. I hung on his words more than he knew.

He was right. I have healed in a lot of ways. But I am still serious, and a deep thinker. Frank even teases me about my thinking, telling me that it gets me in trouble. He’s right, but a lifetime of thinking doesn’t get turned around in a few years.

Today I can laugh without fear of retribution. I still have trouble making jokes of my own, but that’s okay. Sometimes I think Frank would prefer a funny woman to joke with, but he chose me for reasons of his own, too.

He rescued me in more ways than one.

I hope you have someone to laugh and play with in your life today. Life is short, and laughing is as emotionally necessary as crying to cleanse the soul. There’s nothing like a good belly laugh that causes tears to run down your face.

Love,

Gail

Are you a funny person? Do you have someone in life to joke and play with? Was humor a big part of your upbringing?

 

 

A Lazy Sunday

My beautiful picture

I went to college in my thirties after I divorced my abusive husband. It was a tumultuous time, but so rich in personal growth. I was recovering from a nervous breakdown and four months in a psychiatric hospital. I was beginning to feel the effects of post-polio syndrome, but mostly just fatigue. I was not interested in dating; only in writing and raising my three sons.

At the university, I tried out various majors, starting with English and Music. I had been writing since I was ten and had been a flautist for just as long. I took flute lessons and saxophone lessons, and got good grades in both. But when I took a class in Chaucer and failed, I decided to change my major to Psychology. I minored in Anthropology.

My children knew it was stressful for me to be commuting and working and trying to study. I had bought a one-bedroom condo, and had bunkbeds and a single bed in the bedroom for them. I slept on the sofa in the living room. I had sold my childhood home to my ex-husband because merely being in the house caused severe depression and it held so many childhood ghosts for me.

I had offered to split custody of the children every other week. Joint custody was the law in Massachusetts, and even though I thought my ex was cruel, my therapist insisted that they needed both of us. I also dropped the criminal abuse charges I had made against him in the interest of not involving the children in a lengthy, drawn out court trial.

This is a picture of me and Eric, Jesse, and Ethan at the National Seashore on Cape Cod. It was the last vacation I would take with my then-husband. This is my favorite picture of me with my children. I was happy and for a moment, without burdens.

This picture was taken in August, 1984. When I see what I have been through and where I am now with the love of my life, I am amazed. Now my children have children and and I know that they survived their tumultuous childhood.

I still have a therapist I see weekly. My own childhood and first marriage and mental illness need attending to. Some day, I hope to be strong enough to leave therapy. But for now, it keeps me afloat on the ocean of my dreams.

Love,

Gail

Have you ever thought of writing your life story, or a chapter of it? Has your perspective changed over time? What might keep you from sharing your story?