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?

 

 

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The Joy of Mania

 

 

 

Last Sunday, we had a houseful. My sons, Ethan, Jesse and Eric came. Ethan brought Otis, his 16 month-old son. Otis is learning to talk but more adorably, he communicates in gestures, pointing to emphasize, and shrugging to say, “where did it go?”

Jesse brought his three girls, Marissa, Claire, and Ally. They are six, five and four. Otis is going to think that all the girls love him, because his cousins dote on him.

Also, we had a treat. Frank’s nephew’s girls, Hannah, 9, and Sophia, 7, came with their mother Heather. So we had five girls and Otis here all at once. I was overjoyed.

Frank has a special relationship with Marissa. She runs right to him when they get here, because he’s her buddy. She makes up games for him, draws pictures for him, and is totally engrossed in her play with him. She needs the attention, having to compete for attention at home with her sisters.

The three girls were adopted when they were 2, 3, and 4. They’re tiny, measuring up to only the fifth percentile for weight and height of their peers. Sophia is small, but Marissa looked tiny next to her.

I was really looking forward to their visit. Usually, because I’m in my wheelchair, I have a hard time trying to figure out how to interact with the little ones. I long to get on the floor with them and play like Frank does. And usually with that many people here, I withdraw, and have difficulty speaking or talking. But this time was different.

Ally asked her father to read a book, and when he said no, I volunteered. It was such a joy to read to her. It was one of my favorite children’s books, “Are You My Mother?” When I got to the part where the baby bird meets the noisy snort, Frank chimed in with a bit “Snort!”

The girls love coming here. I have arts and crafts supplies. Heather did a craft kit with all of the girls, helping them make decorated hair clips. She was wonderful. She left a rock painting kit with me so I can play with the girls the next time they come.

I got manic that night and for the next week, I was manic and had a very hard time sleeping. I was so excited that I had not become withdrawn this time, and had enjoyed socializing with everyone. Jesse and I talked about Trump and he showed me a selfie he had taken in front of the White House, flipping it the bird. Haha.

I spent my nights on the computer, shopping for crafts kits for the girls to play with when they come. I bought them smocks for the rock painting. I bought Otis a toy airplane because he didn’t have any toys here. I was so excited, it was like a curtain had been drawn and I was connecting with my grandchildren in a different and authentic way. All this time, since December, I had struggled to communicate and play.

Usually, mania isn’t my friend. I lose sleep, I cause more weakness, I run down my body. But this time I thoroughly enjoyed the elevated mood and the urge toward creativity.

During this time, I made the slideshow I posted here on my blog. I mailed it to my family members. At last, after months of stagnation, I feel alive and purposeful.

Finally, I can play.

Love,

Gail

Prose – On this Day

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My Original Family

This is, as the caption says, my original family at some date in some other time. My folks have died since, and the rest of us have aged and grown a little thicker. The siblings from left to right are oldest to youngest. I am second from the right. I miss my original family more than I admit even to myself. With all of their quirks, flaws, and uniqueness we have a bond of a world view which was created within our little sphere of suburban hood. We didn’t belong. None of us belonged to the culture of our peers, and as we each attempted to navigate the hoops and obstacle course and ordinary rituals of childhood, we knew we different.

Like our Dad, we read. Philosophy, poetry, comic books, forbidden texts, erotica, and pulp fiction. Like our Mom, we painted, sewed, used ceramics, loved nature, and created new things out of everyday objects we admired. We were gifted with a sardonic wit that my parents didn’t have and were often the object of such twisted thoughts and looks between us. We wrote and hid our thoughts between the pages of journals and and our rooms were banned to anyone else. In retrospect the house was small, but we each carved out a space which was most precious to us. Our privacy.

I miss them. They are far away in distance or in mind. I am on this day visited with a sadness so great I need them more than usual. I need to be in this picture with them, hoping they’ll hold me up for the next six months; as they once did in our little warped and twisted universe. It felt comfortable. It was home.

My fiancĂ© Frank is going through medical treatment for a rare and frightening disease. I have had more than my share of medical scares, but to see my love go through it is heart-breaking. I want to take his burden upon myself because I have beat the odds so many times before. It’s not that I doubt his strength, fortitude, or optimism to overcome it. He will. I just do not want him to be alone with it. He is going inpatient on Monday and we will be apart for the first time in three years. I can’t be there every day. He’ll tell me it’s not that hard on him, but I’ll know the truth.

He’s being strong for me, and I want him to be strong for himself.