Okay, first things first. I may have hinted at or even mentioned it before but my childhood was messy. I suffered from physical, psychological/emotional and sexual abuse at the hand of a family member. I’m not going into details because the reality is they’re not important. They’re not necessary for the point I’m trying to make. Suffice it to say that my family put the fun in dysfunctional.
I have often made light and joked about these experiences in an effort to make them less important. I refuse to be defined by them and when I was growing up it was much too easy to be labeled “the girls who was raped” or “the girl from that white trash family”. As it was my family was a bit notorious because my parents were very young (Mom was 16 and Dad had just turned 17) when I was born. As a result many of the neighborhood busybodies watched me for years waiting for the demon horns they just knew existed to sprout from my forehead. Rather than becoming a statistic I married a man I love and not because I was pregnant. I managed to complete two master degrees in different majors and for many years was a successful career woman. I showed them! ;D
One day while joking about some of my family dysfunction with some newly acquired friends, one of them suggested that it wasn’t healthy to joke about the pain I experienced. At the time I felt shamed and embarrassed, as though I wasn’t handling it correctly. Now my response would be a more colorful variation of “Screw you”. Joking was the healthy way for me to handle it – then and now. I recently realized that J.K. Rowling even offered a spell for just this type of situation in the Harry Potter series – Riddikulus!
By joking about the abuse and demons that tormented my childhood I was making light of them; making them ridiculous and less dangerous. Sometimes when you can’t face and defeat the monsters attacking you then the only option is to make fun of them and drain off their power. Laughter is powerful magic. In fact in ancient Ireland the mockery of a bard was seen as damaging and harmful, especially if one is a king who has been mocked. It could reveal your unworthiness to the world. Laughing at what scares us can help release some of the paralysis that chains us in place. It can help us get moving again; to find our way to a better, safer place. Thank all the gods for laughter! It can help cleanse the most tormented soul.
I find it interesting when I’ve come across folks in life who seem to have no sense of humor. They see themselves as sober, “God-fearing”, practical folks. In reality I think they are the sickest among us. They have no ability to access the magical healing power of laughter. In the movie Dogma, Salma Hayek, playing a Muse, states that Catholics don’t celebrate their faith they mourn it. It’s an interesting point. People who seem to have no sense of humor about their faith suck all the joy out of it. Who wouldn’t want to have joy and laughter in their spiritual celebrations. Some of the most powerful rituals in which I’ve ever participated had moments of silliness, laughter and a touch of chaos.
So from personal experience let me offer this one piece of advice – no matter how dark and desperate things may seem, find a way to laugh. If you can’t find a way to joke about your own experiences then at least find a comedian or movie that makes you laugh and watch it. Laugh until you cry; until you are purged of those poisons and toxins that are building up in your system. Believe me, I can take life much too seriously but I was blessed to find a man who taught me how to laugh at myself. He gifted me with the healing magic of laughter and for that I will always be grateful.
I have a well-known propensity for laughing hysterically at farts and/or fart-jokes. In fact my mother purchased me a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “You’re never to old to laugh at fart jokes”. For a long time I felt guilty about this habit – as though it revealed a tacky, low-class side to my personality. Now I embrace it because I realize that if I can laugh at one of nature’s smelliest, most embarrassing and humiliating moments, then I can laugh at anything life throws my way. My wish for anyone reading this is that you are learn to laugh at farts; that you are able to laugh at whatever craziness life throw your way. That you learn to tap into the powerful magic of laughter for yourself.