Monday, December 5, 2011

LOL. But not really.


It's been my little white lie for ages.  I type it, but I don't really do it.  There's no real laughing going on.  It's only a virtual laugh out loud.

But a laugh in my head is just as good as a real one, right?  A laugh no one hears.  A laugh no one sees.  A laugh that no "real" people enjoy.  Not my children.  Not anyone.  In fact, probably not really a laugh at all.

The ugly truth is that until very recently, I had stopped laughing altogether.  My LOLs were a fraud.

But I used to LOL for real.  I admit I was never the class clown.  That was my brother.  He sparked enough laughs for everyone.  But although I wasn't usually the one making people laugh, I could laugh right along with the best of them.  All through growing up, and into early adulthood, I'd laugh.  Sometimes uproariously, especially with my girl friends.  Or at home, with my family.  Lots of laughs was real.

But in the last few years I'd noticed something.  Laughter was petering out.  And what laughter or jokes were left had all turned sharp.  Hard.  Cutting.  Tinged...with something.  Something I didn't want to talk about.

And its been like that all the way up until recently.  But shortly after the big changes that happened in our family, laughter began reemerging.  It crept in when I didn't expect it.  Really, at first it was just a chuckle or two.  They took me by surprise.  I was hesitant.  I almost felt guilty.  Laughing?  How could I be laughing?  I'm going through a living hell, for cripes sake!  This is serious.

But I got suspicious that it might be a "God thing" when a good friend, 20 years my senior gently drew me aside.  A church leader, she confided to me her own story: 

"Very few people know this, but fifteen years ago my husband and I separated.  Although we were able to repair our marriage and reconcile, it was a very dark time.  I was left with two small children, and I felt very afraid.  But my dear," she continued, "You must start laughing again.  Do whatever it takes.  Turn on the Funnies, Lucielle Ball, whatever makes you just bust a gut and start laughing.  If one of your kids puts a pie plate on his head, you should all put pie plates on your heads and march around the house laughing.  It will be your salvation, as it was mine.  Whether your marriage is healed or not, you absolutely must bring laughter back."

Her comments struck me.  Laughter is no laughing matter.  It's vital to the healing process.

As time has worn on, she's been so right.  I've tried hard to follow her advice.  And not only has it been good, it's gotten easier.  Way easier.  And it's become contagious.  My kids are laughing.  Instead of constantly scolding them; I'm laughing right along with them!  I had no idea what the load I'd been carrying around was doing to me.  And my kids.  And everyone around me.  The absence of laughter was a telltale sign that something was very rotten in Denmark.

Then, I found Single Dad Laughing.  'Nuff said.

But despite my revived addiction to laughter, had I really started laughing for real?  I was skeptical.  The acid test for me would come in the form of the snort laugh.  You see I haven't always been a snort laugher.  In fact, the snort laugh was a bit of an enigma to me for years.  I thought it belonged only to the purview of preadolescent slumber parties and the like.  I could be a guffawer, or a snickerer, but it wasn't until I was well into my 20's that I was shocked to hear myself develop a snort laugh.  I don't know whether it was allergies, physiological changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth, or a change of administrations in nearby Washington, but whatever the cause, I joined the ranks of the snort laughers.

So, of course when laughter went out of my life, so did my snort laugh.  And my snort laugh required such a degree of uninhibited joviality that I knew I'd be back in business when it returned.  So, as the weeks have progressed since I started laughing again, I have anxiously awaited its arrival. 

And the snort laugh has not disappointed.  Just as my first, tentative chuckles suddenly and surprisingly surfaced, so has my snort laugh.  Sometimes at the most inappropriate times, because...well...when is a snort laugh appropriate?  But I am now thrilled to say that yes, my finest of ladylike qualities has finally reemerged.  And I'm feeding it; hoping to bring it back in all its appalling glory.

Why just this morning I snort laughed at only the tiniest bit of humor.  It was great.  And I hope to do a lot more of it.  Maybe even with food in my mouth, if I'm lucky.  Almost like the time in 3rd grade when I was noshing on a raw carrot.  And I was riding my bike.  At the same time.  And I sneezed while hanging on to the handlebars for dear, that took days of blowing my nose to clear things out. 

Why was I riding a bike and eating a carrot at the same time, Mom?

In case you need a little help, I wanted to directly link my favorite Lucy YouTube video, which also happens to involve a vegetable type substance.



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