I’ve always loved to make people laugh. I’m not sure when I developed that characteristic. Although I was somewhat shy when I was younger, I was always willing to “play the fool” if it made people laugh. I sometimes even thought that bringing joy is part of my life’s purpose.
Of course, not everyone gets my sense of humor. I think that humor is almost like a personal language and no matter how funny you THINK you are, some people just won’t understand your “laugh language”. Doctor’s often don’t believe I’m sick because I sometimes make jokes about my own ailments. People at the DMV or IRS…well, its hard to illicit a chuckle from them. And when I was in school, my teachers seldom thought that my levity was the right answer for whatever question they were asking.
The people I have always loved the most in my life were the ones who spoke my same “laugh language.” My mother was one of them, as were most of my best friends over the years.
After many years of dating men who didn’t understand my language, I finally met the man of my dreams. We had many of the same hobbies, but he also loved and appreciated me for exactly who I am: the quiet but quirky, artistic, creative, wildlife-loving gardener who loves deep conversation with a side of playful humor. He was wonderful in so many ways, but the humor was one of the best parts, since we definitely both loved to laugh. We never took anything too seriously and had each other laughing and smiling every single day, through all of the challenges that life brought our way. This daily joy and laughter energized me and allowed me to flourish and to become all that I was meant to be. I became a successful freelance writer and we built our own home (another of my life’s dreams) and the years I spent with him, my life just felt blissful and complete.
He was so much more than my “better half”. He was a good two-thirds, at least!! So when he died very unexpectedly at the age of 55, I totally fell apart. Not only did I feel completely broken without him, but since I was grieving, I thought that I just shouldn’t allow myself to be funny anymore, so I stuffed that part of myself away.
When I held his “celebration of life”, I did include some humorous stories in the talk I gave. After all, laughter was a HUGE part of our lives and I knew he liked making people laugh as much as I did. But for the most part, when I met people in public, I felt like I had to act serious and even a little morose. I even began to stifle my smile!
I had a hole in my heart that needed to be filled. So I did all of the things everyone told me to do to find compatible people. I joined various groups and went out more often and tried new things. But as soon as I opened my mouth to share some humor, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. Nobody seemed to understand or speak my language.
So I just quit trying. Although I had always been somewhat of an introvert, I became even more so. I quit writing, I quit trying to meet new people.
I began to feel depressed and my energy level plummeted. I mean, I felt AWFUL a good deal of the time. I slept a lot and generally didn’t feel well and it was really hard to keep my spirits up sometimes.
Four years after my husband died, a young man came to my house to do some work. While he was here, I made one of my usual joking comments and instead of rolling his eyes or ignoring me, he burst out laughing. And for the next few hours, the tech and I had that incredible playful banter that I had been missing so much. Finally! I met someone who spoke and understood my language.
He was a lot younger than me, but we became friends. He would call me and tell me about comedians that he liked or shows that made him laugh. And we would share that same banter that just came natural to us. The comedians, the shows, the jokes, the banter…..all of it just reminded me of what I had been missing for the last four years. It was so simple. I had kept the real me locked up tight and I had the key all along. Laughter was the key!!
And that laughter along with the acceptance of who I really am just seemed to wake something up inside me . And as I started to become happier again, I realized that I had to make some changes to hold on to that happiness. I had to try to include as much comedy and laughter in my life as I could, every day, to keep my inner comedian recharged.
To do that, I had to be brave enough to be proud of who I really am. I’m the class clown. The closet comedian. Queen of the witty quips. I know that not everybody is going to get my humor, but I also know that some people will, if I’m brave enough to share it.
I have learned that laughter is a necessity for my mental AND physical health. I need it!! It makes me feel GOOD to laugh and makes me feel even better if I can make other people laugh. If I meet someone who likes my sense of humor and rewards me with their mirth, I’m going to do my best to keep them in my life so we can continue to share that laughter. Nothing brightens my soul like a good easy volley of playful banter so if I meet someone who can answer me, quip for quip, I feel like I’m in my own version of Heaven. And when I can’t find people to laugh with, I listen to comedians on Pandora or Youtube, to keep my own personal inner comedy channel fully charged.
My husband accepted me completely, 100% the way that I am, with all of my crazy comedy and playful pranks. Because of that, I flourished in the relationship. I was in love. Not just with him, but with myself and with life in general. But since he died, I wasn’t really sure anyone else would accept the real me and so I hid it. I let it drift away. But once I was brave enough to share the “real me” again, I started to feel whole AND healthy again. For the first time in 4 years, I felt like myself.
I thought I had lost myself when I lost my husband but what I had really lost was my courage to be myself. And what I learned is that we can’t really live and thrive and be healthy if we are hiding who we truly are. When I realized how simple the keys to my health and happiness were, I made an effort to include laughter in my life every single day. Laughter is the key to who I am. And when I realized the answer was so simple, I just had to laugh!