Is This Funny? Humor in the Trenches.

Funny is in the “ear” of the beholder.

  • After years of heavy drinking, and driving, Peter decided it was OK to drink and drive when he was alone with Abby and Emily. Even with a year or so in Al-Anon, confronting him was an act of courage. I had carefully considered and practiced my approach. So I picked a sober time, in the front yard, to say, “Your drinking is your choice and your business. But when you drink and drive with the girls, that makes it my business. You cannot drink and drive with the girls in the car. If you are anywhere, anytime, and have been drinking, call  me and I will come to get them.” Deep breath. “And, if you are ever jailed for driving drunk, I will not bail you out.”

  His answer? “Gee, I guess I’d better carry the checkbook.”

  • Urinating by night on the dresser, the kid’s closet, the garage door, (almost) the computer keyboard, and finally (by day), the refrigerator.  He didn’t stop, he found a rationalization. “Simple, yet brilliant. I paid for it, I can pee on it!”  HE thought this one was hilarious!
  • The loving smile. The affectionate arm around my shoulders. The look of charmed humor, as he looked deeply into my eyes and said, “You poor wacked-out thing, you don’t know what you’re doing.”  He thought this was pretty funny, too!

Humor can be a form of denial. “It was just a joke….don’t take yourself so seriously!” NOT. If humor isn’t funny for both parties, it isn’t good humor. It CAN be abusive, and can be an excuse to abuse further. If humor is used to evade serious issues that need to be addressed, it CAN be abusive. Most of us have “crap detectors,” if we just use them. Notice the reaction of the person being kidded: does she make eye contact and share a relaxed laugh…or, does she stiffen, redden, or withdraw? Or does she laugh a little too hard or long, or look a little strained? If that is the case, just be aware of other interactions between the individuals in other contexts. You might be training yourself to see symptoms of abuse.

Diane’s Humor:

  • I was reading a book on Anger Management. He badgered. I blew. I threw the book at his head. I missed. Which REALLY ticked me off!
  • The last night of visits from his parents was always a drink-a-thon. As the evening progressed, all went to bed except Peter and his dad, who fell asleep in lawn chairs in the sprinkler zone. Sometime during the night, his dad went to bed also.  Ffftttttt! Ffffftttt! Ffffftttt! Fffftttt!  Sprinklers. Four A.M. Awesome!
  • Al Anon was a salvation! Peter often went to sleep on the sofa with lights on and television blaring, then come to bed later; I slept lightly or not at all because the lights/TV were brash and aggravating, and I wondered if he would do something weird to scare the girls as I slept. And the whole situation was so IRRITATING!  At a meeting, I shared this problem in the tone of “how horrible….poor me….”  One by one 10 other people told the same story, which became funnier with each telling. Until we got to beautiful, strong, bold “Tanisha,” who said, “Yeah…my old man did that, too. I went over to that sleeping man and turned the sofa right over on top of him!” We laughed together loud and hearty, and I slept better after that.

This is an example of how helpful a support system can be when experience, strength, and  hope are shared among people who are walking the walk. And how humor (not used as denial) can lighten the load and re-establish perspective.

Regarding the book-throwing incident: I was embarrassed, and a little frightened  – that I had shown MY anger management problem! This wasn’t OK….but, oh please, you HAVE to see the humor here!

My wish for you today….good, healthy humor. The joy of being able to support someone else, and the blessing of being the recipient of such support. It may be better to give than to receive, but either is really, really good.

Blessings!

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10 thoughts on “Is This Funny? Humor in the Trenches.

  1. MustardSeedBudget.wordpress.com January 17, 2013 at 11:04 pm Reply

    A good use of an “Anger Management” book! I will remember that incident forever!!! Thanks for filling my evening with laughter! sorry, Peter, you lose. You didn’t know how to appreciate what you had.

  2. Planting Potatoes January 11, 2013 at 9:07 am Reply

    I can so relate….! When I was a kid, my grandfather would take my uncle and I with him when he went into to town, and we usually stayed out in the truck for several hours while he drank inside, then he drove us home….except the nights our grandmother came to pick us up…then there is the time my uncle and I had to drive us home from fishing because our grandfather passed out at the wheel….my uncle was 14, I was 8 or 9. I pray God protects you and your girls and gives you strength and courage!

    • ranthegauntlet January 11, 2013 at 11:30 pm Reply

      Thank you so much, Mark. I’m so glad you and your uncle weren’t hurt or killed, and that you have flourished. It is such a hard thing…denial adds to the problem, too – your Grandmother’s for letting you go with your Grandfather; your Grandfather’s for thinking that was OK. Blessings, BLESSINGS to you!

      • Planting Potatoes January 14, 2013 at 8:26 am Reply

        Our Grandmother was God’s blessing to us…she watched over us…even saved my life once…but that is another story…but it was her denial that was hurting us.

        • ranthegauntlet January 14, 2013 at 10:17 am Reply

          It’s hard to reconcile, isn’t it? You seem to have done so. Many retain more anger at the one who should have protected them than the actual perpetrator. I’m so grateful she did for you what she was able. Thank you so much for talking with me! Diane

  3. joepote01 January 7, 2013 at 8:49 am Reply

    Excellent post, Diane!

    You’ve managed to address a very serious issue with a good measure of brevity.

    I tend to have a rather twisted sense of humor…which means I often see the humor in things that are actually very serious matters (For example, your throwing an anger management book, in anger…and missing, which made you more angry… is hilarious to me).

    Sometimes, this is a good thing…a gift that helps me to stay light-hearted under difficult trials.

    Other times, it is not such a good thing…and I have to be careful how much of my humor I share, with whom, and under what circumstances.

    • ranthegauntlet January 7, 2013 at 9:22 am Reply

      Oh, you are so right! I’m glad you saw humor in my “anger management” situation….I fear some will stop at horrified…which is OK, too. It’s embarrassing, but funny to me too. There was no excuse for me doing that, which could be for another post – deescalating before getting to that point. It was a long learning curve. But, hey…it did happen.

      My ex deliberately wounded with words, then masked it as humor when called on it.Or just plain thought it was funny to get by with it. How to let that pass is another post, too!

      Like you, I try to be respectful. My humor leans to the inappropriate and exaggerated, so I’m pretty careful. Far Side and church bloopers nail me every time!

      Blessings!!

      Diane

  4. Lady Quixote January 7, 2013 at 4:21 am Reply

    My funny hubby says “Anger Management” is hitting the right person. By that definition, throwing your book about anger management at someone’s head and missing, is very poor anger management, indeed.

    I don’t know why, but for some reason this reminds me of a police report I read in the Albuquerque newspaper about 7 or 8 years. After all these years, my memory of the story is a little foggy, but as I recall, a woman who ran the local Women’s and Children’s Shelter was arrested for hitting her husband. Her explanation was that he had stubbornly refused to try a taste of her chips.

    • ranthegauntlet January 7, 2013 at 9:02 am Reply

      Oh, I know! It was such poor anger management, with NO excuses. But situations such as these are so bizarre and out of place that, to me, there is an element of sick humor!

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