Five years ago while stopping into the hospital gift shop, I came across a small flat rock with an inscription “Laughter is the best Medicine”. I smiled at the etched words, for I knew just how important the advice was.
Laughter has always played a huge part in my life. To have a bit of fun, to smile or to give a smile seemed to bring joy to me. I am sure many have heard me behind closed doors with my boisterous cackle. Cackle? Yes… I remember one time going for a drive with a girlfriend and we got to giggling so hard that her father said it was about time to “collect the eggs”, which only made us laugh even harder. My laugh has always left an impression you could say…something that will always be… for it is a part of me.
I know in some small way, my laughter was a way of coping in the world of pain I lived. I certainly used it to deflect many uncomfortable situations; and definitely to hide my feelings which I kept locked deep inside. The old saying “fat people are jolly” could not have been more true, yet deep inside was a bit different. The mask I wore hid the truth or should I say the negative truths I had come to believe.
Lately with seeing and hearing different jesting going on, I have had this nagging feeling deep within that just hasn’t sat well with me… the funnies are not so funny to me. Time and time again when circumstances did arise, that feeling of discomfort in the pit of my stomach that things are just not right resurfaced. Usually when things come back to hit me on the head again and again I start to take notice… so I examine how I am feeling so I can get to the root of it’s cause.
During a conversation with a few gals the other evening, in hearing two jesting, I immediately felt uncomfortable. In silence, my mind pondered the situation and the reaction I was feeling. It was similar to the same post the other day on how I was feeling… that in itself sent up a red flag.
Later when writing in my journal, I examined what I had heard, how I reacted, how I had felt. Thinking back on that quote from the other day, I knew there was something there… something about me that I needed to address.
When I heard the jesting, it sent me back to a time when I was on the receiving end of such pokes. I remembered how it did not feel so good… yet I smiled and laughed too. In watching the person receiving the jest, my mind immediately had seen me. I felt angry towards the jester. Angry for all the times I was on the receiving end of such taunts. I was angry at how uncaring she could be…angry… with myself… because she too, reminded me of me.
In feeling once defeated, I was guilty of giving the same kind of personal jests.
Had my life become so terrible that I needed to share the pain? When did this type of banter become OK for me that I would disregard other person’s feelings?
In thinking about it, I realize that this type of banter is quite common among friends and for the most part, innocent and not hurtful, but then…. I remembered…at times it can be without even knowing….
A time not so long ago, around the kitchen table after supper, we were reminiscing about old school days and teachers we had had. A name of a teacher came up in conversation and the consensus was how such a mean teacher she had been.
As always, the subject of my report card came up where the teacher had told Mom that she needed to do something with me, for I was taking the varnish off the floors. Before I could get the chance to share how scared I was of her and how that fear made me piss myself… laughter filled the room. Once again, I felt like that little girl sitting in warm soaked leotards with a puddle beneath me. I felt the shame, embarrassment and humiliation all over again. In pain, I remained silent. People can carry pain over things unbeknownst to others and that pain is not funny.
Realizing this now, I will be sure to watch my words, for I really do not know what pain another person is carrying and what ripples I could make in throwing an uncaring jest.
We really do not know what pain others do carry… some things are just not funny.