"Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand." - Mark Twain
When parents of addicts come together you can feel the pain in the room. Whether we meet in formalized settings such as Al-Anon meetings or simple get together of friends in similar situations the pain can be palpable, especially if that pain is being denied by some in attendance.
Al-Anon and other 12-Step programs offer at least a one-hour oasis from the pain. By our very presence at these gatherings, for a brief slice of time, we can lay bare our anguish and anger opening up our souls like a chest cavity on an operating table.
You'll notice something else at these "O-R" meetings.
There is a lot of laughter.
People new to these meetings, referred to as "newcomers" are often put off by the laughter so often present before the meetings are called to order. I know I was. I am certain many of these newcomers never make it to the entrance. The exuberant din of laughter and animated conversation can be heard well outside the meeting confines.
Those who do make it as far as and through the doorway often wear confused, hurt, angry and apprehensive looks which seem to say, "Am I in the right meeting? Why aren't these people feeling MY pain!"
The simple answer to these questions is this. Almost all of us when new to Al-Anon or other similar programs made the trip in the hopes of fixing the son, daughter, spouse or partner who brought us there. The attendees who are laughing and engaged in joyous conversation are in various stages of improving their lives. They are in various phases of their own recoveries. We wouldn't know whether some of them were having good weeks or bad days. We would have no idea if they had received a call, text or email from someone before the meeting, from someone who had "brought them there", for whom in their prior lives they would have dropped everything in an effort to control, fix and cure.
In this one hour these people have made a decision to live lives that are full and happy. These people have made a commitment for change. Each of these one-hour meetings is a concentrated training session for the real world.
Those of us who have watched The Biggest Loser are familiar with the challenges faced by contestants when they have an opportunity to leave the "ranch" for a home visit. The "Losers" are hoping to translate to everyday life what they are learning in the laboratory setting of a reality television show .
It is the same for us as parents of children who have succumbed to the allure of substance abuse. Sometimes it's as if we must train ourselves to find happiness, joy and laughter.
But is laughter an outcome of our recovery journeys or a prerequisite? I would postulate the answer is "C", BOTH.
No matter where we are in our recovery journeys, in order to snatch back our lives from years of living with addiction, laughter is something we all yearn for. We cannot put the cart before the horse, so sometimes we need to Seek the laughter. Sometimes the laughter may come as a result of us softening our hearts when we reach a level of recovery, look down from the plateau reached through pushing through the agony and see how far we've come. And laughter is absolutely necessary for our recovery from an emotional and physiological standpoint. I won't bore you with the brain chemistry crap. Simply trust that when we laugh, some really good stuff happens to our brains and bodies.
So, if we must seek out the laughter, we can Google Steve Chappel, George Carlin, Lewis Black, Bill Cosby, Kathleen Madigan or Jim Gaffigan. We can do things that we're not really good at and have a good laugh at ourselves or watch an old Stooges or Marx Brothers movie (you're either one or the other).
We can laugh, smile, let go.
There will be plenty of time for seriousness. And we'll be better equipped to deal with it!
"Happiness lies in the consciousness we have of it." - George Sand