The Healing Power of Laughter

Despite my overwhelming grief, rage, and sadness during the early stages of my divorce, I experienced unexpected moments of happiness. My short bursts of laughter surprised me at first, as if I didn't deserve such a wonderful emotion.

I'd be with friends and family doing something I liked or was good at, like tubing down the river, and be totally in the moment. For a short period I would feel like my old self again: Happy, bright, funny, looking forward to a the future, and liking my friends and myself.

These infrequent respites gave me much needed relief from the emotional rollercoaster I was riding and from the constant worry, fear, and emotional pain I was feeling. I could never predict when these happy interludes would occur. Sometimes being with friends worked and sometimes this didn't, so I had to learn to roll with the punches. I would savor the few times when a puppy or laughing baby would transport me.

It's a well known fact that laughter boosts the immune system, and that depression and grief supress it. A friend of mine attended laughter therapy classes to counteract the pressures she felt before she defended her dissertation. I found that a funny movie, like A Night At the Opera with the Marx Brothers worked just as well for me.

The night that I discovered that my husband was engaged to someone else (while we were still seeing a therapist to "fix our marriage") I called a friend and asked him to tell me jokes. Listening to his silly stories calmed me down. My pain receded a little and I began to laugh. The more I laughed, the more my head cleared. As my tears dried, my mind became sharp again. Within half an hour of learning about Bob's engagement, I could focus on what I needed to do, which was to call him and confront him with what I'd learned.

When he told me that his getting engaged to another woman was all my fault, all I could do was laugh. The situation was so absurd! At that moment I felt a powerful surge of energy course through me. For the first time since Bob moved out of the house, I had the courage and clarity of insight to talk to him as an equal and someone who was in control of her life. This clarity of thought and reason stayed with me during the next few days, guiding me as Bob and I finalized our divorce. Within two weeks he had what he wanted - his freedom.

More on this blog about humor: Humor Will Get You Everywhere


Anonymous said...

Hi there - thanks so much for connecting to my divorce diva blog...i love love love yours....and have linked to as an EXpert off www.exinthecity.com.
May I use the picture on your blog?I'll continue to read your blog - our experiences are very similar...you've done an awesome job!! Margaret - exinthecity@hotmail.com

BigAssBelle said...

i remember the first genuine laugh i had after a long several years of my husband being desperately ill. he was on the mend and things were looking up and when i felt that laughter welling up inside i realized how very much i need that joyful feeling and sound.

one of my favorite books, "alcoholics anonymous," points out that as sick folks, drunks don't laugh much. in recovery, though, joy reasserts itself and sober people are full of laughter and fun.

one of the quotes i always remember is "we are not a glum lot," and 'tis true. i am not a glum lot, you either, it seems, despite having lived a while on this earth with all of its ups and downs. good for you. good for me. good for all of us who get through and have joy and laughter to boot.