“If you knew me in my drinking days, I’m sorry. Please allow me to reintroduce myself.”
Addicts in recovery have massive amounts of experience meeting things head-on. Wrestling with addiction isn’t a “beat around the bush” sort of affair. It’s angry, it’s in your face, it’s raw, it’s never ending. And it does not allow for comfort zones or appropriate boundaries. To get to a point where you can laugh at it is not only a victory and a milestone, but also a way to give your body and mind some much needed relief.
Dark humor, gallows humor, etc is a very well documented and understood way to cope with situations or careers that might otherwise drive you mad. Humor, in its most perfect form, allows you to survive and thrive. If you can laugh at what scares you, saddens you, or taxes your mind, you’re able to handle these things much more capably than if you could not find humor in your situation. Humor has been proven to improve learning and memory, as well as increasing the feelings of connection and trust between those in group settings and patient/caregiver settings.
Beyond all of that, all of the science, studies, white papers, etc., there is that human connection. To be able to sit and just be with a peer, a kindred spirit, who has been through what you’ve been through and completely understands where you’re coming from and where you want to be is an incredibly healing situation to find yourself in. Humor allows that bond to form and grow.
Humor also allows you to work through the trash that is swirling through your mind. Your scattered thoughts, your fears, your regrets, your hopes and ambitions, all of this and more becomes so much easier to voice with the help of humor.
Now, some within the recovery community have seen some awful things during the depths of their addiction, much more than those not suffering from addiction, and sometimes more than their recovery peers. Humor can be especially important for people like this as they will oftentimes utilize humor to work through these dark events and dark days that haunt their mind, This working through can seem heartless, brutal, even downright awful to some who may be listening in. But, make no mistake, the humor present there is both a coping mechanism and a therapeutic tool. It may seem like they are mocking or belittling moments in their life that should not be mocked or belittled; they are not. They’re just using what might be one of the only tools left to them for coping with that situation, and working through it.
It’s no accident that some of the funniest people of our time are also some of the most tortured.
Addiction as comedy. “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you that you have too much money.”
That is one of many jokes and lines that Robin Williams put out to the world on the topic of addiction. Some of those jokes are severely hilarious, even to someone who has never experienced addiction. But not all of his quotes on addiction were meant to snag a laugh.
“My battles with addiction definitely shaped how I am now. They really made me deeply appreciate human contact. And the value of friends and family, how precious that is.”
Robin’s journey through life took a most tragic turn, as we all know. Some of that tragic end was due, no doubt, to addiction.
Addiction has stolen so much love and light from the world. But, if not for humor as a vital tool in battling the lingering demons of addiction, addiction would have certainly stolen much more than it has.
Laughing in the face of addiction is a powerful thing. It allows you to gain back some control, to feel a little less afraid of the unknown, of the future of your sober journey. To be able to see the humor in your darkest days is to, perhaps, see a little light in your future days as well.