Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Importance of Laughter

Saturday, February 15, 2014

It wasn't until late in the day yesterday that I realized it was my first Valentine's Day without the silent burden of a clinical case of PTSD.  It can take a while for the shock of troubling events to fade away.  Though my shock regarding my diagnosis itself disappeared months ago the process of becoming familiar with who I am and can be as a 'non-anxious person' appears to be one that will unfold over quite a length of time.  As I have alluded to many times previously now here in this blog I often ask myself the question: 'How long will it take me to become accustomed to not being anxious when I had an anxiety disorder for over three decades?'  It's a true journey of discovery I am on.

I was wise to occupy my full day yesterday so I wouldn't allow myself much time to ruminate on how much more love I would like to have in my life compared to what I already have.  But I do have a lot of love in my life already...and it's important for me to remember that.  It is important for all of us to remember and focus on what we have that is good and healthy rather than what is not.  I have made some amazing friends.  I am grateful for each and every one of them.  I wish I felt close to my paternal family of origin...but I do not.  And that might never change.  Again, I have to seek out love where I can find it and rejoice in what is available to me.  Gratitude is a most healthy attitude to cultivate.

Last night I played a game called Cards Against Humanity with some good friends.  For those not in the know, Cards Against Humanity (CAH) is a game billed as "A party game for horrible people".  To say that there is a perverse undercurrent to the game would be a bit of an understatement!  It was an excellent way for all of us who are single to have fun and not think about all the lovely couples out there who are celebrating the bliss of love they ideally are experiencing on the other 364 days of the year.  I always laugh when I play CAH; it's another great outlet for me as I continue to heal.

Last year I read a book written by Dr. Henry Emmons, M.D.  Dr. Emmons is a holistic psychiatrist who recently was a part of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing here in Minneapolis.  I met Dr. Emmons last summer when I first had learned about the Institute.  He wrote a great book entitled The Chemistry of Joy that bridges the all too persistent divide between what I would call mainstream psychiatry and the many diverse alternative methods of medicine such as acupuncture, mindfulness meditation and the like.  I recall learning more about the type of person I am by using his book.  And one important take-away I found is that laughter is an especially important type of 'medicine' for me.  I would wager that laughter is good medicine for anyone.

A helpful way to do an inventory of one's health and resources is to think of the different spheres of your life (home, family of origin, profession, friends, etc) and then assess them by considering where you have surpluses and deficits in relevant skill sets.  For example, I realize that I had a significant deficit in laughter and light-hearted fun when I was a kid.  I can heal more effectively and quickly if I recognize this deficit and take action now to address the issue.  So now I am learning to laugh again.
Have you ever done such an inventory in your own life?  Consider doing one.  It might help you attain a degree of clarity that will facilitate your own healing process.

I felt lonely much of the time I was growing up as well.  I didn't have any siblings until my younger half-brother was born at the time I was the not infrequently volatile age of thirteen.  I couldn't really play with my brother because we were always in two vastly different developmental phases.  I have a number of cousins in my paternal family whom I was able to play with some while growing up.  That was a good outlet for me.  I nonetheless began to imitate an overly responsible adult when I was a mere child.  A lost or seriously delayed childhood can prove to be an immense challenge to address later in life.  I know that I am dealing with that now.

Today I intend to 'feed the boy' some more by attending some events being held in association with Mr. Twin Cities Leather weekend here in Minneapolis.  I am giving myself the permission and joy to explore my interest in this community of men and women.  My desire to engage in such exploration was another unattended desire I am now finally acknowledging in a much healthier way.  As I do so I find myself moving in the direction of expressing my authentic self.

The days continue to grow significantly longer now.  Some days I have to remind myself of these little incremental steps towards 'The Big Thaw' (also known as Spring) as a means of motivating myself to continue stepping out into the world.  March is only two weeks away.  March isn't really a Spring month here in least not by standards in most parts of the United States.  I consider March more to be The Death of Winter.

I am so grateful for all the friends I have who are helping me through this ongoing period of transformation.  Cheers!

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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!