Thursday, 12 July 2012

Laughter is the Best Medicine

“A smile costs nothing but gives much.
 It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give.
 It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
 None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it
 and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it.
Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen,
for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile.
Give them one of yours,
as none needs a smile as much as he who has no more to give”.

Laughter is really the best medicine.  I do have a sense of humour, probably inherited from my father who always showed us the funny side of life however bad our circumstances appeared to be.  I remember going to see a fortune teller in my teens.  She advised me to always smile – not only to feel better myself but to pass it on to others.  Have you ever walked down the street and smiled at someone?  Generally they smile back at you and I am sure in some way it brightens up there day.
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We as substance abusers tend to be extremely emotional.  My life has been a real roller coaster ride with its ups and downs.  I was happy as a small child but things changed when we moved to a new country and I was put into a boarding school.  I was 7 years old and the other girls terrorised me for the first week I was there.  School was not the best years of my life.  I think this is where my anxiety disorder kicked in and I developed a stutter for some reason.  This made my school days hell.  I dreaded having to read in class as the others would burst out into fits of laughter and, unable to cry, I withdrew into a shell more and more as the years went by.  In high school I turned into one of the rebels – smoking and bunking out – but I was always the one to be caught and punished accordingly.  When I think back to those days, especially the younger years, I picture myself as the last little girl left behind at the end of term, kicking the cobble stones while I waited anxiously for someone to get me to the airport to catch my flight home. 
College introduced me to a whole new world.  I took to alcohol immediately and however small my frame, could drink most of the guys under the table.  I could be whoever I wanted to be and it washed away all the anxiety that had accumulated inside over the years – or so I thought!.  Everyone loved me – or so I thought!  I wrote my last exam after an all-night bender and, unbelievably, I passed that one but not the others.  So it was off to work to pay back my study loan. 
As the years went by I worked, I got married and had two adorable kids.  My husband was a heavy drinker and the marriage did not go too well.  Alcohol took on a whole new meaning for me.  It was my escape from verbal abuse, depression and more anxiety.  We opened a pub a few years down the line and I started drinking with the customers at 10am in the morning.  I became physically ill and severely depressed. I knew I had to get some order into my life.  My kids were growing up in an alcohol infested environment – it had to change – I had to change.  I went to rehab, stayed sober but without AA.  My husband moved away and I was fortunate to get a good job to keep the home going.  I was not happy and 8 years later, with a pending divorce and my job at stake, I did what we alcoholics are tempted to do when the shit hits the fan – I started drinking again. 
After a suicide attempt, numerous visits to the psychiatric ward, many detoxes and relapses, I joined AA.  18 months later, I cannot tell you how much my life has changed.  My sense of humour has returned and I can laugh again. If I botch up in a meeting or share something stupid, my colleagues are genuinely laughing with me and not at me.  With all the chaos going on in the world around us, I can smile and know that I am doing my little bit to give someone the chance to really live again.  Sobriety is a strict daily routine but it is worth it.
On the subject of laughter, I would like to share an email message I received a while ago.  I hope you find it as amusing yet moving as I did.  Read it with an open mind:
“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship designed and administered by a bunch of ex-drunks whose only qualifications for membership is that they can't hold their liquor and don't want to learn how.  It has no rules, dues or fees, nor anything else that any sensible organization seems to require.
At meetings the speaker starts on one subject and winds up talking about something entirely different and concludes by saying he doesn't know anything about the program, except that it works.  The groups are always broke, yet always seem to have money to carry on.  They are always losing members but seem to grow.  They claim AA is a selfish program but always seem to be doing something for others.
Every group passes laws, rules, edicts and pronouncements which everyone blithely ignores, members who disagree with anything are privileged to walk out in a huff, quitting forever, only to return as though nothing happened and greeted accordingly.  Nothing is ever planned 24 hours ahead, yet great projects are born and survive magnificently.  Nothing in AA is according to Hoyle. How can it survive?
Perhaps it is because we have learned to live and laugh at ourselves. God made man and woman. He made laughter, too. Perhaps he is pleased with our disorganized efforts and makes things right no matter who pushes the wrong button. Maybe he is pleased, not with our perfection, but with our sincerity. Maybe he is pleased with our trying to be nobody, but ourselves.  We don't know how it works, but it does and members keep receiving their dividend checks from their AA investments. It is smart to be sober and it is much easier, my friends, to stay sober than to get sober.
Source (Stolen)”

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