Wednesday, 2 November 2011

People laughed in concentration camps

Freud, that old clever clogs, referred to laughter under adversity as "gallows humour" and in my family "black" humour is welcome and perhaps even expected.  When Mum was dying, an unbelievably devastating loss to me, we were still making jokes - We talked about renting a fishing boat so we could make her wish to be fed to the sharks come true... at the blackest moment after the doctor had left the room someone piped up "must be time to rent the boat".  That was her humour too, she would have been laughing right beside us if a persistent bleed in the brain hadn't been stealing her away.  When there is NO insecurity about how much you love someone, when everyone KNOWS and it is unquestionable, then everyone KNOWS that your heart is twisted in agony even though your wit is still snapping out quips and puns.


I found, in my time in the US that  many American's take things a bit more seriously than Australians do.  Lots of my American friends have incredible senses of humour and make me laugh constantly, but the black humour thing... um... maybe not so much.  So to my American mates just know that I am not really a sick and twisted individual I'm just an Aussie embracing irreverence and upholding my national identity!  (A regular beer, an occasional meat pie, and a passionate love of the water covers most of the bases.)

Humour is a coping mechanism, a tool that helps us to escape for a moment, to release tension, to breathe more deeply and maybe to reset some of the mental roundabouts that our minds become caught upon.  I think that living with a condition like Fibromyalgia makes it very easy to fall into a trap of downwardly spiraling mental thought processes...  The name of my blog derives from just such an attempt to redirect mental processes into nonsense and silliness instead of gloom.

Nobody loves me
Everybody hates me
Think I'll go and eat worms
Big ones, small ones
Fat ones, thin ones
Worms that squiggle and squirm.

I'll (here the tempo increases) bite their heads off
Suck their guts out
Throw their skins away
Nobody knows how well I live on worms three times a day!

It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't have a chronic illness how you can be laughing and making jokes while still feeling like crap.  But this isn't a case of food poisoning that brings you down for a little while, it isn't something where you can permit yourself a couple of days of wallowing in self-pity knowing it will all be better by the weekend.  This condition is unrelenting and in spite of the pain and fatigue you still have to try to find ways to enjoy life and you must find ways to laugh.  Just today someone, whom I love, told me "it's not that bad", "you're okay".  I tried to explain how much I push myself for them, how much I hide the truth for them, how much I am at my very best when I am with them, and how much I pay later in private for those efforts.  More to the point I need to explain that I can't go on doing it.  That it's impossible to sustain a appearance of high energy and vitality now.  I want this person I love to know that when I feel joy and when I find things funny it doesn't mean that I'm not in pain.  You can't live your life in a morass of misery where your every thought is about how your body feels.  It would be far too easy to sink into a very dark place if you did.

So like the bloke on the way to be executed who when offered a cigarette quipped back "no thanks, I'm trying to quit", I'm going to keep trying to find things to laugh about.  It's Thursday and so tonight I am back to the Synagogue for another cooking lesson.  I'm resting up today so I can really pay close attention and have the stamina to make it through two hours.  

No silly, I'm not going to pay attention to the class, I'm going to pay attention to the people, and the ripely humourous moments that occur, so that I can remember them to tell you!


  1. I love this post and it says so many things and takes me so many places I don't know where to start. Just yesterday I told someone I love that a relative was in need of knee surgery and he said " Makes you glad we are alright" This was a nice sentiment but it made me feel so lonely and isolated as I know, and any other chronic pain sufferer knows, I am not alright!

  2. Hey mate, welcome!
    I know... I get it... They don't.
    The hard part is that somehow we need to be the ones to change that perspective to say - "I can't" or "I'm in pain and I need to lie down"
    Thanks heaps for the comment.

  3. LOVE black humour! You really are a fantastic human being, Displaced.

    My husband and I say that the basis of our relationship is mocking, and others just don't get that. Yes, we are warm, loving, and committed- but damn, there is some funny shit that comes out of being around someone for that much time. It's gotta come out and express itself!

    Here's to finding humour and lightening it up even when we feel like unholy hell.