Back in August, when I was thinking up memories that I wanted this year, this one in particular seemed so simple, and yet so unattainable. The late summer and early fall months were some of the most challenging and saddest of my entire life. Although I desperately wanted to fall victim to painful belly laughs, my moments of joy were too fleeting to experience deep laughter.
I relied on my memory, recalling times where I couldn’t catch my breath because I was laughing so hard. I suppose that’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to being a masochist. I hate pain. It’s part of the reason I took so long to get a tattoo. But, there’s something about extreme laughter that I crave.
Laughing releases endorphins, which provide a natural high. Laughing supports the adrenal glands, which reduces stress levels. But, less scientifically, laughing means that for that moment, the grip of sadness has loosened and a happier emotion gets some time in the spotlight.
The months following the end of my marriage were tear-filled and lonely. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so frequently, and so easily. I just wanted to feel better, and a huge part of me saw avoidance as the easier route. What kept me wallowing in that sadness, however, was the understanding that the only way through something is through it.
Agnes, my therapist, also highlighted the poignant fact that there is something truly beautiful about sadness. Tears are a cleansing. That concept gave me comfort with each and every tear that fell. Feeling all the feels, she explained, rather than suppressing them, would lead to a healthier recovery with more long-term benefits. Like so many times before, I trusted her.
That trust has begun to pay off. Sure, there are still times that a wave of sorrow blankets me. But that’s how grief works. Feelings ebb and flow. I’m happy to report that I’m happier these days.
And in these more frequent moments of joy, I’ve laughed more. And twice, incredibly enough, these laughs have resulted in wonderful, stomach-cramping guffaws. One of those times, even, I was completely sober. Neither of the times do I remember what started the laughter.
Luckily, this Memory List item doesn’t have the stipulation that I remember what made me laugh. Just that I have the memory of laughing so hard it hurts.