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Laughter & Boundaries

I spent the afternoon yesterday with two of my best friends. We laughed. A lot. The whole time. Like gut busting laughter. It was wonderful. It changed my insides. I realized that I do not spend enough time laughing and that I want to do it more.

I love to have fun and try my best. But I also have this very serious side where my intensity and rigidity are a killjoy. I can get wound pretty tight and lose my sense of humor. Way less than I used to...but still could really do some work in this area.

Some days I wake up irritated. Nothing happens, no one does anything to me, I just wake up in a state of agitation. It happens way less than it used to. But I still wake up this way far too often for my own liking.

I have noticed that as I feel myself become more the center of my life, I can relax more. My boundaries are for me, not for other people. I have found that it is really exhausting to try to set and maintain boundaries for other people. I got that wrong...a lot. I can see today that the best thing I can do in my relationships (most especially the one with myself) is to set and maintain healthy boundaries so that I feel safe. If I feel safe, then I am pretty fun loving. I laugh and things are easy. No big deals. But if I fail to maintain boundaries for myself, then I am kind of a bitch.

An example...

My son loves sugar. He is addicted. He will do and say almost anything to get it at times. Lie, cheat, steal. This happens less than it used to but given the right (or wrong) circumstances, he will do whatever he needs to to get it.

I used to get so mad. I used to rant and rave and yell and get super pissed off. I would throw consequences at him like they were fast pitched baseballs.

Guess what?

Nothing changed. He acted the way that he did and I did my thing. Nothing got better.

Then one day, I decided that I wasn’t going to pay for his addiction anymore. I wasn’t going to support it. He could do what he was going to do to get it but I was not going to participate...

So I stopped. I refused to drive him if he was going to buy sugar. I refused to “treat” him anymore. I stopped engaging in the conversations that only led to arguments. I stopped trying to communicate my thoughts on the subject to him in an effort to “correct” his behavior.

Instead, I honored my own truth that I felt about the situation, set some boundaries for myself and let him just be him. Oh, I had to make some adjustments along the way, but it did get better. Now he does what he does but I am far less affected than I used to be. It is better, we are better and I am no longer a person who I do not like.

And doing all of that paved the way for me to have fun with him. To laugh, to find the humor. Oh, we still get wrapped around the axle from time to time, but it happens less and I can be playful with him. And he can do that with me.

I never realized before now how much my lack of willingness to hold and maintain boundaries for myself made me sad, scared, left with this pervasive feeling of lack of safety in relationship to others. It wasn’t so much the others, it was my own lack of self care and boundary setting that caused me to engage with people that drained me, depleted me and left me feeling wrung the fuck out. And, let me tell you, there is nothing fun, funny or mirthful about that whole deal.

Today, I am happier. My son is too. Our house more playful and relaxed. And we laugh. And I have found laughter to be healing. All the things that I have drank over, because of, at cannot ever hurt me again so long as I can find something in there to laugh at.

Those dark places in my mind where nothing is funny, kill my spirit. I have to find a way to love myself enough to not take myself and life so damn seriously while knowing and believing that it is such a precious gift that I must always honor that I am here, getting to live. It is a delicate balance between finding humor and appreciating the gravity of life. But I can tell you the best moments I ever have are when I am both excruciatingly aware of just how lucky I am while laughing hysterically at something I just said or did.

Laughter heals.

Laughter reminds me that life is fun.

Laughter grants me access to myself in ways that all my boundary setting can’t.

But without my boundaries and limits, I do not feel safe enough to really engage with you. I do not have the ability to really, authentically be there with you. And if I can’t do that, it is highly likely that we aren’t going to have many opportunities to find amusement with each other.

Laughter seems to be yet another gateway to healing. And the longer I live, the more I realize that to live is to heal and to wound. It is all this fucked up path of suffering and love. And I need them both...and laughter makes them both better. Who knew?

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