Reclaiming My Sense of Humor in the Wake of Abuse

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Over the last few years, I have slowly get had to reclaim aspects of myself that were lost or beaten into submission figuratively and sometimes literally by my past relationships that were fraught with abuse and violence. One of the first things was my sexuality, which was reclaimed in a most unhealthy way. It has been a long list after that filled with things both small and large. I am able to wear what I want, eat what I want, have an argument if I want, and control my own time. But, it occurred to me yesterday that there was one thing I had never thought about. I have reclaimed my sense of humor.

My ex-husband’s main complaint against me was that I had no sense of humor. It was used as an insult and in the context of making me less of a person to him. It made me worthless and inhuman. I was humorless. Part of this was because I just didn’t feel like laughing. When you are in a constant state of stress and terror, life turns a dull grey. There is just no reason to laugh or be happy.

Then, there was the other reason. Laughter and fun had taken on a sick association for me. When my ex-husband did his worse, he didn’t usually yell or get visibly angry. He would laugh. My torture and humiliation was a joke to him. He was having fun with it. It was a slowly progression, but I came to link laughter with pain. A smile had just become a warning sign for me to know what was to come.

But last night, my current husband and I with the kids were running some errands. My husband had ask me to read aloud the blog post I wrote on Friday along with a recent post I submitted for a guest posting opportunity. They were humorous. As I read, our laughter filled the car. I was grinning like a mad woman and proud of myself.

And, for just a moment, a thought crossed my mind – see, I do have a sense of humor! It was entirely directed to my ex-husband. Like I finally had proof that I was not a broken human being, I was real and working properly. I still get caught sometimes in this strange cossroads of trying to justify my existence.

After I left my ex, it took me a long time to even crack a smile. I walked around with my head down, eyes to the ground, my arms wrapped firmly around myself or crossed in front of me.  I remember my face actually hurting with a sharp pain for atleast year afterwards everytime I was would smile or laugh. I felt like I didn’t deserve to crack a joke. Like it was something beyond me that I had been convinced I would never understand. And, I truly believed that I had no sense of humor.

Now, I know that is not true. Granted, I am on the more sardonic side of the humor continuum. But, that is individual preference. I know that now. I know that I have a range of emotions from happy to sad to angry to full on goofy. I am me, which can be funny and appreciate a good joke, and no one can ever take that away from me again.


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