Wednesday, April 10, 2013



It’s odd for a house that was built to address so much sadness and pain that there’s a lot of laughter going on. The humor in the recovery house would cause most sailors to blush and the average reader of this blog to have their ears bleed, but remember these are hard men with hard lives.

We come from past full of pain, suffering, lack of emotion, true survivalists in worlds that kill and maim on a daily basis. Those who weren’t tough and strong got crushed. Now as we are healing, laughter is the first emotion to return. It is the first hole in the dam to all the rest.

We didn’t decide to sober up and change our lives to remain miserable. We could have remained miserable in our addiction. At least in our addiction, we could numb ourselves to it and block out the pain.

Now we laugh as we haven’t laughed in years. The jokes and humor are never malicious, nor meant to hurt or denigrate. There are lines and limits we do not cross.

Usually, we begin the day by laughing. I’m lucky to be here in late summer, so the weather is great. At 6:30 a.m. we’re all up, showered, dressed, and stumbling around the kitchen looking for our first cup of coffee. 

Someone will start with something funny, and we go from there. Every guy, even the non-smokers bring their coffee out to the smoke pit behind the house to sit in lawn chairs beneath a canopy near a huge chestnut tree.
Like a bunch of brothers we keep up the joking and laughing. I have not felt so alive in years.

This outside smoke pit is our relaxing place when we aren’t in class or meetings or doing our step-work. This is where we break in the new guys that arrive each week, or say goodbye to those who have finished the first part of their recovery program. This is where we have some of our best conversations. The chestnut tree above us is filled with squirrels, and occasionally a squirrel will drop a chestnut on one of the guy’s heads. Or the housecat will start to chase a squirrel. Laughing at these simple things is like water to a man dying of thirst.

And then we laugh at ourselves. If we laugh at some of the crazy things we have done, it takes the shame and pain out of it. Let’s face it—as addicts we have done some stupid but also hilarious things. Some of the odd things and actions that in our addicted minds we could justify and accept as normal, now seem to be great comedy—at least to us.

Like my heroin-addict friend filling his syringe from Lake Ontario as he reads a sign saying this water is not suitable for swimming due to high mercury and lead content. So he tells himself, “well I ain’t gonna swim in here no more.”

We laugh as another friend tells us of the time he dressed as a lady and went to the bank to cash a cheque he stole from a neighbor, swearing he was her. And then there are all the stories of waking up in strange places, with strange people. One of our favorite inside jokes is that instead of breaking out in rashes like most people, we break out in handcuffs, all due to ridiculous actions we undertook to feed our addictions. We now look back, shake our heads and laugh. If we don’t laugh, we will cry forever.    

We have done enough crying, maybe not on the outside, but in our minds and souls the tears were a mighty river.

We now thirst to enjoy life, see the positive side to everything. Even the worst things we have done and become are “now tools” we can learn from.

It really is true, laughter is the best medicine—it heals the heart and soul. God must have had a sense of humor and wanted us to enjoy it.

Have you ever seen a platypus? Nuff said.

The brain receives the same endorphins and rush from laughing as it does from whatever our addictions were with no side effects. But you can go through withdrawal from a lack of laughter in your life.

Believe me, the toughest guy in here has broken down and cried. It’s good for us as it cleanses and purges out the negatives, but now we would rather focus on the positive. Laugh and walk with a smile on our face for the first time ever in some cases, but definitely a long time for most.

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