Sunday, November 21, 2010

that joke isn't funny anymore

gallows humor is one of my favorite survival tactics. it's funny, if you think about it: i don't like to be teased about little things (i.e., my insane clumsiness), but the big things lead me to be viciously, bitterly comedic. it's received differently, depending on my audience. it's one of the things the ex used to do well, actually. he understood the need for me to vent more than, really, anyone else in my life has.

i don't always judge my audience well. it's a flaw i have. i have sometimes gotten myself in trouble with making a dark, angry joke that wasn't received in the spirit in which it was intended. see also last night. we went out in the world, an attempt for me to slowly ease myself back into normality after my little... episode. but when you've sworn off alcohol to maintain your sanity, there's just not a lot to do past 1:00 in the morning. i mentioned to the man that, since there was nothing left that was permissible, we should just head back to the car. and then i made the joke. something small, based on something i thought he'd said the other night. a little lighthearted treatment of my self-imposed sobriety, a little gentle tease.

suffice it to say that the mark was missed. BADLY. he got angry, offended. i was absolutely stunned. i apologized, and we walked in silence. we then drove in silence all the way back home, and the longer i sat, the more confused and angry i got. what the hell is this about? i can't joke about my life? i waited until we got inside, then i chose a mature and reasoned response: "what just happened?" i was legitimately, completely lost as to how things devolved.

well, turns out that he and i have the exact opposite approaches to crisis-time humor. it also turns out that the little joke i thought he'd made - which i'd enjoyed, which took the edge off and made me feel a little lighter in some very dark moments - was me mishearing a serious affirmation of his belief in me. he takes his responsibility to me very, very seriously, and he does not find a drop of humor in anything that's happened. i would never joke about that. it's not funny. it's not right.

it's no longer just about me and my strategy. i have considerations. this is what it's like to totally let him in, to show him the worst of me: i have to be prepared for his reactions. i've seen this happen in other people's lives, and now it's happening in mine. so since it's too close to home, and it's too near the bone, i'm going to let the jokes go. they're just not funny anymore.


  1. ok, you may not agree with this, but here it is anyway.

    until you get through what you are going through, it IS about you, and your strategy. at the end of the day, when all is said and done and you are done with what you are going through, if you are standing there having survived it, then that is what is important. but if you are a shell of what you were, who you thought you were, and who you want to be, as a result of changing your strategy in order to accommodate someone else, then you didn't survive anything.

    i mean seriously, if he loves you for who you are, then you shouldn't have to change the way you are getting through what you are going through. i wouldnt exactly call him being supportive if you lose a part of yourself for him, to get through something he really isn't going through. he is a witness to what you are going through, that's it. and if he is there when it is over, that is one thing, but if you want to make a dark joke, then make it.

    He doesn't have to think it is funny. he just has to understand why you made it.

    And if he doesn't, then, well, in my opinion, tell him in that moment to shut his fucking mouth

  2. i should caveat this - the joke was at his expense. that's really what i'm talking about, not just black humor in general. a large part of our relationship has involved ribbing each other. i thought he was teasing me earlier, and i thought that was funny; when i teased him back, based on the misunderstanding, he thought i was being serious. just to make it clearer.

  3. yeah i agree with divorced guy miss thang!

  4. I think that as long as you think this is the best thing for you and your relationship, then that's good. But if it helps you, maybe you could try to find a middle ground...semi-dark humor, perhaps?

  5. postscript: we agreed that as long as the jokes aren't directed at each other, we can joke about the subject as much as we want. i think it works.

    and it's not like we don't tease the hell out of each other about everything else. i mean, we were best friends for 15 years before we started dating. there's a lot of material to mine. :)


your turn.