Friday, October 01, 2004

Trying for Equilibrium

In "real" life, as opposed to blogging life, I am funny. Oh, I know that you wouldn't guess that from the prevailing maudlin mood of most of my posts here, but I really do have a healthy sense of humor. Okay, perhaps "healthy" is the wrong adjective, since I tend towards snarky, black humor, and self-deprecation. Still, I am usually the one making people spit out their coffee and cry tears of hysterical laughter into their napkins over lunch. I'm quick with a comeback, and I am told that I have a very expressive face, which comes in handy when imitations are called for. A ham, comedienne, life of the party.

Why then, is this place so dark and gloomy? The answer lies in the truth. This place, this blog, is my truth (even though a few names or places have been obscured to keep from being "dooced", at work or at home).

The cliche' of the sad clown seems to be borne of truth, since nearly every comedian I've ever met is, deep down, a rather sad and haunted person, some of them to the point of bitterness. I think that is a reservedly accurate portrayal of my own life, because as much as I laugh on the outside, I fight my sad demons on the inside. That's not to say that I am content with this state of being, and my many years lying on the couch every two weeks will confirm my work towards making the inside match the outside. Okay, I don't actually lie down on the couch, but the work is the same.

"Fake it 'til you make it", is a phrase I have picked up along the way, which I have interpreted to mean act like you know what you are doing, until you actually catch up and really DO know what you are doing. By the same token, one might act happy, or at least content, until one manages to be content. Lord knows, I'm trying. And to a great extent, I am succeeding. I am happier now than I've been in years past. But I still need a lot of work on not falling back on laughter as a camoflage for my more uncomfortable feelings.

I had that camoflage strategy down years before I realized it. My father, despite many hardships and a lack of self-esteem, was a warm, extraordinarily friendly man, with the gift of gab. He was the "go to" guy whenever you wanted to hear a joke, take the edge off your day with a little laughter, or a sympathetic ear. I've been told that I inherited my father's gift in that regard, and I am rather proud of the fact that I can usually disarm people and have them smiling and laughing, with little actual effort. It comes naturally, and since I lost out on the genetic poise and grace lottery, I will accept the gift of gab and sense of humor prize with gusto.

My whole family learned to cope with adversity by adding generous doses of black humor to the steaming caldron of Shitty Luck Surprise on our dinner table of life. If you can't beat it, makes jokes about it. People who have met my brother will often tell me that he is one of the funniest people they have ever known, and will favorably compare him to famous comedians. They are right, he is one of the funniest people that I know, too. But he is also one of the saddest, and almost no one knows that.

The downside to having the jolly facade is that most people, even some close friends, are not aware of the depths of the pain on the inside that all of that laughter is covering. But laughter brings people to you, makes you attractive and fun to be around. It's really hard to be your authentic self, when you just know that if you put on that "happy face", people will respond.

There are blogs that I look forward to every post, because the writers are clever and funny. Sometimes I am jealous of their popularity and their obvious camaraderie with other popular and witty bloggers, and I wish that my blog was something that people looked forward to, too. I think that I am capable of writing such a blog, and I flatter myself with the notion that my non-existent humorous blog would be one of the darlings that receive praise and vaulted positions on the "must read" lists of blog links.

Alas, it quickly became clear to me that the purpose of my blog was a totally selfish one, to have a place to exorcise demons and ghosts, new and old, with the occasional rant and bit of humor thrown in. In the years since my father's death (and most likely even before), I have battled depression, running the gamut from mild blues to suicidal despair, and one thing learned is that it is important to let some of the dark side find expression, despite my strong need to be accepted and yes, loved, through humor.

So, for those few who have chosen to occasionally come here and wallow in the mud with me, thank you for your indulgence. I would love to make you snort coffee out of your noses one day. But it won't be today, and I'll bet you a dollar that it won't be tomorrow, either. But someday, without warning, I just might make the inside match the outside, and you'd better have a paper towel ready.

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