By Christine R.
I love baking cookies. The warm scent of Tollhouse morsels fills the home with tantalizing deliciousness. A pinch of salt is required to bring out the sweetness. Herein lies the parallel for us in recovery. We need the salt of our tears to bring forth the oncoming sweetness of recovery.
For sure I thought I would never laugh again when I got sober. The joy juice of alcohol was missing. The elixir of life had betrayed me. As a long-time friend in the Program, Dr. Gil used to say, “Man takes the drink. Drink takes the drink. Drink takes the man.” The drink took me and everything else along with it: money, family, friends, home, and work. Alcohol takes the intangibles too like: self-esteem, courage and, above all in this case, the laughter.
The litigation office I worked for was combative, demanding, and stressful. No time for tears and certainly no laughter. So I compartmentalized my tears, comforting myself countless times, “You can cry when you get home. You can cry when you get home.” When I arrived home, I would bundle myself up in my bed and cry a waterfall of tears.
Thankfully, my sponsor revealed crying was both right and healing. “Tears have toxins,” she would say. Day by day, one drop at a time, years of toxicity were released. As I emptied out the vast pool of tears, a new-found solace was discovered. A serene emptiness – a void only God could fill and did fill with the joy of laughter.
In Chapter The Family Afterward, page 133, it says, “We cannot ascribe to the fact that life is a vale of tears, though it was just that for many of us.” (Maybe you are one of the “us?”) Goes on to say, “But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered and have helped others to recover. We find cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness.” “We have found a way up and out and wish to share our knowledge of that way with all who can use it” (12×12 pg. 125)
Who would have thought?
Another friend of mine says, “Comedy is tragedy plus time.” Time takes time and with that time comes the ability to review my tragedies with a pinch of salt and lots of sugar. The sweetness comes most especially when I share these tragedies with another alcoholic – whether in a meeting at group level or privately, sitting in my office with the anguished newcomer. To laughingly describe looking for the Visine that would “get the yellow out” to hide the fact I had a blown liver, still brings a hearty guffaw for me and the listener.
The laughter of today is not the barroom cackle at someone else’s expense. More often than not, the laughter is toward ourselves coming from a place deep inside. Tradition Four on page 149 describes Bill as “standing in the ruins of his dream and could laugh at himself — the very acme of humility.” We used to say, “If you are looking for humor, you have only to look in the mirror for endless possibilities.”
From a Vision For You, pages 160-161, “We succumb to the gay crowd who laughs at their own misfortunes and who understand ours. Social distinctions, petty rivalries, and jealousies — these are laughed out of countenance.” If you look for it, laugh, laughing and laughter are referenced at least 15 times in our Big Book and 12 x 12.
In an interview, Bill described his initial meeting with Dr. Bob, “There we were, one drunk talking to another. Because I needed to hear the message too.”
And so it goes. One alcoholic talking with another. Stories upon stories. My sponsor said, “I talked myself sober.” There is a pinch of truth in that one as well. By being accountable in the truth-telling halls of our Program, the truth becomes the sweet balm of healing and love.