BY: ED C. | BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY
Way back in the late 1950s when I was a young lad, one of my favorite TV shows was The Three Stooges: Larry, Curly, and Moe. Moe was the serious one, Curly was the dunce, and Larry was the fall guy, always caught in the middle between Curly and Moe. It was a curious comedy act, looking back on it after all these years, yet there was an important lesson to be learned that would surface many years later when I finally got sober.
What made me laugh so hard watching the show was the way these three stooges screwed everything up and then blamed each other and beat up on each other.
They would poke one another in the eye, hit each other with a hammer or a steel pipe, or punch each other in the stomach. It was a non-stop violent vendetta! I was a little boy being entertained by dismal failure and brutal behavior. The TV stations today are loaded with the very same brand of comedy. How could mishap, bungling, retaliation, and downright stupidity be so entertaining? It would take me years of hard drinking, many mishaps, and heaps of humiliation to find the simple answer.
I went to my second “first AA meeting” a little over two years ago, having been given a second chance. I was full of shame, regret, and self-hatred. I remember being confused when someone would tell a story about some senseless, harmful, often self-destructive scenario they pulled off when drunk. Almost everyone at the meeting would laugh, some with tears in their eyes, like they were in some kind of hilarious pain. Why were they–even the storyteller–laughing? These crazy folks weren’t just chuckling. Their laughter came from someplace deep inside. All I could feel was regret and resentment when I looked at the wreckage of my past: the people I had poked in the eyes and the times I got hit in the head with a hammer–often held in my own hand. I kept my story to myself for a long time. I saw nothing funny about my last forty years of insanity.
Two years sober in AA have passed by quickly, after a slow start wracked by compulsion and fear. My life seems to have started over again from scratch. Everything is different. I think the most remarkable change has been the way I perceive myself and my past. The first five Steps exposed a man who is fully human, all the best and the worst, wrapped up in a package with skin on it.
I can’t go back and change the past. So what do I do with all the junk from my past? The Twelve Steps deal with just this predicament: moving from regret to a sincere attempt to avoid repeating my harmful behavior, with honesty being the driving force.
Following this was the journey of forgiveness that began to infiltrate my life of sobriety after I admitted and took responsibility for my wrongs by doing the Fifth Step. As a result, I was granted a brand new outlook on the wreckage of my past. This puts my junk to work; I help others by telling my story. As the months go by, my story gets more humorous as it gets more honest. As a good friend of mine in AA says: “You can’t make this stuff up!”
This new perspective on my past is a gift I call the sixth sense–the sense of humor. It is a healer of wounds. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the tie that binds me to other alcoholics. It transforms tears of sorrow to tears of gratitude. The newfound capacity to laugh at myself is the antidote AA has given me to counteract the poison called resentment that kills so many alcoholics. I believe this sixth sense is part of the psychic change Dr. Silkworth talks about at the beginning of the Big Book.
Now when I sit listening to another’s story of what it was like, I can laugh along with the others, not at the storyteller, but at the Larry, Curly, and Moe inside of me. Without this gift of humor, my sobriety would surely regress into a bone-dry desert, bristling with restlessness, irritability, and discontentment.
A genuine sense of humor touches, tastes, hears, sees, and even smells the world in a unique way, a kind and colorful way. This new sixth sense AA meetings have given me is a blend of awe, wonder, and gratitude–a magic potion, you could say. Behind this glow of laughter and acceptance is the light of forgiveness. A sense of humor transforms restless, irritable, and discontented sobriety into quality sobriety. “We aren’t a glum lot,” the Big Book says. Now I know why.
“Humor The Sixth Sense”. https://www.aagrapevine.org/magazine/2008/dec/humor-sixth-sense. 03 May 2021