Sunday, February 7, 2010

Black Humor

I said to a friend the other day, when we were discussing how we had expected our lives to be very different than they are at this point, "Yeah, I expected to be trying for my second child now."

Then I paused and thought about what I'd said, and then said, "Well, huh. I guess I am, aren't I?"

And I burst into gales of laughter because I found that utterly hilarious. Life does work out in a perverse sort of way, no? I suppose what I ought to have said was not that I had expected to be trying to conceive my second, but that I had thought my first would be alive when that happened.

Ah, words. I read on a fanfiction discussion site something terribly interesting. It was a thread between various esteemed and established fanfic authors discussing plot directions they refused to engage in and a heated point of discussion was rape. One author pointed out that it could be well done and another said yes, but it rarely was because those who engage in it have rarely experienced it themselves and don't understand how a major disruptive life event like that shatters a person. In fact, he said something utterly brilliant - that it was akin to someone reaching into a person, pulling out their soul and running through a blender with a lot of other foreign ingredients - that things like that utterly change you at the foundation of who you are. You may still have the same things as before, but you are irrevocably changed from top to bottom.

And my God, is that ever true. I don't know that I could explain any better. It's not that all death doesn't change one in some way, because it does change you to lose someone you love forever. But unexpected deaths - a parent when they are young and healthy, a sibling or friend, a violent death, or some outside the order we have come to expect like the death of a child - it rips up your soul and mixes it around and you are forever altered. You are changed from the course up.

I think that is what makes people uncomfortable and that is what they urge you so much to return to yourself. They don't understand that you can't, they are afraid of what that means. It's not comfortable at all to be reminded at how little is truly within our control and how unalterably different we can become in a heartbeat or the blink of an eye.

There is blackness in life. I no longer pretend otherwise. Instead, I nod to it, and welcome it to sit with us awhile, and curl up with a book in front of the fire. Because I guess while I wish none of it had happened, while I wish Gabe to be with us, I don't dislike who I have become. I'm not perfect, but I never was. I am far more comfortable with this newer me. I am slower to criticize and more willing to accept the lack of perfection.

I saw some thing clearly in the immediate aftermath. When I asked how I would be able to maintain relationships with certain people, the answer is that I wouldn't. When I said I was changing, I was. When I wondered about who that person would be, I had no idea, and I was scared. But I am me. And I like me.


jess said...

When I read the title "Black Humor," I immediately thought of the awful sense of humor that I developed (along with my work colleagues) when I was working as a Crisis Intervention Advocate for the Rape Crisis Center in San Antonio. Being first in the line of defense in responding to people's personal tragedies - even if you haven't experienced it yourself - tends to inspire that black humor mechanism that you have found in yourself. While having not personally experienced sexual assault, I've been around it enough to find the description of what it does to a person intensely accurate, and the reaction to sexual assault is often really similar to dealing with a tragic loss - I even had several cases that specifically mentioned that.

There's healing in laughter, and the strength of camaraderie in its inappropriateness. It's good to know that you're laughing, either way :)

CottonSocks said...

There is a fair amount of black humor in our house. We make jokes about dead babies and taboo subjects that I've no doubt most normal/sane people would be shocked by.

But you know, you have to laugh, and sometimes the humor is dark. That's how you meet it in the eye and nod to it.

And the inappropriateness - yes. Yes yes yes. Knowing when you find someone whose eyes crinkle when they overhear, that there is another soul that's been damaged but restored. It's the inappropriateness that acts as a marker.

Stephanie Snowe said...

I like you too. Very much.

IndieBambino said...

those last two paragraphs, so so true for me. We are so very changed, but what can you do but welcome the chaos, the sadness, the utter doom and gloom, the certainty that things probably wont "work out" forever and we'll be pretty princesses and live in castles. I feel like I take what I can get these days, chocolate, a good book and a fire. I'm right here with you.