Last night, a cyberfriend sent an email saying my “riotous sense of humor” was the highlight of my blog.
Yesterday, my nephew was rolling on the floor, arms crossed over tummy, grinning wide enough to swallow his ears, “You are soooooo funny, Tatie!”
A few days ago, I said something off-the-wall—bordering-on-bizarre to my daughter and she said, “Mom! You are so funny! I love you!” Last week, my son was ‘messaging’ back and forth with me as we often do since we’re each online a lot. “Yer so funny, Mom!” he said. “I <3 U!”
You know, it’s been a long time since I lived with a man who pronounced innumerable times, "You are NOT funny!" while giving me the patriarchal look of doom, forefinger poking my nose, his short legs coiled for escape. He didn't say, “You are NOT funny, I hate you!” But perhaps he didn't dare be so honest with me or himself.
The reason for this post is not to announce my new career as a stand-up comedienne because truth be known, I’m a dutiful and focused woman. Rather boring. Which may be why my random jokes evoke spontaneous gales of laughter. It’s the stark contrast. Why people laugh at my jokes is not the point of my post, either.
The reason I’m writing about my intermittently reinforcing humor is because I almost believed my x-husband more than myself when he insisted, “You are NOT funny!” He told me this so many times that I doubted my own perceptions. Someone would say to me, “You are hilarious!” and I’d reply, “No, I’m not.” Which is really funny when you think about it: me invalidating someone else’s reality because the God of Humor had invalidated mine.
Sometimes, when I was snarkily funny my x-husbaNd would say, “You are NOT funny! You THINK you are funny, but you’re NOT!” And if he were particularly sensitive that day, he’d slowly whisper between clenched teeth, “You are NOT funny and you’d better wipe that smirk off your face or I”ll do it for you!”
Those are the moments I cherish…when two hearts come together as one.
“NOBODY thinks you are funny but yourself,” he’d say. “You THINK you are funny but you know what? YOU ARE NOT FUNNY!”
After a particularly light-hearted dinner party when guests were hugging good-bye, he’d say, “People weren’t laughing at your jokes. They were laughing at YOU! You know why?” (He has my attention now) “Because you are NOT funny! You THINK you're funny but you’re NOT!”
There’s enough evidence to make a case for GASLIGHTING if he were intentionally manipulating reality and consciously denying my experience. Some people think narcissists are completely aware of their invalidating ways. I’m not convinced this is true for the majority of narcissists. I believe my X was reacting to feeling criticized. Which I was doing, o yea---albeit in a “funny” way, which works pretty well with normal people having an ‘off’ day. Not so well with narcissists. Joke with angry narcissists at your own risk.
Or he may have felt slighted because I didn't know about Rule Number One for dinner parties: Don’t get more laughs than the narcissist. Because he will, if he is a narcissist, even the ‘score’ by denying you the pleasure of feeling good about yourself. When your confidence hits the floor, his rises.
It just struck me yesterday that after having spent most of my life being told I was not what I was, and that I was what I was not, I’m finally accepting my peculiar sense of humor as an essential part of my charm. Love me or leave me, I’ll be digging through the shitpile looking for knock-knock jokes which lift my spirits more than ponies ever could.
When my kids share stories about their childhood, they focus on the funny things that happened of which there were more than enough to lighten the dark lord’s intensity. They reminisce about the times my jokes cleared the smoke, fire and brimstone choking the life out of our family. I figure my son and daughter will be telling lots of stories over the holidays because now my nephew can join in their fun.
Maybe my jokes were funny because of our situation back then? It was peculiar to be sure: the tense air shattered by a freckle-faced mother’s wicked sense of humor. What I do know is that my kids love me today just like they did when they were six and I painted their faces with decorator icing they refused to wash off. And then they got a skin rash bad enough to call the doctor.
“YOU SEE? Your mother is NOT funny!” their father said. “She thinks she’s funny, but she’s NOT!”
Don’t let the narcissist erode your sense of self. Trust your own judgments. Believe your own experience. Take it from me: the family that laughs together, stays together. We three, my daughter, my son, and I, plus my nephew and sister and other sister and her kids and their spouses and her husband and my parents will all be seated around the Christmas table, telling stories and validating the fact that we are just as funny as we think we are.
Reference blog: Stop Walking on Eggshells by Randi Kreger
Kreger writes: "It's hard to tell the difference between a conscious lie and an unconscious one. A man says, "It is like we both walk into the same movie theater. I thought that we entered into see the same movie. We sit together. We enter and leave at the same time. But afterwards, I learned that what she saw was entirely different from me, even though we sat and watched the same movie. Her version is no where even close to mine." ~Why some narcissists and borderlines can't seem to tell the truth