Written By:Campbell Manning,LPC
The Magnificence of Laughter
My face hurts because I laughed so much tonight.
It is significant to note, tonight was also the night of our weekly IOP Family group.
It sounds incongruent to report laughing so much your face hurts while at an Intensive Outpatient Program Family group, where I am meeting with family members impacted and dealing with addiction. I often struggle with running this group, trying to find a meaningful quote or lesson from which we can springboard, while different family members check in on how their child or spouse is doing.
Tonight started out with great therapeutic intention and the group initially worked wonderfully when I tossed out the question of “How do we hold on to gratitude, mindfulness, and perspective?”
For the first 30 minutes or so we managed to focus on the subject at hand and actually had some pretty powerful revelations and thought exchanges, with valuable meaning.And then, somehow, it went awry.
I would like to blame it on the parents in the room – but, if I am honest, I have to admit I contributed to it equally.
Maybe it’s the Eclipse (I am blaming everything on the Eclipse!!) but probably not.
There was a lot of laughter and connection and joy in the purple group room tonight and I think we all highly enjoyed it. One of the moms in the room reminded me at the end of group we needed to talk about what to focus on in the upcoming week.
I thanked her for reminding me, since I had forgotten with all the hilarity, and I suggested everyone try to find some awe in the world, without the magnificence of the Eclipse to inspire us. They agreed to do so and we parted.
FINDING AWE IN THE WORLD
Driving home, down 385, with the top of my convertible down and an old Ray Stevens song playing, I was first mindful of how wonderful I felt and how lucky I was to be in this car in this moment.
I was then awed by the absolutely beautiful purple and navy sky, with the backdrop of the mountains I was looking at as I headed into downtown Greenville on this late summer evening.
I noted being mindful and super appreciative of this moment and that thought reminded me of family group tonight – which, in turn, made me smile.
I am SO grateful for this group of parents, who come week after week. They take the time from their busy lives to come – most of them don’t even have children in IOP anymore – they come because they want to, they like it, and we are our own odd little family.
They come because of nights like tonight – when we just laugh and connect and remember there is so much goodness in life, so much joy, and so much to cherish and rejoice about. And it’s more than okay to have these nights, these moments, these experiences in general – EVEN when we live with addiction and all its’ horrible fallout and ramifications.
It’s more than okay to laugh and connect and love. It is, in fact, vital, for us as family members of those struggling with addiction; just as it is for our loved ones also in the battlefield of addiction.
CONNECTION AND LAUGHTER
Tonight, I was reminded of why I became a counselor – to share and hold the emotions of loving someone with an addiction or inner struggle. Tonight I was reminded of what it is to be the parent of someone with an addiction and the intense want and need to move on and rediscover the wonder of life, the restorative power of being silly and laughing with friends. Of how important it is we remind ourselves this is the only life we get, and we need to pay attention to it. We need to treasure it as much as possible. I was reminded because I am the parent of sons in recovery and I never want to go back to the darkness of living without connection, laughter, and awe.
This is my prayer for everyone touched by addiction.