I am grateful to GOD for giving me a sense of humor. I am more grateful that HE has one too. As an actor, comic and writer, part of the gift of that humor is that I verbalize the things that people are thinking but don't have the nerve or need to spit out. That's great because it keeps guys like me, philosophers, pundits and poets in business. Tom Dreesen told me that Carl Reiner told him early in his career to "show people your pain." I have always done that in my act. I poke a lot of fun at myself. People identify with the daily mishaps of just trying to get by.
The distance between the frontal lobe (MY MELON) and the voice box (MY BIG FAT MOUTH) is only a few inches. I have seen many pictures of the brain. It looks to me like chubby Ramen Noodles mixed with Silly Putty all smushed together and placed in an airtight bonehead container. It's quite a fascinating looking machine. When I am told that we use less than 10% of it I am appalled. What the hell is flying around in the other 90% of the noodles that we don't use?! The few I am trying to get a rise out of are driving me and everybody around nuts!
I need to call the people who design filters for water or furnaces because I have a bit of a problem. In my personal life those same skills that make me a funny comic or good improv actor sometimes make me a poor communicator. That's PC talk for sometimes I say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time and I can't help it! I want a filter between the Ramen Noodles, The Silly Putty and my pie hole!
As a recovering alcoholic/addict the problem is doubled because we learn to use words as weapons of mass destruction like fists, knives and passive aggressive napalm! We find our loved ones' tender spots in passionate moments of weakness, trust or sweet confession and BAM! If we get pushed the wrong way we will pull that sweet secret you never told a soul and spit it in your face like rattle snake venom.
In recovery that doesn't just disappear. It slowly goes away but I still have my moments. I'm not beating myself up right now. Don't worry I'll do that when I get to my rant about procrastination somewhere down the line. I am just becoming more self aware of some of my character flaws. Some of the time I am hilarious. Yet other times I can be critical and hurtful and not even realize I am doing it.
The power of a word is more damaging than a fist in my estimation. Both are violent. A sore chin will heal. The wounding of the mind through criticism and demeaning can be crippling. A perfect example is that there were many times my wife called me an alcoholic and every swear word her Berwyn upbringing could conjure up, and they meant nothing to me. The day she called me PATHETIC was the day I took my last drink. Why THAT was the word that pushed my "get sober" button GOD only knows.
The point is that a few simple letters put in a prearranged form said at the right time, under the right conditions had a life changing impact on me. The biggest argument my wife and I EVER had was about...wrapping paper! Yes you heard it...WRAPPING PAPER. Left to it's own proper use wrapping paper is associated with joy and gift giving. In the context of the argument it was connected to my ex-wife and it was a hot button for Squeaky. We were screaming. There were attorneys involved in the uproar. She shouted that I was an "Oedipus Complex!" I spat back that she was an "unclean female dog." It really got ugly. By the time we got home we had pulled over and stopped to laugh at the fact we were going to divorce court over...Wrapping Paper.
The most frequently mentioned subject in the Bible is our words and how we use them. The second is fear. Usually the two go hand in hand. I have a tendency of shooting my mouth off when I am scared of losing something, someone getting hurt or someone hurting another person I love. At that point the Ramen Noodle-Silly Putty-Tongue is connected. That is dangerous for me and something that I am working on. The quick wit and snarky comment work great on stage and for hecklers. Not so for family and friends.
I am trying to incorporate a few new rules into my personal behavior for rules of engagement. These help me with human relations and how comfortably I live with myself. They are as follows and are not all my creations. Most of them were taught to me:
1. I do not have to be right nor have an opinion on everything.
2. It's okay to say "I don't know."
3. I refuse to have arguments with people unless they are actually there!
4. The phrase "hold your tongue"... can actually be done.
5. When I am unsure of what to do, phone a friend is good.
6. When I react emotionally so do other people!
7. Doing NOTHING when I am unsure is acceptable.
8. I do not have to jump into every conversation I meet.
9. Whatever dress I want my wife to wear... pick the opposite one so she wears the one I like.
10. Turn to GOD more often Tom. When you lean on his words you need less of your own...