I had an idea, this morning. I thought of a blog post I could write, that might be tongue-in-cheek witty. And I figured: "Well, I could do with writing something funny on my blog, so I'll give this a crack."
I wrote a few paragraphs. And then I read it back to myself and realised that it sounded like one of those dreadful clickbait articles that seem to pop up from nowhere on Facebook. You know the kind: "You Won't Believe What The Cast of Animaniacs Look Like Now..."
Spoiler: Dot had a nose job.
The truth is, the only kind of humour I'm good at lately, is dark humour. I mean, if you're after the kind of hilarious wisecracks Darth Vader probably makes during personnel meetings on the Death Star, I'm your girl. If you're looking for accessible humour that leaves you with a warm, contented glow, you'd better keep looking.
I've always had quite a dark sense of humour. I'm a military brat and Dad still says "black humour; it's how we cope in the forces," despite it having been many years since he retired from the RAF.
My coping mechanism has always been to poke fun at the worst things happening in my life. To mock the things that make me saddest. Why? Because, if you think about it, by laughing at the bad stuff, you're taking away its power, to a degree. You're protecting yourself, by making it something worthy of mockery, rather than letting it defeat you. I suppose there is truth in that old saying: "You've got to laugh, or you'll cry."
Which is why, since The Great Unfriending Of 2017 (to explain, I lost 3 out of 4 of my best friends recently, which kind of makes it sound like a weird advert for cat food: "3 out of 4 cats agree that Emma is awful!" - aaaaand there I go again), I have been singing this endlessly, in a sarcastic voice that's always one note away from snotty tears:
I have friends, I DEFINITELY have friends...
It's just easier to chuckle "ooh, I'd like to go to that, if only I had any friends to go with, hahahaHAHAHAhahaha," than it is to admit that the events of the last 3-4 months have been crushing.
There are two problems with this tactic, however. Firstly, unless the person or people you're talking to shares your dark sense of humour, you're likely to get some weird looks, coupled with the overriding sensation that whoever's heard you joke about something bad, now thinks you're an awful person with no sensitivity. Which is...unhelpful.
The second problem is that cracking a joke about something sad doesn't make the sad thing go away, altogether.
Last night, I attempted to use my tried and tested method of dark humour, to stop myself being sad about one of the friends I've lost. I decided to watch a live concert video of our mutual favourite band, the Manic Street Preachers. They're a band I've seen enough times to have lost count (I think I'm at 14, but it could be 15), and all but three of those concerts have been with this particular gig buddy by my side. Obviously, our friendship ran much deeper than just being fans of the same band, but we'd had so many road trips to gigs, so many funny experiences going to concerts together and so many epic shared memories that she is intrinsically linked with my love for the band. So, as I sat down to watch a gig video I'd found on YouTube, I couldn't help snarking to myself: "Heh, I'll probably end up queuing all day by myself, next time the band plays live. And maybe she'll be there and we'll have to awkwardly avoid each other. Haha, I'll be alone and depressed - Richey would be so proud..."
And then a tear snaked down my cheek. Then another. And another. Before long, I was bawling my eyes out.
And you know what? There was nothing funny about it. At least not at the time. At the time, all I could think was how utterly crap it is, to lose someone just because you have a friendship-destroying argument with someone else. To lose someone based on someone else's false representation of the facts. To lose someone when you had no quarrel with them, whatsoever. To lose someone when you tried really hard to keep them in your life, despite knowing that your fallout with someone close to them was going to make that difficult.
I miss her. I miss talking about things in way too much detail. I miss singing together. I miss seeing something that I know will make her laugh (or make her mad, or make her cry, or make her smile) and sending it to her, because I know she'd want to see it, so we could talk about it, afterwards. I miss the texts we'd send, the in-jokes we shared and the way we tried to support one another when the going got tough, even if we couldn't be there for each other in person. I miss how passionate she was about things she cared about. I miss how silly she and I could be, together. I miss the friendship I thought would last until we were old and grey.
And suddenly, the thought of running into her at a gig, or sitting just a few feet from her in a queue outside a venue, knowing I couldn't talk to her, was heartbreaking. There weren't any jokes to make, anymore.
I went to bed, feeling sad. And not only because I ended up watching the BBC's Close Up documentary about the disappearance of Richey Edwards.
By the time I woke up, I was determined to rediscover my humour. I wanted something to make me giggle and I wanted to prove to other people that I was still laughing, despite everything. That strange, dark sense of humour was willing me to poke fun at myself, again.
And so, I started writing a blog. A blog I never finished, because... Well, it was rubbish. And if there's one thing I've always promised myself, it's that I will never publish a blog or a YouTube video (check out my channel, by the way!) that I don't think is good enough to attach my name to.
Of course, when I realised how rubbish my writing was, I laughed. Because that's just what I do.
But then, when I'd deleted everything and gotten myself ready to start over again, I realised that sometimes, things don't have to be funny. They just have to be real.
And so, I wrote this, instead. Because yes, I'm still going to laugh at myself and the things that go wrong in my life, because if I didn't, I would just cry. Like... All the time. But I'm not going to pressure myself to make anyone else laugh. If I want to write something funny, I'll have another go, another day, but if I need to write honestly about how I feel, it's okay to do that.
I'm going to click that "publish" button, then go back to binge-watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend on Netflix, to cheer myself up. And then, later, I'll probably laugh at just how tragic that is. And that's okay, too.