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Lisa Marie Wilson Headshot

Finding the Humor in Divorce

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Two weeks after I moved out of my second husband's house, I learned that I had cancer. So now, when people tell me they're thinking of divorce, I tell them to get a full-body scan first. This always gets a few laughs. And it's laughter that's gotten me through the pain of divorce. You see, because I nearly lost my life to cancer, I've decided not to waste time thinking about what-ifs and what-could've-beens about my failed marriage. Instead, I focus on laughter and smiles. In fact, I'm dead serious about comedy.

I was really lucky to have the funniest and most positive woman I know, Kathleen Kinmont, divorce her husband at the exact same time I was. That was more than a year ago. Her explanation to people who look at her with judging eyes is, "I'm not a failure, I'm really good at marriage. I've already had three of them." A lot of people cry during a divorce, but during our divorces, Kathleen and I started a comedy web series about breakups. Not because we weren't in anguish over the death of our marriages, but because we felt better when we were making each other laugh.

The best advice I can give to newly separated singletons is to get giggling. Go to comedy clubs, watch funny movies, listen to stand -up comedy CDs in the car and find the funny in your life. It's there hiding under the covers with you and your shame from yet another unsuccessful venture. But don't beat yourself up for too long because the sooner you smile, the sooner you will attract positive energy and you will be rewarded for taking your future into your own hands and moving forward. There is life after divorce and you control whether you're upbeat and joyful or if you're still hiding behind a pint of ice cream with a roll of toilet paper because you ran out of Kleenex.

Making jokes about how great you are at sticking to your vows, addressing invitation envelopes and filing out government paperwork are wonderful ways to make light of a very tough situation. When Aunt Mary looks at you with concern, tell her, "Yes, I'm getting another divorce. I've come to realize that I don't really like marriages, but I just adore weddings. You really do give the best presents. Thanks again for the great vase. I hijacked it during the split with ex-husband number four. He had hidden it in a cupboard with his porn magazines, but I found it."

The year before my cancer diagnosis, my mother died from cancer. She knew hers was terminal, but instead of being depressed, she made everyone laugh. One time when the doctor told us some positive news, I said, "Mom, looks like there's light at the end of our tunnel." To which she replied, "Honey, that's just the train that's about to hit us." She had a quick wit that kept the doctors and nurses laughing during her many stays at the hospital. She got divorced when I was 7 and wore a T-shirt printed with the quote, "How do you spell relief? D-I-V-O-R-C-E." So when I get down on myself about my divorce, I remind myself that I am so blessed to be alive. And then I change my mind-set, I get out of my jammies, I put down the chocolate bar and I decide to be happy. It's a choice. Thanks, Mom, lesson learned.

Being a single mom to a 6-year-old, all the while battling thyroid cancer, is very tough, but I manage to find the humor in it. Laughing through the physical and mental pain is the best medicine. Divorce is an illness from which we have to heal, and the endorphins released from a great belly laugh really make a difference in our health. Life is short, why waste time being sad? Most people get divorced because they are miserable, so once they're out, it should be a time to giggle and heal. You laughed your way into the marriage; do your friends, family, and health a favor and laugh your way out.