I’ve found myself thinking a lot about pain after my high flying act on the ice a few weeks ago. It has been my constant companion ever since. As John Green says, “That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.” Sometimes it quiets down just a little bit, but it quickly jumps back into action the minute I make a wrong move. Did I really think I was going to reach for that tupperware on that high shelf? Or pull the car door shut with my right hand? Silly me. The snail has now become my spirit animal; alas, I was a jackrabbit not all that long ago. But I am happy to report that I’ve made it through the Getting Out of Bed qualification round in the Olympic trials, and I will be competing in next week’s event. I’m counting on a medal. I’ve certainly had enough practice. And my granddaughter Nora and I suddenly have so much in common: neither of us can get up from the floor without grabbing onto the closest object. It’s been quite the bonding experience.
Despite my incessant frustration and my occasional tears, I have most definitely learned a thing or two from my new best friend. I’ve learned that for the first time ever, I’ve suffered a serious injury that needs time, care, and rest in order to heal properly. That means I’ve had to slow down, and ask for help, and recognize that I have some limitations that weren’t there before. None of these things has been easy for me. I have also learned that I have wonderful people in my life (beginning with my family) who have checked on me, spent time with me, talked endlessly with me, and helped me to believe that I’m actually handling this whole thing much better than I think I am. That has been tremendously valuable, since most days I’m seriously upset with my lack of any real progress. I have also learned that despite how much I love having people around me, I also value the time I’m spending sitting with my thoughts and working through them all. These new limitations are mine to process, to measure, to cope with, and eventually overcome. It’s teaching me a lot about myself. Finally, I have learned that this pain is something that I can touch, and feel, and even poke at if I want to be particularly masochistic. In fact, I can almost see it, if I lift up my shirt and look in the mirror at the places where the two worst fractures are pulling back together. It’s a very real thing.
About ten days into this process, I experienced an emotional upset that was made impossibly worse a week later. Someone very close to me hurt my feelings immensely, but I am partly to blame. After all, no one can really hurt us unless we give them permission to do so, and unless we turn our eyes from a truth that has been trying to grab our attention all along. What I have found most illuminating in all of this has been the similarities between the physical and the emotional pain. It’s uncanny how very much alike they are. They both strike without warning, when I first wake up, or when I’m reaching just beyond my limits, or at the end of the day when I’m tired and ready for bed. They both will remain until I’m fully healed, and it’s my job to do everything I can to make sure that healing happens. They’ve both been met with tremendous support from my family and friends, something for which I will remain forever grateful. And they are both giving me the chance to grow, to learn how strong I really am, and to know unequivocally that I am more, and cannot accept being seen as less.
Despite the similarities, there are differences between the two types of pain that are rather significant. Whereas physical injury can be located and confined to one place on the body, emotional hurt cannot. It can show up almost anywhere: in the sadness in our smiles, the slump of our shoulders, the heaviness in our chests, and the slowness of our steps. Physical injuries have a predictable timeframe: by six to eight weeks I should be noticeably better, and fully healed at somewhere around twelve. Emotional hurt has no regard for such predictability. It stretches out in front of us like some vast body of water for which there is no bridge, let alone any idea as to how long it will take to cross it. Physical injuries ask us to trust a tried and true process; emotional ones require a tremendous leap of faith to even take the first step. But one day the pain will change. We’ll feel its edges begin to wear down, and see its surface begin to dull, until it looks like very much like the pieces of sea glass you see in the photos. Its sharpness will be gone, and we’ll be able to take it in our hands and hold it without injury. And in that moment we can pull it close one last time, and then let it go, releasing it once and for all.
Today’s cocktail begins with tequila, a spirit that has been blamed for a great deal of pain by many, many people. I added blue curaçao as my next ingredient because there is such sweetness and beauty in the times in life that are pain free. How very much we want them to last forever. A grapefruit shrub reminds us, however, of the impossibility of that notion. Finally, I used DRAM Apothecary’s Hair of the Dog bitters for their warm vanilla notes and for their claim of having healing and restorative properties. I topped the drink with just a splash of club soda. The final result was a riff on a Blue Hawaiian, that was less sweet, and a bit funkier, but still easy to drink and capable of transcending the worst of our pain. Until the next morning, of course. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker (except the club) with ice and shake vigorously until very cold. Strain into a Collins class over fresh ice and top with the club. Stir before serving. You can go with a grapefruit wheel as a garnish. I wanted to keep it clean and simple for the photo so I went without. Enjoy!