I’ve had lots of conversation recently about breakups, and the way in which we heal from them. We’ve all been through it at one time or another, probably beginning when we were about thirteen or so. Can you remember that first time? We were with this boy or this girl and we thought things were going along swimmingly, when suddenly they were done with us, and we felt absolutely devastated. We cried to our friends, we listened to sad songs that made us cry even more, and we thought we’d never find another love. The funny thing is that it doesn’t feel all that much different when it happens later in life, when we should be all grown up with some idea of how to weather these kinds of things a bit more successfully. It still hurts like hell, we still tell our friends the story as many times as they will listen, and we still cry over every sad song we hear. And, worst of all, we still think we’ll never find another love. Eventually we heal, but it really can take a while, and we spend a lot of the time feeling like we’re taking two steps forward and one step back.
This pushed forward and pulled back feeling is what has led me to question whether emotional healing actually occurs in a linear fashion. I’ve always pictured it as something that moves along a kind of number line like the ones they taught us in school. One day we move forward to +2 or so and we’re feeling good, but then the next day we wake up and find ourselves right back at -1 again, with little to no explanation. I’ve begun to wonder whether emotional healing occurs a bit differently, whether it’s actually more like a kind of a spiral that begins at the most external level and then spins downward as it moves closer and closer to our hearts. If you allow yourself to think about it, it really does begin to make sense. The breakup happens and we feel the initial hurt, but then we begin taking care of some the superficial details. We change our Facebook status, we delete some Instagram pictures, and we gather together all his or her stuff and pack it up in a box while channeling our inner Béyonce. We feel good, and we feel strong, and we feel like we’re healing already. It was for the best, it was never going to work out anyway, and we’re better off. Those are all the things we tell ourselves, until a week or so goes by and reality sets in. Suddenly we are emotionally bodyslammed by the thought of just how much we miss this person. That initial hurt returns tenfold, and we feel raw, we feel exposed, we feel taken down at the knees.
My personal theory is that we’re able to deal with the superficial hurt in the beginning because it’s what our heart is ready for, and even though it may not seem like much, some healing actually does begin to happen. When we get just a little bit stronger we’re ready to face the next level, and so we spiral down, reopening some of the painful things that we initially felt, but allowing even more profound healing to take place. This is the moment when we feel like we’ve taken those steps backward, but in reality, we’re actually still moving forward. This process continues until we get as deep as we can, where we confront the parts of the relationship and the breakup that hurt us the most. Once we hit this point the worst is over, and we can begin climbing back up again feeling ready to leave the pain behind us, and looking forward to whatever might be next. We’ll still feel it from time to time in much the same way as when an old physical injury resurfaces. If we look closely enough we’ll always be able to find the scar, but we won’t see weakness in it, we’ll see strength, because we survived. It might have laid us out flat, and hurt like hell, and made us question a million things, but we survived, and now we’re ready to open ourselves up to what’s next. And the possibilities are as beautiful as they are endless.
For today’s cocktail, I decided to go with a variation of the Whiskey Ginger. This gave me the opportunity to use Cooper River rye whiskey as my base spirit. This latest rye bottling was released about a month ago from Cooper River Distillers right here in Camden, and is the perfect blend of spice, smoothness, and the caramel notes that come from wood aging. Cooper River rye is always outstanding, but in this 6th bottling James Yoakum, Ben Donia, and Andrew Countryman have really hit their highest note. The rye blended perfectly with the Barrow’s Intense and with the Chai Pear shrub from Element. I chose to go in this direction because I’ve always thought of the Whiskey Ginger as a comforting, medicinal kind of drink that can cure your stomach when it’s a bit upset, and can go a ways towards healing your heart when it’s hurting too. I added in a dash of Dr. Elemgirab’s Spanish bitters, with their flavors of chamomile, spice, orris, and angelica root with the same thought in mind. Back in the 1800s, this particular blend was thought to have intense medicinal and healing properties.
The Downward Spiral
Add all the ingredients to a shaker tin and shaker over ice until very cold. Strain into a double rocks or collins glass filled with ice. Top with the ginger ale. Sip. Enjoy. Start climbing back up. You’re good.
*If you feel like there’s enough ginger in this drink already (oh the horror of those words) then by all means you can switch the topper to club.