Being sober in a crowd of drunk people is a challenge I mostly try to avoid. Generally, this has absolutely nothing to do with judgements and much more to do with an innate feeling of being unsafe. When people are out, they are loud balls of quivering energy that jump and bounce from one body to another. This energy flow never ceases and the very air feels thick with this acrobatic dance of chatter.
Whenever I’m in a situation like this, (unless I am drunk too), I feel as though I’m tuning into a different radio station than everyone else. I can’t keep up with the jokes, laughs and general conversation. Perhaps all would be fine if I was blissfully superior and didn’t care, but I’ve never been. I’ve always wanted to tune into the right radio station with absolute desire.
It seems that as I grow as a person, I seem to experience a familiar sensation to different extremes. Each emotional upset is like climbing a ladder; be it my grandmother’s illness and death, financial worries or finally feeling as though I had found my feet when I fell chronically ill. Yet each time some new trial is added the gap between the rungs of the ladder become wider and I struggle more and more to make connections.
In short, if my life is going well I tend to be able to make connections with others easily. I understand people with ease. However, any upset that happens makes a part of me temporarily turn to ice, and I lose my ability to communicate with the same excitement and passion I always have had.
Recently, on a particular day in July, I was having what I would call a tea-water day. This means that it was a mixed bag of greys and murky browns. I won’t bore anyone with the details of why this day was evidently displeasing, but it was only twelve in the afternoon and I had already cried enough to make my eyelids puff up.
If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that you know how I feel about positivity. I meditate and think my way away from pain on a daily, if not hourly, basis. I am always in touch with my mind and how I’m feeling both physically and mentally at any moment. I have been, and always will be my own champion.
On this day, I felt a hurt that seemed to split me inside. Of course, whilst feeling this I was utterly aware of the transient nature of this symptom to the situation. I would be fine – and I was. However, I guess anyone with any kind of degenerative illness will know that keeping your days plain sailing on the most part is key to survival. So, this was a jolt in the heartbeat pattern of my life and I was exhausted.
But I don’t wallow. I refuse to surrender all of my cells to one emotion. Thankfully I haven’t been in a situation I could not yet compartmentalise, as I do appreciate some have suffered much worse than I have.
In the grand act of not wallowing, I linked arms with my best friend and went out that night, desperate to laugh. Having been both blessed and cursed with a strong tolerance for alcohol, I went from sober to drunk and back to sober again in the space of an hour. My blind thrill was short lived.
The night air in Galway City was clear and the streets were thronged with people. As is typical for Galway, the atmosphere was bouncing. Everyone was falling out of overcrowded pubs onto the streets where plastic cups were handed out and music played.
On that night, I talked and laughed. I met new people and I didn’t feel so ill I had to leave. Whilst my bones felt as though they were eggshell thin and flaking with hurt, I smiled because of the beauty that this is the worst upset I’ve felt, and I’m still radiant.
At the end of the night, at around half past three in the morning, I was separated from my best friend and hideously sober. Thousands of people were making their way along the main street and I seemed to be the only person going against the tide and going the other way.
Whilst I walked, I wrapped my arms around myself and willed myself to become invisible as the shouts from men came. In that moment, I felt abysmal. I was alone with my sadness and a symbolic dark cloud against the merry drinkers.
One foot in front of the other just didn’t seem fast enough anymore. I wanted to leap and fly away to somewhere warmer where the pain was not felt. I wanted my pain to be an abstract concept, like clouds – you can go through it, entirely without feeling it.
It was not until a voice entered my head, as clear as a church bell that my heart lifted. Once again my mind had given me the answer I needed once more by saying,
“These are not the days you are born the remember.”
A little bit of the ice inside of me thawed at that when I remembered that pain, heartache, and sadness is as consequential or inconsequential as the sun or a piece of litter on the street. However, what has a defining significance is the uniqueness of what I do with that pain, heartache and sadness.
So there – in the middle of Shop Street, in Galway City on a booming Race Week, whilst surrounded by incoherence on all sides and sadness within, I realised that the world aligned itself so uniquely when I was born, that my purpose can not be to remember days where I dragged sadness around like an Egyptian slave pulling a pyramid block.
And that is what I was born to remember.
Anyway, that’s enough for now.