The Vulnerability Hangover

I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach on the day after the wedding. It was a feeling of uneasiness, nervousness, and discomfort usually reserved for the mornings after I’ve had enough to drink that I know my filter left the building long before I did on the preceding evening. I HATE this feeling. Its a big part of the reason that I try not to be intoxicated in public. BTW – It’s also the reason I don’t tend to get hangovers. The amount of alcohol required for me to let my guard down and say exactly what comes to my mind is less than the amount of alcohol that causes a hangover, apparently. Anyway the morning after I’ve had a good amount to drink goes like this: I wake up freaking out that I made a fool out of myself, or that I said something that offended someone or made people uncomfortable. I share my freak-out with Tyler. He assures me that I’m wrong, that unless someone knew me really well they wouldn’t have had any idea that I was under the influence at all, and his favorite part: I was a hell of a lot of fun the night before.

But the thing was, I didn’t think I had that much to drink at the wedding. I remember getting three drinks throughout the night, but I know I didn’t finish one. I’d sit my drink down somewhere that it wouldn’t be knocked over by anyone (likely me) while dancing to a favorite song, or posing for a picture, or anything else a bride does at a wedding. Then the super-efficient staff we hired would whisk it away before I made my way back. Awesome way to stay sober(ish) at your own wedding: hire kick ass service people!

So, no, not drunk. But the morning after feeling of disgust and worry was the same. I had to ask myself…what gives?? What did my actions at the wedding reception have in common with my actions while I’m drinking? Hi! My name’s Melissa and I analyze the shit out of EVERYTHING. So, after some hardcore analyzing was well as phone calls to my two best friends and my mom, who confirmed that no, I really truly wasn’t a drunken bride, I figured out what it was: I DIDN’T GIVE A SHIT.

Um…talk about an Aha Moment! I feel like shit when I’ve not given any? That’s something I could sit in the therapists chair for months discussing!

Instead, though, I shall discuss with you, dear people of the internet.

The wedding was the first time that I really just said “Fuck It” and meant it. Not like Fuck It and then spend the next hour convincing myself not to care about the issue in question, which is what I usually do. But seriously, “Fuck It” and then didn’t think about the issues in question again.

Wedding Dance This is what it looks like when I really, truly, don’t care about anything other than what is in front of me. Photo by Patrick McGuire Photography.

I can not think of another time in my life that I wasn’t in my own head. I can not think of another time that I was literally just living in them moment. It was amazing…until the next morning.

How sad is that, you guys? That I feel at my worst when I’ve just let go and done “me.” Seriously? That’s really messed up!! Especially because I have built this whole soapbox on “Be yourself, don’t let others’ opinion of you matter one bit, don’t be a judgmental jerk, etc. etc.”

I thought I had it down. I really did.

Talking to my friend about it, she pinpointed something pretty quickly. “You feel vulnerable when you’re not in control. Sometimes it’s not until the next day that you realize you’ve given up control, therefore made yourself vulnerable. And it’s the vulnerability that makes you so uncomfortable” I sat there for a second and stared at her. Surely I’d find something in what she just said that I could refute. Nope. Not a thing. Well shit. Way to call me out.

I always have a pulse on every little thing in my surrounding sphere. Or at least I believe I do in the moment. How did that thing that was just said make this person feel? Did that food I brought to this party go over well? What’s the general vibe of this room? I’m constantly looking at things like this when I’m in a social setting…until I start drinking and stop paying attention. And THAT is when I feel super exposed. Like the world will fall apart if I’m not there to hold it together, and everyone will know it’s my fault. For the record the world is still here, so I’m guessing I’m wrong about that one.

I’m working on it. At the bare minimum I’m acknowledging when I feel uncomfortable and paying attention to how I react. When I’m feeling bold I find opportunities to give up control, because I figure the more I do it the more used to the feeling I’ll get. Maybe in the end I’ll see that giving up control does not equal death…or loss of friends or utter embarrassment. It’s going to be a process, but now that I see it I know I can figure this shit out. And someday I WILL wake up after a great night out without a vulnerability hangover.

2 thoughts on “The Vulnerability Hangover

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