I used to be a shot of whiskey—straight.
This is still how I take my whiskey, but this is not who I am anymore.
I used to burn slow, lingering like smoke in a person’s lungs. I used to sting and make eyes water. Breathe me in, and the tingles would build up from your toes.
I was a wild dance—the rage of an unstoppable hurricane. I was the words of a song—clear and contagious and devastating.
God, I used to be so free.
But somewhere along the way—when I was spinning uncontrollably—I fell down one too many times. I scraped my knees raw and became afraid.
Afraid of that next fall, that next heartbreak, the next time someone would look at me and decide I’m too much—or not enough.
I became afraid of the next time someone would leave me.
So, I tempered—I chased.
I still burn, but I burn in private. My fires are little now, and the dance has subsided into a stately waltz. Still beautiful, but unerringly polite. If you look closely, you can see the mourning in my steps. The stiffness in my arms, like bars keeping it all in.
I can’t say that I want to be this way. There are so many times when I wish I could let it all out again—pick up the pace. Lash out in a torrent of authenticity.
I seek it in other people–I am drawn to those who have maintained their intrinsic selves. I think that they’ve destroyed me, and I have become small in their presence.
Or I have destroyed myself by becoming small.
I chase in an effort to be easy. I chase in an effort to be smooth. I chase in an effort to be wanted.
Most people are chased—we live so others will love us and forget that we have to love ourselves.
Straight, burning, stinging.
I forgot that I could love myself, for the wild passion pent up inside me.
Screaming, raging, singing.
I’ve forgotten how to keep spinning when no one is dancing with me.
And I think that if I ever want to be happy, I have to re-learn what I used to know: that I—like whiskey—am a drink better taken straight.
Author: Chelsea Griffin
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/IntangibleArts Follow