“I’ve got the sweetest hangover/ I don’t wanna get over” ~ Diana Ross
Recently, I was a part of a beautiful event that made me pause and reflect on the value of connections. A few weeks back, my second adult child got married. It was a beautiful ceremony filled with family and friends and, above all, love. Coming out of it, I made a joke about having a bit of a love hangover and was reminded of that song by Diana Ross where she sings,
“If there’s a cure for this/ I don’t want it/
If there’s a remedy/ I’ll run from it/
I think about it all the time/ Never let it out of my mind…”
The song is about a man she loves, but I think some of the lyrics are applicable to love in general, especially the part about never wanting that moment to end.
There’s no greater feeling in the world than the one that gives you wings like that, that solidifies your purpose and reason to be on this planet, that proves that LOVE really is the meaning of life. Seeing my son and his bride and all of our families and friends coming together to celebrate love was the greatest gift this proud father of the groom could ask for. I’ve listened to the speeches, and I was touched by how beautiful and special all of the connections between the families were and how my son and his bride’s union brought all those people together to celebrate their marriage. It’s impossible to feel cynical about weddings when you get to be a part of one that is all about honoring connections and starting new ones.
However, for someone who’s been relinquished (like I was), such celebrations can be tricky, and at times it was exhausting, repeatedly processing the importance of family and relationships–jokingly, I thought to myself, “but hey, that’s the life-long gift of relinquishment and adoption!” I’m as equipped as anybody else to be able to partake in family events, but for someone like me this means that I need to be mindful of a certain emotional overload. As a person who had to learn how to be able to establish meaningful, healthy connections with people, who grew up feeling a lot of mistrust and fear, I can get overwhelmed when I’m too far from the baseline. As with everything else, I need to check in with myself to make sure that whatever I’m going through keeps me rooted firmly in reality. Expressing love and joy and making new connections has to happen in a balanced way where I don’t get anxious and feel like hiding or, worse, acting out. Thanks to all of the work and healing that I’ve done, I’m able to show up not only for myself but for those who count on me. Being a proud father who helped make that wedding memorable was joyous not just because it brought happiness to others, but also because I was able to thrive from the connections I’ve made as I went along. My son got married, and at that moment our family expanded; and we were gifted with all those wonderful new people to create memories with. What an incredible endowment!
A wedding is definitely one of the most “intense” types of familial get-togethers. The speeches, the declarations, the introductions and, of course, the feelings all at once in a short amount of time could have a potential to short-circuit someone who is less prepared. I know of people who avoid weddings (and even Christmas parties) for those reasons–not because they don’t want to honor their loved ones, but because it’s too much. I know of people who say that they can’t handle too much happiness because it threatens their emotional equilibrium in the way that makes them act out. I wonder if some excessive drinking at weddings happens precisely because people need some kind of a coping strategy to help them deal with all those big feelings. Certainly, in the past, I’d be the first person at the bar and possibly asking to make multiple toasts (possibly even making a fool of myself!). I used alcohol to calm myself down, to be able to deal with emotional events, and to be able to fit in. I believed it helped me overcome shyness, introversion, and it made me gregarious and the life of the party. I didn’t know then that what I might’ve been feeling all along was emotional overload and the type of a love hangover that hurts.
Today, I don’t drink and must deal with good and bad situations completely sober. I am present, I am reliable, and I can be there for my family and friends without feeling too overwhelmed. The love hangover that I felt was pleasant and without any connotations of an actual hangover. Instead of feeling deflated, I felt energized and inspired. I navigated my way through the day–and the preparations leading up to it–with the full understanding and appreciation of the people who would be gathering to help celebrate. The intensity of love, the certain exaggeration of it present during a marriage ceremony, made sense in the context and I was ready, my relinquished self feeling the opposite of relinquishment. I felt accepted, cherished, and needed. I had to adapt to the situation, yes, but none of it was at the cost of my inner peace and sanity. What was left was only positive: good energy and making of memories to last a lifetime. I thought that, when I stand at the end of life looking back, that wedding day is certainly going to be a day that’s made it all worthwhile.