I know that I’ve had many, many hangovers from drinking in the past where I was sick, sorry, disgusted, fed up, anxious and full of worry from my behavior the night before. Sometimes I get those feelings in sobriety so today I’d like to touch on the emotional hangover. What is it anyway? Please keep an open mind.
Pages 88-89 of the Twelve and Twelve tell us: “But there is another kind of hangover which we all experience whether drinking or not. That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday’s and sometimes today’s excesses of negative emotion – anger, fear, jealousy, and the like. If we would live serenely today and tomorrow, we certainly need to eliminate these hangovers. This doesn’t mean we need to wander morbidly around in the past. It requires an admission and correction of errors now…”
Yes I have had emotional hangovers in sobriety and still do today and they usually end up with me thinking that I’m a terrible person and saying, ‘when will I ever learn.’ I used to get them when I lost my temper and got into arguments. These days, I ‘intuitively know’ when I have said or done something that not only has hurt another person, but has destroyed my sense of well-being. I get a feeling of a hole in the pit of my stomach and my head begins to review what happened and what I can do about it. My sponsor is a great listener and provides me with meaningful suggestions that have worked for her over the years.
Through working the Steps, I have gained insight into the cause and consequences of my actions and have lost most of my passion for arguments and temper tantrums. Steps 1 through 9 teach me how to deal with my feelings towards people, places and things so that I avoid a resentment, and Steps 10 to 12 show me how to do it to maintain my serenity. Specifically, Step 10 tells me how to deal with a budding resentment and that is to deal with it immediately before it becomes full-blown and to make the appropriate amends.
If I find myself hanging on to a resentment, I ‘intuitively’ go to my favourite story in the Big Book: Freedom From Bondage – Page 552 – and pray for the person I’m resenting until I can see him/her as just another person who can make mistakes just as I do. What I’ve found out over time, is that the very thing that I can’t overlook in others is the very thing of which I am guilty. Over time, the resentment is gradually relieved and my sense of personal well-being and peace returns. What a program we have through the Big Book which I’ve always referred to as my “Guide to Life.”
Before I go, I would like to tell you that I went to an AA meeting on my 22nd AA birthday and it felt great to be there after a number of years away. I met folks I knew from my last home group and it was great to rub elbows with fellow alkies. I surely miss the handshakes, hugs, greetings, smiles, and discussions before and after the meetings. This was a further affirmation that AA is where I belong.
Do you have moments/times of “Emotional Hangovers”? How do you deal with them? Please feel free to share on this topic or on anything else that’s going on with you.