Jun 19: Emotional Hangovers

Emotional Hangovers

Thank you for the opportunity to chair this meeting following my recent celebration of 27 years of continuous sobriety on June 17th. I am happy to still be a sober member who is working and living the AA program to the best of my ability. I am so grateful that I was given the chance at a better life. All I had to do was to ask my God for help, take advantage of the help that was so freely given by people like you, follow the principles and work the program, and trust that God would do for me what I couldn’t do for myself.

Today, I would like to talk about feelings/emotions we all have from time to time even when we are not drinking and what we can do about them by working the Steps. I will also tie in with the topic from last week on getting rid of resentments.

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 behaviour 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 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”!

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 that you’d like to get off your chest. Thanks for giving me this opportunity and for trudging along with me on the ‘Road of Happy Destiny’.