Posted by: Dennie | October 1, 2013

Emotional hangovers

Yesterday, I suffered a terrific hangover.  Not the booze, throw-up-in-my-mouth hangover I used to have nearly every morning after a rough night of drinking.

This was bad in a different way.

I was suffering from an emotional hangover.

I’d never heard that term until I came into AA.  My booze hangovers  left me feeling like crap physically, yet many times I  would also experience a vague sense of guilt. Anxiety and uneasiness eclipsed  the following day, draining my energy and darkening my mood.

The stress from the weekend worry for my bird was taking its toll on me. Anxiety spilled  into Monday and was affecting me physically as well. My eyes burned. My head ached. I had a knot in my right shoulder blade.

I was dragging my ass.

I felt better after I beat myself up at the Warrior Dash.

Although little Skye, my parakeet, seemed better before I left for work yesterday I had been afraid to look too closely, afraid that  I might see something abnormal.

While at work, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I was in a state of purgatory. I wanted her to get better right away or…please God, forgive me, take her away to The Rainbow Bridge. The worry was killing me.

I felt  horrible and weighted down.

And then, I began to feel guilty. Guilty because I knew of others who were suffering much more deeply than I. Others whose children struggled with addiction. Others who were terminally ill. I thought of the children of St. Jude’s hospital, of their parents and the purgatory they must endure on a daily basis. My selfishness filled me with shame.

I have learned, finally, that this type of emotional tangle is one of the reasons God gave us sponsors.

And so, in a phone call, I spilled out my anxiety, fears, guilt and shame. My sadness and sense of helplessness.

And  my sponsor told me it was okay.

It was okay to honor my feelings, to acknowledge my sadness even though it might seem insignificant in comparison to someone else’s  pain. Those emotions needed credence and recognition regardless of the perceptions I had about others.

She recited a little vignette from her early days of sobriety, more than fifty years ago. A woman whom she considered to be very wise told her that  “Comparisons are odious.”

Odious?  I asked.

Bad, she replied.

Oh, I said. And later looked it up further in the thesaurus.

Hateful, horrible, revolting, abhorrent.

Really bad.

Today, I am feeling better. My little bird seems to be pulling through. For now, I’ve shed the emotional hangover of the last three days. Past experience has proven that it will be a wave I’ll need to ride out again in the future.  Any number of situations will once again leave me floundering in a sea of emotion. A sick bird. A fight with my husband. An issue with my kids. Anything.

It will hurt. I will hurt.

But, like yesterday, I will ride it out.  Again.

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