The Hangover Paradox

16 Jul

Never, in the entire course of my sobriety, have I woken up wishing is been drinking the night before. I don’t peel open my eyes, stretch out in my comfy bed and think “ohhhh I could really go for a dry mouth mixed with an all encompassing sense of doom right now.” But today, for the first time, I missed having a hangover.

Craziness right? Let me explain.

Last night, for the second time in a week, there was a big boozy work event. Last night was an out til 3am job for everyone else. I departed at around 10, having had a perfectly nice evening with colleagues and seeing that it was going to be A Big Night. I love a sober all nighter on the right day, but last night just wasn’t it. So I left.

Today I watched them roll into the office clutching their mega coffees and bacon sarnies, telling their war stories from the night before, and I felt left out. I used to love these team debriefings after a work bender, the new closeness that comes from sharing a wild night with people you rarely see let their hair down. I also, bizarrely, used to work pretty well with a hangover. It gave me a strange kind of focus, and a weirdly comforting sense of all being in it together.

All of these small pangs are FAR outweighed by sobriety, but as you can probably imagine, it niggles away at me at times, this lack of ability to join in that particular kind of fun.

I remember a sober friend once saying to me “In all honesty, I might not have made it to where I am in my career without going out drinking with the boys.” This worried me, because I know I’ve reaped the career rewards of being a fun person to go out with. It doesn’t help much, of course, but it undoubtedly helps in a small way. Especially when the bosses are big drinkers. Of course the impact of not drinking on my career will be minimal, whereas the benefits of being switched on day after day will be huge, cumulatively.

Again, this whole conversation I’m having with myself proves two key things I keep learning over and over again in many different ways:

1) I am unhealthily preoccupied with alcohol (“it would further my CAREER to drink!”)

2) British culture is saturated by booze. Having a can of gin and tonic for “hair of the dog” was acceptable today nay, ENCOURAGED. Madness.

For the benefits I reap from sobriety, I’m willing to endure these fleeting moments of being slightly out of the pack. I ain’t giving these 6 months away for anyone. Because I’m the boss of me 😉

Happy Wednesday!

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20 Responses to “The Hangover Paradox”

  1. lucy2610 July 16, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    Hey lovely. We need a way to feel included and bonded in our own little tribe of sober folks don’t we? I don’t know what that might be, I guess fitness would be one way, you know the chat that you get with other runners after you’ve achieved a major event! 🙂 xx

  2. soberlearning July 16, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    Gin and tonic comes in a can? I have never seen that. I say Yeah to you for not having a massive hangover, upset stomach and hairy teeth. Great job!

    • FitFatFood July 17, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      ‘Hairy teeth’ – I’ve never heard that before but I love it! What a suitably disgusting expression 🙂

  3. Allie Holbrook July 16, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Going out drinking with the boys is 90% about being there, not about drinking alcohol. I don’t know if you feel like you can be in a pub yet, but it’s not all or nothing, if you can. Either way, can you imagine how they feel today? Remember the pounding head, the dry mouth, the feeling of toxins swilling around your system? The anxiety, the depression, the knowledge that you probably wouldn’t make your workout today or you wouldn’t do well if you did. The nausea that follows you everywhere, the craving for grease and sugar and the guilt associated with that.

    Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. It’s madness.

    • FitFatFood July 17, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

      90% being there, I’d never thought about it that way. I always go, so maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of it.

      And yes, you’re so right about all the downsides….

  4. littlemsjones July 17, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    One of the things I find most inspirational about your blog is your dedication to going out and having sober fun, and the fact that you seem to be able to do that even when everyone else is getting off their face. I’m only at the beginning of this journey, but I really don’t want to lose my social life. I want to dance all night sometimes because it makes me feel alive. I just want to be able to stand up while I do it.
    I also worry about losing that drinking camaraderie that everyone shares during/after a big night.

  5. carrythemessage July 17, 2014 at 1:04 am #

    Remember that much of that comeraderie is a false front. If it weren’t, would those dudes grabbing each other and saying “I love you bro…” do that early in the morning? After a meeting? No – it’s a false front. Let’s put it this way – my drinking buddies were drinkers first, buddies second. ya know? They punted away when I got sober. The true friends are the ones I have made in recovery, as it’s real stuff.

    And as for the boozy business – that might be in the minority, but business doesn’t happen over Guiness all the time.

    The romaticism of alcohol is one of the things that our alcoholism likes to use.

    Stay grounded in the real 🙂

  6. Lilly July 17, 2014 at 2:30 am #

    Hello! I am back! And I’ve been meaning to email you – but for now, just, hello. I was worried about you reading your recent post about traumatic things happening and hope you are ok?

    You know, I started worrying while reading this whether you were building up to justifications re drinking and was so happy to read the end – you are awesome. You rock!

    And as for the career damage of not drinking? Pffft. It’s Wolfie talk. Just like the ‘but I can’t date sober’ stuff is (and believe me I totally have that dialogue running in my head too). There is a sliver of truth in both *but* only if we conveniently ignore the extremely career harmful things we can do while drinking (remember when you slept through the fire alarm away at a work conference I believe it was, right? Not a great professional look is it?) and the drunken romantic mistakes (all my worst dating decisions have always involved being drunk – how about yours?). So, what I’m trying to say is it’s a double-edged sword and the sharper side of the blade still falls down on drinking. Now I’m mixing metaphors but you get the idea.

    Anyway, hugs and love to you!

    Lilly xo

    • FitFatFood July 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

      LIIIIIILLLLLLLLYYYYYYY! Good to see you round these parts again!

      You are so right- it’s all part of the big myth of drinking, but it’s one of those fleeting moments I still experience.

      Hope you’re getting on well- do let us know 🙂 x x x

      • Lilly July 18, 2014 at 12:55 am #

        Hello sweetie,

        I posted an update yesterday 🙂 Have had some slippery times but am ok and trying to get back on track, with which reading your posts really helps.

        Big hugs,

        L x

  7. primrose July 17, 2014 at 5:58 am #

    this is really how I felt after my involuntary lunch in a winebar: shut out and away from that pseudo camaraderie. but as Paul says, if they need to find that friendship in the contents of a glass – it’s illusion, pure and simple.

    I bet every single one of those buttie-munchers would gladly have swapped heads with you in a moment! you are on the up and up, sweetie!

    have emailed you 😉 xx

  8. moretomethanthis July 17, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    I remember the laughter and camaraderie after a “big” night out at work… I think a lot of it (from me at least) was seeking re-assurance from everyone else there that it was OK, that I didn’t make too much of a tit of myself, that I didn’t say anything too awful or silly. I would be keen to get right in there with them, to hear what everyone was saying and laughing about, in part to make sure they weren’t laughing at me… particularly if I was hazy on the details from the night before. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I guess most other people felt the same way… it’s why we need to laugh and compare notes the next day. Re-assurance. They look like they’re having fun, hun, but inside, they’re headachy and nauseous and they’re terrified what everyone else is thinking of them. You’re in a much better place. And you can still have the bacon buttie if you want. xxx

  9. themiracleisaroundthecorner July 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    It doesn’t sound crazy at all, I know that feeling perfectly. For me, this is a case of needing to “play the tape through,” as all the experts like to say. Sure, I’ve had those mornings where it’s fun to commiserate how bad our heads hurts while simultaneously laughing about the shenanigans of the night before, but more often than that was the dread I would feel facing that same group… “oh shit, what did I do or say that I don’t remember?” Or the paranoia… “Are they talking about me, what do they think of me now?”

    Great post, took me back to a place I don’t frequently think about, and gave me extra gratitude for sobriety today 🙂

    • FitFatFood July 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

      It’s true. And what confirms to mw that I’m different from normies is that the large majority don’t feel the shame. They joke, and get on with their lives.

      I reference Russel Brand’;s article on addiction a lot, but this line really resonated for me yesterday: ‘I have friends who can smoke weed, swill gin, even do crack and then merrily get on with their lives. For me, this is not an option.’

      Glad it helped remind you of a more unpleasant time you are now far, far away from!

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