Waking Up Hungover When I Haven’t Been Drinking

Last night, after dinner, Adam and I went to the park to work on his rugby skills. The new season is less than three weeks away and he is pushing for a place in the first team this season where he would be playing against boys two years older than him. I say boys but these guys are huge. Adam has been working hard in our garage which he has turned into a gym to prepare for this step up to the next level.

You can be strong, fast and super fit but it means little if you can’t catch and pass the ball. So last night was all about ball handling. We performed a series of drills which he performed with ease before I sent up a series of high kicks for him to catch. These varied in terms of height and difficulty but, once again, they posed little problems for my talented son. He caught every ball with ease.

I actually think he was becoming a little bored by the end of it as I concluded the session by sending up probably the easiest kick of the evening. I could even catch that I mused as I watched the ball arc through the sky and then descend to where he awaited it, perfectly positioned as ever. It was an absolute dolly, and 99 times out of a 100 he would have caught it with his eyes closed.

Except this time he didn’t. At the last second he took his eye off the ball and it squirmed through his fingers before falling to the ground. ‘What happened there?’ I asked in astonishment. ‘Sorry it was so easy I just assumed I had it so took my eye off the ball.’ I sent up a few more testing kicks to end the session which he caught with ease. Just that one mishap. Because he took his eye off the ball.

This morning I woke up with a hungover. Which is odd because I gave up drinking alcohol more than five years ago. I felt nauseous, my throat was dry and I was gripped by fear and doubt. It took me several minutes to convince myself that I hadn’t been drinking the night before. I could even taste the stale alcohol on my breath, the smell of it filled my nostrils. I call these experiences, phantom hangovers.

Thankfully they are few and far between. I have no interest in returning to my drinking past. I am never tempted to succumb, it just isn’t an issue for me. Yet, just like Adam last night, I can never afford to take my eye off the ball. For, to quote the old adage, to ASSUME makes an ASS out of both YOU and ME. When it comes to patterns of addictive behaviour there is no such thing as an easy day.

This doesn’t just relate to my drinking. It applies to a lot of other destructive ‘bad habits’ from my past that I have worked hard at overcoming. I know that I can have 364 good days but they will mean nothing if I mess up on day 365. I need to be open, accountable and transparent. My integrity is non-negotiable just as my time on this planet has a limited shelf life. I cannot afford to stumble again, I have too much ground to cover yet.

Never underestimate your demons. They are master strategists and play the long game, lying dormant in the shadows; waiting for the slightest slip on your part whereupon they will slip between your defences and catch you napping. Always be on your guard for your enemies prowl around you like hungry lions, waiting to pounce and devour you. Never take your eye off the ball.

What strategies do you apply to your life in order to keep your eye on the ball?

Do you know where your demons are today?

40 thoughts on “Waking Up Hungover When I Haven’t Been Drinking

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  1. An interesting post – it is the danger of complacency that gets one so often. You think that everything’s going fine (as your son did) and then something can trip you up. But the answer is to keep going – as your son did. He didn’t stomp off in a huff, but continued working on his catching. AND he was able to acknowledge what went wrong, and “own” the error too – a good lesson for the future.
    I know it’s different for addiction, as one slip could be the end of abstinence, and cause many more problems, but in general, recognising that you’ve made a mess of something, working out why you did, and then moving on from it is a valuable skill to have.

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  2. Excellent blog! My demon is food addiction. People always tempt you with “Oh, its just one meal”, but one meal spills into a day, then a weekend and before you know it, the devil that lies within has sprung! It has taken me a lifetime to get to a healthy weight and yet one dinner with friends and my demon has been sprung and I overeat till I am sick to my stomach . They lay dormant, waiting for just the right circumstance and then POW! Stress, celebrations, worry, frustration, more celebrations and pretty soon your pants are struggling not to burst, your blood pressure is up along with your insulin. During these times, I give myself grace, pick myself up, and begin again. I work hard not to put myself in situations that might cause temptation and when I am I prep myself with healthy choices. The right attitude helps the latitude remain high. If God forgives us, we must as well. Warrior on!

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  3. That’s a great way to look at keeping your eye on the ball, and never losing sight of the prize.
    I have woken twice with a ‘ghost’ hangover, worst feeling ever, scared the daylights out of me. It seemed to have happened after several nights of insomnia 😕 as least as near as I could tell.

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  4. I also set myself up for failure when I am in entertainment mode and don’t go into it with a plan not to eat desert or carbs. I can control went I am preparing the meals but when others bring their goodies I feel like I am dis-ing them to not taste. So I find it helps to give my guests the heads up that I struggle to keep my weight down and it’s an effort to lose any pound I pack on which is a bummer but something I have to work at or suffer the consequences later.

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  5. You most likely felt hung over because you were dehydrated from the exercise the night before. I just imagine everywhere is as hot as it has been here all summer. Just thinking about it I need water. Mine will always be fear of abandonment I have to watch it all the time to keep the irrational thoughts out of my head!

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  6. For me, the demon that I can not take my eye off of is self-sabotage.

    There is a feeling that the other shoe is about to drop, whenever things are going well. Paranoia. So I may as well drop the shoe on myself and get it over with. Blaming others for things, or lashing out needlessly. Things can go along very well for weeks and then the old habits cause the familiar feeling of pending doom in my stomach and it’s very hard to focus your eyes on anything when your insides are tied in knots.

    Daily containment times. Journaling. Deep relaxation times. Limiting stress. Retraining my brain so that the old unhealthy neural networks disappear (I am told they will, with enough retraining time). These are ways I ‘actively practice’, as your son did/does for his sport.

    Being carefree in my faith is my goal. I hope to get there eventually.

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  7. My game is softball. I can watch the ball 99.9% of the way to the bat, but if I glance away at the last second, it all goes awry. Your post brought this scripture passage to mind: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. Thanks for this much-needed prompt.

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  8. Congrats to 5 years of sobriety. I am the Mrs of procrastination and couch potatoism. I am starting to break this spell with pt. I’m telling everyone that I have committed to doing my at home exercises. I have the time. I know the outcome is better health? Why am I so afraid to achieve??

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  9. One of the many things I pray daily is “Lord, I am weak and helpless and utterly dependent upon You. And You are utterly dependable!” It’s not a “vain repetition,” but a daily reminder to myself not to try to do things in my own strength. (I make sure I pray it out loud, so I can hear myself say it.;) )

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  10. Interesting post! I wanted to say thank you for following my writing blog. I also have a blog called Living Free of Alcohol where I encourage people to get and stay sober. Feel free to check it out.
    Take good care,
    Yari

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  11. For me, the demon haunting me lately is lack of self confidence. I have absolutely no confidence when it comes to a variety of situations. I constantly second guess myself. My writing has suffered terribly because of this.
    I must remember to keep my eyes on Jesus who I know will help me fight this demon.

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