“Aren’t you just trading one addiction for another?” is a question I’ve heard bounced around a lot lately. And sometimes I get it asked of me too. The most simple answer for me is “no” while thinking in my mind “go fuck yourself,” but lately I’ve reflected on it some more and though there might be some parallels to be found there, let’s explore it some more shall we?
First of all – and I’m sure I’m not the only one – in a weird and twisted way I often enjoyed being hungover a lot of the time. That is of course, until the later stages of my drinking, when the “hideous four horsemen” were always hot on my heels and the guilt and shame and self-loathing were almost too much to bear. But up until those times, I have to admit that being hungover wasn’t all that bad – I could kind of just drift through the days still a little drunk and not caring about much, knowing that the next drink was only a few minutes or hours away. And there does seems to be a certain type of pleasure in the “hangultra” as I like to call it – we walk around jelly-legged and mostly carefree as we step back into the more mundane flow of life compared with the intense “now-ness” of the last long run. Though physically spent by the effort, we are emotionally and spiritually charged – it becomes pretty easy to live outside of the “norms” we see around us. And this is a place we are of course familiar with – living on the fringes and stubbornly refusing to follow the herd – the fundamental difference though, is that unlike the perpetual hangovers, the long distance running pursuit combined with true emotional sobriety as the result of The Steps, makes us more focused and in tune with a Higher Power – call it God’s will if you like. No longer do I care less…I care deeply, in all aspects of my life. By going to the depths of destruction in our drinking and then by stripping ourselves down to that vulnerable place from running long, we get the gift of shedding the more meaningless concerns in life and pouring our energy into the people and events we perceive have more eternal value.
Am I always emotionally sober and looking to what I can add to the stream of life? No!, not even close at three years sober. But do I have some tools at my disposal because of AA and can I sometimes outrun some of the destructive thoughts that swirl inside of me? Yes!, and therein lies the answer to that ridiculous question about trading one addiction for another. Personally, I love having a “hangultra” because unlike the hangovers of years gone by, I get to look forward to my next “fix” knowing that the next one truly will be different than the last – unlike the insanity of doing the same thing and expecting a different result like in our drinking days – we get to actually experience each moment as it is, never to have happened before and never to happen again…we get to move through space and time like spirit-beings on a journey set out for us by our Creator.
So to those who may be asking the question, I say “how’s that for an answer dickhead?!,” knowing for me, that’s progress and not perfection.