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May 30, 2012

Emotional Hangovers.

I have never drank alcohol, coffee, or tea... mostly because I'm a Mormon and Mormons don't drink! Of all the commandments we hold dear, I chose to keep the Word of Wisdom most religiously. Part of me wishes I would have gotten addicted to coffee instead of pornography, but it's true, my drug of choice is pornography.  So, what do I know about hangovers?

The other day I was reading in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. In Step 10, pg. 88 it says, "there is another kind of hangover which we all experience whether we are 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."

So whether I'm addicted to pornography or alcohol or whatever, I am now convinced that these "emotional hangovers" definitely exist and they directly affect my ability to stay in long term recovery happily, the way the 12 Steps are meant to be lived. I have ruined countless days of my past by choosing to stay hungover from things that happened yesterday or even last week.

The first thing that helps me avoid these emotional pitfalls is to be honest. If I fall into one of these self justified traps then I can sometimes be stuck for days wallowing in self pity and resentment. Before I found the 12 Steps and my sponsor I rarely even had the honesty to admit that I was in a bad mood, let alone do something constructive about getting out! Now, my daily task is to acknowledge any resentment, fear and other negative emotions and take care of them right away by calling my sponsor or by apologizing and making things right with the person place or thing which I am upset with. I don't actually have the power to pull myself out of an emotional trap by my own bootstraps, but heavenly father does. Once I am honest about my situation, then I can have hope and begin trusting in the Lord that He can bring me to a higher place if I have the willingness to seek him. Sometimes I have to physically write an inventory of all the things that are bogging me down and share them with someone. See where I'm going with this? The 12 steps can be applied step by step on any problem that I face, they don't just work on addictions, they work on everything! This is the happy high road that the AA book talks about. Living one day at a time, one moment at a time without being bogged down by yesterdays regrets and failures. The atonement works, the grace of God is accessible to all who can humble themselves and turn back to Him. This happy new way of life works for me! I hope that I can continue learning new ways to apply the 12 steps in my life. There is joy in the journey.