The Super Bowl Hangover
In our last blog, I talked about the ‘New Year’s Resolution’ to quit drinking and using drugs. And my chronic failures to do such. Again, and again. Well people, one of the main reasons for my loss in willpower was the %@$# Super Bowl! (Yeah, right) At least that is what I told myself.
My experience is that there is ALWAYS an occasion to keep drinking and using drugs. My disease NEEDS a reason to validate and justify what would otherwise be insane behavior given the consequences that I continued to have. I needed to have an impetus to continue my use and the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl provided me that excuse on the heels of my heartfelt resolution to quit after New Year’s Day.
Friends, parties, camaraderie, excitement, sports – the Super Bowl had it all! There was no way that I could NOT engage in this American pastime with my friends. Especially my old friend, alcohol. A party without drinking? What would everyone say? How could I have fun? Won’t it be awkward? Better to just drink and avoid any of those possible questions. Each year, men and women suffering from the disease of addiction find themselves with this conundrum. We want to stop, and reasons just keep popping up as to why we can’t do so. And after the game is done, and the party is over, we are left in the same spot we were prior to the game: drunk, high, and miserable. ‘I failed again.’ Ashamed, humiliated, weak, and scared. I was hungover, once more. Not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well. And that is what hurt the most. I would recover from the headache. But the dark hole that was eating me up inside would not go away. And then came Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then we were back to New Year’s. I’m sure you see the pattern. Oh, and don’t forget birthdays, work events, Tuesday night, etc.
Unfortunately, this cycle lasted many years for me. When finally, I accepted the help that had been continually offered to me, the hangover ended. What I was left with were the problems of how to socialize in situations without using drugs and alcohol. Especially alcohol. I had to establish new friends – ones in my peer recovery groups that also did not use. I had to relearn social skills without the aid of the social lubricants that I had come to depend on. It was difficult at first. Awkward and uncomfortable. And over time, it became easier. I found that I actually preferred to interact with others in an unaltered state of consciousness. And, that I was having FUN. I remembered what I did, what I said, who I was with and the details of the environment. I had substantial, meaningful conversations and when I laughed, it was because something was truly funny, not artificially enhanced or forced.
This year, my football team finally won the Super Bowl. After 52 years of waiting, heartache, and disappointment. And I was present for all of it. My joy was authentic and real. I was grateful in a way I most certainly would not have been in an inebriated state. This morning as I did my morning meditation it occurred to me that it was quite possible that the universe had been waiting until I was truly ready to appreciate, in a recovered way, this gift. While I am sure that I am not that important, it certainly crossed my mind. You’re welcome Philadelphia….
Paul L. Scudo is the Executive Director of Step Denver and is in recovery from the disease of addiction.