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Why do I feel such hangover shame?

By Posted in Ask Dru

Q

I changed my drinking a while ago and mostly I feel very good about the difference it has made in my life. But when I look back at my younger self, I feel so embarrassed about how I behaved. The feeling of hangover shame is so real. How can I leave that part of my life behind? Anja

A

I’ll be honest that this question touched a raw nerve for me. I feel like I’ve lived many different lives, and I sometimes struggle to reconcile who I am now with who I have been in the past. How can I possibly have acted that way? How can I have wholeheartedly believed things which I know now to be untrue? I comfort myself with the idea, attributed by Oprah Winfrey to Dr Maya Angelou that “I did then what I knew how to do. Now I know better, I do better”. But still, I look back at my past with genuine confusion and incomprehension.

What the fuck was I doing?

Believe me when I tell you that I know what hangover shame is like. I have memories of happy events that are tinged with regret, because I ended the night alone, clinging onto my toilet for dear life. I half-remember amazing parties but I don’t know how I got home from them. I carry with me the guilt of drunken explosions that ripped through relationships. Life is better now, but it wasn’t always this way.

Overcoming hangover shame

I continue to work through this issue for myself, but I wanted to share some pointers for overcoming hangover shame. Here are a few things that have helped me:

Shame is toxic, because it robs you of your right to exist. Every part of your history is valid.

More resources

Check out:

Whatever else you do, don’t let hangover shame stop you living well in the present. You’ve got a good life, and you’ve worked hard to get it.

Cheers

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Dru Jaeger is one of Club Soda’s co-founders and the creator of our courses for people who want to change their drinking. If you want to explore the relationship between your emotions and your drinking, Club Soda’s free course, How to Change Your Drinking, is a great place to start.

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