A sober hangover

fullsizerender-1My last night of heavy drinking was the housewarming party E and I threw to welcome our friends over to our new home. I am not sure how many glasses of wine I had that night, but I assume it exceeded a bottle’s worth. One of the last people to leave kept refilling my glass, trying to empty bottles because she knew I wouldn’t need them in a few days.

The hangover came strong and determined the next morning. Fewer glasses of red wine lead to hangovers in my 30s and this one kept me in bed until 2 p.m. The only times I got up from bed were to throw up and answer the door when the delivery man arrived with Jimmy John’s, my favorite hangover sandwich. I stayed under the covers for most of the day, bing watching “Brooklyn Nine Nine” and removing myself from all responsibilities that day.

Despite the headache, vomiting, and general body pain, it was nice to spend the entire day in bed, doing whatever I wanted. When I have hangovers I let myself reel in the recovery, feeding my body what it wants, sleeping as much as I need. It was sort of a reward I gave myself, the time to heal and rest.

As a sober person, I found much to fill my mornings. I go to the gym, I write, I have coffee with friends, I clean the apartment, I grocery shop. I rarely let myself sleep in, relax, recover. There isn’t the urging need when my head isn’t pounding. As last year closed, with the business of the holiday season and our heavy travel schedule, I kept longing for that Sunday morning of lying in bed and letting myself do absolutely nothing because it’s what my body needed, what I needed. One day, I opened my calendar, and picked out a weekend day each month, blocked it out in pink, labeled it “Heather Day.”

My main resolution for 2017, as I’ve told friends, is to take one day a month to do absolutely nothing. I wouldn’t make plans with friends, I wouldn’t shove chores onto that day, I wouldn’t decide on anything to do that day until I woke up that morning. From there, I would do whatever my heart wanted. Shoulds, responsibilities, they have the other days of the month, but that one would be for me only.

Today is my first Heather Day, or sober hangover, of 2017, and it’s been everything I’ve wanted to be. Leading up to this day, I made sure that the laundry had been washed, the apartment cleaned and the groceries bought. I told friends that I was busy today and couldn’t meet up, and any running or writing I know I needed to do this weekend was either taken care of or I accepted it wouldn’t get done until Tuesday. However, if I woke up Monday morning and wanted to edit my book or organize my underwear drawer, I would. The plan for the day was simple: only give in to the wants.

Besides handling chores, the only pre-planning I did for this day was I asked E to make himself busy for a few hours so that I could have the apartment to myself. E is a homebody and is quite content spending his days without ever leaving the house. On weekends, I am usually out doing this or that while he is at home. While I have no qualms about this, I sometimes am jealous that he gets the apartment to himself when I am gone. It occurred to me that, while I love being in his company, the only time I am truly alone, including the commute downtown and back and at work, is in the hour after he has left for work and before I leave the apartment. I wanted a couple of hours to take a bath or write in my journal or watch a movie, none of these things that I couldn’t do with him here but I still really craved some alone time. I was nervous to ask him because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, or force him out of his own home, but I also needed to take a chance on my enjoyment. Of course, he agreed and made zero fuss about it. All I had to do was ask, he said.

This morning I slept several hours beyond my normal wake up time and then I didn’t get out of bed for another two as I finished reading a book. It reminded me of all those lazy mornings in Lesotho, reading and listening to the cattle shuffle outside of my window. When I finally did get up, E and I went to brunch, something we rarely do these days in an effort to save money and because I am usually off to doing other things. I love sitting across the table from him, sipping coffee, watching him jab his fork into fluffy pancakes.

After brunch, he dropped me off at home and went off to do something (I do not know what) while I took cat naps on the couch and watched a documentary on food (I love food documentaries and always looking for suggestions). Then, I went out into the rain and ran. I didn’t run because I needed to, I actually planned on a rest day, but it was rainy and the steam rising off of the cold pavement was an invitation. Four miles later, my socks and shoes were dripping but I couldn’t care less. It was exactly what my body, heart and soul needed.

Then I came home, took a hot shower, and decided to write. Candles burning, a record playing, tea steaming. When E comes home, we’ll make dinner and giggle before turning in to prepare for a long, busy week.

We get hungover because we’ve treated our body a little too harsh, and it’s asking for some time to recuperate. Our bodies do the same when we overwork them, put them through too much stress, yet those signs of wear aren’t as immediate as a headache or vomiting. We forget to rest.  We keep going and going until the body signals a much louder siren.

A hangover (or when I am sick) shouldn’t be the only reason I take time to rest, to spend the day watching movies and reading in bed. But, I have to have the courage to put myself first and remind myself that these days are not only my reward but they are the charge I need to go out and be the person I want to be every other day of the month. Some months, it will be harder to get in that Heather Day, but I am committed to this. It’s what my body needs, it’s what I need.


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