The most hungover I’ve ever felt was a Friday night, two
January’s ago. I was alone in Washington State, wallowing in sorrows of
dizziness and a growing headache.
I drank a good bit of alcohol in high school,
so wasn’t unfamiliar with the sensations. But this hangover was
Two years ago I was on a three-week solitude retreat in
upstate Washington. During the second weekend, retreatants get off 1.5 days to
shop for the final week’s food and do whatever else he/she pleases. So starving
for stimulation at that point, I decided to walk around a mall (which I have
never been inclined to do, otherwise)—then call my parents—then go to a
movie—then walk out of that movie and go to another movie because the first
wasn’t stimulating enough—then call my sister—then a couple of friends—then go
grocery shopping—then drive home, all experiences that were completely absent
for the two weeks prior.
I felt bloody drunk and disgusting, wasted by a chugging
match with the world. I also felt inebriated with discouragement that two weeks
of solitude hadn’t fixed my human ways. Coming from an eating disordered
background, as well as anxiety/depression tendencies, cycles of binge/purge and
swinging extremes aren’t unfamiliar, but wow—this took all previous extremes to
a new level.
Stepping away from usual stimulations in your life makes
weird things happen. Literal shifts occur emotionally, spiritually, physically
and even bio-chemically. So much so that returning to stimulations requires a
slow reintegration. I guess it’s like having the flu for a week and on your
first day back splurging for a frostie, double-cheeseburger and medium fries.
Anyway, you’d think I’d have learned from this absurdly drunken
experience in Washington, but I didn’t.
Well, I take that back—I learned a lot about my patterns and habits,
coping mechanisms and weaknesses.
But I didn’t learn enough to never to do it again—to never befall my
humanity again, that is.
Eight days in Haiti recently found me returning to America
with a similarly unstimulated palate. And craving a similar stimulation
overload. And though life down there seemed amazing while there, transitioning back didn’t—and instead, screamed
unbearable defense toward a sober, under-stimulated life.