What To Do When You Have A Vulnerability Hangover

What To Do When You Have A Vulnerability Hangover May 9, 2017

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Last week I woke up nauseated, with a killer headache and a great deal of anxiety. It felt a lot like that time in college I drank 151 and…well, I don’t exactly remember what happened, but I woke up to a sprained ankle, and laughing roommates with blackmail photos.

Anyway. Last week’s hangover wasn’t the college kind, it was far worse: A Vulnerability Hangover. Otherwise known as the Shame Sickness which follows baring your heart and soul. (If you’ve never experienced this delight, just confess your deepest secrets in a public forum—like, say, a blog post everyone from your grandmother to ex-pastor can read.)

So, yeah—I did that. A week hence I don’t regret it—because I told my Truth and TRUTH ALWAYS WINS.

But the next morning after it had been published? I woke up sure I had ruined my life, unsure how to deal with it, and certain I had to figure out how to move on.

Since no one ever told me how to handle this level of emotional exposure, I came up with my own Vulnerability Hangover Remedy. Feel free to try the next time you share

When you’ve shared one-too-many-Tequila shots for the soul, try my method.

Step -1. Eat all the Jelly Beans, Drink all the Wine

This is the pre-step for those of us unable or unwilling to begin recovery right away. Skip if possible! Do not skip if you are me. Give yourself this pep talk: “Sometimes to move forward I have to go backwards a tiny bit! I did a Really Hard Thing, so I am going to eat all the jelly beans & drink all the wine!”

Personally I prefer dessert for breakfast and booze for dinner, but if the situation is dire: reverse. (Not suggested as a lifestyle unless you want to end up a diabetic alcoholic with no teeth.)

Step Zero: STOP

Stop. Just, STOP. Quit the negativity, ruminating, and future fortune-telling about all the horrible, unthinkable things that will happen as a consequence of baring your soul. As a spiritual memoirist, I speak with authority on this topic: hardly any of the bad things you’re imagining will happen (and if any do, they will be far outweighed by the good things you never imagined).

Step #1: Scream for Help

Usually via text to a supportive loved one, unless you have particularly understanding neighbors who are used to you sounding like a homicide-in-progress.

I texted Kelly, my therapist friend, Ben, my editor, Trent, my husband—who all said some version of: “Great work! You are very brave!” Their collective cheerleading enabled me to borrow their confidence to complete….

Step #2. Move

I know, honeybun. I KNOW how painful to get out of bed and/or leave the house if you have the option of staying in, but being alone with your hangover will NOT make you feel better. Tell yourself you are absolutely NOT allowed to think negative thoughts: Get up. Get dressed. Go anywhere.

I threw on the nearest dress (tie-dye), sandals (leather), a mismatched sweater & purse, and did not even stop to brush my teeth. Also not suggested as a lifestyle unless you’re planning your romantic future with Polygrip.

Step #3. Do Something(s) Kind

If my blog sounds like I think kindness is the cure for everything, it is because I do: I have yet to find a situation, internal or external, which could not be improved with kindness. It distracts you from your own misery, gives your brain something positive to focus on, and (bonus!) it makes the world a better place.

IMG_2195I went to the grocery store to buy birthday supplies for Angela – the aforementioned compassionate neighbor used to my screams. Supplies includes balloons, one very large cupcake, and lavender roses.

On my way back to the car, a couple asked for my assistance. “She broke her foot,” said one woman, gesturing to her girlfriend’s cast and crutches. “We need three dollars to get her medicine.”

I go with my gut when this type of situation happens, and my gut said: “Be kind”. So I put the supplies in the car and walked/limped into the store with them to obtain the medicine—an attempt which ultimately failed because it wasn’t ready, but made two new friends, Miss Stephanie & Tia, who invited me to their church next Sunday.

I took Angela her mobile surprise birthday party by tying the balloons to Oxley’s collar–and friends, it is nearlyIMG_2194 impossible to feel vulnerable when armed with cupcakes, balloons, a long-suffering dog, a a neighbor laughing with glee.

Step #4. Get Busy

Alright. Maybe you wallowed & worried along the way, but you also WENT for it. The world needs you and your voice, desperately, so get back to your important work, whatever that work it.

I sat down and wrote a vulnerable post about my Vulnerability Hangover—because I know I’m not the only one!

Keep showing up, keep telling your truth, keep Couraging, keep being vulnerable—even if it gives you a hangover.

I can’t promise vulnerability will get easier, but I can promise you will get stronger.


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