5.7
September 27, 2013

Why Can’t I Stop Drinking Wine?

I am trying to figure out how to set a daily reminder on my phone so it buzzes me at 5:00 p.m. to tell me I don’t want any wine.

If there is an app for an electric shock, I would like to install that too.

I’m not an alcoholic. I stop sipping after two glasses of cheap Costco wine…on the weekdays anyway. But why do I even need those? It’s like 5:00 p.m. rolls around and I start salivating. I hate that.

I hate feeling out of control.

But what is so bad about having a couple of glasses of wine at the end of the day?

Well, for one thing, after a month or so of having them the scale starts to creep up. I’ve spent a lifetime managing or succumbing to—depending on the year—eating and body image disorders. I am now a healthy weight. I don’t want to lose any more (okay, maybe just 10 pounds), but I definitely don’t want to gain. A pound here, a pound there, and suddenly the self-hatred starts kicking in. I know, I know; it’s obvious that if gaining a few pounds is all it takes to put me into a dark place I still have a problem with self-esteem.

Give me a break. I’m working on it.

Even more than the weight, though, I worry about my reasoning. I make a decision in the morning not to drink wine with dinner. Dinner rolls around and I’m pouring myself a glass. It’s way too easy to talk myself out of my morning resolve and into half bottle of Woodbridge.

What am I trying to numb? I love my life.

But every day there’s something; my back hurts, I’m stressed about whatever is going on with the kids, I deserve it,  I taught three yoga classes today so I’ve burned a bunch of calories, it’s Wednesday and the weekend seems far away.

I’ve gone through long periods of time when I haven’t had these two glasses of weeknight wine, but there’s never been a time when I didn’t want them. The issue never goes away, it’s either dormant or not.

In all other areas, I am disciplined. I am a paragon of health. I eat clean, sleep enough, have jobs that are meaningful (mother, writer, yoga teacher). I meditate, get outside every day, move my body, express my love freely. I have enough money. I have a happy marriage. I have great kids.

What the hell is my problem?

Sure, there was a time, a long time, when I didn’t have or do those things. Let’s be honest, I was a complete mess. I was the poster-child for poor life-choices and dark, debilitating depression. Is this me hanging onto a little piece of that? Afraid if I admit to the core of my being that I am finally happy, somehow I won’t be me anymore?

Or is it the other way around? Is that little piece of darkness still hanging on to me? In other words, am I as happy as I think I am?

I don’t know and I can’t figure it out—that’s frustrating for someone who prides themselves on identifying problems and fixing them.

Have I mentioned that I’m a perfectionist? Maybe my wine is a way to take a break from me beating myself into submission all the time. I think I’m getting closer to the truth, because as I read that sentence back it sounded awful.

I beat myself into submission all day every day. Every now and then I have a kind, internal word to say, but my negative talk is far more predominant. Words like fat, dumb, lazy and inept litter my interior landscape. Which is so weird, because I know I’m not fat, dumb, lazy or inept, but I am only not these things (my internal voice says) because I force myself not to be. Not because I am naturally thin, smart, driven or savvy. If I stop cracking the whip, all hell might break loose.

Seeing that written in black and white makes me think one thing: Maybe I shouldn’t be setting alarms or trying to electrocute myself.  Maybe I should just be nicer to me. If I was, at the end of the day, instead of feeling like a beaten dog, perhaps I would feel like a beloved pet.

I’m not going to turn my alarm off yet (I did finally manage to get it set), but I promise to try and be less insecure taskmaster and more loving companion to myself.

Perhaps I should re-program the reminder, which now has the note, “Don’t drink wine, loser,” to “You did good today, kid. Just relax and eat your dinner.”

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Like the mindful life on Facebook.

Ed: Sara Crolick

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Susan Sep 13, 2015 8:18am

Have you considered the possibility that you're addicted, not to the alcohol, but to the sugar?

Miguel Aug 9, 2015 10:24pm

If you think you have a problem, then you have a problem. It's not the wine; it's you. Stop.

JohnH Jul 8, 2015 11:06am

It is interesting that most of the comments have been about prejudice around alcohol rather than keying into your suspicion of perfectionism. Addiction is about filling an empty space in our souls. We all have our personal addictions and means of denying the unloved aspects of our personality. Your insight is brave and the prescription for your feelings of a lack of integrity is sound. With integrity intact, the amount of wine consumed will self-regulate and you will be OK with whatever is happening in your life. This constant struggle of one's mind over subconscious impulses requires deeper healing than simple impulse control. I support your journey and thank you for sharing it with us.

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Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a licensed psychotherapist, registered yoga teacher, published author, and imperfect mom. Visit her at PsycheFinder, her new website—the only site that finds your mental health professional for you. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.