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Lies I Told Myself About My Drinking

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor talks about the "trying to quit drinking" rollercoaster, and all the ways your brain tricks you to rationalize having a drink.

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You tell yourself lies to keep drinking. I did, too.

If you’ve been on the “trying to quit drinking” roller coaster, then you know that the harder you try to stop drinking, the more your inner addict tries to trick you into still doing it. Your brain will rationalize the desire to drink, and give you all sorts of reasons and excuses you should go ahead and give in to the craving. I hate to break it to you, but your brain is NOT your friend.

Here are the reasons your excuses to keep drinking are wrong:

LIE: If you have one glass of wine, you will be more patient with the kids.

If you have an issue with alcohol, one glass of wine will actually do the opposite of improving your patience. The kids will be screaming, you’ll pop that cork, hear the familiar glug glug glug of the wine pouring into the glass, take that first sip, and maybe at first you will feel the sweet relief. But then what? After the first glass, the kids will still be arguing, the dog will still be barking incessantly at a mosquito-eater, the coffee table will still be loaded with empty plates even though you told them not to eat there! And now, the idea that you can’t have four glasses of wine will only make you edgier, angrier, and more prone to issuing time-outs. Maybe try giving yourself a time-out in your bedroom to catch up on Real Housewives until the craving passes.

LIE: A drink will help you get to sleep.

Let’s seriously stop fooling ourselves with this one, shall we? Alcohol might help you fall asleep faster—and too much alcohol will certainly help you pass out faster—but your actual REM sleep will be disrupted, and you will only feel more tired the next day. If you have insomnia and self-medicate with alcohol, you’re only exacerbating the issue. Switch to warm milk or a boring late-night show like Jimmy Fallon. I’ve also heard that staying off of electronics before bed can make it easier to sleep, but I haven’t actually tried it. Isn’t it enough that I quit drinking?

LIE: Having a drink will make you feel sexier with your spouse.

It’s hard to get romantic with your partner or date when you can’t shut your brain off and relax, right? I know. I get it. But truthfully, although a glass of wine or a beer might do that, five beers will actually dampen your body’s responses and make your special time, well … less goal-oriented. A lot of my sober friends report that sex is hotter sober. It just takes some getting used to. Like diet soda or sushi. For a while you may have to only do it with people you really like.

LIE: You’re going to a party, so you need to drink to be able to have fun and socialize.

This is a seemingly great excuse. Who among us is a fan of small talk? No one! That was a rhetorical question! Chelsea Handler has a joke in her act where she says, “I don’t drink to make myself more interesting, I drink to make you more interesting!” So true! But if you’re someone whose off switch is broken (like me), having that “fun starter” drink in your hand only leads to more drinks. Before you know it, you’ll wake up in the morning fully dressed, with a face full of smeared make-up and only fuzzy memories of the night before. Did the alcohol make it more fun? You’ll never know! Next time, get a sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon, and enjoy watching other people get drunk and embarrassing. Now that’s fun!

LIE: You need to practice moderating.

No, you don’t. You’ve had enough practice. You’ve practiced yourself into a big hole. Now you need to practice getting through a craving and seeing that life is totally doable without alcohol. Before you know it, you’ll be able to be patient, sleep, be romantic, make small talk, laugh hard, breathe deep, and be happy. I’m living proof!

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is an author, standup comedian, TV personality, writing teacher, and co-host of the popular podcasts, For Crying Out Loud, Rose Pricks, and Bored A.F. She has authored five books, starting with the irreverent best-seller, Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom. She’s talked sobriety on Oprah, GMA, 20/20, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, CNN, and more.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three sporadically charming children.

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