Dear Chrissy Teigen: I "Can't Have Just One Drink" Either
Dear Chrissy Teigen,
You don’t know me, and I don’t presume to know you. But when you talked about your drinking recently with Cosmopolitan, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own. Getting honest with myself about alcohol was tough. In a time when the cool moms are plastering Instagram with pictures of themselves wearing tank tops that say things like, “They Whine, I Wine,” it is harder than ever to see the line between when that glass of rose is a solution and when it’s a problem.
Of course, you are known for your honesty — which is probably why Trump blocked you on Twitter a few weeks ago. But the stuff you told Cosmo was especially brave. You admitted that you’re the type of person who “can’t just have one drink,” and that, although you don’t wake up every day hungover, you “felt kind of bad for making an ass of [your]self” to people you really respected. “It’s not a good look for me, for John, for anybody,” you said. You said it doesn’t help your depression and anxiety. You said you “knew in [your] heart it wasn’t right.” You said, “I don’t know how to go to an awards show and not drink.”
I don’t know how to go to an awards show period (ha), but the rest, god, it resonated. If I could just crack a beer after getting home from work, let the edges soften a little and move about my life, I wouldn’t be writing this. But if I have even just one drink, a switch goes off in my body — and there is no off switch. For me, there was no option except to quit.
In the last few years of my drinking, I still had a job and an apartment and friends, so I didn’t think I had a real problem problem, and I also didn’t wake up every day hungover. But as for making an ass of myself? I would call it the “morning cringies” — recollecting the night’s events, things I said when I thought I was just being cute or funny or edgy, which now made me cringe to myself. Did I really need to tell the bartender that I preferred his last girlfriend? Or did I need to blab to our mutual friends that so-and-so doesn’t give her husband blowjobs?
Even scarier was when I apparently acted completely normal even though I was in a full black-out. (Does this happen to you, too?) It started to be that after just a few drinks, my brain’s memory-making centers would turn off, but my body (and mouth) would keep going. The next morning I’d play detective, trying to prompt friends to provide me with details of what happened or what I might have said without giving away that I couldn’t remember a thing. “So… remember our conversation last night? Yeah, what was your point about the… the thing?” It started not to be worth it.
You get comfortable with not always being comfortable.
So, yeah. It wasn’t a good look for me either. In fact, sometimes when people ask why I don’t drink, that’s exactly what I say — “It’s not a good look on me.” I have no problem insinuating that drinking is problematic for me, because that also acknowledges that it isn’t problematic for everyone, and I think that the choice to abstain is one we all have to make for ourselves.
It’s totally up to you, of course, but I would be thrilled to have you among the outspoken celebrities who abstain fully from alcohol. It would really help to normalize the choice not to drink. You said that you yourself “used to think it was kind of nutty to have to go totally sober.” (I thought so too — until I stopped surrounding myself with people who made my level of drinking feel normal, or even light.) However, the more people who openly abstain from drinking, the less stigmatized it will be to make that choice. Right now the stigma is still so powerful that it keeps some people from giving sobriety a real chance.
There is one thing that helped me. When you mention not knowing how not to drink at an awards show, that’s an opportunity to create something some of us call a “sober reference.” You make yourself do the thing you think you have to drink through but do it sober. It might be super uncomfortable, but you get through it. And once you’ve done it, you always know you can do it sober because you have a memory to refer to, one where you survived just fine. Your first sober New Year’s, your first sober business brunch, your first time prepping for a big event sober. You get comfortable with not always being comfortable.
Thank you for talking about one more thing that we don’t talk about enough: the day-to-day struggle many women have with alcohol, no matter how successful they are, no matter how famous, how happy, how beautiful, how #blessed.
You need those references, or I do, at least, because I can go long periods without craving alcohol, and then suddenly, weirdly, I do. And it doesn’t necessarily happen during hard times! You’re going along, building a better-than-ever life because you’ve cut alcohol out of it, and then you say to yourself, “You know what would go really great with this better-than-ever life? A glass of rose…” It’s that easy to find yourself starting all over again.
Your fans have gotten used to you sharing the less perfect parts of your life — your fertility struggle, the daily internet harassment you weather with such strength and perspective — but that doesn’t make your honesty on this subject less remarkable. Thank you for talking about one more thing that we don’t talk about enough: the week-to-week or day-to-day struggle many women have with alcohol, no matter how successful they are, no matter how famous, how happy, how beautiful, how #blessed.
Maybe you’ll stay abstinent, or maybe just cutting back will work for you, as it has for many others. That route didn’t work for me. I’m the never-just-one type who has a harder time cutting back than just cutting it out completely. But you’ll do what works for you.
Whatever your path, I hope you’ll be kind to yourself. You seem like someone deserving of kindness. Moms have a hard enough time trying to be perfect, and having seen the horrible comments people feel totally fine leaving for you, I know moms in the public eye have it even more so. If you choose sobriety, please know that it’s not something you need to do perfectly — I don’t actually know anyone who has. But most of us sober folks have found that, like motherhood, it is worth the ride.
Another Mom Who Drank