Chardenial: the number of glasses of white wine it takes to make you believe everything is going to be okay.
I coined this phrase.
Remember the days when chocolate or maybe a pint of Haagen Dazs was women’s guilty pleasure as their go-to in times of stress? Well grocery store, twist-off-top Pinot Grigio has totally replaced the Whitman Sampler. And there are no half-eaten bites left. Wine memes abound as the most prevalent forms of female humor. “I tried running but I kept spilling my wine” or “A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world . . . oh sorry . . . that’s wine . . . wine does that.” We all laugh at the question of what one does with leftover wine because there never is any. But here’s the thing about our not-so-secret secret: The Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism documents that the percentage of females with alcohol use disorder in the U.S. increased 83.7 percent from 2002 to 2013. And that was before Trump was president!
And when you consider that more than seven drinks in a week is considered high risk, well, hello: There are seven days in the week so what is a girl to do on Sober Sunday? What once was the biggest taboo — mommies who drink — is now the fastest growing blog. The new T-shirt for Mother’s Day says, “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink.” The enormity of this wine consumption is not the dancing on tables and panties in the pocket moments, but opening the bottle at home while binge watching “Scandal” (cue Kerry Washington and her extra-large Riedel glass of cabernet.) W.I.N.O.S. is now Women In Need Of Sanity. When did our anxiety get so out of control? Did our mothers and grandmothers just hide their feelings more or is modern-day life just so stressful? When did we start making such “pour” decisions?
Research says women tend to drink more in response to negative mood states than men. And for sure a nice bottle of wine and a group of good girlfriends is our best remedy for anything that ails us. Yet women who normally seek treatment for every other physical and mental health problem more than men are actually the least likely to seek help about alcohol issues. But with the humor about wine drinking so ingrained in the culture, and so out in the open on coffee mugs secretly filled with Sancerre, it doesn’t occur to women there is a problem. This is the new normal. Everyone still gets up and goes to work and makes it to yoga, spin, and barre (not bar) class. You take an Uber instead of driving, do your green juice cleanse, and as long as you are recycling more water bottles than wine bottles, it is okay. If you are not drinking, people assume you are pregnant or have the flu.
It’s not surprising in the culture we live in, which is tough on women. If you are not a mom, you are criticized. If you are a mom who stays home with your kids, you are criticized. If you are a mom who works, you are criticized. You feel alone because you are not married and don’t have kids and don’t know who will take care of you, and you are terrified. You are trapped in a loveless marriage with kids where you have no time for yourself or to pursue your dreams, and you are bereft. Or maybe, in general, you are satisfied, but struggles with work issues, money, that extra 20 pounds, or the end of “Downton Abbey” can drive you to distraction or happy hour. Or maybe on the surface you say socially you are just fine, but inside you feel so broken inside that you think no one cares and you will never be fixed, and that is a truth you cannot confess.
It may be that a glass of wine is just what the doctor ordered (although my naturopath recommends tequila instead for less sugar content). But as the wise saying goes, “I only drink a little but when I do, I turn into another person who drinks a lot.” What used to be a temporary feeling of just going through a tough time can be a permanent state of stress where the pressure on the adrenal button never lets up. This isn’t a closeted problem. This is an out in the open problem.
So, here’s the thing. Chardenial works . . . until it doesn’t work. That cold glass of white wine at the end of the day can give you a break from the negative loops in your head and give you a chance to breathe and get perspective. And shared with a good girlfriend can be a saving grace. But it’s a Band-Aid and not a solution. It’s worth taking a sober and professionally supported look at what is causing the anxiety. So ultimately, “Cheers” is only a cause for celebration.