• Thu, Jul 12 2012

Hey, Everyone! I’m Giving Up Drinking For 30 Days: Week One

This is what a "goodbye" beer looks like at 5am on a fire escape in the East Village.

After my piece where I admitted that I feel I might have a drinking problem, I felt that in recognizing it, I should make a proactive attempt to get a handle on it. As I mentioned, I gave it up for 24 days before, but this time I’m going for a full 30, with weekly essays about it. If I cave, you’ll know. If I can pull it off, you’ll mostly certainly know because I’ll march on out and buy some Veuve Clicquot to celebrate. I kid! Actually, if I make it 30, I may go for 60 — although from a social aspect that will be pretty tough once I get home to New York.

I wrote the original essay as a confessional piece when I came to my realization that perhaps I had let things get out of control. Although, as I had also mentioned in that essay, my truly crazy drinking days are behind me, I still know I’m vulnerable to that type of behavior in the future should my path cross with another sort of fella who enables my hard-drinking ways because he happens to be just like me. However, that shit should also be behind me considering my resolution to give up the whole “man-child” type of guy.

Basically, I think what you’re reading is me coming to terms, mourning losses and trying to make amends with myself and my less than spectacular decisions. And for some reason I’ve decided to share this all with a bunch of strangers on the Internets instead of keeping it in a hand-written journal as if I were Hannah in Girls.

When I decided last Thursday that I would not be drinking for 30 days (this also includes no occasional recreational drugs including pot), I received mixed reviews. My family was all for it, while my friends seemed to be split on the matter. A few pointed out that my drinking had really decreased an extraordinary amount since my Swede days, so they didn’t see the point; while others, like Tattoo Guy, told me I was crazy to think I had a problem with alcohol. “You live in fucking New York City! We all drink hard here! It’s socially acceptable! And if you’re one, what does that say about me?” See my whole “man-child” point here?

So I chose my last night out with him before I headed to Colorado as the evening I had my (temporary) goodbye party from alcohol. Of course I didn’t half-ass it, as you can see by the above photo where I’m consuming my last beer at 5am on my fire escape. Go, Chatel! [Insert eye roll here.]

I had originally thought that being in Colorado and away from the city would be an ideal time to give up the booze, because I wouldn’t have any outside influences pulling me toward bad behavior. There is no such thing as drunk brunch in Boulder, and considering I’m shacked up in the guest room at my sister’s house, and she’s a responsible mother of two, it’s not like I have anyone with whom to drink and be silly.

However, there are two major factors standing in the way that’s going to make this a wee bit tough: my brother-in-law’s wine collection (he has wine at every meal, like I normally would), and my nephews who, although I love them endlessly and would die for them, they do tend to get on my nerves around 5pm when they don’t understand that their “Auntie Bobby” maybe doesn’t want to dance to that Robyn song for the 15th time in a row — 14 times was enough! A cocktail in hand and I probably could have gone for 20 rounds, but this iced green tea isn’t exactly cutting it. My tolerance level for people skyrockets after a couple drinks.

Those two minor bits aside, we have a “so far, so good,” situation on our hands for week one. And as my sister so kindly pointed out, less money on alcohol means more money on clothes and records. I mean, that cash has to go toward something for the sake of the economy.

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  • Nancy

    Good for you Amanda! I think that’s a very good way to go about it. And I bet after a while, your tolerence for people will get better after a while of going without. You might realize you don’t really need it to do a 15th dance to a Robyn song! (I feel like I should give you this context: I also drink quite a bit. Wouldn’t say I’m an alcoholic because it hasn’t caused me any problems really, but I’ve considered doing something like this before just to see if it might give me a new perspective. )

    • Amanda Chatel

      Exactly — a new perspective. I wouldn’t say I’m an alcoholic either, but I do have a problem. (Although watch some fine commenter tell me to march myself to AA stat!)

  • Nancy

    Good for you Amanda! I think that’s a very good way to go about it. And I bet after a while, your tolerence for people will get better after a while of going without. You might realize you don’t really need it to do a 15th dance to a Robyn song! (I feel like I should give you this context: I also drink quite a bit. Wouldn’t say I’m an alcoholic because it hasn’t caused me any problems really, but I’ve considered doing something like this before just to see if it might give me a new perspective. )

  • Alicia

    I’ll do it with you, Amanda!! Ok, I’m on day….2.

    • Amanda Chatel

      Really?! Yeah! Support! You’re awesome!

  • Jen

    This bit made me chuckle: “My tolerance level for people skyrockets after a couple drinks.”

    I feel you there. Not only does my tolerance level for people skyrocket after a couple drinks, I tend to become… oh, let’s call it overly friendly to everyone around me. Like I’m in love with every person I see, because you’re all just so fucking beyootiful! And my new best friend in the whole world, and hey, you’re cute let’s have sex what’s your name again?

    Unfortunately, stopping for determined periods of time never worked for me, because I have a busted off switch. After a couple drinks I lose all ability to stop having more drinks. I’ve tested this theory with plenty of field research (and occasionally still do), and it works out the same way every single time. So I just try to avoid it AT ALL for the most part.

    I’ve gotten better at tolerating other people when sober… you will, too. It takes a fair amount of patience and, um, well basically just a lot of fucking patience. I’ve found that patience can be built up (like a muscle!) with practice. Lots and lots of practice.

    You can do this. If it helps at all, don’t think of it as 30 days, just one day. Just today. Then do that every day. I’m rooting for you!

    • Amanda Chatel

      Thanks, Jen!

      Yeah, that patience thing is going to be a tough one. When I lose patience, I also get all high and mighty… I have these delusions of grandeur. I tend to think I’m fancier than I am!

  • Christie

    Being in Colorado may help with avoiding the hard stuff – but watch out for the microbreweries scattered everywhere. Good luck!

  • Sugar

    Dude, you got this. It gets easier. Truly, the longer you are without it, the more you get to know (and hopefully like ) yourself better without alcohol.

  • Breezy

    Count me in! I’m not an everyday drinker, but it is summer so I will struggle to pass up icy cocktails with you. Solidarity, Chatel.

    Some encouraging thoughts/ideas:
    -Be aware of your limits. If you know you can’t handle any more Robyn, give yourself some alone time to recharge. If you can’t make it through a brewery tour without sampling the merchandise, don’t put yourself in that situation.
    -One slip does not trash all your hard work. If you cave and have a drink, forgive yourself and remind yourself why you’re doing this. Also try not to let one mistake lead to a binge day (as in, I already fucked up my record for today so I might as well make the most of it and finish this case of wine.)
    -One day at a time, my friend! AA may not be your style, but damnit if they don’t have some catchy phrases :)

    Okay, I’m tempted to say I’ll start tomorrow because people are coming over to grill out but no! I can do this, and so can you.

    • Amanda Chatel

      Yeah for solidarity!

      Oh, AA… it does have some catchy phrases and their pins and all that nonsense. I’m sure it works for some, but I think it’s a bit too hokey for me. I just want to learn to drink like an adult — which means remembering more evenings the next morning.

      Start tomorrow, if you can! We can do it.

  • lucygoosey74

    You go girl! I wish you much luck, and seriously, this can be life changing (if you’re looking for that sort of thing).
    I once quit for 30 days..then 60..then 90…and on and on.
    Today I celebrate 4 fucking years clean and sober!
    Miracles DO happen.

  • Andrea

    Ok I’m gonna say just one thing about AA and the catchy phrases. You know what the 1st step is? Admitting you have a problem. If you can’t do that, there’s nothing anyone can do for you.

    NO ONE can tell you that you are an alcoholic. The only person that can say that is you. After that, something can be done. Before that, it’s all on you.

  • Christian

    Nothing wrong with drying out for a bit, but alcohol isn’t just something that makes other people more entertaining/bearable. It is the water of life, the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems and most importantly alcohol is the best form of testing ones endurance.

    “Anybody can be a non-drunk. It takes a special talent to be a drunk. It takes endurance. Endurance is more important than truth. ”

    But good luck with your endeavor simply for the sake of.

  • Kj

    Sup, Chatel! I’m right there with you. I have a tendency to, er, self medicate for my anxiety, but I am trying to get back in shape and I know that means NO boozeahol… at least for a while. Which is going to be tough, since I have a job doing tastings at the liquor store.

    Also, OMG wine collection. I would be permanently pickled if I had to live with such a(n awesome) thing.

    Good luck!