For our latest essay series, we are inviting men to share a story, an episode, or an experience that involves women and drinking. We hope you will enjoy reading these stories as they appear each Monday.
By Joe Berkowitz
Last Mother’s Day, I went out for a Bloody Mary brunch with friends, and ended up staying out until one in the morning. Technically, the worst thing that came out of this experience was that I was twenty minutes late to work the next day. I didn’t get in any trouble, though, so the impact didn’t register at all. Once again, nothing terrible happened from drinking too much except a nightmare hangover that had me throwing up in the bathroom and hating myself. It became clear to me that day that I seemed to be waiting for something truly terrible to happen before making any kind of real change to my relationship with alcohol. Obviously, it was not a well thought out plan, but rather an informal acceptance of “the way that things are.” Maybe it was the fact that I had turned 30 years old recently, but I decided that day that things couldn’t be that way anymore.
Two weeks off from drinking—that was my initial plan. It didn’t seem significant enough, though, and after a few days of feeling really good about my decision to actually DO SOMETHING, I decided to stop drinking indefinitely. It’s been over nine months now. I don’t know how long this is going to last, but I do know that this experience of total sobriety is changing my relationship with alcohol forever. The main reason is because I now know that I can go through any social situation life can throw at me without drinking, and be fine with it. I’ve been through work functions, birthday celebrations, and even bachelor parties without alcohol, and each time I’ve made it to the other side no worse for the wear. As you’re about to read, though, some of the most difficult situations I’ve gone through have involved dating–without drinking.
I was a few months out of a relationship at the time of that final brunch that broke my drinking spirit. I was ready to meet new people and get started dating again when I abruptly learned just how much drinking had played a role in my dating life. It affected how I met people, how we got along, how quickly we got physical, and probably some other factors that I haven’t even discovered yet! It is perhaps a spoiler to say that the piece I wrote for Salon, “The Hardest Part About Quitting Drinking? Dating“, about this experience does not have a happy ending. However, it does have a hopeful ending. Writing it really forced me to evaluate some of the choices I’ve made romantically, and I’m much better for it now. Hopefully you will get something out of reading it too.
Joe Berkowitz is an associate editor and a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, New York City. He also runs the pop culture blog, And Now For Something Completely Unnecessary.