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It’s time – PART TWO.

February 7, 2013 in Coping, Expectations, Favorites, Fears, Life, Relationships

Before you dive in, read here.  And if you haven’t read PART ONE yet, DO HERE.

Feel BETTER?

I hope so. Hopefully you are really beginning to GRASP how NOT CRAZY you are.

It’s NOT EASY being connected to someone in the industry.

All the things you are feeling, the REASON why you’re not crazy is because MOST of us are right along with you!

I wanted you to fully soak in a whole post where you could go to when you needed a reminder.

You are NOT crazy, nor are you the only one feeling the way you do.

*Reminder – there are always exceptions to the rule.

THAT SAID.

We’re never going to move from the place of always feeling resentful (and crazy) if we are not willing to look at why it is.

WHY do we feel crazy when our other half seemingly behaves so unaware?

What’s BEHIND these feelings?

We can’t just go ahead and continually blame them for doing what they do, without understanding what’s going on within us to create such frustration/anger/sadness,etc…

WE are responsible for our own choices… our own actions (and inactions)

We are POWERFUL and STRONG.

NOT helpless.

WE decide what does and doesn’t work for us, right?

RIGHT?

I mean they are only ONE PART of the relationship, right? It takes TWO to meet in the middle, right?

It can’t be that it’s JUST their fault and that’s it.

So I ask myself, when inevitably some of the statements from PART ONE ring true for me…

WHY am I accepting this?

Why am I choosing to let this continue, without changing course or direction?

What is BEHIND why I’m continuing to experience frustration and not peace?

As uncomfortable as it is, how willing am I to really look at what’s causing ME to be frustrated, in order to release myself from it?

How willing are you?

As I was recently researching a hypothesis about WHY they do what they do, I’ve discovered The Peter Pan syndrome , a phrase coined by psychologist Dr. Dan Kiley about typically men who choose not to grow up, stating:

“The Peter Pan Syndrome (PPS) describes men, who are childlike in their relationships, their ability to handle responsibilities, and their pursuit of pleasure. “He’s a man because of his age; a child because of his acts. The man wants your love, the child your pity. The man yearns to be close, the child is afraid to be touched. If you look past his pride, you’ll see his vulnerability. If you defy his boldness, you’ll feel his fear”

The other side of the coin in that scenario is something I found quite eye opening and shocking to me. – The Wendy Dilemma.

“The Wendy Dilemma describes women who are very dependent upon their mates in a special way. They mother their mates, treating them like immature children. It is not uncommon in my practice for these women to state, “I feel like I have four children, instead of three, because I have to treat my husband just like one of the kids.”

Wow, right?

It’s SO EASY for us to see how our significant others might not want to grow up, but SO challenging to see why they feel it’s okay to do that.

I mean, we’re calling a Spade a Spade here, right?

When we understand what’s BEHIND the reason we get frustrated and angry, feel sad and alone, we have a much greater chance for liberating ourselves from it and creating a new way of being.

Why am I mentioning this?

I mention these two hypothesis’ to help us not feel so ALONE, when really what we want is to understand what is really going on.

Especially if this has been happening for years, right? Most likely in our frustration isn’t just about what they’re doing, it’s about not understanding WHY they’re doing it and WHY it affects us so.

For me, finding this information has been like turning on a light, for myself, my relationship and as the captain of this ship. As a coach, I’ve always understood that there is motive and reasoning behind everything we do, that it’s always about the cause and not the effect, but HERE… it’s explained so clearly that it can no longer go ignored or misunderstood.

  • You’re NOT crazy but you might be feeling like you are because you don’t understand.
  • You’re NOT crazy but until you really look at what’s BEHIND what’s causing you pain, the crazy will be all that you see and feel.
  • You might be feeling CRAZY cause you know that somethings going on here but can’t put your finger on it.

What do I do now?

Honestly, whatever you want. YOU have the choice. You can use this information to find some sort of peace within yourself, a confirmation that you’re NOT crazy; maybe you can continue to do your own research to help you understand the concepts behind these philosophies, or you can partner with a professional coach or therapist who can help you move forward to help liberate you from what holds you back from THRIVING in your restaurant relationship.

Or nothing at all.

Maybe these two possible explanations do not ring true for you at all, only you know.

Either way, I still maintain that you are not CRAZY for feeling the way you are, that there IS a reason behind why this is the way it is.

It’s totally up to YOU to discover what that is.

How do you feel? Care to share in the comments? Did this FREE you or frustrate you even more?

It’s time. – PART ONE

February 7, 2013 in Coping, Everybody Else, Expectations, Favorites, Fears, Life, Restaurant Industry

before you dive in, read here.

I’ve been trying to avoid this post, but it seems I can no longer ‘look away’. It has become GLARINGLY obvious that something needs to be said and any amount of trying to be positive isn’t going to make it better.

I want relief. I KNOW you want relief, so here we go. I’m going to attempt to make this short and sweet, so you can hopefully feel better, faster.

It’s time. We can not ignore this any longer.

YOU ARE NOT CRAZY.

  • You’re NOT crazy for thinking he or she is selfish sometimes.
  • You’re NOT crazy for thinking their priorities are out of whack.
  • You are NOT crazy for the moments you think that the restaurant is more important than you and your family.
  • You are NOT crazy for the moments you think they need to grow up.
  • You are NOT crazy when you feel sad and angry that you’re the only one who seems interested in what comes next in your lives.
  • You are NOT crazy in those moments when you are considering why you got yourself into this type of relationship in the first place.
  • You are NOT crazy when you are pissed off because it seems you are the only one concerned about your children.
  • You are NOT crazy when they leave the house a MESS, like they don’t even see it there, day after day.
  • You are NOT crazy to wonder if they think of anything but themselves.
  • You’re NOT crazy if you think the ONLY reason why they’re still with you is so you can take care of them.
  • You are NOT crazy when you have to remind them OVER AND OVER AGAIN to do one thing.
  • You’re NOT crazy if you think their friends might not be the best influences.
  • You are NOT crazy when you’re infuriated that they, YET AGAIN, didn’t tell you when they were getting off, and you wake up panicking about where they are in the middle of the night.  *and then come to find out that they just “had their phone off”.
  • You are NOT crazy when you feel crazy that you are the only one upset.
  • You are NOT crazy when you are attempting to save money for the future, and they think if they see it there, they can spend it.
  • You are NOT crazy that their family thinks their The Golden Child, which makes you feel even more crazy that you do experience what you do. Talk about second guessing yourself.
  • You are NOT crazy when all you want is a day alone, with your other half.
  • You are NOT crazy when you feel SO SAD that you are alone/ not with your other half on a holiday or your birthday. When you see your friends out celebrating with their love, and you’re not.
  • You are NOT crazy for thinking you are not sure you can deal with this the rest of your life.
  • You are NOT crazy for being uncomfortable with how often they go out for a drink after service.
  • You are NOT crazy when you have your weekly plans set, and because they haven’t told you when they’re working (open/mid/close), and are suddenly available, they want you to drop your plans to spend time with them.
  • You are NOT crazy when you think that their co-worker is strangely “too close for comfort” to your other half.
  • You are NOT crazy for getting frustrated when people tell you “How Cool” it is that you’re married to a chef. You want to yell at them and say “NO! It’s NOT what you think!”
  • You are NOT crazy for never quite knowing when you can plan your vacation but when THEY want to do something, they always make it happen.
  • You are NOT crazy that they do something SO nice one day that it makes you doubt your initial feeling crazy, and then, a few days later, it returns back to their regularly scheduled routine and you then doubt yourself that you doubted yourself initially.
  • You’re NOT crazy when your restaurant man/woman reads this and suggests you stop reading these posts.
  • (This one is for me) You’re NOT crazy that the industry does NOT want anyone on the outside to know just how hard it is to be married into the industry, that sharing that might somehow jeopardize the glamorous image that it’s worked SO hard to keep up. You’re NOT crazy for getting serious resistance from those who work night and day to keep the dream alive.

You hear me… YOU ARE NOT CRAZY.

Go ahead and give yourself PERMISSION to not feel crazy. You’re NOT.

Whenever you need a reminder, come to THIS post.

Really… let hearing that you are NOT crazy SINK into your bones.

Give yourself a BREAK today. Okay?

And when you’re READY, REALLY ready…

READ PART TWO.

TELL US IN THE COMMENTS – What else are you NOT CRAZY for/about?

 

 

 

 

A letter to those who have no idea what it’s really like.

February 26, 2012 in Everybody Else, Favorites, Life

 

a letter pic

Source: Pinterest

To the family member/new friend/co-worker/
random passerby who I just mentioned to, that I am married to a chef,

Before you answer/react/respond in the way that I KNOW you will – please let me stop you.

It’s NOT what you think it is.

I know you are about to say one of the following:

  • Wow…must be nice to have someone cook for you all the time!
  • Wow… you must eat so well at home!
  • OOH, really? Where?
  • OOH, I’ve been there! Can he give me the recipe for _______?
  • That must mean you eat for FREE!
  • Ah, you probably never go to chain restaurants, right? Only the finest places?
  • Man, you’re lucky! Sounds so glamorous!
  • He must bring food/desserts home for you all the time!
  • How do you stay so thin?
  • You must eat all organic? How do you afford all that?
  • He must be hard to cook for!
  • Oh my gosh has he/have you ever met (Insert ANY one of the chefs/cooking celebrities from The Food Network / Travel Channel/ Bravo
  • Is he any good? Good enough for (insert cooking show of your choice here)
  • Think he can hook me up the next time I’m there?

Trust me… I can go on…

I thought I’d write this letter and share that I understand why you would think all these things…I do. Truth is, the reality and what you think you know are two different things. This letter would be REALLY long if I explained them all to you, so let’s go over THREE of the reasons why your eyes twinkle when I said that I’m married to a chef to help educate you the next time this happens… (and it will.. we’re everywhere)

Shall we?

Good. Now with the most common statement mentioned…

1. Wow… must be nice to have someone cook for you all the time!

Let me start off by saying, I can see why you would think that… I really do. At the beginning of our relationship, I probably thought that same thing as well. I probably thought I was going to have this lifestyle where I no longer had cooking/shopping on my “To Do” list and could bask in the lap of luxury, with fine dining meals cooked at home all the time.

THEN I WOKE UP.

Nope. Here’s the rub….

WHY would he be home cooking for ME, when it’s his JOB to cook for YOU?

They work long hours, at Lunch and Dinner time to be there when YOU don’t want to cook. Make sense? You probably never thought of that, now did’ja? It’s okay.. TRUST me, WE significant others of restaurant people get this ALL the time. It’s why I wanted to write and clear this up.

Now it’s not all bad. Here’s how I see it as a PERK. WHEN the stars align, and I find us both home at the same time – I enjoy knowing that I’m not the ONLY one that will cook something (granted… my cooking skills are what I’ve remembered from Home Economics class in Junior High) . Unlike the men of our past generations who left the cooking to the women (please, don’t get me started on that), I enjoy knowing he knows where the pots and pans are and that he’s not banging his fork and knife on the table saying “Wheres my food? Wheres my dinner?”

*Oh yea, one more thing – When he DOES pick up said pot and/or pan.. he most likely thinks he’s in his kitchen at work and has two dishwashers standing by to clean up after him. Nope. Just little ‘ol me and I’m not getting paid $10/hour either. I wish I got paid to clean the entire contents of our kitchen, plus his precious knives that are all now located in the sink.

Another version of the most commonly used statement is…

2. Wow… you must eat SO well at home.

Again, it makes sense but no. Hopefully by now you are beginning to understand that because they’re cooking for YOU, that must mean that we are home alone most nights, figuring out what we’re making for dinner on our own. Since they usually work at LEAST a 10 hour day, the job of grocery shopping usually falls on US. Yes, it’s TRUE, there are some of us Other Halves who are as into fresh ingredients, organic and homemade as our restaurant men/women every night, but dare I say most of us are just like YOU. Regular trips to the grocery stores, quick and easy meals, clipping coupons, cereal for dinner, etc…

Unless you are one of a handful of very successful chefs, we’re most likely not rolling in the dough that you think we are and have to be budget conscious when it comes to food.

The upside – On the occasion when we have a dinner party, a cookout with family and friends…He usually says he’ll “make it nice”, which usually involves a at LEAST $90.00 piece of meat and charcuterie and cheeses I’ve never heard of – spending all day making sure that our guests really enjoy themselves. On said occasions, he will go out of his way to make sure there is enough liquor and wine to keep our guests happy and feeling good.

Oh sorry – Charcuterie (shar-cru-ter-eee) are preserved meats like salamis, prosciutto, etc. Wanted to make sure you knew what that was.

Finally….

3. Wow… you’re so lucky! That must be SO exciting/ glamorous!!!

Let me tell you why I get that you think that…

We ALL have to eat. It’s a basic human need. With the advent of restaurants, places where we don’t have to cook for ourselves, we now have a CHOICE of what to eat and where to go. Having that choice means survival of the fittest (i.e. the most delicious/creative and popular) In recent years (shoot centuries!) , the allure of “THEE” place to go to eat has become high on our priority list, even if it’s just for a special occasion. Add to that the recent influx of magazines and TV shows with the topic of food and it’s specialized focus becoming the main subject, it makes sense why chefs and the whole culinary world has become like royalty these days.

*PS: And for good reason, they work damn hard but most likely that’s also something you have no idea about.

It’s become a BUZZ word. The word ‘Chef’ has now evoked the sense of luxury. Case in point – I was in the grocery store yesterday, doing the shopping because, ahem, my husbands always working, and I saw this:

Do you REALLY think a chef prepared this?

Answer: No.

But these days, anything with the word ‘chef’ and it has us… hooked, line and sinker.

That’s why I know why you think the way you do. You admire them for having the experience and knowledge to spark our taste buds. To do what you most likely cannot. We look to them as experts in their fields. We admire, read about,watch, follow and look up to them to inspire us..

IT MAKES SENSE.

It’s also a lot of pressure for them to live up to.

* And we grimace in sadness/confusion why our favorite restaurant closes… a LOT of moving pieces that has to always be tuned correctly. Not always an easy task.

Truth is it IS exciting but not for the reasons you know.

It is exciting because my husband lives his passion. He is the conductor of a large orchestra who has to have the skill and the know how to lead his players to a successful and timed performance – EVERY NIGHT. I find that SO exciting, SEXY.. even from a distance.

It’s exciting to see them succeed because that passion is contagious. They are always exhausting all their resources to bring you the best and that’s something we significant others are proud of – WE are usually their number one fans.

I hope this letter helps you choose your answer the next time someone tells you their married to someone in the restaurant industry. You’re right, It is exciting – but most likely… you have no idea what the REAL reason is.

On behalf of myself and all the Significant others of those in the Restaurant Industry, LARGE and SMALL, all over the world. In every city, town and country.

Consider yourself schooled.

Thank you for your time and energy.
With gratitude,

Kerilyn Russo
Wife of an EC, Certified Life Coach and Creator, Married to a Chef
Springfield,VA

*** Thank you to all the Other Halves that helped with the imput. It’s my mission and OBSESSION to unite and support us. Passion is Contagious, I tell ya.

 

 

Why yes, I AM available Friday nite!…. VALUE Number One – Independence.

February 4, 2012 in Favorites, VALUES

wonder woman shoes

Source: Hannah

 

VALUE NUMBERO UNO I FINALLY understood that I VALUED my INDEPENDENCE.

As I wrote in my last post about ‘The One thing I was missing…” I told you I was going to share with you one VALUE, each week. Well here we are at week one. Personally, I believe this value is most important (as it is in my restaurant relationship) so I wanted to talk about it first (in my standard,’Chatty Cathy’ way)…. INDEPENDENCE.

When I first started dating my then chef boyfriend, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into…dating someone in the industry. I thought that my time was his time and vice versa – OUR time (like most typical 9-5 relationships) – I thought that meant we had to spend ALL of it together which was why I quickly became the naggy one asking him…

“WHEN are you going to make time for me?”

I was focusing SO MUCH on what I didn’t have, that I couldn’t even see what I did. Of COURSE I loved that I could go out on a Friday nite with my girlfriends or to a movie on Saturday and not have someone always asking me what I was up to (that was really awesome)… but where I was concerned… HE wasn’t available when I wanted and THAT was a problem.

*Oh, the arguements we would have about this. Let me tell ya….

He would say that this is his schedule and there really is nothing he can do about it (SOUND FAMILIAR?) So I would sulk and do my best ‘cold shoulder’ act that I could conjure up so he would get the point that I wasn’t happy. Unfortunately, it didn’t change his schedule.. just left me thinking I’m not sure I can ‘do’ this.

Eventually… I decided I couldn’t and broke up with him for what I thought, was for good.

FLASH FORWARD to my relationship with a 9-5’r. I felt guilty every time I went to do something with my friends and left him home. After the honeymoon phase wore off, I found myself yearning for an evening to do what I wanted to do. *Confession: I remember wanting to go to an all day concert with a girlfriend, and my 9-5 boyfriend wanted to come, I JUMPED on the chance of it being just me and her, when he said he wasn’t feeling well. Yikes.* Because I was now in a relationship with a fellow 9-5’r, I usually chose hanging out with him instead of doing what I wanted to do, and eventually felt a sadness.. like I was missing something.

It was in that relationship that I realized that I was a really independent person. I really enjoyed the FREEDOM to do what I wanted to do with my free time. When I realized that… a HUGE weight of sorts lifted from SO much of my life. I remember when I was reconnecting with my chef (for the final time, thankfully), thinking… OH MY GOSH, that means I can have ME back!!! My friends and my family noticed a change back to who I innately was inside. They would tell me…”It’s good to see YOU, again.”

Once I understood what I valued…I no longer felt neglected like I once did.

*I swear I’m not feeding you a line. It’s SO much different than before!*

For example, Sunday is usually one of his days off. (YES, I know I’m lucky.) BEFORE, I would get SO upset if he wanted to go hang out with his chef friends because it’s the only day that we had together. NOW, I know that that is usually the only day that his FRIENDS have off too (to ride motorcycles and such).. and he needs that time too. Because I understand I value my independence (and so does he), it makes watching him ride away for a few hours enjoyable… knowing he’s going to get “fed” from his time doing something he loves.

For those just starting out in restaurant relationships: This is not like “regular” 9-5 relationships. You will not spend the same kinds of time with your other half that, perhaps, your friends in 9-5 relationships do. If you begin to demand that same kinda time from your restaurant man or woman, you’ll quickly find that YOU will be let down, sad, and angry that you are not getting what you want. (Like I always was… saying “I’m not important to you if you don’t make time for me!”)

Let’s flip that around, shall we?

What are you doing in your own life that is EQUIVALENT to the passion they have in their careers? Is it your own career? Your hobbies? Your active social life? Your spirituality? Your health?

Go out and DO THAT.

*Caveat: If your still debating if this type of relationship works for you, and you continually get the feeling that having your own time to do your own thing always leaves you feeling angry, resentful, lonely and sad… even after you answer the questions below… it MIGHT be one of three things… 1. maybe you don’t value Independence as much and THAT IS OKAY! 2. maybe another value trumps Independence OR 3.this isn’t the type of relationship that will inevitably leave you feeling fulfilled. Either way, you’re figuring it out and that’s all we can hope for, right?

 

You’ll find that the more time you spend on your OWN plights, goals, passions… the richer the time you do spend together will be. If you are waiting for them to come home, get off work to spend time with you… you’ll be looking for HIM/HER to create your own value.

*Everyones values are different. No one person values the same exact thing in the same intensity. That said, it’s up to YOU to figure out what works for you. What works for you might not for your restaurant man/woman. *Although, I believe a thriving restaurant relationships share common values. Independence being one of them.

In the same light, I understood that we both VALUE having SACRED time together (Sacredness is another VALUE). Routines and rituals that we do not reschedule or rain check because we know that we have limited time together, enhance our time apart. Having these moments help us BOTH to feel valued when we miss each other… knowing we’ll reconnect soon helps us nurture our own VALUE. These sacred moments have become the cornerstone of our marriage and their something we both look forward to, from week to week.

So here’s what I want you to do to discover if Independence is a VALUE of yours.

1. Get out a piece of paper.
2. Answer the following questions:

  • When it’s Friday nite and I’m about to get off of work and I know my restaurant man/woman is working… I feel ____________________.
  • T/F – I feel so lonely when he’s at work and I don’t have anything to do.
  • T/F – I kinda feel like we don’t have a “real” relationship if we don’t evenings and weekends together.
  • T/F – I think it’s kinda selfish that I like to do my own thing… I mean, that isn’t “Normal.”
  • If I know I’m going to have a day to myself… I end up doing____________________________.
  • When I am feeling “SO MUCH MYSELF” (meaning happy in my life/my own skin/FREE TO BE ME!) I am usually_________________.

Maybe you’ve heard the quote:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Most likely, your restaurant man/woman is doing what makes him/her ‘come alive’. Now it’s time you find the same thing.

I want to end by saying that no one TAUGHT us this… about what we value. We’re thrown into life with our fingers crossed and hoping for the best. How awesome would it be to have a little help when we begin something new… with a firm grounding of who we are and what we bring to the table…so we won’t always feel like we’re missing something.

How do YOU feel about this? Please share with us your thoughts, feelings… reactions.

Finally… in a few weeks (Thursday, March 8th 8pm EST), I’m offering a FREE CALL to discuss said values more in depth, discuss these and share with you what other values you have! (Once you sign up, I’ll send you a list of over 100 additional values for you to consider!) I want to take your questions, quandaries.. even frustrations. Sign up below to join in on the call! Hope to *see*  you there!

JOIN US – FREE CALL! Understanding what you VALUE – Thursday, March 8th 8pm EST

* indicates required


Getting off the line, throwing one back and the subject we don’t talk about

November 17, 2011 in Favorites, Life

Bar at the El Mo by Kenneth Moyle (http://kenneth.moyle.ca)

Before I launch into this topic, I know that many of us are dealing with this subject RIGHT NOW, either you are new to this type of relationship and had no idea what was in store, or don’t know what to do about it now that you do.

You’re not alone, it is my hope that by even broaching this subject (that is NOT talked about much or at all), that it comforts so many of us that are faced with this but have NO idea who to turn to.

*And If this isn’t something you’ve dealt with before, consider yourself lucky.

We already know that most people, the ones on the outside of this type of relationship, have NO idea what it’s really like. They have no idea about the long hours, the sleeping and eating alone and the fact that we pretty much handle most (ahem,ALL) of the coordinating, shopping and care taking (of the children, the house, etc) by ourselves. They probably don’t even consider that there IS someone at home, waiting for them, after they’ve filled their bellies and are good and satisfied.

On the off chance that they do think about it, their thoughts probably revolve around how COOL it would be to be married to a chef/GM/bartender,etc…having an ‘all access pass’ to restaurants, this allure of a sexy lifestyle, because of what the media has made it out to be.

That’s probably about it.

The one thing that I know most people have NO idea about, not just because they are oblivious to it but it’s not something we (on the inside) talk about is how often those late nites are not because of them still being on the line, but at a bar. After work, grabbing a drink with fellow servers, managers, bartenders, and chefs, as a way of winding down and decompressing from being constantly ‘ON’, standing on their feet for 10-15 hours a day.

To tell you the truth, I have NO idea how they do it.

I KNOW I couldn’t do what they do. I KNOW after a few days of that kind of day, I’d have to find a way to unwind after work. As someone whose 9-5 is in front of a computer all day, I cannot even fathom the fast paced and pressure filled environment, day in and day out.

Now that I’m a bit seasoned as a significant other to someone in this industry, I’ve come to understand, that due to their nocturnal lifestyle, the temptations that come with this high stress, always moving, never stopping career choice, that there are those who might turn to alcohol or dare I say…drug use as a way of forcing them to unwind and slow down. Do I agree with it? NO. But as most things in life, this subject isn’t a black or white one.

After all this time I can say, I finally get it.

I remember, QUITE a few years back, catching some program on TV with Anthony Bourdain talking about those early years, as a rising chef in NYC… how after work (at like midnight or later), he would go to some private VIP back room of some bar or restaurant, and share a delicious meal with a few other chefs and GMs, they would catch up about how that nights service was over a few rounds of shots and drinks and would inevitably come stumbling home,  a few hours later. I remember thinking…

“Holy S^#T, so this isn’t just my chef and his friends doing this.”

I had NO idea that this was part of it. I wasn’t part of the industry, how was I supposed to know?

That’s the thing… unless your IN it or you have experienced it, you have NO IDEA what to expect.

Now that I look back on that time of our relationship when it affected me the most (he had just moved to the area to be with me and started working at a prestigious fine dining restaurant) I can say that maybe I was naive, for I’ve never been a big drinker AT ALL so it’s never been something that’s on my mind, but at the time, I thought that what I was experiencing was BAD.

*For the record, I’m NOT trying to rat my now chef husband out, but I’m sharing this in case you find yourself in a similar experience…in an attempt to help others not feel so alone. I’ve gotten his permission to share our experiences.

What seemed to ME to be on a regular basis, my then chef boyfriend would inevitably call me after he gets off the line (round 11:30ish) and say that he’s going over to one of a handful of bars that usually all of the chefs met at. At the time, we lived together, and when he called he would tell me not to wait up. Inevitably, hours later I would hear him come in and shortly after, get in bed with me, only to smell of whatever he drank that night.

I was angry, concerned for his well being, and if I was being honest, also worried that this is what my life would be like if I decided to stay. It absolutely made me feel like I had no control. I felt like I had NO say when he called to tell he he was going out. I was worried about him and his safety. I missed him in the evenings, going to bed alone, knowing he was going out to with his chef friends. I was resentful. I felt like he chose them over me.

I didn’t know.

In that moment of watching that show with Chef Bourdain, It was like a light went on for me.

It doesn’t mean that it’s BAD.. that something is wrong with him or us.

Whether we like it or not, this is a PART of being in the industry.  The degree to which they partake is on an individual basis (I know that this can QUICKLY spiral out of control and become a SERIOUS problem for so many in the industry), but I’d guess that at one time or another, your restaurant man/woman have spent a bit of time burning the midnight oil at a bar, drinking with their fellow restaurant comrades.

They lead more of a nocturnal life than most of us do. How can we understand it when it’s not something we DO.

I know that my husband just doesn’t understand the concept of sitting at a desk ALL DAY LONG for my job.  He doesn’t understand. For him it’s a good day if he gets to sit down and enter invoices or to do his ordering for an hour.

Again, I’m NOT condoning drinking, drinking & driving or drug use of any kind. Please hear me when I say that. (To the contrary, I’m quite conservative on my drinking and drugs stance) I’m just saying that because I had never been in the restaurant industry, I didn’t know that this a is part of their ritual. Come to find out that most of the time he would go out, have one or two beers, talk about that nights service (probably laugh it up about the high maintenance table who brought back their ribeye three times), and then make his way home… (I say MOST of the time, there were also those nights when he came home in a cab or I got the 3am phone call to come get him. yea, good times. Thankfully that doesn’t happen much anymore.)

Back then, what I didn’t know was…

It wasn’t about the drinking, it was about having a way to decompress and unwind, but more importantly… to commune.

I don’t know when I heard it or from who, but I remember someone telling me…

“You go out to dinner with your girlfriends after work, right? You grab dinner, and maybe on a Friday, have a few drinks after work and catch up?” …well, they want to go out after work too.. unfortunately the only thing that is OPEN when they get off of work is a bar.”

Whoever said that was right. Part of how I maintain my friendships is with after work jaunts to local restaurants and catch up on what’s new and exciting. The latest gossip, etc…

Why would it be any different for these restaurant men and women?

To some degree, I feel like the bonds between those in the restaurant industry are stronger and tighter than that in the corporate world. It’s an intense world, always being “ON”, trying to make delicious food to satisfy your customers, make your numbers so you can make the owners happy for another quarter. Why wouldn’t that lend itself to really leaning on each other when the going gets tough, they find themselves ‘in the weeds’ and need to really push through a busy dinner service. It’s kinda like going into battle, or being a player on a football team headed for the Superbowl, I would think.  Bring your best, prepare for it ALL, and know you’re not going down without a fight. I think if I had to do that every night, I would feel connected to those in the trenches with me.

SO, How do I handle this?? 

Honestly, it’s really up to YOU about how you handle it. There are SO MANY FACTORS that consider, and NO ONE WAY is the right way. 

 – What is your experience with alcohol? How comfortable do YOU feel when drinking/ others are drinking? (Maybe you grew up that drinking too much/getting drunk was “bad”. Maybe it’s a way that you, too, unwind after a particularly stressful day. Maybe you don’t mind infrequent nocturnal jaunts with his buddies, then maybe you’ll feel differently)

 – What is your level in investment when dealing with the possiblity that he/she will eventually have too many drinks after work, at some point? Do you get pissed and give him the cold shoulder or do you see that as an “in” to find out how his day was/make you two closer? What happens if he/she calls and cannot drive home? How do you react to that situation? What if he/she DOES drive home?? How do you handle THAT? (There is NO right answer here, again, it’s personal preference)

 – How do you handle the possibility that YOU might think they are drinking too much, you’re worried about them but THEY are not doing anything about it? In other words, WHAT ARE YOUR LIMITATIONS? How far are you willing to go? How many times do you have to talk to them (argue) about it before you will no longer accept this?

I know there are so many of us whose other halfs evening festivities to quickly spin out of control and on a regular basis. I personally do not feel like I can speak about regular alcohol and drug abuse in general but to validate that it happens, and it’s usually a topic that noone feels comfortable talking about. If so, PLEASE KNOW you are not alone. TRUST YOURSELF. If you think there is a problem, if something feels off, IT PROBABLY IS.  

You HAVE a choice. You can choose to deal with this or not. Noone is going to fault you if you choose not to. As many people that are reading this right now are how many different situations there are surrounding drugs/alcohol. Let me repeat again – there is no ONE way to deal with this.

This is where YOUR strength is… This is where you have to learn to TRUST YOURSELF. Only YOU KNOW where your limits are. 

So let me ask you… (to lighten the topic)

How many of you have been privy to having dinner with a group of chefs & restaurant people?

If you have, you’ll catch a glimpse into what I think happens in the early mornings. I’ve sat quiet while a group of chefs talked (at length) about the difference between white and black napkins. Debating the pros and cons of it. Do I have anything to contribute to this topic? NO.  Maybe that’s part of why the early morning gatherings are so important, I mean..

They work such odd hours, WHEN do they have time to talk about such topics? Yes, that one drink to decompress can absolutely be taken overboard. With this being such a high stress profession, it makes sense to me (whether I agree with it or not) that others would seek outside substances to help them SLOW DOWN.

THANKFULLY, in my case, it was just a phase. As soon as my now husband changed restaurants, became an Executive Chef (from a Sous) the fact that he had WAY more responsibility, that he had to be as ON his game as he was able, meant cutting down on the late night sessions and throwing back a few Crown on the rocks. (My husbands drink of choice) Does he still do it from time to time? YES. I try to understand, he needs this. Now that we’re married, I sometimes get the call at 10:30pm on a Friday or Saturday nite, wanting to see if I want to meet him at the little bar up the street, a few blocks away, to meet for a beer. Somehow I’ve become his drinking buddy. Secretly, I love that he’s calling me now. Even though I’m not a drinker, I’ll sit there and ask him how his day was… and I watch him unwind a bit as he throws a beer or two back.  *8 times out of 10, I usually meet him. It’s kinda makes me fall in love with him more.

I hope this helps you know that it’s something that MOST (not all) of us have faced at one point or another. Maybe it’s early in his career, maybe it’s when he gets that promotion… who knows. Again, there are MANY different scenerios here. All I do know is you HAVE to trust YOURSELF!

I’ve come to understand it’s a rite of passage, a building of their tribe, that tight knit circle that even years later, I still do not feel like I am entirely a part of. I have accepted it as a part of what I VALUE in my relationship. He never tells me I cannot go out with my girlfriends after work.

After all these years, I think I’d like to keep it that way.

PS: **For those of you who find yourself in a situation with your other half drinking more than you know how to handle, PLEASE know there is HELP. Please check out  the following resources for finding help: