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Confronting My Ghosts: A Sober Chef’s Journey in the Aisle of Temptation

Updated: Jun 28

Trigger warning, this post talks about alcohol, drug addiction, and sensitive subjects.

Tomorrow, I'm embarking on a journey to confront the ghosts of my past. As a chef, I spend a significant amount of my time in grocery stores, but there's one aisle I've actively avoided for quite some time—the beer and wine aisle. You see, I've been fortunate since I made the life-altering decision to become sober on August 1, 2020. Whenever I needed wine or liquor for cooking, it miraculously appeared—a bottle of wine in the fridge at Brown's, calvados in my cabinet, you name it. However, this time, I need a particular beer for my oatmeal stout beef braise, and it's taking me right back to one of the most challenging places in my journey to sobriety.

Standing in that aisle, I'm not alone. There's a 22-year-old cancer survivor, keeping the party going buying several bottles of Puilley Fuisse because she believes these could be her last few months. A 29-year-old restaurant owner who is determined to drown herself in a case of Miller Lite. And those who've joined me for meal kit live stream cooking lessons during lockdown know of the 40-year-old two-time cancer survivor who's selecting the cheapest Chardonnay to keep her jelly jar full. These women are a whirlwind of emotions—wild, sad, and they've never truly faced their inner demons. They used alcohol to escape to a place they could never reach while abusing it.

Do you want to meet the young yachtie who was convinced she was living her last night on Earth? Picture this: It was Christmas Eve in St. Thomas, and she was the sous chef on a 240-foot super yacht. Together with a fellow crew member, they decided to explore the town, starting at a bar that resembled the Flintstones' house. With its curved doorways and festive Christmas decorations, the place exuded cheer. But they were eager to move on. So, they hopped into a cab, the kind you find in St. Thomas—left-side driving cars on the right side of the road. It's a trippy experience, to say the least.

The 34-year-old sous chef and her crewmate disembarked at the next destination, and much to their surprise, the cabbie joined them. They grabbed drinks and started a game of pool, only for the sous chef to suddenly notice a second floor with scantily clad women and red lights. The realization hit her like a ton of bricks—they were in a brothel! "We need to get out of here," she exclaimed, and off they went to their next stop, with the cabbie enjoying a drink before departing.

Their final destination was a strip club, and this time, they entered with intent. Inside, they found themselves indulging in drinks, tequila, and that white horse: cocaine. The night was a blur of bathroom breaks, tips showered on dancers' booties as is customary in St. Thomas, and plenty of dancing and tequila. It was a wild ride, culminating in the sous chef's near-blackout state.

She awoke in her cabin, being hoisted up by her jean pockets, her crewmate still in search of cocaine. She couldn't help but laugh was all gone, dummy. Enter, blackout. Genuinely surprised, shocked, and in disbelief, she woke up the next day, Christmas morning. That day had been her supposed last on Earth.

These are the ghosts that haunt me, and they're there for me, lurking in that very aisle.

As I navigate the beer and wine aisle, I can't help but reflect on these encounters with my past. These memories serve as a stark reminder of the power of addiction and the fine line we walk when trying to escape our inner demons. Confronting these ghosts isn't easy, but it's a necessary part of my journey to sobriety. In that aisle, I find the strength to move forward, knowing that I've come a long way since those dark days. I carry these stories with me, not as a badge of honor, but I'm honestly embarrassed and ashamed of my past.

I try and remember that each day is a new chance to rewrite my story, and I'm committed to making it a story of hope, healing, and redemption.

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