Gregory Pardlo, poet and author of Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America, describes his family history of alcoholism and believing that he was above it, which wasn’t true. It wasn’t until his early 40s that he hit bottom and started going to 12-step program meetings. When he could finally say his truth out loud in front of others: “I am an alcoholic,” it was both liberating and empowering. After hearing many stories in meeting rooms over the years, he knows that his story is not unique and believes there are always grounds for forgiveness. He encourages anyone with an alcohol problem to ask for help, as people are eager to give help. In fact, their own sobriety depends on their ability to invest in others.
Stephanie Malia Krauss, mom, educator, social worker has been sober for more than two decades. She describes growing up in a home with an alcoholic parent and drinking at the age of 14 to escape the reality of her home life, the community’s judgment, and to be taken care of. She had a choice forced on her at 15 by her school counselor and non-alcoholic parent (home for runaway/homeless youth in NJ or rehab in FL) that led to a stint in rehab in Florida. That decision radically changed the trajectory of her life. She grabbed everything recovery offered — tools, strategies, community — and a new plotline emerged in her life that required all that she had experienced up to that point. She learned the importance of community, self-care, and self-advocacy, and believes that sobriety is a wonderful way of life.
Richard Antoine White, principal tubist of the Santa Fe Symphony and the New Mexico Philharmonic, and author of I’m Possible: A Story of Survival, a Tuba, and the Small Miracle of a Big Dream, describes surviving early childhood poverty and homelessness. His mother was an alcoholic fighting her own demons. He attributes his imagination, inner strength and ability to be his own hero with helping him grow through it. White believes that “all we want is a chance to make the right choices to see the kind of changes for the betterment” and considers his mother a hero for giving him up so that he could have that choice, chance, and change. He credits the village that raised and elevated him for what he has been able to achieve. White believes that caring for others creates contagious change and advocates for creating a caring environment in which we elevate everyone and pay it forward. And above all else, be kind!
Leslie Jamison, author of “The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath,” on the process of getting sober by joining a fellowship-based recovery program. She describes recovery as an ongoing process with lessons applicable to other areas of life.