This is the fourth in our series featuring the incredible folks who work at The Temper and our parent company, Tempest. Many of the people who work here are in recovery themselves, so know first-hand what it’s like for our students and readers. Our “Student Facing Team” works one-on-one with students to guide them through the Tempest sobriety school experience and help them with any questions or roadblocks along the way.
This week, we’re featuring DL Grant, a former student and one of our Teaching Assistants in Tempest Sobriety School. DL lives in Western Massachusetts on unceded Nipmuck, Wabanaki, and Pocumtuc land. They love being able to see the river right outside their kitchen window and, in the summer, they do their best to be in the water as much as possible. When they’re not helping students in TSS, DL enjoys riding their bike, singing karaoke, being sweet to service industry workers, and digging into books about healing justice, prison abolition, and all things fantasy. Meet DL, below!
1. Name, Role, Pronouns
DL, Teaching Assistant, they/them
2. How would you describe your role at Tempest?
I would first describe my role as being about facilitation. The Tempest Sobriety School has a TON of content and different aspects to it. It can be incredibly overwhelming to be trying to take that first step and just make it through one day sober, sign up for an online course, and get all kinds of goodies right in your face! I do my very best to help folks take advantage of all we have to offer them over the eight weeks we’re together.
Secondly, I would describe my role as healing, I consider myself a healer in many respects. Folks come through the school with so much pain, hurt, and distrust (in themselves, in others, in the world) — heck, I know I did. So many of us get into this community and we have been told such horrible, vile things about ourselves. We’re walking around with these destructive stories that were imposed on us and I like to think that a big part of my role is to be a sweet, kind voice our folks can lean on when they think they just cannot do it (they can!).
I consider my role to be one where I hold onto hope when there just doesn’t seem like there’s anything left to hold onto. I am no savior — just a solid, loving presence for our students to support them in building the tools to heal themselves. I rally for them because they are damn powerful and they fucking deserve to be rallied for. I value this part of my role above all else.
3. What do you think makes Tempest different from other recovery modalities?
This is a great question and a big part of me wants to dive into a long long tangent that has to do with my sobriety story. But, I’ll (try to) keep it short!
When I was in college, one of my very favorite professors, Mark Henn, said something along the lines of, “Anything that is unwilling to change when the need arises will eventually become obsolete.” I’m probably butchering that frickin’ quote but, when I first took his class, I was still drinking and this (the whole class, really) absolutely devastated me and sparked an existential crisis like none other. I was convinced I could not change, therefore the world could not change, therefore we were all doomed!
Safe to say I failed the course and, a couple of years later, I took the class again because it was the last thing I needed to graduate. This time I was sober, knew change was possible not only for me but for everyone; and this quote became an opening and invitation full of opportunity.
This all connects back to Tempest because my answer to this question is: We are committed to transformation. And that commitment is unparalleled by most recovery modalities I’ve accessed.
4. Why did you decide to do Tempest Sobriety School?
I decided to try out Tempest because someone in my Young People’s AA Facebook group shared the article “Hi my name is Holly and I am NOT an alcoholic” and I clicked. I was blown away by how daring this woman Holly was; how she refused to accept a label that the whole damn world was pressuring her to use to describe her very personal struggle. I resonated very deeply with basically every point she made and followed along with some of her blogs over the next however many months.
I couldn’t afford the school (this is before we launched our Equity Scholarship) and so I wrote the school off as “not possible for me.” Then, I was speaking with a dear friend of mine and vocalizing how I wanted to try out the school because of the way it offered a holistic perspective on sobriety and how it involved immediate access to a larger network of sober community and my friend was like, “We are going to get you into that course! Start a fundraiser!” And so, they helped me write my truth, helped me ask for financial help, which for me hit me in my gut from a childhood filled with the trauma that comes from poverty… And (most) people were incredibly supportive of me and I reached my goal! The rest is history, baby.
5. What’s your favorite part of working at Tempest?
Oh dang, this is a HARD question. If I had to point to one thing I would say it is the entire team here. We put our workers first and that looks a lot of different ways but, in the end, what this means is that we as an organization understand that when our people are taken care of, they are able to show up for their jobs fully.
We do not want people to burn out and I can definitely feel that here. I have worked many other places and, within a couple of months, I was like “GET ME OUTTA HERE!” and I’d stay for 1-2 years hating my life. Here I feel supported, loved by my team, and feel fully encouraged to explore my hopes and dreams. Corny I know, but true nonetheless!
6. N/A drink of choice?
Honestly, H20. I feel so boring saying that! But nothing competes for me, and I have a really cute water bottle… Actually, as a coworker reminds me, it’s a sippy cup. I love to drink out of it because there’s nothing better to me than making the seemingly mundane into a joy practice.
7. Favorite Self-Care Sunday activity?
I don’t do it enough but it’s still my favorite: Riding my bike! I get a sweet workout in while traveling and enjoying the scenery. Western Massachusetts is absolutely gorgeous, especially at this time of year!
8. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned and/or favorite part about not drinking?
There are many things I am so grateful for or things that are my favorite about not drinking but, right now I’ll talk about one of the many favorites: My relationship with my mother.
Now, this woman is the wildest of ‘em. She was a teenager when my (much, much older) father introduced her to opiates and, without going into her whole story, I just want to say she’s been through some of the worst parts of where drug addiction can take someone. She is currently incarcerated, indefinitely, in a state hospital in California. An indefinite sentence means she never knows when or IF she’ll ever get out. I won’t go into how rageful this makes me but my relationship with her is one of my greatest gifts in sobriety because I am able to be a consistent, kind, and loving presence for her.
I am one of the very few people who make sure to get her what she needs on a regular basis and I could never ever do that while drinking. I could never have worked through some of my own childhood trauma and the resentment I held against her in order to be able to forgive both her and I. I would never be able to access the love between me and my mother if it weren’t for my sobriety. I talk to her just about every day now, plus I notice if she hasn’t called. All of this just wouldn’t be possible without the clarity my sobriety has brought me.
9. What are the top 3 things in your “sobriety toolbox”?
- Positive and Affirming Self Talk (even when it feels impossible).
- Snacks and lots of them. I’m talking about grapes, bars, chips, and all kinds of other snacks. I know some folks may have different diets than me (I have no allergies) but I can’t say it enough and have to remind myself: Keep snacks with you!
10. What’s your favorite Tempest Mantra?
“My Beauty is Made in the Fire.”