Alexander Mendoza’s sobriety date is March 8, 2016, approximately two years and three months as of this interview. Speaking with Alexander is that of conversing with an old soul. The quality of his time in recovery truly proves that it’s about just that-not the amount of days, but how he chooses to spend them and perceive them. Step by step, one day at a time.
What got him clean and sober?
“Short answer: I was abusing drugs and alcohol severely and I ended up in the hospital ER. Ever since that day I made a decision to seek help and stop.”
Twice daily for a week, Mendoza spent his days shooting up Methamphetamine. While many feel a false sense of invincibility while drinking and drugging Mendoza experienced something completely different. The realization that his lifestyle could very likely end his life.
“On the sixth day of I was up for 24 hours. I couldn’t sleep and that’s happened before but this time my body was reacting differently than it had in the past.” With his pulse dangerously high, he took himself to the hospital. “They couldn’t lower my heart rate, I was so tense and paranoid. I saw myself as defeated for the first time and decided to get help.”
Mendoza credits 12 step programs as a huge aid in his recovery. He is especially adamant about the support he received from his co-workers. He had quit his job in the restaurant industry a week earlier, rather than keep what was happening in his life to himself he chose to be completely honest.
“I wanted to come back and tell my boss why I quit. After I came out to her she shared her own experience with her father being an addict. My life has been rigorous honesty. I kept my job, and was honest about making recovery a priority.”
In sobriety his work as a photographer has flourished. “I appreciate the daylight.” He says remembering his moments while using as a metaphorical “dark room”. A literal space that so many photographers can be confined to while developing film. Now he sees things filled with life and light.
Since getting sober his career has taken off more than ever, and he’s become better at his craft and he’s accountable. “Things in recovery have improved all areas of my life.”
His work is influenced by industry legends such as Bill Cunningham, Adam Katz Singding and Annie Lebowitz.
“I look up to Bill and Adam’s work as streetstyle journalist. Annie’s Portraiture is unmeasurably amazing. My style is finding my way between those three influences.”
Mendoza takes pause when asked what he’s gotten out of his time in recovery. His answer is the most thoughtful beyond anyone I have interviewed on the topic of addiction and recovery.
“Sobriety has allowed me to see my own light and rather than allow my fears to overcome me I can deal with them in healthier ways. The reason I wasn’t able to appreciate my light was because I let fears cast a shadow on it. I want people to know that I see them, not that I just physically see them, but I am aware of them and the light they have within themselves.”
Mendoza shines brightly as an example of pure talent and dedication to not only members of the LGBTQ community, but to others as well.
Discover Alexander Mendoza’s world of light and photography on Instagram: @e_aphoto