Here is the full transcript of Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner’s TEDx Talk presentation: Recover Out Loud at TEDxUniversityofNevada conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Recover out loud by Tara Conner at TEDxUniversityofNevada
If you would have told me, back in 2006, that my boss would become the President of the United States, I probably would have told you you were crazy.
Most people came to know me in 2006 when I won “Miss USA,” and even more people got to know me later that year when I tested positive for cocaine. But what they didn’t know was that I had been silently suffering from a nasty addiction from the age of 14. And I want to share with you a bit about my journey with addiction.
My life was the perfect storm for addiction to manifest. I survived incest at three, my parents had a rocky relationship, and alcoholism and mental health issues were very present in my family.
I grew up in a really small town in Kentucky with a church on every corner, like the type of town where you could throw a Bible, and probably hit a pastor on the head. And what was impressed upon me was that if I drank, smoked, or had premarital sex, I was going straight to hell. And I remember thinking how unfair that seemed, because my uncle didn’t give me a choice in the matter.
So, fast forward to 14, my parents are going through a nasty divorce, my papa, my protector, and the only person that ever showed me unconditional love, dies. And the pain and loneliness that I experienced were truly unbearable. So, when I am on a cheer leading trip — it’s an away trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee — and the juniors and seniors score a gallon of vodka from some nearby college boys, I was elated when they offered me some because I desperately needed to feel a part of something.