Super cliché to say but, as I entered my teen years I began feeling consumed with this idea that I just didn't belong anywhere. I felt unwelcome/unwanted at home and at school with my peers. I spent a ton of time in my head overthinking everything and feeling overwhelmed with my own feelings.
I know I took my first intentional drink at age 14 and I discovered I could feel good for a little while. That really started my journey into self medicating. I began seeing psychologists in my teens trying to find out why I was different. I, like so many others, believed it was because of my father, being bullied at school, having body issues...etc. I was always on the search to fix what was wrong with me.
I began smoking weed, binge drinking 4-5 days a week and experimenting with acid throughout my teen years. I was a highly dysfunctional drinker though I never saw any legal consequences from alcohol. When I entered my 20's I began experimenting with opiates in an attempt to get away from drinking. I also decided that getting married would settle me down and bring some stability to my life so I got married.
I was married for 9 years during which time I had 3 children. Throughout this entire period of time I had an ever growing opiate habit. I started with doctor shopping, forging scripts, online/out of state prescriptions and stealing from people's medicine cabinets. It ended with any opiate I could get into a syringe.
I went to my first detox treatment in 2007 and I remember thinking "I'm not like these people and I don't belong here". I relapsed shortly after leaving and ran until being arrested in 2009 for breaking and entering into houses in multiple counties. I spent the next 3 months in locked facilities before moving onto treatment again.
I was able to put together about 10 months of physical sobriety, but I was miserable. I was kicked out of treatment for threatening my roommate and, while in a locked psych unit I was offered a chance to go to 12 step treatment.
I did well while doing the work but then got sidetracked with women, money and material things. I relapsed shortly after and ran until going back into a 12 step facility for the 3rd time in September of 2013. This time I stayed in treatment for 18 months. I completely rebuilt my life and gave myself to the process of recovery.
There were many times I was frustrated and thought about giving up. I got in the habit of reminding myself what I'd be going back to if I were to give up. It took months for me to begin to believe in the process and develop a sense of hope and purpose in a new way of living my life.
During the years of my in and out of treatment, somebody said to me “the only way a guy like you is gonna stay sober is by completely reinventing yourself”. That’s what I did and that’s my experience with the 12 steps. I completely gave myself to the program. I actually prayed early on for something very specific. I prayed “God please help me find purpose in living my life this way because, if I don’t, I’m never gonna stay sober”.
Time was essential. Taking the time to do the work and not giving up when it got hard or I got frustrated. Then in November of 2017 I ended up opening my own 12 step program and spiritual retreat for men called The Wenham House. Now I honestly believe my purpose in life is to serve God and help others.
The best advice I can give is “work your recovery like you never wanna start over again”.
If you would like to know more about Darrell and The Wenham House you can follow him on instagram by clicking here.