Meet Recovery Rockstar, Kendell

Hey! I’m Kendell and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic and addict. My recovery date is September 26th, 2015. That’s five days after my 25th birthday. For 14 years I had struggled with my addiction and finally decided to go to treatment. For what, I didn’t really know yet. I kept telling everyone I had a bad coping mechanism. You know, “if you went through what I did, you’d drink too.” 

I grew up in Los Angeles, raised by a single mom and an “every-other-weekend” dad. And on those weekends, for three years I was molested by a family member from the time I was eight-years-old. When that person moved away, they threatened that if I ever told anyone, they’d kill me. And that secret was buried in the back of my mind for a very long time. I was 11 when I first got drunk with some friends. I remember my friend had four shots and was done. I kept drinking from the bottle until I blacked out. When I woke up the next morning, all I knew was I wanted that feeling again. That feeling like I had arrived. I had confidence and I was funny. Then I would black out and not feel anything anymore. And I LOVED that. Pretty quickly, I went from alcohol to weed. From weed to the heavier drugs. Before I knew it, I was completely addicted to meth. And could not stop. I was skipping school every day; hanging with “friends” that would party like I did until eventually I was taking it too far for even them. 

I was 13 years old when I went to a man’s house with whom I used to use, and while we were waiting for our dealer, he slipped something in my drink. Everything went hazy and I felt like I couldn’t move. My arms and legs felt like they were 1,000 pounds. He raped me and left me there for what seemed like days. I remember praying to God, telling him if He got me out of there, I’d never drink or use again. Eventually I was able to move and I found my way home. I told my mom that I needed help, I couldn’t stop using. I said nothing of the abuse. I was pulled out of school for Independent Study and went to my first NA meeting. I was clean for four days until someone who owed me money decided to pay up with drugs. I was off again. But I told myself, this time I’ll keep it under control. 

I spent the next 12 years switching drugs, moving to a different state, going from one destructive relationship to another, and hating myself the whole time. I married a wonderful man and had two beautiful children, but I was still completely miserable. Lying and cheating and stealing were all I thought I was capable of. I’d manipulate anyone I could to get what I wanted. And I was a master of it. I’d go out when I wanted, send my kids off to family whenever I could, because they were getting in the way of my using. I thought I was completely insane, when the pain of the sexual trauma memories came back like a flood. I felt alone, even when I was in a room filled with people. I didn’t want to live any more, but was too scared to do it myself. Little did I know I was so close to death already. I couldn’t stop using. I knew I need help. And I asked for it. 

I was in detox for thirteen days, continued on to rehab for four weeks and learned that I was not a bad person trying to get good, I was a sick person trying to get well. What a relief! I realized that I was not at fault for what happened to me. That I shouldn’t feel ashamed. And there was a solution to change how I was living. 

Today I am 309 days clean and sober. I have a life I never even dreamed was possible. I have found my people in the rooms of NA and AA. I have healthy relationships with all people in my life. I have found a peace within me, being able to live life on life’s terms. But that has taken a complete change in how I was living. It takes constant vigilance on my part to wake up, pray and meditate – Give my gratitude to God. To live the steps every day, to finally surrender my pain and hurt and insanity. I have a choice today. A choice when something bad happens, to either let it define me, destroy me, or strengthen me. And with the help of a higher power and people just like me, I know there’s nothing in life that drugs or alcohol would make better. I have to choose this way of life every day, or I will die. And I know that. 

I’m so grateful to be alive today and what I’d want to say to anyone who has been affected by the disease of addiction/alcoholism, is that there is help. There’s help out there for us. All it takes is willingness. The willingness to listen to the people who have been through it already. This truly is the easier, softer way. <3