Son gives Christmas a new meaning for alcoholic
Christmas takes on a whole new meaning for De’Shun Dill this year as the 34-year-old prepares to celebrate his first Christmas with a family of his own after years of alcoholism and street life.
“Rough, rugged and raw” are the words he used to describe his lifestyle before getting sober in 2017.
“It was a life of experiences that I had to go through in order to be the person that I am today,” he said. “It was like fighting Tyson. I was getting beat up over and over again until I stood up and started to fight back. When I started to fight back my roads became paved smoother.
“The main thing was to stop drinking. Put the alcohol down and allow the person who I was really supposed to be, be. After I put the drink down and allowed Father God to direct me, things started to change.”
Mr Dill started drinking sometime around the age of 10 or 11. As the years passed, he began to abuse alcohol as a coping mechanism.
He had lost several of his friends to gang violence – one right in front of him. The internalisation of that trauma had long-lasting mental and emotional consequences; alcohol became his best friend and worst enemy.
“The trauma made me a monster. The trauma was causing me to drink and be a person I didn’t want to be. I was holding in so much stuff, I thought I needed the alcohol to escape it. But what I needed was freedom through the Father.”
After years of living rough and being stuck in a revolving door of incarceration, Mr Dill was given an opportunity to change.
“In 2016 the courts sent me to Harbour Light. I made it to 30 days sober and then relapsed. It was my first 30 days sober ever and I was excited. The only way I knew how to deal with my emotions – happy or sad – was by drinking. So, I broke the rules, bought a bottle and drank.”
For his breach of the programme, Mr Dill was sent to Westgate Correctional Facility for 30 days. While in prison he had an "ah ha" moment.
“While doing my 30 days at Westgate I had time to really think about it. The judge gave me a chance to change because he saw something in me that I couldn’t see. I wanted to give myself that chance too.
“Once I took that leap of faith in God and myself, everything really did change. It took time, because nothing happens overnight, but I started to change. I started to make better choices because now I knew there might actually be something better out there for me.”
Mr Dill has been alcohol free since 2017 and is now living an entirely different life that now includes fatherhood.
“Anyone who knows me, knows that I love children. I always wanted a child of my own, but I didn’t think it was possible due to the life I was living. I had accepted that fatherhood wasn’t for me.
“But when the Father gave me this new life, He gave me an opportunity to really live my dream.”
On February 5 he and his partner Dajae Nisbett welcomed their son De’Shun Jr into their lives.
“At first I didn’t believe it. But then I saw her belly growing with my child. I was able to witness my son being born. It was the best feeling in the world. In that moment I finally felt whole.”
As he and his family prepare to celebrate their first Christmas together, Mr Dill is filled with joy and peace.
“This Christmas is different. I have a family now. I am responsible now. I am a good person today. I like who I am today.
“I’ve spent so many Christmases in jail. And when I wasn’t, I was drunk and my family didn’t even want me around. I had my hand out for all the wrong reasons. Christmas was fake to me. It wasn’t anything real about it.”
While next year will mark his fifth year of continuous sobriety, this Christmas will be extra special for Mr. Dill as he reflects on the miracle of his life – a constant reminder of God’s goodness and saving grace.
“Christmas isn’t about material things and partying. Christmas is about thought and faith; seeing and believing in the One who created you and made you who you are.
“I never knew what Christmas really meant, until now. The only thing I want for Christmas is to see my son smile and walk. That’s my blessing right there. That is what Christmas is about for me.”