There’s no doubt that 2016 will go down as one of the worst years ever for America, and many other places around the world. This year we lost so many prominent faces to addiction, mental illness, and natural causes. People who were forces in their own rightful arenas. We were also either one side or the other from a toxic and dividing political election that pitted friend against friend and relative against relative. I ended up being on the losing side of things unfortunately, in more ways than one.

This year I lost contact with friends and relatives for trivial things. Things that were completely unavoidable by both parties. But strong hotheadedness prevailed on multiple counts. I have had family members and friends leave my side for either lack of understanding, or  flat out refusing to understand certain aspects of my life. Some of these people seemed to be so caught up in the flavor of the month with whatever they were doing. Others seemed to disconnect for no apparent reason.

This year also brought on a new diagnosis of my mental illness. I was bumped up to Bipolar I with mixed features and rapid cycling. I had a couple of medical scares that have still gone undiagnosed that continue to rear their heads every so often. I continue to live in limbo of a major move again cross country because of my partners job. All of this, leading me to more temptation than I have ever felt since going sober, to pick up a drink again.

This has been a tough year. This year changed so much for me. My outlook on life, my relationships with people I thought once were strong but are now anything but, my faith, my sobriety, and my mental well-being.

Through all of this bad, though, I have found some major life changing positives. Through every one of these difficulties this year, I grew closer to the friends who did stand by me through it all. My relationship, although not immune from rocky times, has grown stronger with my partner as we continue to build a life together, 13 years later (today!). I finally feel like I am on the right path for mental health recovery now with a new updated diagnosis that more closely fits my current state. My sobriety has been tested numerous times this last year, but each one of those trials where I was tempted but did not pick up a drink only shows me how strong I have become. I know I am never cured of my alcoholism, but I have found great ways to stay this way.

Above all this, my relationship, which has been rocky throughout my entire life, with God and my faith has grown so strong. I have set aside time as often as possible to bring myself closer to what I see as Christianity and who God is and what Jesus meant for all of us. I have learned to rely on Him in times of weakness and in times of strength. Because in all of this, good or bad, we need Him to bring us through.

So, although this year has seen its fair share of negativity, it has had a good share of positivity as well. All of this changing everything for me. I sit here tonight knowing that even know tomorrow is a new year, it is also at it base a new day. A new day with new experiences, new chances to show my love for God, my friends and family. New chances to grow stronger in sobriety. New chances to learn new ways to deal with the ups and downs my bipolar disorder brings. New chances to show what a true and affirming gay Christian is to those who doubt or combat. New chances at life.

So, with every ounce of being I have, GOODBYE to 2016, the year that changed everything.