One year ago I started on a journey to make myself a better person. Someone everyone could be proud of and call a friend, but more importantly, someone I could be proud of. If you would have looked at me a year ago, you would have pegged me as a lost cause; someone not worthy of the time because their life was too messed up to salvage. Truth be told, I was right there with you. I had all but given up.

The last three years of my life, that led to this last year, was a combination of outside circumstances and people, and a lot of my own bad decisions. Decisions that cost me jobs, friends, close relationships, etc. Not to mention, my health. Because of the way I carried myself, it invited in several people who saw perfect opportunity to take advantage of my situation for their own gain. But, I also met a lot of really good people who helped me get back on track.

With them all, good and bad, I learned lessons to take with me further in my life. Lessons that showed me what kind of person I don’t want to be, and lessons that showed me what kind of person I want to be and can be. All those interactions taught me things. Some lasted way longer than they should have and beyond what was healthy, if they ever were, and some that were short lived that I know how to be the next time I meet people like that that I want to hold on to.

The 3 years that led to this last year, I wouldn’t change though if I had the chance, because they made me who I am today. They were tough times, and things I wouldn’t wish on anyone else. There were attempted suicides, time spent in jail, lots of drunken bad decisions… lots of bad calls. Things got very dark for a very long time. I hid a lot of it, but not near as much as I thought I was hiding.

All that led me to one very important point in my life. Do I want to live, or do I want to give up? I had given up so many times before, I thought do something different this time. I decided to do something. I decided to get off my butt and fix what I had done. I had no idea what hell I was going to go through in the last year when I decided to be a better person. And, even a year later, things I still deal with as a result of my decision to be a better person. But things I would much rather deal with as opposed to the past life.

This last year has been a true test to my resilience and my reliance. The three years leading up to it were a true test to now if I really think about it. All with the ultimate goal; to test my faith and my reliance on God. I have spent the last year, through the sleepless nights, the ER visits, the impending sense of doom, the DT’s, the questioning, all of it to prove to myself and God that I am worth it. That I have my many faults, but through it all, I try and keep Him at the forefront, and me second. I stumble, all the time, that’s normal, but it’s the fact that I am trying to be better, that I recognize my faults and work on them, the love I hold in my heart for the One who put me here in the first place.

Through the last year, I have relied on Him so much, that I feel guilty sometimes, but then I realize that’s silly, and it’s good to allow His love to fill my life and let His grace pour over me through all my faults, because He sees the intended goal and plan He has for me.

Because of this understanding, and this passion for a life of sobriety, clear mindedness, and above all, a closer relationship to God, I have been very outspoken about my disease, my struggle with it, and what I’ve done to make myself a better person.

I have made a point to not ascribe to the walls of anonymity that some groups rely on, because anonymity brings stigma. You can’t break stigma unless you put a face with the disease and the struggle and the recovery. I tell my story to those who will listen. I spread the Word when I can. I let people know there is a light at the other end of that dark hole we find ourselves in from time to time. There is nothing better than knowing there is someone there for you, to help you, to guide you, to show you the way. And that’s God! And through Him, there are people he has placed on this earth to help with that.

I believe that through the few things I advocate for, that this was my most important mission.

Therefore, I say; my name is Ronnie, I am an alcoholic, and through my belief in our God and His power, and through my strength, I am one year sober today!