After a 40-year battle with addiction, I found myself lost in the wilderness. Throughout my battle I had many half-hearted attempts at recovery, failing of course, which left me with my own feelings, emotions, cocaine and alcohol. I can remember back when the addiction started for me. It was when my wife left me. I was raised thinking marriage was “until death do you part,” but it didn’t work out that way for me. She left me and I was left as an empty shell. I felt broken. That’s when I became a thief and addicted. I began looking for love in all the wrong places. I tried to find it in people, the lifestyle and getting drunk and high. I even lost my love for my longest love, music. At one time I was a professional musician and had been playing and producing since the age of 14. I struggled to find a way out, and I kept getting deeper and deeper in my misery. At the core I knew I had a good heart, but I didn’t know how to use it to love myself. I’ve been in and out of prison over 7 times, 169 arrests and 3 habitual felonies. I’ve had my head split wide open, my jaw broke and still gotten drunk and high. I was dead spiritually and had no where else to turn.
God spared me and amazingly, My God showed up. I was offered a job of choir director of Urban Ministry Center (UMC) in 2014, but they didn’t know my secret. In 2015, my secret was exposed. I went on what some refer to as a bender. My boss from UMC found me paralyzed in the hospital due to an accident while under the influence. I hurt my best friend to the core. She looked at me with pain in her eyes, “How could you do this to me. I trusted you.” But she didn’t know my secret. I was at my wits end and told myself, “It was either die, or get some help.” I had tried everything or so I thought.
The day was June 7th and I will never forget it. Co-Clinical Director Marilyn and my counselor, Courtney, interviewed me for SABER. I arrived at the interview intoxicated, irritated and angry. My defenses almost cost me a life-changing opportunity until my counselor looked at me and said, “You deserve this.” I didn’t believe I deserved this, but I believed she believed I deserved it. At that moment my guard dropped, and my shoulders relaxed. It was time. Time to be honest and allow myself the chance to heal. SABER offered me the opportunity to have a place to stay while getting to know the real Ron. The first day they trusted me with keys and gave me a bag full of sandwiches, and let me tell you, I ate all those sandwiches. They trusted me before I even trusted myself. My predecessors before me showed me kindness. I questioned the kindness and often thought, “Why are they doing this for me?”
During my time in SABER, I formed new habits, attended meetings, psychoeducational classes and individual therapy. I figured out why I struggled the way I did. I had suppressed so much so far down. I didn’t ever think I would be the person I was and at times felt I deserved to die. I realized my anger was due to feeling embarrassed that I had destroyed my life. During treatment, the pain, guilt and shame surfaced, and I had to face these things without medicating it. I learned to tell the truth about how I feel and not worry about how others see me. I learned speaking my truth set me free. This experience helped me see I was not alone – I’m not the only one that has struggled. It became easier. After 90-days I was required to go to work and face the world with some new tools. That 90-day period gave me a foundation.
I’ll tell you the best part of the SABER program for me. My immediate family is not my blood family. My immediate family is my SABER family. I feel like I’m a part of something. I’ve learned through my counselor to speak my truth, pause, and most importantly, that I deserve this. The reason I have 5 years in recovery is not due to luck. It doesn’t mean that I’m pain-free. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have struggles. It means that I’ve learned to pause before I react. The ability to pause without the use of drugs and alcohol gives me the ability to take responsibility and handle the situations I’m facing. I put the work in, and I am reaping the benefits from my hard work. Today I am a mentor. I can speak my truth and say to people, “I did that too.” I can give hope and share my story. I have too many people to thank. First, I thank God for keeping me, I thank my associate pastor for sending me to SABER and I thank SABER for allowing me in and teaching me how to believe in myself.