CHICAGO - Some of the details are foggy, the memories blurred by the unstoppable, ruthless march of time.
But I do have vivid remembrances of Tuesday nights when I surrendered myself in the basement of a Catholic church near the Bryan Mawr red line train station on the north side of this city.
The year was 2000 and I did my best to attend the twice weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Back then, I was as broken as the folding metal chair that I sulked in, creaking, the grey paint peeling off the edges.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones who somehow managed to emerge on the bright side of a dark, devastating addiction. But like any other survivor, I didn't come out unscathe and I will forever bear the scars of that horrid struggle.
Like stains on an old, raggedy carpet, some pains just never go away.
Reading about the woes of former PBA player Ronald Pascual the past few days felt like picking the scabs of an assuaged, almost forgotten old wound.
Pascual, according to reports, has a bad gambling habit which may have led to a life careening out of control. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2014 PBA Draft proved powerless against the vicious cycle of vice.
After repeatedly resisting the helping hand extended by his brother Ronnel, it was encouraging to see Ronald head back home to Pampanga.
Accepting his family's embrace is a giant first step. It broke the walls of denial, allowing the former Alaska Ace and NLEX Road Warrior to acknowledge a problem he knows he needs to get fixed.
But picking up the pieces, as the Sixers have proven, is a process.
IT WON'T BE EASY. IT WILL BE TEDIOUS, LONELY AND PAINFUL.
He will have to hurdle the greatest obstacle he ever faced.
There will be nights when the overwhelming emotions of guilt, shame and regret will keep him awake. But I trust Ronald, an elite athlete on his best days, to possess the mental fortitude necessary to overcome this tidal wave.
There will be days when hope is dim, desperate times when his support system will mean the world because the road to recovery requires a team effort full of love and understanding.
As they say in those AA meetings, in between the prayers and affirmations, "it only works if you work it."
For now, as told by his brother in a Facebook post. Ronald is "scared" that people "may judge and condemn him."
Unfortunately, stigma follows each time a public figure suffers a stunning fall from grace. But Ronald must understand that all that negative chatter will eventually echo down into a quiet whisper.
And once he puts his affairs back in order, he can then begin to reclaim some of the friendships and relationships he had strained.
Sa Tamang Panahon.
I don't think this is where Ronald imagined his life to be when he left San Sebastian as a champion and a rising star in 2012.
But not everything is lost. He is only 32 years old, still in the front nine of what could potentially be a fabulous life.
There are no mistakes in life, just teachable moments.
When he is ready, the PBA or perhaps one of its teams will be wise to employ Ronald as a resource person to mentor incoming rookies in hopes that the celebrity and newfound wealth would steer them away from the path to destruction.
Once a champ, always a champ.
I am rooting fiercely for Ronald Pascual. I hope you do, too.