I want to help empower women to get education, build their self-esteem and help them stay on the journey of recovery.

My name is Erin Goldner. I was running my own life a little more than five years ago – and it wasn’t working out too well.

In December 2008, I was a desperate shell of a human being. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize the person who was looking back at me. While drinking heavily and unable to stop, I said an infamous foxhole prayer: “God, please kill me or take this away from me. I can’t live like this anymore.”

I didn’t think it would work. I had accepted the fact that I would die that way.

But God had other plans for me.

A month later, I got my third DUI. It happened late on Jan. 19, 2009, but I consider my sobriety date to be Jan. 21 because there was so much alcohol in my system the next day and I didn’t walk into a meeting until the day after that. That’s the day something miraculous happened, which I now know was God asking me, “Are you done yet?”

I finally surrendered, and my attitude toward life changed. I wasn’t going to use alcohol and drugs as a solution to the problems in my life anymore. On that day, my fears were removed. Before then, I knew something needed to change, but I honestly did not know how to change it. I really didn’t think I could live without alcohol and drugs, even though they were bringing much harm to me and my family. “I can’t” was a common theme for me. “I can’t stop drinking. I can’t live without heroin. I can’t breathe without him.”

Let me tell you — I came to find out I can live without all those things today.

I believe in miracles because I am one.

Believing that fact can be challenging, but I don’t take “No” for an answer. I’m 32 and have lived in Wilmington, Delaware all my life. Delaware’s nickname is “small wonder,” kind of like me. I’m barely 5 feet tall and 100 pounds, but I have an outgoing personality and hardcore passion for living and I try to use it to help others.

Before I could to that, though, I had to make the decision to let healthy people — people that have the same struggles as me – be part of my life again. This had led to many beautiful and crazy hardships and opportunities. I didn’t realize at first that I had to admit defeat. I thought that meant I was showing weakness, and I didn’t think strong women did that. Now, I know that admitting defeat and admitting that I had to change my whole life showed courage. It was very uncomfortable. These kind people started showing up in my life and I had to let them in. I had to talk about my feelings sober. That was uncomfortable. I had to introduce myself to many new people, shake their hands and ask them how their day was going.

I didn’t realize at first that I had to admit defeat. I thought that meant I was showing weakness, and I didn’t think strong women did that.

Early on in my recovery I was told that I had to help people to stay sober. Guess what? I was willing to do whatever it took. I was tired of the life I was living. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in prison because of a mistake I made while drunk.

I have seen as many tragedies in recovery as I did in my addiction. One of my very close friends Sara took her own life because of this disease. I think about her every day. She could not bear the pain of this life. She suffered just like I did. I do not judge her or anyone else who dies from this disease. She was young, beautiful, kind, smart and funny. She was married, a teacher, and had just gotten into law school. She stopped making her recovery important. Her death inspired me to continue on this journey, helping females and to remember that just because someone has material things like a car, house, education or marriage does not mean they are not dying on the inside and could still use some love and support.

My life today is beyond my wildest dreams. I went back to school, joined a fraternity, won awards, got a degree in criminal justice, got the highest GPA in my graduating class and found mentors in all areas of my life. I quit smoking. (I like to “vape” and smoke cigars once in a while). I help other women in recovery. I have self-esteem and self-respect. I advocate for young people in recovery. I work in the recovery field. I’m good at what I do and I’m respected in the field by my peers.

I have more dreams to fulfill. I hope to own my own recovery housing business in Delaware one day. I want to help empower women to get education, build their self-esteem and help them stay on the journey of recovery. I want to show them how to pave the way for the next wave of recovering women.

I have seen so many miracles. Women that could not get a day clean and sober, could not stop prostituting, and could not get their children back – they get all of that back and more being in recovery. Most of all, they get joy back in their lives without drugs and alcohol.

Most importantly to me, I got my momma back.

The most important woman in my life, Patricia Snow, never left my side. I left hers. She was there through all the ugly, insane times. I made her crazy. She blamed herself for my addiction. Now, my mother gets to see her daughter in recovery. No more calls from ERs or police stations. Recently, she was able to share in my graduation and my wedding. Because of recovery, I was able to be there for her when my brother needed help — and now my brother is in recovery and has 3 years clean and sober. My mother and I have a better relationship now than we ever have. I love you Momma!

I owe it all to recovery and God.

I still can’t believe this is really my life.