Thursday’s episode was jam-packed with developments for the cast: Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino reported to prison to serve an eight-month sentence for tax evasion; Deena Cortese welcomed her first child, baby Christopher; Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi revealed she was expecting her third child; Angelina Pivarnick feuded with her fiancé; and Jenni “JWoww” Farley finally got real about her divorce after a nasty fight with her estranged husband.
But the most surprising turn of events was Ronnie finally deciding to turn his life around after an explosive argument with his baby mama, Jen Harley, on New Year’s Eve. At the time, a source told PEOPLE the two got heated at a Las Vegas strip club and that Harley “lunged” at Ronnie as he tried to leave.
“She was restrained by his friend, but when he was walking out she took an ashtray from the table and threw it at his head, busting his nose and lip,” the source said. (Reps didn’t respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment at the time.)
After seeing media coverage of the alleged altercation, the cast was more worried than ever before.
“This guy needs help,” said Vinny Guadagnino. “He’s going off the deep end. His New Year resolution should be ending all toxic things in his life.”
“This girl knows how to press his buttons,” added Pauly “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio. “She is his demise.”
For the first time, Ronnie seemed to be confronting his issues head-on and decided to fly home to visit his dad.
“The last altercation that I got into with Jen, I got hit in the face with an ashtray,” he said. “Things are just getting so bad that I don’t know what to do. I decided to go home and see my dad to take a break from the toxic situation I’m in. Because when you argue with somebody and you mix it with the alcohol and you mix it with my bad reaction, it’s just not good for my daughter to be around.” (The two share 15-month-old daughter Ariana Sky.)
“I’m just tired of the chaos in my life,” he admitted. “I’m turning to my dad because he’s somebody that has been through what I’ve been through, or been through worse situations than I’ve been through, and he turned himself around.”
“We’re almost the same person in a way,” he continued. “He had rough 20s, rough 30s, and he wasn’t in the best place in his life. So I saw a lot of things that I didn’t want to see growing up, and that’s my biggest fear for Ariana. That she’s going to be 2 years old, 3 years old, and I’m picking her up and I have a black eye. Or I’m doing something stupid to go tit for tat with Jen, and she’s just sitting there watching this, and she’s absorbing this.”
After his dad voiced concerns that his son might end up in jail, or even dead, Ronnie confessed he was ashamed of how bad things had gotten.
“I’m embarrassed of things that I’ve done, who I’ve become. It’s not someone that I ever thought I would be,” he said. “I think that I can catch myself and I think that I have control over myself and I’m not going to react or do something stupid or say something stupid that I regret and it just doesn’t work. I don’t have the answers anymore.”
“You know you’ve got to take care of yourself before you can be a father or anything, even a good friend,” his dad urged. “What good are you to her, if you ain’t got your stuff together? So work on you and you can be a great power of example for your daughter.”
Ronnie knew he had to make a change.
“I feel like the last year has just stripped me down, layer by layer, like an onion, and I’ve got nothing left at this point,” he said. “I need to figure out why I’m so unhappy, I need to figure out how to get myself to a better place, I need to figure out how to be a better father, a better person, a better friend.”
He decided to reach out to a wellness retreat center and asked to check in as soon as possible.
“I think I finally realize I need help. I just decided I don’t want to live like this anymore. I’m tired of being depressed making really bad decisions,” he said. “I’m going to my mind right, get some therapy, anger management — just focus on me.”
“Obviously I love Jen, but I need to remove myself from a toxic situation and work on myself,” he continued. “I can’t rely on other people, I can’t rely on alcohol, I can’t rely on other things to make me happy. I just want to be a better role model for my daughter. I want my daughter to look at me and be proud of me, but I need help.”
The MTV star revealed earlier this year that he sought help at HeadWaters holistic treatment center in West Palm Beach, Florida, to deal with alcohol abuse and depression. He left the center in February after about a month.
Jersey Shore: Family Vacation airs Thursdays (8 p.m. ET) on MTV.