A Fisherman’s Tale

A Fisherman's Tale

Things looked very bleak on May 7th 1998, I had recently been sacked from my job, which was a relief at the time as it freed me from the only responsibility, which I had at the time, (so I thought!). In the few weeks previous to this I had been drinking everyday and all day.  As my bank account finally became drained I started withholding my rent payments and used it to buy drink.

It was during this time that I realised I must try and do something which would salvage my situation as it was becoming clear to me that I could soon be homeless as I could not think of any other place that I could go.  The thought of living on the streets, a squat or another drug house filled me with fear, I knew I would not be able to take that again and it would surely mean the end. Whilst I sat drinking alone in my empty flat I was aware that the money I had would only supply me with another two days worth of booze. The only idea I had at this time was a pretty desperate one but I thought that it might be a short- term solution and alleviate my most urgent problems as “I saw them”.

I was soon making my way to Plymouth docks where I hope I would find the answer to my problems; a fishing trawler that was looking for a crew! In my drunken, hopeful and helpless state I made my way up the quayside.  At the end of the quay was a beam trawler called the Crietje, which I had worked on several times in the past and the boat’s skipper knew me well. The boat was preparing to go to sea and as I approached the boat I was recognised by the crew who also knew me well.  As I made my way to the wheelhouse to talk to the skipper I felt nervous and tense as I was unsure what sort of reception I was going to receive. I saw Terry, the skipper, turn and face me just as I entered the wheelhouse with a look of bemused scepticism on his face, “hello Mark, what brings you down here” he asked.  I responded with trepidation telling him that I was hoping for a job as things had gotten a bit out of hand at home and that I needed to get away for a while. After a brief discussion he told me that he would be unable to take me, and pointed out that I was not in a fit state to go to sea, but he would consider me for a future trip.

As I was leaving to boat, Peter, the mate of the boat, asked me what the skipper had said, I told him it was a “no go”.  Pete told me that he would try and persuade the skipper to take me and that he would meet me at the pub at the end of the quay.

I sat in the pub drinking trebles of cheap vodka hoping that my luck was going to change. Unfortunately by the time Terry and Pete arrived I could hardly stand, I could not see straight and was falling off the bar stool I was attempting to sit on.  The skipper left a short time after this telling Pate that it was absolutely out of the question that I was going to go to sea with them.

After a few more drinks I was bundled into a taxi by Pete who gave the driver some money for the fare and told him to take me wherever I wanted to go.  As I came too in the back of the taxi, I told the driver to take me to my father’s house.

I arrived at my father’s house where I was not warmly welcomed, I had become an embarrassment to my father and he found it very difficult to understand what he had done to deserve me.  I would normally behave respectfully towards him and I always had the intention of behaving myself whilst at his house, but on this occasion I did not even try to fake good behaviour. I made my way to my father’s drink cabinet and helped myself to an unopened bottle of whisky and poured myself out half a pint. My father seemed to have a blank expression on his face and asked me what I wanted and why I had come around. I took large swigs of whisky and went into an abusive and resentful list of reasons why I was like I was and explained to him how it was his entire fault. I believed it was all his fault and that he had never understood me or took the time to understand. I also thought that he had never supported me in the same way that he had supported my brother and sister and I always felt inferior and discarded. I explained to him how I felt he had always mocked my best ideas and how he had never listened. After about ten minutes of him sitting there listening to me ranting on he asked me a simple question “Mark what is wrong with you” this seemed to stop me in my tracks and I had to think for a second and replied “well dad I am an alcoholic”. My father looked at me and said “yes, I have been telling you that for years”, and he had been in his own way but without actually saying the word alcoholic. The admission of my alcoholism to my father seemed to have a profound impact on me even though I was extremely drunk it was the first time I had admitted to myself and another person and I knew it was true beyond all doubt. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me and I had a great feeling of relief and acceptance.  The atmosphere and confrontation in the room had vanished. My father asked me what I was going to do about my problem to which I responded, “I do not know” he promptly replied, “get some help”.

The next morning I awoke and gradually the events of the previous day started to unfold in my head and I felt the customary remorse and disgust, which always seemed to follow me. I feeling decidedly sorry for myself and thinking oh no I have done it again!

At 11 o’clock my father telephone and told me that he had a number for me to call, he said he had already called it but had been told that if I wanted help I would have to ring it myself. My father read the number out to me and as I was writing it down he said “Ring it” and promptly hung up the phone. At this point I was feeling even more remorseful and ashamed of myself and I knew I must call the number, as I could not bear to let my father down again.

I eventually picked up the phone and dialled the number and spoke to a woman who arranged for two men to come to my flat and talk to me.  After these two men and shared their experiences with me I totally identified with them and believed what they were saying because no one could make up stuff like that up. I had to admit complete defeat and I realised that I had been defeated for years.

Later that day I attended my first AA meeting, I was shaking, sweating and wanted to throw up, but started to go to meetings everyday and soon found a sponsor and started following his suggestions which were to pray for a sober say, read my “just for today” card, read the Big Book, speak to newcomers, give thanks for a sober day and call him via the phone every night.

I soon started to get grateful for being sober and did not experience any cravings for alcohol and started getting to meetings early helping to put out chairs, make the tea and help with the washing up.

My sponsor started to take me through the twelve steps and I started working them between meetings and I also found myself a home group. After the completion of a very thorough step 4, which I did, let drag on I had soon completed steps 5,6 and 7. I was whilst writing my step 8 that my father had noticed a change in me, he was totally gob smacked by the change in me and he believed that there was a total transformation in my attitude and behaviour. My father had given up a long time ago on this ever happening.

Mark B, Road to Recovery, Plymouth, June 2013