In 1983 after being clean and sober for 2 years I was still holding on tightly to the old ways. My reaction to most situations was to attack first.
I had yet another fight or rather I had exploded and inflicted unnecessary pain spilling the blood of a fellow member of a 12-step group that was helping me better my life.
The violence happened in front of a number of friends, people who knew me and had befriended me, but this time they no longer supported my behaviour.
I sat alone in a café next to Shepherds Bush Tube Station, in a dark empty void. For the first time, ever, I accepted there was more wrong with me than just drink.
My options were very limited, bridges were already burnt. The desperate nature of my circumstances became crystal clear.
My whole life was hanging by a thread!
I was between a rock and a hard place, I could easily say f**k it and run, go back to my old life or do I face up.
To “Face Up” I knew I would have to change.
Through emotional pain and desperation, I made an immensely significant decision as only the dying do!
I am Roger and Roger had to change!
That moment of inspiration took away indecision.
I wrote myself a list of resolutions…
- Stay away from the first drink and first drug – one a day at a time
- Stick with the winners; and I’ll have a better chance of becoming one too.
- Give up swearing and learn to bite my tongue
- Take off the gloves and keep my hands in my pockets
- Give up smoking and try to live healthy lifestyle
- Obviously it was eating meat that made me violent, so I immediately became a vegetarian!
Reality check > The same man would drink again – I needed to ‘Change’.
My sobriety has been tested many, many times; death, divorce and cancer but the most traumatic happened while rowing the North Atlantic
I heard those most dreaded words. “Man OverBoard”.
Mike Johnson, 21, was thrown overboard during rough seas at night on 14 February 2016.
To my recall, my last sighting of Mike before he was lost to the sea was 60/70 minutes after going overboard.
A freighter, named the Sea Pearl, was a little over 100 miles from our position and was now heading our way.
We were all soaked through; some were suffering from mild hypothermia. The skipper ordered us to leave the deck and get back into our cabins until morning.
The Sea Pearl picked us up that evening.
I was first to climb up a flexible Jacob’s rope ladder hanging down the side of the freighter. A couple of the crew assisted me over the guardrail and led me to a safe seating position of a relieved man.
The rest of our crew followed and the Toby Wallace was cut loose and abandoned.
A seaman steadied me as he guided me to a single cabin that had a bed, chair, table and little bathroom > pure luxury.
Firstly for me was a cup of real Java, drank whilst stripping off ready for a hot shower, lots of soap, a proper sit down dump; followed by another hot shower.
The ship’s Captain and every member of his crew went out of their way to look after us; my crew spent their time in the lounge enjoying a beer or three…
Even under those most tragic and stressful of circumstances I preferred to sit up in the quiet of the ships bridge and enjoy a coffee.