"I joined the Air force as a sixteen year old, I was little boy, I didn’t shave, didn’t smoke or drink, I hadn’t even kissed a girl properly but by the time I was eighteen I was drink dependent. it was part of the culture to go out for a few pints after work although my drinking was controlled because you still had to turn up for duty. I had a responsible job and there were times when you couldn’t drink and I accepted that.
Once I had trained to become an aircraft mechanic I later became an aircraft technician. Being in the military was like being in a family, I did 17years, it gave me a trade and I travelled the world.
Change of Pace and Moving Forward When I left I continued to work for the air force as a civilian, working away all week and that was when drinking became a problem. I continued living the single life, living away, going to the pubs every night and the drinking got hold of me. I became very lonely and very quickly realised I couldn’t stop drinking at the weekends when I went home and my family life was starting to fall apart.
Living in the moment
I don’t live in the past but my drinking is part of my journey, at my lowest point I was street homeless and I was living a tramp’s existence with a craving for alcohol. Before I would go to sleep I would pray that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning and then I would. It was not a good time, I was full of ‘woe is me’ and I never really thought about how it impacted on my family. I was like a tsunami through the people who loved me but even though I am not a bad person I didn’t care.
When I was in the gutter I met a man who was from the church, he didn’t force religion down my throat but he said to me you can be the master of your own ship. I had what some people describe as an epiphany, I was able to reflect on what had become of my life and how my behaviour had impacted on others. Stopping drinking was not going to be enough for me, so once I had got sober with the support of my sister, I walked into a careers office and said I’ve been fixing aircraft since I was sixteen but I would like to do something else. I didn’t know how to go about it and the officer said “have you thought about being a teacher? I told this woman I didn’t have any qualifications and she kept turning my barriers into stepping stones, every time I gave her a reason why I couldn’t do something she would tell me how to overcome problems. I applied to do an access course at the local college and achieved the results I needed to get into University. Having finished my degree in English I was accepted on a Masters programme to gain a post grad certificate in Education to be able to teach in Further or Higher Education.
Putting down Roots
I had this tattoo done on my arm and it says ‘sail on with dignity’ because I believe I live a dignified life now. I can honestly say once I stopped I never wanted another drink and I have an unbelievable relationship with my family now with my three kids and their kids. I am really pleased to be in a position to be able to help them so when I come across prejudice and people being judgmental I don’t let the bastards grind me down. I’ve got to keep moving forward, keep clean, keep sober and just try to be the person I was born to be. I feel I am really the master of my own ship now."