Free Fall: Awakening


By Nick Mcglashan


December 1993

“Wait Nick!”

My mother's voice is almost lost in the wind as I continue to run ahead on the icy road made of pressure treated 2X6’s. The F/V Westling is on a course parallel with the rocky beach. I can see deckhands working as it makes its way to Trident Seafoods Processing Plant in the bay, just past the small native village of Akutan.

I reluctantly slow my pace and look at my mother then back to my father's boat.

“Hurry mom, let’s go!”

She extends a hand with a loving smile. I grab it with both of mine.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” She asks with excitement.

“A crab fisherman!” I scream.

“My son will not be a crabber” she exclaimed.

Later that day I stole a ‘throwing hook’ from a pot storage yard and hid it under our house. After school I would secretly practice in hopes that I would become a crab fisherman.

January 22, 2018

The captain’s chair is slightly reclined. My socked feet rest upon the dash, one on top of the other. I’m keeping the 112 foot Summer Bay on a heading of 320 degrees. The wind is coming from the Northwest at a chilled 20 knots forcing the outside temperature to dip below -10 degrees. The vessel pushes forward. It parts the resisting sea and forces ocean spray into the night sky. The water that finds its way back to the cold steel and immediately freezes to the ship we call home. At 8 knots, this journey to the Opilio grounds has been a time for much needed rest. We still have 168 nautical miles to go and conditions are getting worse by the hour. It’s warm in here but through the window looking forward across the deck it’s as if hell has frozen over.

I, and the crew of the Summer Bay, am at the mercy of the unforgiving Bering Sea. If help is needed, it is located 130 miles south in Dutch harbor. It’s just us, our boat and our thoughts, a deadly recipe.

I’m always remembering one of my ‘rock bottom’ moments in life.

So many sleepless nights under the Higgins Street Bridge in Missoula, Montana. Waiting for the weeks to go by. Waiting for the next fishing season to make money. I remember the feelings of shame and guilt. Hiding my face from the crowds of people in the small city. I was a man with a six figure income, yet homeless and living under a bridge. How the fuck did that happen?

It took several years and many more ‘rock bottom’ moments for me to accept that I needed the help of a treatment center.

I had imprisoned myself in a hell so heinous I never thought I would see a way out. So many people- too many- are familiar with the life I now recollect. I was the only one who held the key to my salvation.

At first, treatment was a scary place. I was scared of being sober. I knew exactly why. I had been loaded for so long, the thought of being sober scared the shit out of me. Everything in my body told me not to go. Still, I walked through the doors knowing I had to change.

Over the course of a month, the tools to live a happy life free of drugs and alcohol were put in front of me. It was up to me to pick them up and begin practicing. I was learning to live. Soon, I began to love myself in a way that I never had before.

It's not as simple as removing all mind altering substances. My problems are much more complicated than that. My recovery is about smoothing the sharp edges and mending the broken pieces in my mind, body and soul. I continue this journey of self exploration each day with one mission; to be a better man than I was yesterday. The support system I’ve developed is genuine and stretches across the country. Life is exactly what people said it would be; it’s just better being sober.


I’ve used honesty, acceptance, humility, and open mindedness to completely change my life. Things that are free and available to anyone. Today, I’m impressed by morals, values, and how you treat other people. I think back to the time in life when I was impressed by looks, money, status and fame. I was spiritually sick.

Today, I have a developing relationship with my daughter, loving relationships with family, amazing friends, a great job. Everything that I hold close to my heart are things that I pushed away in active addiction. Living in recovery provides everything addiction promised. It’s not all good days. Shit happens, but I get through it.

Albert Einstein defined ‘insanity’ as doing the same thing and expecting different results. I had to do something else to free myself. Only I could change myself.

I asked myself one simple question before committing to being a sober individual.

“What negative consequence will come from being sober?”

That was all the convincing I needed.

To be continued...