Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Book Spotlight: The Man Overboard by Darryl Hagar
The Man Overboard is the dramatic story of Darryl Hagar, a Merchant Marine Officer who within his life of discipline and order led a secret, clandestine existence of alcoholism, drug abuse, chaos, and crime. In The Man Overboard, Darryl retells his gripping personal account of his struggle to reclaim control of his life and begin the journey toward recovery from a lifestyle no one even knew existed.
Read an excerpt!
My son continues to play a major role in my ongoing recovery by giving my life greater purpose. Darryl has been the one constant in my sobriety, because no matter what, he deserves a sober dad. My father’s suicide taught me how vital good parenting is and how I need to be there for my son. When I’m around Darryl, I understand just how pure life can be and how easily I could have missed the opportunity to watch him grow up. Being around for him has been worth every second.
When Jen and I decided to have a child, I hoped being a father would save my life. Before then, we were both out of control. In motherhood, Jen immediately became more responsible. My problems were more deeply rooted, and my toxic body and mind required more years of desperate living before I finally surrendered.
One time I was at a twelve-step meeting where a man with twenty-five years of sobriety talked about how in the first thousand days, a person is still a newcomer. It takes about that long for a person’s mind and body to fully comprehend sobriety, and it’s normal for newcomers to be full of mixed up emotions. At eighteen months sober, I sometimes felt like a brand new baby and at others like a wily veteran.
It took me six years of being a drunken daddy and eighteen months as a sober one to realize that children are truly our most precious gifts from God. My son and I spend enormous amounts of time together. While I’m with him, I sometimes see myself as a loving, beautiful man; at other times, I’m a chaotic madman with a messed-up brain. The big difference is that I now recognize my shortcomings. I’m learning to be the man and father God wants me to be.
One day it was my turn to take Darryl to see his asthma doctor. I picked him up at school with his usual snack of cookies and juice.
“Hi, Daddy, what are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m here to take you to the doctor, remember?”
“What are they gonna do?”
“You’re worrying about taking a shot, aren’t you? It’s just a checkup. They’ll check your breathing. No shots, bud.”
We arrived a few minutes early, so we sat in the car while I helped him with his math homework. It was a beautiful October day, unseasonably warm with the leaves bursting with color. I was with my seven-year-old son being a responsible, sober dad. Life was good. I thanked God I had made it that far.
Inside, the office was packed with kids. A nurse called us into an examination room. The doctor came in and asked a few questions about Darryl’s breathing and medication and listened to his lungs. I noticed a sign that said something about “flu shots,” and suddenly realized why the place was so busy.
Before I could ask about it, the doctor said, “His lungs sound good. We’ll test his breathing. Also, I’d like him to take a flu shot while he’s here.”
Darryl heard the word “shot” and looked me squarely in the eyes.
“You said I wasn’t taking a shot today, Daddy!” The tears started to come.
“I know, honey. Daddy didn’t know they were giving flu shots today. You need one because of your asthma.”
He put his arms around me and cried. I was deeply touched; somebody in this world needed me to protect him, to tell him it was going to be all right. Somehow, he knew I would. I almost cried with him. It was another moment when I realized God was showing me something important.
Darryl Hagar grew up in mid coast Maine with his mother, father, three brothers, and sister.
He is a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy spending four years of rigorous training and education, earning a Bachelor of Nautical Science degree. Additionally, he holds a United States Coast Guard Chief Mate License, unlimited tonnage, any oceans.
After 20 years of sailing, carrying millions and millions of barrels of petroleum around the world, Darryl finally left the industry and got sober in May of 2005.
He currently resides in Portland, Maine raising his eight-year-old son and travels to colleges, jails, prisons, and other large groups throughout the country, speaking about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. He shares his dramatic stories, and inspired message about what he does to stay sober and clean and serves as a shining example of how people with severe drug addiction and alcoholism can overcome their demons and lead a happy and fulfilling life.
To learn more about Darryl Hagar or his story, visit www.themanoverboard.com.