At the age of fifty seven and after seven years in recovery with the help of the Bill W Club, Social Ground Force and Alcoholics Anonymous, I have discovered a completely different life style with many more friendships, which without whose help and assistance my life would have been very different.
I came from a poor background and my family were not educated and had no money. I was the eldest of four brothers and we lived in the country where there was very little alcohol in our lives as children. However my father was violent towards us and my mother.
I left school at fourteen and entered the building trade and my first job was building hay sheds for local farmers and it was here that I got a hernia which was very painful.
I started drinking at seventeen years of age because I would have been isolated from the lads if I did not go to the pub with them. The driver drank as well (we all drank) and from there I drifted into a pub environment which I never wanted to be in.
My attitude towards people soon changed and I became an unlikeable character. I was ignorant and aggression would become part of my life so looking back on it I was not a nice person at all thanks to alcohol.
Life was difficult, yet at the age of twenty three I fell madly in love with this wonderful girl and we had three children. Life was good but it had it’s problems too.
I thought I was a good father, yet when I came in from the pub the children would side with their mother against me. Obviously I was not as good as I thought I was. I loved my wife and children but alcohol created great gaps in our relationships.
For twenty six years after our marriage I drank and I really do not know were the years went. I don’t know how I got to the stage that I was at and it was a lonely life for me because I lost the people I loved the most in life.
It was heart breaking and nothing seemed to work for me. I could not see that all my problems came from the bottle and I ended up having many skirmishes with the law. All of this was against my upbringing and completely out of character.
In 2008, at the age of fifty, I made the decision that my life must change. I was not getting any younger and I was sick of the lifestyle I was leading, sick of hangovers and sick of going to pubs and clubs seeking company to take away the loneliness.
On January 1st 2009 I drifted into the Bill W Club in Sligo and shortly before this I had a run-in with a local pub landlord. He barred me (again) and it was just another day in the life of a troubled drinker.
I was warmly welcomed at the Bill W Club and given, tea, food and plenty of conversation. I spent all day and well into the night there and that was the beginning of my recovery. I have not picked up a drink since.
I was taken to AA meetings and introduced to other members and shown a different way of life, I never knew you could live without booze and I had forgotten how life could be without alcohol.
These past few years have been pleasant although it has not always been easy. Like most people I have had my ups and downs but I have never lifted a drink. Even when I moved house just around Christmas week, the members gave me a hand to move my belongings and they organised a van and the job was done.
I have recently been diagnosed with cancer and it was a shock to say the least. I had given up alcohol, stopped smoking, gave up gambling and then Bang! I was torpedoed with this news and it was not easy to swallow.
Now I have to take medication every day just to survive but I am at peace with myself and with life. Alcohol is never on my mind today and I am free.
I was told at the very start by the club that if I did not pick up the first drink it was impossible to get drunk. This was emphasised at meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and I can testify that is true.
I was also told that alcoholism is a disease of the mind and body and an illness which is twofold in nature; a physical allergy to the substance & and a mental obsession of the mind. After being diagnosed with cancer I now know what a disease is.
I am writing this testimony today for the people coming after me. I know that alcohol will not cure my cancer problems and that it will only inflame my emotional pain. However I am looking forward to a long and happy future one day at a time.
Enjoy your gift of life and do not take it for granted. As human beings we do not need mind altering substances to be sociable and happiness is already inside you. Good luck.