A great guy I knew in college lived by the motto, Everything in Moderation. Curiously, he seemed to mention this to me quite a bit. He likely knew about the addiction I’d developed at the time; it nearly did me in. Mine was an odd sort of obsession but none-the-less powerful. It completely striped away what little self-esteem I had, and led me to some extremely dark and lonely places. All these years later, I joke at times, saying that coffee is my only addiction. (Lots of people seem to say that these days.) The truth is that many of us live in jeopardy of developing obsessions, cravings, and life-threatening addictions, and there’s nothing funny about it.
This week marks Tyrone Patrick Fahey’s tenth anniversary of sobriety. Although he’s been healthy for a decade now, Tyrone was not as fortunate as some in fighting the aberration called addiction. Life put him on a long, destructive journey that none of us would ever wish to take. He tried over 100 times to get off his own personal train of destruction. He failed and failed and failed and failed. But he did not give up. Now Tyrone is free and can celebrate the gifts that come with such a convoluted path. He hopes to make a difference by sharing the methodology he developed to halt his train of alcoholic misery and settle into a healthy, happy existence. He chronicles his unique and courageous story in One Man’s Take on Beating Alcoholism.
According to Tyrone (who lives in Australia), 48 people die on US roads daily due to drunk driving. He points out that if the US were losing troops abroad at that rate, there would be a national uproar demanding action. Tyrone questions what has happened to us a whole. “Where are our priorities?” he asks. Have we gone soft on the issue of alcoholism now that nearly every US college campus seems to be a drunken party where it’s actually cool to suck alcohol out of a stranger’s germ-infested belly button while everyone cheers? Trust me, I’m certainly no party pooper but I ultimately decided that my wise college friend got it right. You decide.
Missed opportunities, loss of girlfriend/fiance, frequent bar room brawls, loss of respect of others, car accidents, loss of driving license, missing work, associating with dark characters often found in Pubs across Australia and the manipulation tactics employed by these predatory criminals. At the end of the day, I found myself alone, unhappy, broke, unemployed, hungry, and without abode. Suicide kept making its way onto my mental list of options.
You’ve said that it took you at least 100 false starts to overcome alcoholism. Tell us what finally brought success. Was it a particular program, a particular mindset, both, etc.?
Since I’d spent years in denial, my first step was to admit that I was an alcoholic. Secondly, I realized that I had to take responsibility. I had to take control of my mind and disable the awful thoughts of continued drinking. Verbalization, visualization, prayer, and belief in a better life (as described in detail in my book) lifted me out the quagmire. This was accompanied by two major discoveries. One was that I actually chose to be an alcoholic prior to my birth in order to experience the process of overcoming the disease, which allowed for personal development and spiritual growth not otherwise available to a nonalcoholic. The second revelation was that we are Spiritual Beings having a Human experience, and not the other way around. This provided me with an overview or perspective that has given me a greater universal understanding and clarity. The result has been an ability to handle life and its occasional woes with a lot more ease.
Many of us struggle over how to embrace our past mistakes and struggles. How have you learned to accept yourself, and blend the negatives with the positives in such a way that enables you to be proud of who you are and have hope for the future?
Yes, I have accepted and lovingly embraced my cloudy past as it has helped form the person I am today. Sometimes in order to find out what you want to be, you have to find out what you don’t want to be. I can’t change the past, but without alcohol I can steer and direct my life as opposed to life dictating terms to me. I’m not too sure if pride is a word I wish to use here, but I know what you’re getting at. I think I’m more amazed at the resilience of the Human Spirit over adversity more than anything else. When the Spirit is acknowledged and activated, there are no mountains that can’t be conquered!
Alcoholism is one of the most widely discussed addictions. Do you think there are misconceptions regarding alcohol abuse? Does everything have the right idea about what causes it, how it begins, etc.?
Absolutely! Most people think that an alcoholic is the old man who lives under the bridge, wearing a heavy overcoat with a bottle of cheap cherry in his hand. In reality, he’s also a Judge, a Police Officer, the Postman, your neighbor, your brother and sisters. Most people think that it’s luck of the draw genetically if we are born into an alcoholic family. This often gives one the opportunity to blame others for their alcoholism. my book includes a self test. Many people find it disturbing when they realize that they fit the profile of an alcoholic. They are usually horrified and indignant. A mirror has been held up and they don’t like what they see. I encounter this reaction quite a bit but it can be the beginning of change if one can accept this disease and move out of denial. These aren’t the people that I’m looking to assist. These are people that are happy to continue in their ways but got ambushed in the cross-fire of a quiz! Messages to ‘wake up” arrive in many forms but it falls back to the individual to run with it or not. As always, it has to be an individual decision to seek change. It’s tough to change your life from a practicing alcoholic to a nonpracticing alcoholic but I think it’s even harder to maintain that awful lifestyle of continuing self degradation and misery.
Aberration Nation is all about getting past our misconceptions about what is normal. Was there a time in your life when you felt that normal was beyond your reach? How do you feel about that concept now?
I know exactly what you mean Penelope! As I was descending the the slippery greasy pole of alcoholism, I noticed that my bunch of keys (house, car, work, etc.) had diminished to none! This was reflective of how I was viewed as unreliable and irresponsible by those around me. I was locked out of the normalcy of life. I couldn’t be trusted with a simple set of keys!
I just counted sixteen keys on my bunch now …. thank God!
You’ve developed ways to reach out to others as a result of your experience. Can you tell us about that and how it has helped heal your own life?
I now believe that the best way to help re-enforce one’s ongoing war against alcoholism is to help those other with the disease. My book was written primarily for those who are currently caught in the jaws of alcoholism. It speaks to how to best beat it off for once and all. The book gives a simple yet highly effective method in overcoming the disease. It has also been written for those who are already walking down the road to recovery with the aim to further boost their resolve. It also gives nonalcoholics insight into the mind of the alcoholic. Alcoholic Army is an online community that serves as an extension of the book. It’s a site where members can anonymously share stories of hope, help and humor which is supported by a unique promotion system based on the amount of months off the booze (i.e 1 month is a Lance Corporal through to 100 months for a General.) The concepts of discipline, solidarity and sense of belonging allow the Troopers to empower themselves as they traverse along the road of recovery. A monthly news letter goes out as well. I’ve also created this for self serving reasons in that it helps keep my resolve at an optimum level. There are back stops that I’ve included in the program because I’ve known many people who resumed drinking after many years of abstinence only to succumb to a horrible end. I would rather die right here and now than resume that lifestyle. The thought of that lifestyle turns my stomach but I’ve seen some great souls falter and refuse to be counted in their numbers. Eternal vigilance IS the price of freedom here.
I’ve developed a strong belief that moderation in just about everything is a good way to stay healthy. At least in the US, drinking seems to be glorified by college students more than ever these days. Do you share the fear that this could lead to increased alcoholism down the road, or do you think what’s happening is nothing new?
One person is killed every 30 minutes on US roads due to a drunk driver. If the US Military was losing a soldier, sailor, air-man or marine every half an hour, there would be a national uproar demanding action! That’s like losing a platoon of soldiers every day! Yet the carnage on the roads continues. What kind of world are we leaving behind for our kids and their kids? Will we wake up in time? The world looks to the US to lead the way. Now would be a good time to get tougher on drink driving as the figures indicate that the numbers are continuing to increase. Last year 30,000,000–yes 30 million–people in the US took to the road while over the legal alcohol limit
That is a staggering figure!
The twists and turns of life don’t always allow us to follow a straight and narrow path to fulfillment. Do you feel that the tough road your life took was in some way necessary to bring you to this point? In other words, do you ultimately see value in the struggle that seemed inevitable?
100% Penelope! The old saying that What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger springs to mind here. Fortunately, I’m now in a position to say that I’m truly grateful for the tough but profound life changing experience I’ve lived through. It’s been worth the struggle but my greatest hope is that it hasn’t all been for nothing. I hope that others can learn from my experiences.
If you could choose a motto for your life, what would that be?
Death before dishonor!