The Alcoholic butcher who has been sober for 25 years (with a few slips along the way)
I walked into the rooms of AA in Caringbah Sydney on
Thursday 27 August 1987
as drunk as a skunk but there were only three people there. A Barrister (who went on to become Judge), a car salesman (who went on to manage City Ford Sydney) and the owner of a backhoe hire business (from
who died a millionaire).
I had a drinking career that spanned over 25 years and had been around AA for the last 14 years, so I knew that this motley crew could not help me in anyway and headed for the door. They called me back and each one in turn told me his story and I could relate to each of them and told them mine when they asked me.
I had been hospitalized 49 times (the last time December1986) and been to prison on 7 occasions ( all drink related) and lost count of the car crashes but it was over 40 serious ones wriing off the car, one which cost me the life of my beautiful young wife and baby daughter. As for arrests again it runs well into double figures( I used to ary a small bag of salt to put on my breakfast in the police cells, rather than consider stopping drinking) talk about insanity. I was banned from driving in every country I had lived, so I knew that I had a drink problem.
Drink had taken me to places I didn’t want to be with people I didn’t want to be with. Today I still find it hard to forgive those who took advantage of my situation to gratify their own inadequacies. There are still a couple of them around in the cold store business in
My mentor Hugh Tunney died last year, at the end of the day my boozing drove a massive wedge between us, Hugh had memories of his alcoholic father and brother and no man could have done more for me to get me off the booze.
At one point Hugh came up with the idea of my running the meat plants in the week, then he would lock me away in a hotel suite (where I could do no damage) at weekends to drink all I wanted then return to the meat plant on Monday. However I didn’t think I had a problem and just could not imagine a day without a drink.
My wife and Hugh got two mmbers of AA to visit my home in Enniskillen as far back as 1974.
George Whitticker told me in Alice Springs in 1986, that if I could stay sober for just the one season and run the Alice Springs $12 million abattoir, he would build me a meat works of my own anywhere I wanted in the world. . However I didn’t think I had a problem and stayed sober 3 days.
No one including myself could imagine Bill Hayes without a drink in his hand. I watched many of my inferiors go on the bigger and better things over the years and I had forgotten more about the meat industry than they had ever learned.
I have had people say to me that they went to their first AA meeting and never had the desire to pick up a drink again, that was not the case for me. It was people at AA who tried to force their opinions on me that kept me drinking for the last 13 years of my drinking career. I learned at meetings how to hide booze and all the tricks of the cunning devious alcoholic.
Tell me to go left and I will go right.
My sobriety came from attraction and seeing things in people that I wanted for myself. I had a few stumbles along the way the last one being 10 years ago next October. I compare this with a child learning to walk or ride a bicycle, you need to stumble and fall to value what you have achieved. .
For me it made my sobriety stronger as I know that I have nothing to go back too if I drink again. I do not have to wonder what it would be like to have just one drink, I have been back and taken a look and there is nothing there for me. The length of sobriety means nothing its the quality of life.
The miracle for me is not that I don’t drink but the fact I don’t want to drink, If I wanted to drink I would be at it. If I had a choice between being miserable and sober or miserable and drunk I would chose drink.Today just for today I could sleep in a room full of booze and it would not trouble me.
I recall the National Hunt jockey, Bobby Beasley getting sober and writing a book called “Second Start”, Fred Winter wrote the forward. With the proceeds of the book Bobby went back on the bottle and died a drunk.
If my little story can help just one struggling alcoholic then my life has not been in vain. I cut my wrists and my own throat (and I am a good butcher) and cannot begin to describe how desperate one feels when you try to take your own life, as I did on three occasions.
Today and just for today, I am everything in life I always wanted to be and feel so very grateful to those people who helped me. I am now going to take my 7 year old baby daughter out on her bicycle so she can ride solo. I have been looking forward to this all week and this is “Getting my priorities right”.
An alcoholic priest told me at the Rutland Centre Dublin in 1979, if I put down the drink I would get everything back that I had lost with a bonus. In my arrogance and ignorance I thought he meant big house and big meat plant and big car, how wrong I was.
My name is William Hayes and I am an alcoholic something I am neither proud of or ashamed of, its just a fact of life. I go to AA a couple of times a week and the only thing I cannot do is drink successfully, everything else is open season.
27 August 2012
I have been sober 25 years, thanks to the people at
AA, which is equal to my drinking career which lasted 25 years.
I recall being at a meeting in Paris and someone said “I heard the birds singing this morning”. Still being arrogant and judgemental I thought what a load of twaddle. On my way home I thought when was the last time I listened for the birds in the morning and couldn’t remember.
I heard the birds singing this morning.
Regrets, yes of course, especially to those I hurt along the way and my elder children in particular. My darling mother who is 93 years old is the only person on this earth who never gave up hope on me, even when I had lost all hope, for the last 25 years she has had her son back.
Advice, I have none and can only tell my story, what it was like, what happened and what its like today and if I can get sober anyone can. If drink has cost you more than money, them maybe you have a problem.
It cost me wives, children, homes business’s and in the end the last bit of self respect I had left. Not much bloody fun in that.
“I don’t care who knows I am an alcoholic as long as I never forget it as I am only one drink away from being a drunk again
”, Betty Ford
I cannot change yesterday with all its guilt and sorrow, nor can I change tomorrow for it may never come, I can change today for this the only thing I can really be sure of.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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