Alcoholism – Feherty, Watson and me

I am an alcoholic, yet I am approaching the twelfth anniversary of my last drink. I bring this up today as I learned in an interview yesterday that David Feherty, a retired golfer, golf announcer and truly comical person, is also an alcoholic, along with some other demons he has to manage.

Several things about Feherty’s interview with Real Sports host Bryant Gumbel are worth noting. First, he credits his second wife for her tough love – after a final straw, she said you have 30 days to get clean or I am gone.

He also credits Tom Watson, one of golf’s greatest players, whose own career was almost derailed by alcoholism. As Feherty was interviewing Watson, the latter asked Feherty if he was alright. Feherty said he was not, but asked how could he tell? Watson said “I saw it in your eyes.” He then answered Feherty’s question of what did he see? Watson said bluntly, “I saw myself.”

Watson invited Feherty to his home and helped him through managing his demons. Feherty was sober for ten years, but fell off the wagon when his son took his own life after fighting a losing battle with the same demons his father faced. It should be noted Feherty’s alcoholism masked that he was clinically depressed and bipolar. His son inherited the problems. After renewing the fight, Feherty has returned to being sober.

Alcoholism or any addiction are tough enemies. You never fully defeat them. You put a lid on them, but they still simmer on the back of the stove. Over time, the heat is turned down, but it never is fully extinguished. In my case, I still want to have a drink, but it is a fainter flame today.

The key lesson I learned from a colleague, whose husband fought alcoholism, is to say this mantra – I am not going to drink today. This is a key reason recovering alcoholics know how many days they have been sober. The other piece of advice is to find a substitute for the alcohol. It may be green tea, fruit, fruit juice, near-beer, tonic or soda water or a piece of candy. Now, for me, it is hot tea and all kinds of fruit, dried or fresh.

Life is hard. It is not uncommon for some people to use some form of anesthetic to sand the edges off difficulty. If you think you may have a problem, you do. Be honest with yourself, first, but be honest with your spouse or partner and your doctor. Most addicts lie to all of the above.

People ask me what was my trigger to change? Another colleague’s wife, who was as vivacious and funny as David Feherty, died from complications due to alcoholism. She was only 59, one year less than I am today. I was a train wreck waiting to happen. So, I got off the train. It was and still is hard. But, remember the mantra, I am not going to drink today. Then, don’t and say it again tomorrow.

28 thoughts on “Alcoholism – Feherty, Watson and me

  1. Addiction is hard , hats off to you Keith, my thoughts are with you in conquering that demon. My best friend was an alcoholic it finally got the better of him and he passed away from complications 3 months past his fiftieth birthday. It is a killer. Thank you for this courageous post, you’re a strong man.

    • Thanks Susan. There is always a reason to drink, it seems. Tenacious may be too strong a word, but it does take a persistent regimen to improve one’s resistance. Best regards, Keith

  2. You are a good man, Keith, and who knows how many people might find inspiration in the story you shared. You’re a strong man, too, for I know and have known far too many people who were addicted to alcohol and didn’t find their way out. You did. 👍👍

    • Thanks Jill. You are too kind. It seems this addiction is too familiar to everyone. Both of our fathers had the curse. Fortunately, they both stopped, but it may have done harm to their bodies long term before they ceased drinking. Keith

  3. I have just read your post Keith and I salute you as a true Man. A true Man will make mistakes, will stumble, will fall, but will also get up again and strive on. God Bless you Keith, a true hero.

  4. I admire and honor you for how open and honest you are talking about the addiction. I have never been addicted to something (at least nothing like alcohol, drugs, nicotine, …) So, I can only imagine how hard it is to stick with the healthy path and not fall back in a weak moment. It is so important what you are sharing here and I am sure it motivates and supports others in their weak moments and to choose the path or keep it up!

    • Erika, many thanks. Your encouragement is much appreciated. I was struck by many things in this interview. The key is alcoholics cannot manage their drinking; they must manage the temptation to drinking. Best regards, Keith

  5. I don’t have much experience with alcoholism but my husband comes from a family of addicts so I’ve seen the destruction it can cause (including two suicides). Fortunately, most (hopefully all) are now drug- and alcohol-free. Those in his family who don’t have a problem with addiction (my husband, his sister, and his mother) are none-the-less very cautious and careful. Your honesty about your personal struggles not only serves you well, but is an inspiration to others.

    • Janis, knowing you may have a gene that makes you susceptible or just seeing the damage can keep you on a better path forward. Having the experience does allow open dialogue with the kids. Best regards, Keith

    • Two friends of mine also gave up via suicide, and of course there are others who are in denial and continue — and others like you (Keith) who reach down and find strength to reclaim a healthy life. I’ve always admired your honesty, and by sharing your story, you’re a beacon of light to others.

      • Lisa, many thanks. The depression that may lead to alcoholism (or addiction) causes even greater challenges. I am sorry you lost two friends to the disease. A great book on addictive or bad habits is called “Habit,” by Charles DuHigg. His thesis is finding the trigger for the habit, then substituting a better habit. I think with depression, people need get help, as it is not just a habit or craving. Keith

      • I ‘dodge’ low blood sugar by avoiding sweets unless they’re worth the effort. I also learned that a cervesa was an almost-instant fix for the low-blood sugar shakes. I had also heard/read that many alcoholics had low blood sugar problems, so I never use the easy option of a beer to ease those jitters. I choose nutrition, which takes longer until all levels out – but so empowering to know that the wrong choice can lead to even-greater problems.

        I was also told, ‘that’s why many people on the wagon switch to coca cola – for the
        low blood sugar blues.’

        So I’m curious – did you /do you have low-blood sugar problems? (I’m in the cloud forest so will have internet for a few days – yay!)

      • Lisa, I have never been told of low sugar. The substitutes need to guard against weight gain. So, portion control is essential. The dried fruit – apricots, peaches, craisins or dates – are a great quick snack.

        Keith

      • I thought of that today when my friend served a special item she had saved for me; sort of a winter squash cooked with honey, and it was so sweet it was difficult for me to eat – since i avoid sweets most of the time. I thought of what I had written to you, and once I weaned myself off of sugar/sweets, I feel so much better – and now when i eat sweets without first eating protein, i am hungry – really hungry about half an hour later.. that’s from the extra injection of insulin my body sends for the sugar, then when the sugar is gone, the levels drop, i get the shakes, cannot think well, am grumpy, etc. And yes, long ago before I connected the dots, a cervesa was the easiest fix. I can see how people could become dependent on that to relieve the blood sugar shakes, and later not realize that the shakes were due to the need for the ‘easy fix’ of alcohol.

        My friends who died had both gotten themselves into financial trouble, mainly from neglecting their businesses and drinking more than working. One had some serious other issues, but his death was a huge shock to all who loved him – and there were many.

        Thank you again for addressing problems that touch us all, and for being a spokesperson for those treading difficult waters.

        (Can you tell that I am in the village, staying in a friend’s hostal, and catching up slowly poco a poco when taking cyber breaks!)

      • Lisa, I love when you have time to opine. You add good color to anyone’s comment section. Thanks for your words of encouragement. Keith

  6. Note to Readers: The support for this and previous posts on alcoholism has been wonderful and greatly appreciated. I wanted to add a postscript to provide another impetus for change. Since money is finite, one path forward for drinkers is to calculate how much they spend on alcohol. Between Scotch and wine, I tallied about US$6,000 a year. This is a dizzying amount, so altering your lifestyle can do even more than making you healthy. It will save you money.

  7. Pingback: Daily Kind Quote – Share Your Light

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