A former Irish League footballer has opened up about his debilitating battle with alcoholism, which nearly cost him his life.
West Belfast man Jody Lynch has now been two years sober and is enjoying every minute of being a father to his children and giving back to the community he loves. Talking about what he had to go through before he hit rock bottom, Jody hopes his honesty will help others.
As Addiction Awareness Weeks draw to a close, Jody’s story was shared by Sports Mental Health NI, an organization that promotes health and wellness through sports. A SPORTS spokesperson said they hoped “Jody’s moving account of her struggles demonstrates the dangers of alcohol but also proves that recovery is possible although very difficult”.
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Jody said: “At school I was a messer, I was always in trouble and I wasn’t brought up to be that person. I come from a good family. My mother, who I love a lot, had a nervous breakdown in 1999 and I was only young.
“My dad had to work away and in my early teens I found I put on a brave face, a valet the boy, the center of attention. I always had to joke around and throw when inside I I was a real fearful little boy. Afraid of everything and I always thought I wasn’t good enough for anything.
“My group of friends, I always felt like I didn’t belong. I felt like I was different in the sense that they had families and their home life was perfect.”
While playing at Cliftonville Football Club, Jody says as a young player he was always cheerful and always happy. He remembers Tommy Breslin telling him they needed people like him at the club.
“It was because of my character and my craic,” Jody added.
“I always had a brave face, but they didn’t know that inside I was a broken and messy person. I would have been dead in training and I could have stood up, but as soon as practice was over I would have been dropped off at Suffolk Road and pretended to enter the estate, but would have gone straight to the bar.”
Jody says he would have gone for three to four days of “benders” which quickly turned into a week or two. He went to the bar first thing in the morning, home for a few hours of sleep and back.
It was the Belfast man’s routine that continued. One day, he remembers sitting on the end of his bed, crying while looking at a picture of his children.
“I remember thinking they were better off without me, which I was doing to them.
“It was me who wasn’t there and saw them. It killed me and I had to drink, I thought there was no way out and the kids would be better off with it. me dead.
“It was that, or go get help. From there I went to Sister Consilio in 2018 on May 24 for three months without contact with the outside world.
“I knew I was doing the right thing. Three months out was really tough, but the time I spent drinking, three months, was nothing.
“In August I was going back and forth with my family and doing my AA meetings, the things that were suggested. But I wasn’t ready to quit drinking.
“It was everyone’s fault except mine. I fell back into [contact with] associates with whom I would have drunk heavily, but not drunk, trying to prove myself.
“That will never happen. I would have been drinking for months and then quitting.
“My straw was that I was drinking and falling into a blackout. I remember some parts, but it was the worst thing I have ever experienced.
“People can laugh and joke about going out for a drink and partying, but when you’re an alcoholic and you drink beyond a night, then you have to take a look at what it does to you. .
“It took everything from me. It almost killed me, I was on my deathbed.
“When I got out of the hospital I didn’t look back and I’m now two years sober and in the best place I’ve ever been in my life. I’m not saying every day is easy , I still have my problems, but what I can do now is be a father.
“My kids see their dad get up and go to work in the morning. I’m able to do their homework and take them to the parks and do all those things.”
Anyone who needs to talk to someone about an alcohol addiction can call Alcoholics Anonymous on 028 9035 1222.
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