Kieran Kelly


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Paddy Rafter author

Paddy Rafter

My Story

My name is Paddy Rafter. I am a singer, a musician, a poet, a painter, aformer college lecturer, a race horse trainer ,a husband, a father ,a brother, a grandfather and friend. I have lived a very difficult but also a very blessed life. I have lived a life of addiction and trauma from a very young age. This has led me to some very dark places in which I have damaged myself and have also damaged and hurt the lives of all those close to me.

Therefore I realised that I was Paddy Rafter, a drunk, an addict, an unreliable and self centred person. I was a shame and guilt ridden failure. I was beyond redemption and hope and cast from the world. I was invalid.

On my journey of return I discovered that I was none of the descriptors named above. The day I discovered that I was Me was the day I started to become well. Everything else was just an attachment.

This is also a story of trauma and this story started at a very early age.

In order that you can initially identify, I will lay out the simple bare facts in this chapter. This is therefore, how it was, what happened, and what arose from these series of events.

I had an idyllic early childhood but in my early teens I was sent to live in the countryside with my Grandparents. I had periodically lived with my grandparents since I was about seven or eight, but then went to live with them permanently. I found this very lonely, very difficult. I felt a great sense of abandonment and I became very traumatised and insecure. I was not liked or accepted in my Grandparents house and most of my relatives really disliked me because of who I was. I was the boy who would someday inherit the farm.

Paddy Rafter Horse Trainer

Added to this was the fact that I struggled with school and found it very difficult. I never felt accepted even though I had been very good both academically and in sports until I reached secondary (high) school. I experienced a lot of beatings from teachers. I had a lot of bullying from fellow students, until I learned to fight back. I had to walk eight miles a day to school. I was constantly laughed at and ridiculed as I had ill fitting dirty clothes and poor hygiene. This contributed to an increasingly poor attendance record.

I had my first nervous breakdown at the age of ten, this was the culmination of being made to stand by the wall ( a form of punishment) for three months all day every day and I subsequently collapsed in the school yard. As a consequence I did not attend school for the next 6 months and I became very unwell. During that period my family doctor would attend to me in my home three times a week. Also, during this period my parents arranged that the local priest would also come visit me twice a week.

Musician Paddy Rafter

The unintended consequence of this was that I was placed in a very hostile environment where I felt totally alone, abandoned and rejected, but it was nobody’s fault, they were just unaware. An unintended additional consequence was that my constant companions were fear and hunger and these never left me. This was my reality for a long time after that. All of my teenage years were very troubled and traumatic. I had no sense of self worth or value and this was the way I continued to feel about myself.

When I went away to college, suddenly a whole new vista opened up and I could do a lot of the things I could not do before. However the trauma and pain came with me and I found it very difficult to integrate and mix with people. I then discovered that a good self-medication of alcohol really helped. It helped for two reasons: firstly it helped me to feel more confident in myself, and at the same time it took away the pain, the suffering and the trauma for a little while at least. It worked like a wonder drug.

For a little while, a few years, everything was simply wonderful. I did really well in college, played in bands, studied music and went out having fun every night of the week. Alcohol was my constant companion and it never let me down.

I got married at a young age having completed college. At the same time I was studying music with a very realistic opportunity of becoming a very successful international operatic tenor. Unfortunately instead of making progress I regressed. The pain and the trauma had not gone away but had merely hidden out of sight. Then as more and more responsibility was asked of me and as more demands were placed upon me in my professional career, I resorted more and more to alcohol to prop up my false sense of self and my illusions. Having a wife and young children and an increasingly demanding career on a number of fronts caused me to be unable to deal with the reality of my situation. Instead I became more and more unwell and more and more deluded. Because of my inability to cope, and increasingly unable to think for myself, I became consumed by, and totally under the control of alcohol. This led me to hurt myself and hurt everybody else close and important to me. Addiction led me to do terrible things, stupid things and eventually took everything I had away from me. I did not achieve anything like the heights I was capable of nor could I maintain my close loving relationships in a real and meaningful way. Instead I hurt everybody close to me, and unintentionally and unaware , I sprinkled hurt the way others sprinkle confetti at a wedding. I became even more unstable and even more addicted and powerless to do anything about it.

paddy rafter family

I had my first incarceration in a mental hospital at this point. It was one of very many incarcerations I was to have in mental hospitals but they really didn’t work for me. If anything I became more and more traumatised and stigmatised. The one positive thing that came from all this was the patients I met. Some were mad, some were sad, some were bad and some were broken, but they were all real and devoid of conceit or arrogance.

Some of the kindest people I ever met were patients in these hospitals. No matter how I tried I couldn’t stop and I couldn’t change. I was in the midst of a cycle of unrelenting and repetitive misery. In the midst of terrible pain, suffering and hopelessness, with suicide a constant companion, all that ever worked for me was to medicate myself out of it, to go into fantasy and unreality. I needed to get away from the world which I found impossible to live in.

Eventually I found a way to stop, through a rigorous course of self-actions and self control. I did this through a mixture of AA, counselling, AA friends, but ultimately through white knuckled abstinence and diversion into other things.


paddy rafter addiction


I spent the next twenty years singing, both in opera and in concert, painting, and working as a racehorse trainer. I became a successful college lecturer. I was a husband and a father as best I could be and I really tried my best. I was everything and nothing . I was not capable of fully immersing myself in any of these facets of my life, because I could not give myself to anything in a full way. I spent my time diverting my attention from myself and struggling to keep my addiction at bay. It was not my fault even though I thought that it was, so I blamed myself consistently over my entire life. I had a great sense of guilt, recrimination, shame and self-sabotage, which eventually led me back to addiction which was much worse the second time around.

Once again I hurt everybody around me, my wife, my children, my friends and I almost lost everything including my life. I spent years in hell, each day worse than the day before. In the midst of this when I was in intensive care in hospital I said to myself there must be another way, I cannot go on like this anymore. It is either I will die or I will find another way to live.

I have since devoted all my time to try to learn to live life and live a better life, to have a life that befits a human being. To repair the damage I have caused to others, to repair the damage that I have caused to myself. In the mix of all of this I have discovered a way to live, a way to be that allows us all to be free and happy.

The whole purpose of this book and The 48 Acts it contains is to help all to live a life in peace and harmony, free from addictions.
Through the suffering and pain I have endured I have learned much. I have learned to die to my old life, in order to live a new life. If I can help you by collating and disseminating these new ideas in this form, then it will have been all worth it . This book is relevant and has meaning to just about anybody in society. As can be seen from the previous chapter, our society is struggling in a way it has never struggled before. We as individuals are struggling in a way we have never done before.

We are all on a continuum. On one end of this continuum are the people whose lives are greatly impacted by addiction, anxiety, obesity, depression, coercive controlling relationships, and then on the other end of the same continuum are the people who feel left out, who cannot understand why they are so unhappy, even though they appear to have everything. If you feel you are in a rut, if you feel a failure, if you feel disappointed in that you have not achieved your potential or life has been unkind to you, you are not alone. If you feel that you are not who you wanted to be, if you feel unloved or unloving, dissatisfied and cynical and if you feel that you are less than you hoped that you would be, then this book is for you. But this is for all of us, this book and the ideas it contains. We are all there somewhere. We are all lost here somewhere.
These Acts will lead you to a new path, a new road to freedom. I know this book will help you as it is based on absolute truth and reality. I never knew what truth and reality were, and it was only when I arrived there that I discovered freedom and wellness.
If you give yourself to these Acts, you will learn a way that will allow you to have an unimaginable peace of mind and happiness in your life.This new learning will show you that you really can achieve those things that you missed out on, or were beyond you for whatever reason.

The basic tenet of these 48 Acts is to give you information, which leads to knowledge, which leads to understanding, which leads to awareness.