I have to look back through the haze to remember what life was really like before I did my first McGuire course in 2001.
Unable to answer questions in school… even giving the wrong answer that I felt I could say, rather than trying to say the right one! Being asked to read in class… nothing coming out of my mouth… only sweat coming out of my hands from the fear and the struggle. Driving 20 miles or more each way rather than making a phonecall. My mother or my wife making all my phone calls for me. Not able to read a bed time story for my children. Not wanting to order a drink or a meal if I was out. Not wanting to speak if there was anyway out… even using notes where possible. If any if this rings a bell read on…. I heard about the McGuire programme in the late 90’s but didn’t do anything about it at the time. I finally plucked up the courage to make the dreaded call in January 2001. I went to my first course in the Ashling Hotel in Dublin in February 2001. They say life begins at 40… it definately did for me!! From the moment I walked into the room in the Ashling Hotel, even though it felt daunting, I felt I was no longer alone. I knew I was among a group of people who knew how I felt.They had been there before, lived through the fears I had experiecnced. The course was intense. Three and a half long days. The feeling of freedom increasing as the days passed. I recall the public speaking in Grafton Street and nearly floating off the soap box. Eventually on Sunday it came to the farewell speaches. I still remember saying that now I hoped to be able to help my wife Suzanne making some of the phonecalls and all the other jobs that I had left to her for the previous 10 years. As the programme states, it is not a cure. As a friend once said, it is like a game of golf. “We all have our bad days but we don’t throw away the golf clubs”. We just have to concentrate and practice harder! In the last 10 years I have got stuck here and there but life has been transformed. I don’t rely on others to make my phone calls anymore! I read regularly at the local church. Parent teacher meetings, doctors… the list goes on. Work is a pleasure rather than a nightmare. I joined Toastmasters and gave a good few speeches. I got the award for the best speech on the night with my first ice breaker! In 2002, I went to a staff training weekend and qualified as a Primary Coach and Course Instructor Intern. I enjoy being able to help and encourage other new graduates of the programme. If anyone reading this has any doubts or concerns about the programme all I can say is give Joe (The Irish RD) a call (or an email as I would have done!) – He’s a great guy. You won’t regret it… I didn’t. Maybe I’ll see you on the next course!!!