The higher power gives us a chance every other sunrise to change our ways, we just don’t take it most of the time and end up thinking that we are forsaken
BY JACOB OKETCH
It is a very sad moment for me because I am sitting here at the CITAM church along Valley Road Nairobi for the funeral service of my dear uncle who succumbed to cancer. I am keenly aware of relatives and friends surrounding me, something I could not do when I was drinking. I can notice the pain of my cousins and their mother and I am thinking of how lucky I am to get a second shot at life. My uncle was a very jovial person and we used to interact a lot. I am very saddened by the fact that he will not have the chance to interact with me when I am sober. I would have wanted to share this wonderful life with him but it was not to be.
Each person has their own story as to how they started drinking and how it has held them captive. I can’t quite recall how I came to be hooked to the drink but I do remember that it started while I was in high school. It must have been the effect of the drink on me that made me like it because the taste was horrible. Ever since that time, I could go to greater lengths to get high. In the process, I started to deteriorate in so many ways. Surprisingly though, I never stopped reading and writing here and there. If there is anything that kept me sane during my drinking days, it is reading. I ensured that I had a book or two to read every week no matter what I was going through.
I also kept a routine which, looking back now, I know it kept me a little sane over the years. You see, I was not the type of drunk who has to drink through cook or crook. I never idled in bars waiting for a friend to buy me a drink. I also never stepped into any bar without money. I could go to a bar broke only when I was invited by a friend for a drink and this I kept to a minimum.Thus,I did not mix up easily with all manner of people with negative influence. I also never had drinks on debt or took credit to buy drinks. This behavior greatly aided me in avoiding bad company.
As I talk to my sister here at the funeral service of my uncle, I cannot fail to notice the joy that has lit up on her face upon seeing me. I have not seen her for a while. I last met her at my late brother’s burial way back in march last year. She expresses her relief at seeing me healthy and cheerful. She says it is such a good thing for me to have quit drinking. I sense that I have quite relieved people by stopping to drink. I was not able to see that I was not looking good when I was drinking. I was emaciated but I could not notice it. People look at lately and they commend me for keeping well. It is a big revelation as it was not possible to notice this when I was drinking.
I look around and see drunks who are convinced that they are having fun. I felt this way for eons. But I am convinced that if these people are offered an alternative to the life they are leading, some of them would take it. I will never quite put my finger around what actually motivated me to quit drinking. But I can say that the higher power gives us a chance every other day to change our ways, we just don’t take it most of the time and end up thinking that we are forsaken.
I did not think much about the idea of seeking treatment for a long time. Once the issue came up, I knew that I could either take the chance or continue drinking and suffer in the process. I took a leap of faith and decided to abandon everything I was doing to go and sequester myself, for a long time, in an environment where I could seek therapy.
When I look back, I sometimes wonder how I did it because the grip of alcohol is not easy to unshackle from. I thought of the many work engagements I had to cancel. I even started doubting whether I was making the right decision. But the moment my nephew told me that everything I was leaving behind I would come back and get intact, I knew that it was time to pivot and head to the treatment centre. Sometimes it just takes the will to change a situation. I dared to face the dog and here now I find myself savoring the joy of it.
I am taking one day at a time because the duration that I have been drinking is so long that a lot will be revealed to me in phases. I am discovering that there are certain important professional contacts that I had quite forgotten about. I am reestablishing my network and so far everything is moving so well. It is not lost on me however that there are certain contacts that I cannot reestablish given how badly I interfered with them when I was drinking. In that case, I just intend to repair my ways and along the way, my conduct will speak for itself.
I am seated next to my big brother, an engineer by profession who has done us proud as a family. His achievements in his career got me thinking about what I am doing to better mine. At this time of loss, I sharply realize that it is incumbent upon me to live right. My big brother is encouraging me to stay the course and has implored upon me to be very categorical in expressing my dislike of anything that any member of the family would subject me to, which can lead to my relapse. He congratulated me for my boldness in seeking treatment. He also offers a hand of support towards my recovery. This is somebody with whom I was oil and water when I was drinking. I humbled myself when he reached out to me on realizing that I sought treatment for alcoholism. I am immensely humbled by his gesture.
When I hear testimonies of people about the good things that my uncle has done and how pleasant a man he was, I get the feeling that my recovery is giving me a chance to be a better person in the society. I now have the chance to dedicate my life to living right and doing right. My uncle always wanted the best for me and now that he is gone, my honest tribute to him is to work my recovery and stay the course. It will reassure me that indeed his good deeds are preserved in my recovery. I will not let him down. May God almighty rest his soul in peace.