* continued fom last Sunday .....
The demons within
The following personal account has been provided by a local resident of Fiji who volunteered to share his story of alcohol abuse and his recovery through the support of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Pictures are of models.
Information about AA is provided below.
I first started drinking when I was in High School at every opportunity I had. Of course there was no money to buy Alcohol so you relied on who ever could supply it to you free - usually older friends and acquaintances. I had started to like how alcohol made me feel - it gave me a buzz and I was certainly more confident after a few drinks. I made it through High School with good Grades and got a Scholarship to USP and then an overseas Scholarship.
I pretty much drank right through University like most other students and got into some strive there but still somehow managed to graduate with a double degree. Upon Graduation, I returned to Fiji and got a job straight away.
By then I had started to drink almost every-day. I was a regular at one of Suva's popular bars, complete with a monthly account which meant that I didn't need cash when I went there - I just signed my chits and got a statement every month and as long as I could pay it off in full, I was always welcome to continue drinking there. I was popular only because I was the fool that was buying the drinks all the time so I attracted my fair share of "namu's". Ironically, the woman I married saw me there one night in whatever state I was in but decided she saw something in me that was worth her while. How wrong she was.
Against her family's wishes, she married me in a civil ceremony which they refused to attend. We were married for 7 years but these were generally not happy years for either of us. I had no idea what it meant to be a husband and I am ashamed to say that I must have made her life a living hell. I had become my father. In fact I still recall once in a bar when someone who knew my father saw me in a intoxicated state and said to me - "Like father - Like Son".
He was obviously referring to my alcoholic traits which was sadly evident to others - that I inherited from my father.
It was no surprise that when my wife finally wised up and left me for another man - he happened to be a teetotaler. Divorce was both a humiliating and sobering experience and I had suddenly decided to stop drinking and tried to get my life back on track.
I knew about AA already so I started going to AA meetings twice a week. The meetings were then run by an American Vietnam Vet named Bob G in Suva. I was sober just over a year when one day my ex-wife called me to tell me she was pregnant and that she did not want me to hear that from others and wanted to tell me herself. She wasn't gloating - she just didn't want me to hurt anymore than it should. She was wrong.
I remember that when she told me, it felt like someone had stuck a knife in me and was turning the blade slowly inside me as I squirmed. I just sat and cried for what seemed like days. I had wanted a child so much, to experience fatherhood - to not make the same mistakes my father made but we never could have a baby together. I was happy for her but at the same time I decided that my life was not worth living anymore. I felt very inadequate in so many ways.
I decided I would drink myself to death. I stopped going to the AA meetings and started drinking daily - heavily and also started dabbling in Marijuana. I don't think I quite had the guts to commit suicide but I would do what I knew I could do - that is to drink as much as I could every night, smoke dope and then drive home. How irresponsible is that?
That is what I had become - a living zombie that still miraculously performed at work by day but by nightfall, I just wanted to drink and die! I hated myself for what I had become and the more self loathing I conjured up, the more I drank! I did not want to live anymore. I was drowning in self pity - another sign that I had serious alcoholic problems.
During this phase of my life, there were the usual numerous meaningless affairs and "what were you thinking" moments and this only made me feel worse. I still recall vividly the last night I drank to oblivion was at the old Dominion Hotel in Nadi now called the Mercure. I can recall crawling around on the floor of my room covered in my own vomit after a whole day of excessive drinking and trying to call a girl I had dated for a few months begging her to take me back and that I could change my ways from the jealous and psychotic boyfriend I had become.
She knew better than to give me another chance. It was quite simply a sad and truly pathetic episode and not something I ever want to experience ever again. That was the night of July 18th 2004 and I must have passed out in my room in a highly intoxicated state.
The very next morning I drove to Suva and went straight to see Bob my old AA Sponsor. I just sat down and cried.
I bawled my eyes out and said to him - "please save my life Bob - I don't want to die a drunk". He did not scold me for leaving the program the first time around. All he said was that I should start coming to the meetings, work the AA Program and start all over again to try to live a sober life - One Day at a Time!
That is one of the cornerstones of the AA Program - to live your life "one day at a time" Don't worry about Yesterday - it's gone. Don't worry about tomorrow - it hasn't arrived yet.
Deal with today and stay in the moment. Just for today - Do not take that first drink. Just for today - promise yourself to remain sober. It's as simple as that one 24 Hour period at a time.
With the help of these AA meetings, I slowly started to turn my life around. Attending these meetings became a priority in my life - my whole life was scheduled around these meetings. I made a point of making these AA meetings as important as my work appointments and slowly - things started to get better. When I travelled overseas, I made a point of attending AA meetings to ensure I retained my sobriety while I was away from Fiji.
My health improved, my financial situation also improved and I was quite simply becoming a much better person by practicing the 12 steps of AA and working the program.
Today, I am proud to say I am over 8 years sober and live a simple but content life. I now have my own home which is mortgage-free, another miracle.
My life is by no means perfect and I am not suggesting for a moment that I am perfect just because I don't drink anymore.
What I can say is that there has been a huge turn around considering where I was 8 years ago.
The AA Program works for millions around the world and it has worked for me. It has taught me to forgive myself for my past failures and shortcomings. It has helped me to fix myself on the inside and to start loving myself first before I can expect anyone else to love me. In the past I automatically gauged my happiness levels from other people's love and acceptance of me. I don't do this anymore and I am a much stronger person because of it.
The two people I hurt most because of my drinking were my mother and my ex-wife. I live with that guilt everyday and if I could undo those wrongs, I would do whatever it would take but unfortunately I cannot undo my past indiscretions. I have sought the forgiveness of my ex-wife and she has forgiven me for which I am deeply grateful. My mother still refuses to acknowledge my existence and to a certain degree I can understand that given the pain and suffering I had caused her in her life. I guess I remind her too much of my father. I still live in the hope that she will see it in her heart to forgive me for the errors of my ways when I was drinking. I am not the same son that she knew when I was drinking. I hope one day she can see that and forgive me. Her forgiveness is important to me and would go a long way in healing some deep wounds in probably both of us.
Alcohol has caused utter devastation in my life but today I am slowly re-building my life piece by piece and I am determined to succeed and to make up for lost time.
A life without alcohol does not mean that you stop enjoying life - quite to the contrary, I have more fun now in sobriety than I ever did while I was drinking. It is a different set of rules so it's good clean fun. It's all real and I am in a good place because of my sobriety.
Today you won't find me in bars anymore but you are more likely to meet me in Coffee Shops. Life is good today but I remind myself regularly to always remain humble and grateful and to remember where I was not long ago - in the gutter, ready to die. I now use my experience to help others who want my help to achieve sobriety and change the way they live - to enjoy a sober life with all the wonderful things that sobriety brings.
AA saved my life and it could save yours too if you are willing to admit that you are powerless over alcohol and that alcohol has caused serious problems in your life. The only catch is - like most things in life - you have to do the hard work to achieve the gift that it brings - sobriety. There are no short cuts!