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A Better Person

Esther, Kenya

My name is Esther I am an alcoholic from Kenya. It is an honour and a privilege for me to share my story with you. By the grace of God, this amazing program, the 12 steps, my sponsor and all of you, I haven’t had the desire to have a drink since 24th June 2012, 5 years ago. It truly is amazing and for that I am grateful, but I must always remember that the program works if I work it one day at a time.  It’s not the time I have,  but it’s today that I have.

The program says that I am to share my experience, strength and hope with other alcoholics, how it used to be, what happened and how it is now. I started drinking when I was 18 after finishing my A level exams over 20 years ago. We thought we were now adults and we needed some excitement. My first drink was a beer and I was utterly disgusted, but my friend told me to try something else and I had a vodka and lime with ice, and that I LOVED.  It was the best thing and made me feel so great. 

And thus, began my journey with alcohol. I went to university and that is where the proper drinking started. After all isn’t being in college about freedom and fun ? I definitely had loads of fun. At this time, I always wondered why my friends could not handle their liquor. They got drunk so fast. I was always the last to leave any party and I always knew where we could get more alcohol if it ran out.  I never thought anything about it. Later I would learn from AA that I had a disease.

I graduated from university and got a scholarship to do my masters in the UK. That was quite an achievement considering all the drinking I had done. I still had a brain. The drinking continued and it is true, as they say, alcoholism is progressive.

I came back to Kenya and got a wonderful job. I moved out of home and life was good. You couldn’t tell me what to do. You couldn’t complain to me that I was drinking too much. It was my money I was drinking..(self-centeredness? Ego? ) so I drank and drank some more. 

I met my husband and we got married. He too was an alcoholic. Unfortunately, none of us knew that we were both alcoholics at the time. After all, we still had our jobs and we still took care of our bills. Alcoholics  were the people you found in the streets, not us or so we thought. I got pregnant and stopped drinking, but as soon as I gave birth  I was back at it. 

My husband got liver cirrhosis and was admitted to the hospital. His cravings were so bad that he convinced his friends to bring him alcohol in the hospital. Of course, the treatment did not work. The doctor showed me the empty bottles with alcohol in the hospital. He thought I was crazy to let our friends do that. I was so upset with his friends. Couldn’t they just wait for him to get better and they can drink then? Insanity.  Unfortunately, he passed away two days later and left me with our 2-year-old daughter. That was 10 years ago.  

You would have thought that after such an incident I would have stopped drinking. That’s what a normal wife and mother would do when her husband dies, isn't it?  But it only became worse. I isolated myself, I was depressed, I lost my job and our house, I blamed God, everything, and anything for everything that happened to me. My family hated me and thought I had gone mad. I never spoke to my mum for 2 years. My in-laws hated me too. I had burnt all my bridges. 

My life was a mess. I felt hopeless, helpless and my only consolation was when I was drinking, but that too became a mess.

I eventually started getting black outs, until one day I took my daughter to school on a Monday.  She was picked up by the bus and I went to pick her up on Thursday thinking that it was still Monday. I was reported to the police by her school and she was taken away. I was not allowed to see her. I had to do something about my drinking. I could not call my Mum because we were not talking. What was I going to say?  I still didn’t believe it was Thursday, a reality check that gave me the courage to call my sister and tell her I needed help.  I needed to go to rehab because my drinking was now affecting my daughter. My sister was happy that I had made that call and I soon got into rehab for a 90-day program. That was the best decision I ever made

In rehab, I found other people like me. In my group, there was a priest, a pilot, a grandmother, a medical school student, among others and that humbled me as we all had the same problem. The same disease. I was no longer alone. At first, I thought the rehab was going to teach me how to drink like a lady. I never thought they would so  the only solution for me was never to drink again. That was a bit too much.

Then they told me about God. Oh no, I am not going to do this. God was not for me. He made my husband die and leave me with a two-year-old. I wasn’t going to pray, I had never prayed in years. 

Anyway, I got to know about the AA program and about a Higher Power and a God of my understanding and that I could do. For the sake of my daughter, I was willing to work the program and understand that I was sick all along. I wasn’t crazy. I learned about the 12 steps and the importance of meetings and a sponsor.

When I left rehab, I went to meetings every day for another 90 days. It was difficult to get a lady sponsor in Kenya. There were not many women coming to meetings and a lot of stigma. I decided to go online and found e-AA and through the temporary sponsor facility I found a sponsor and I worked the steps online. I am so thankful she is still my sponsor. I have never been able to find a face to face sponsor. 

I also do service in this group and am still here 5 years later.  I have learned the importance of believing in a Higher Power for me that is God, doing service, actually, working the 12 steps, carrying the message to the alcoholic who still suffers. My life has changed. I have a good job in finance doing what I have always wanted to do. I also volunteer at a rehab and help other alcoholics to get help. I am a mentor for women in business……God has done for me what I could not do for myself.

I have learned to live one day at a time and that has helped me remain sober. I don’t know if I will be sober tomorrow or next year but just for today, I will not take that first drink. I have learned to pray. I pray every morning asking God to be with me in all I do that day and that I do not take that first drink. In the evening, I pray to God again and I thank Him for keeping me safe and going through another day sober. 

Being grateful every day, being a better person, a better sister, a better daughter, a better friend and most of all a better mother. I got my daughter back and she is the happiest person in the world. 

In the Big Book it says on Page 30  ‘ We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics'. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be SMASHED.” 

I have surrendered and fully conceded.  I am an alcoholic  and I  will always be one.  I have been given a gift through this program and I must give it away if   am to remain sober.  I must help others. 

 I continue to work the steps, I continue to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice all these principles in ALL my affairs not in SOME affairs. To the newcomers, you are in the right place. It may not make sense in the beginning, but keep coming back. It works if you work it. Get a sponsor, go to meetings, work the steps and be of service. 

Thank you for letting me share. 

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