Every now and then I recall an incident at home where my sister and I were berating a younger sibling for drinking himself silly. His girlfriend was visiting and watched on as we screamed at each other and as her man downplayed the whole issue. The girl picked her bag and left but not before she asked us to desist from attacking him when he is drunk, urging us instead to try and focus on the kind of person that he is when sober; the person that she knew and loved.
That was years ago and the beginning of a long alcohol battle with our favourite sibling. He is the smartest of five of us (and this is based on a relatively high average mainly due to my crazy overachieving sister), kind hearted, generous, intelligent and well-spoken. He keeps up with current affairs and can hold his end in any conversation from vegetable farming to quantum physics. He is equally good with his hands and when he is around, fundis might very well not earn a living because he can fix almost anything. Give him a few minutes to think and figure out a solution and he can be an electrician, mechanic, plumber, name it. When sober, we can depend on him for anything and we have become accustomed to that. He will show up whenever and wherever because that is who he is; he will always ensure his loved ones are happy and attended to. I could go on and on about him because there are more good things to say than bad. I am glad that I see a lot of his good side in my young nephew who is already exhibiting signs of being as charming and intelligent as his father (he was recently number one in his nursery school class and had excellent feedback from his teacher).
All the above characteristics are at their peak when he is sober. When he is drunk we spend less time laughing because he cannot tell a joke from an insult, therefore he ceases to be good company. But then he sobers up and he is back to the brother and son that we love…until the next time he gets drunk and the cycle continues. For several years now, I have talked about him with my friends and colleagues, I have prayed and cried for him and each time someone asks me for a prayer request, that is my number one request.
There was a time I almost gave up, because he seemed not to do anything on his own to help the situation, but then my friend Bill K. Bekunda, who is an alcoholic in recovery, reminded me that the worst thing that could happen to an alcoholic is being abandoned. He said that despite their drinking, alcoholics are always consoled by the knowledge that there is a family that loves and cares about them. Once that comfort is taken away from them, many see no reason to live and end up being worse or even taking their lives.
What always intrigues me is the selective ability of alcohol; it has a way of targeting and ruining the smartest, the best. Regular people may drink day and night but will somehow manage to control it but when an A student starts drinking there is no turning back except by sheer strong will. The problem is that many families are currently struggling with alcohol abuse by one or more members. People are dying young, stressed and depressed because of alcohol-related conditions. You probably know such a person and maybe you have reached breaking point so many times, my advice to you is not to give up. Continue to show love and care for that colleague, friend or family. I continue to pray for mine and because I have seen people reform I cannot wait for the time I will throw a party to celebrate his turnaround. There is no pain like the pain of losing a loved one, worse still due to alcohol, something that can be controlled or altogether avoided.
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