GOODBYE… My dear bottle

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By Christopher Maina

What does it profit a man if he gains a reputation among friends but loses respect at home? What is success for a man without success at the family front? In other words, can a man be called successful if he wins in the corporate world but loses his wife and children? I asked myself these and other related questions and the answers I got forced me to make some painful decisions. Yet I do not regret.

Fellow men! I know many of you have already compiled a list of things to do this new year of 2013. I guess some have already made resolutions you want to keep for a successful year and the future beyond. These are important. Socrates the great philosopher said that a life without self-examination is not worth living, and he was right. Make resolutions about your finances, about your job or the job you want and so forth.

But if I should advise you on anything this year, I would write to you about your dear buddy the bottle; that is if you drink. In my mind, our greatest problem as a nation is not our politics; it is our drinking. As they say about beauty, our politics is skin deep, but the effects of alcohol abuse go into the bones.

Think about some of last year’s biggest news stories and you will see alcohol written all over them. “Ten die in a road accident, driver suspected to have been drunk,” “Man kills wife and five children after a drinking spree,” “Woman chops off husbands manhood after he comes home drenched in smell of alcohol,” and many others.

Last year witnessed the greatest number of women coming out to complain about their irresponsible men – men who do not support their families financially and who also do not respond to their wives’ conjugal rights. It is in the same year that drunken young men started raping their grannies and marriage separations rose a notch higher. The short of it all is that many families lost their loved ones in avoidable road carnage and fights, while many other families were broken. Our cities are now teeming with street children just because a father somewhere – sometimes a mother – neglected his parental duties.

So I will tell you dear brother knowing you will hear me out, that success in your job or business is nothing if your family is broken. When you write your New Year resolutions, make a separate list of all the “enemies of development,” which may conspire to make your resolutions come to naught. If you have a drinking habit, list that at the top. It’s that big of a problem. I used to tell myself that a little beer would do nobody any harm. I used to shout around and scream that I am in control of my drinking and so on.

But one day I left the office after work with some friends and told my wife via SMS that I would be taking two for the road before getting home. We settled and made our orders as we talked. One bottle led to another and before I knew it, it was 1 a.m. I went home to find a not so impressed wife. I promised myself never to repeat that.

I had been dutifully keeping my drinking to a minimum and it had never caused anyone any problem. But within a week of this I was at it again. Another bunch of friends in another bar and I could have done worse had my wife not called to find out whether all was well; she had never seen anything like this before. I got home past midnight.  When my wife asked me what the problem was I said nothing… or may be it was my friends.

I made yet another promise. But lo! The following week I took to the bar and got home at 4 a.m.! It was a weekday and I was supposed to report to work at 8 a.m. the following morning. I got to the office at 10 a.m. and my boss had already called severally to find out whether all was well with me. It was then that it became clear to me that something was wrong. It was also clear that I was losing to alcohol.

Luckily this time around I did not promise to watch out my drinking; it was clear that I would lose my self-control the moment I took the first sip and so I made up my mind to face the devil in my life. I stopped taking alcohol altogether. It was not easy. At times the urge would be too much to bear but I stood firm all the same. I do not regret. My wife is happier and I am fully in control of my life. The friends… yes, the friends are still there; they may not like it that I do not accompany them to the bars, but who cares? My family is more at peace.

Brother! May be like me you tell yourself you don’t have a drinking problem; that you are in control! The truth is that no one controls alcohol. If like me you think family is important; if you would like to see your family remain close-knit to the end of your days, I would encourage you to quit the bottle. It drains your family’s finances (for no good reason other than enriching the bar owner) and causes unnecessary heartaches and quarrels between you and your wife. And it puts you on harm’s way every day. That is my advice to you this month. You will remember me if you take the advice and even if you don’t – only the repercussions will be different.

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