With my back against the kitchen wall and my arms hugging myself to evade the chills, I gradually slid down till I sat on the floor. Everything was a blur and my thoughts were scattered like a puzzle. I could not seem to think one thought through. With the kitchen thrown in darkness due to shortage of electricity, I could barely see a clear path in front. Well, I was not planning on moving an inch yet. They told me withdrawal symptoms were quite hard but if I could make it for a month, it would become easier. Today was the 5th week and it was as hard as the first. In my haze, I remembered looking for it in all nook and cranny of my house since morning, I remembered drinking water over and over again, I remembered the sudden cold feeling and the stupid thought that I was going to pass on to the life beyond if I did not drink just a cup of alcohol. I must have forgotten to eat all day which made me so weak the wall was practically supporting me. Shortly I began hyperventilating but I could not move. My last thought was “How did it get this worse?” before I blackened out.
Months before my path to disaster, I found no qualms sitting with my friends who devoured alcoholic drinks like they just arrived from a journey in the desert. With my bottle of malt, I watched in wonder as they drank bottle after bottle, became highly intoxicated and lamented their woes which were not more than the fact that they had little or no money due to the bad governance. How they became and remained my friends was still a puzzle or maybe I liked the way they looked up to me as the clear headed one and one who had all his cards. That always stroked my ego. I would drive them home and still come back to watch them the next weekend. I never liked alcohol, had never tasted it and never bent to the teasing of my friends to “be a man”. It was too sad that I had forgotten the adage “Whatever you do not want to eat, you do not perceive“.
The great fall began the day my organization decided to let off staff. Due to the looming recession, the rumors flying finally became true. Yet, it came as a shock that I was let off also. I thought I was an asset to the company. All means to speak with one of the board manager or my boss was futile and it was in that state of dejection that I entered the bar to order my malt as usual and watch my friends unwind as they called it. Discussion soon moved to my state of joblessness which I attacked in anger. In anger I said how unfair it was as I did not know where to start from, in anger I grabbed the nearest bottle thinking it was my malt till the bitter liquid began slipping down my throat. I had drunk alcohol at last to the amusement of my friends who said their cool headed Bode Akintayo had finally joined the league of jobless men drinking alcohol. I laughed it off and got home late only to discover I liked the lingering taste in my mouth. Yet I was in denial for weeks.
My current state of joblessness saw me visiting the bar more frequently just to while away time and think of my life. I hated my current state, hated my boss for not standing up for me and hated the organization as a whole. I was frustrated. Days began rolling into weeks and I sank in depression. On a fateful day in the bar, I asked for my usual malt which was exhausted and so I casted off restraint and asked for anything they had. The waitress brought a beer. Shortly after downing two bottles and feeling good, I purchased two more and headed home. I never knew I had ticked off a time bomb. Bills stacked high began to welcome my arrival after a few months which further helped my depressing thoughts. I searched for job but the recession saw organizations laying off rather than employing. I felt embarrassed at my current state and felt no one could understand me. Avoiding my friends became the new normal and I sought solace in bottles. Only those bottles understood me, only bottles helped me forget my woes and only bottles helped me sleep. I was gradually becoming a shadow of myself and truly wanted to stop. Well, after one more drink. It was at this point my friends intervened although forcefully if one should ask me.
The rehabilitation center was their solution. It was my home for a month where alcohol was gradually withdrawn from me. Instead, I drank only water and was taught how to deliberately think of something else other than alcohol whenever I felt the urge to take one. I was winning the war against alcoholism and I felt confident till I returned to my house. My withdrawal symptoms were getting fewer as I conquered the urge for alcohol day after day so it came as a shock the day I felt the urge so strong I had not eaten since morning and had passed out in my kitchen. I woke up after a while and squinted my eyes trying to remember how I got to the kitchen floor. I got up slowly, testing my legs if they could hold me and went to relive my parched throat with a bottle of water. There and then, I vowed never to get close to another bottle of alcohol, visit a bar or do anything close to alcohol. The danger of alcoholism drowned in my head at the rehabilitation center came to remembrance. I was almost close to dying all because of this stupid bottle. My broke life had not changed but I was going to find a way. I did not want to die yet.
Osanyinro Oluwaseun, a graduate of Microbiology and currently a master student of Public Health at the University of Ibadan runs a blog on WordPress deejemima.wordpress.com