A Matter of Faith
This translation is one of three new stories that the members of the fellowship in the Arabian Gulf region have been able to get inserted into the Arabic Language versions of the Big Book. It has taken us 6 years but we have finally made it.
I was born in KUWAIT to a lower middle class family as the last son to the second wife of my father. Ours was a big family with five brothers and 2 sisters. I was told that I was born during the holy month of Ramadan, but did not have any time, date or year references of my birth.
For the convenience of easy remembrance the school certificate mentioned my date of birth as 01/01/1970.
My family moved from Kuwait to Korrfakan when my father suffered heavy business losses. After coming back he got a job in the Ministry of Education in Abu Dhabi and my mother worked in the neighborhood stitching dresses for the local women.
All of us used to share only the available two rooms of our small house. I was a very intelligent boy and was always getting high grades in the school.
Everyone in my class used to envy me. My parents & siblings were very happy, calling me the cleverest boy in the family. But I did not feel happy and used to be a loaner in spite of the huge crowd at home and in the school. I always used to hang around with the group of older boys.
When I first went to high school I got involved in a big fist fight with some of my school mates over a pitiful small thing. I drew blood from many boys. The school kicked me out for my unruly behavior. Then my family put me in a different school almost 35 km from my place.
Everyday my brother dropped me off at my new school in the morning when he went to his office. In the evenings I took a free ride to one of my brother’s friend’s house in a nearby place and walked back home, which was a long distance.
I was still a good student and I started playing basketball. I got selected for the school team and played for a local club too. I made new friends. I was not supervised. I started smoking tobacco and shisha in the evenings after the games bought with the pocket money my brother used to give to me.
On the club team, when we were out of town for matches, I started sniffing glue with my friends. On the night before my final exams in high school, one of my friends called and asked me to pick him up from an Arabic nightclub. I called another friend, who stole his father’s car and we both went to pick this guy up from that club.
Everything there was shocking to me, the lights, the belly dancer, the bundles of money spent and the free flow drinking. However, I saw lots of people having lots of fun, and quickly got over my shock. I knew many of the men there. I went to one of the older boys I used to hang around with and asked him what they were drinking. He told me: “This is beer and it boosts your energy.” I asked him to buy me one.
The beer was my first alcohol drink; I had two beers and felt really good.. The next morning I went to the exam and wrote all the papers well. I thought beer gave me energy and made me smart. I did not drink during the next holidays. When I got the results of my exam testing, I knew I was right. It was the beer that I took the night before the test that worked wonders in me. I scored the highest marks in the school and came first in all the subjects.
From then on whenever possible I sneaked out with my friends and had the beer which I thought made me smart and gave me energy. Going out in the desert with friends and two to three cases of beer became my regular fun.
My parents encouraged me to go to the University and of course, I needed a driving license in order to get there. My parents agreed I needed the driving license. I asked my father to buy me a vehicle so I would have transportation at the University. My father agreed.
On the way to buy the vehicle, we met my uncle, who advised my father not to buy me a vehicle because it might spoil me as I was too young to drive a car and alternatively I could get rides with the other guys to Al Ain University. Immediately, my father turned around and changed his mind. No car for me. I was so angry with my uncle. I resented my father for being so heavily influenced by my uncle. I would show them. I refused to go to the University.
Because of my stubbornness with resentment, I threw away my education. I did not understand why.
I was at home for almost one year. I just sat there, sleeping all morning, hanging out with some of my friends in the afternoon, and going out drinking until late in the night. Sometimes I stole money from my brother. Sometimes I forcefully took money from my mother. I did whatever it took to get the money for my drinking from my family members.
As the year at home went on it started becoming harder and harder to get money for my drinking. One morning I decided I needed a job to make money for drinking. I applied for a job as a Telex Operator in a big company. I got selected and spent five months at an academy in Sharjah which prepares new employees to work for the company in different positions.
When I got this job offer my mother bought me a car with my brother’s help, thinking that it would help me stick with this new job. I happily went to Sharjah with my new transportation and freedom. I stayed in the accommodation provided by the company.
Here I got introduced to drugs for the first time. Sharjah was very strict about drinking. So, every evening after the classes, I drove to Dubai to drink; but, I came back before 11.00 pm when the doors closed at our accommodation.
On the weekends I drove to Abu Dhabi to meet my family. I was fresh in the morning, then quickly made up some reason to start back to Dubai as early as possible. I drank the whole evening, sometimes sleeping in my car. I would walk into the academy the next morning with a horrible hangover.
My physical dependency on alcohol continued growing. I would even sneak alcohol into my classes. In December 1992 I completed the course at the academy, went back to Abu Dhabi, and started working as a telex and fax operator for the company.
During this time I met a Chinese girl who was married and had a child. Since her husband was in prison, I decided it was alright to take her out. We enjoyed each other’s company as well as going out to bars together. I was attracted to her and wanted to keep our relationship going. However when her husband got out of prison, I could no longer meet her. I sat alone at bars and started drinking heavily every night. I would even sneak into a bar where she was hanging out with her husband and watch her.
Again my life did not go the way I wanted and I did not understand why. I felt very lonely, so I started paying for everyone to drink, so then I would have company for my drinking. Such lavish spending led me to borrow money from friends and family and take out loans. I accumulated huge debts. I was in constant financial crisis.
My so called ‘friends’ exploited my drunk generosity and drove me further into the debt trap. Bars were my total social life. I avoided all other functions and gatherings. My best friends came from the bars. One friend would have drinks with me at lunch. He would have three beers and then he would go home to his family. I on the other hand kept on drinking. When he came back at night he would find me still drinking. I would drink until 03:00 am or 04:00 am in the morning, go home, pass out until 08:00 am, rush to work, nurse my hangover all day, and do the whole thing again.
At work I sat in a small room meant only for the telex and fax machine. I avoided the other workers and they avoided me. No one bothered about me. No one cared whether I came to work or whether I worked while at work. I just sat there waiting.
Every day I just counted the minutes until I could leave to go drinking or make up an excuse to escape for a drink. Once a year, the office machines were inventoried. I was like a piece of furniture. They should have just added me to the inventory list along with the machines & company furniture.
In 1994 the Chinese girlfriend’s husband died in car accident. When she called me for help, I felt a sadistic happiness inside, pleased that he was gone. She sent the child to live with the grandparents. So again we started bar hopping and drinking at home.
With alcohol in common, we were in love and got married in 1997. Our marriage lasted two years. I let my family pressure me into divorcing her; but we continued our drinking relationship because her house was a safe place for me to continue my drinking without any interference.
One night I was drinking at home with my girlfriend and started to make up things which did not exist. She got fed up and called my brother to straighten me out. That was a big mistake. My brother was drinking too and we got into a horrible fight. My brother broke my nose. I had to rush to the hospital to stop the bleeding and get my nose operated on to bring it back into place.
Black-outs started and quickly became frequent, causing lots of problems for her. Finally even she, my best drinking partner, couldn’t take my drinking behaviour anymore. The lovely relationship ended and I did not understand why.
Due to my girlfriend’s encouragement I enrolled in a diploma course in marketing; but I did not concentrate on my studies. Attending class drunk, appearing for exams intoxicated, skipping class, spending class periods drinking in my car and not bothering to write exams, did not help my school performance. It took me eight years to complete a three year diploma course.
When my mother passed away in 2001, I forgot my pain with alcohol. After heavy drinking, I went back to the family home, only to misbehave in front of many guests who had come to express their condolences to our family. My family did not know what to do with me and my drinking and my other addictions. They took me to religious people so I could get the cure. Their effort was in vain. I kept drinking. They took me to counsellors; I kept drinking.
Then a counsellor suggested a psychiatric hospital for treatment. I stayed on the psychiatric ward of that government run psychiatric hospital for three months getting the cure. But once I got out, I kept drinking.
During the next seven years, from 1997 to 2004, over and over again, when I got totally unbearable, my family put me in the government hospital for three months. At most I would stay dry for about two weeks after getting out of the hospital. Over and over again, when I got out, I kept drinking. On my way home from a five day drinking and other addiction binges in Bangkok, I drank on the flight and stole miniatures from the aircraft.
I could not find my way home. I went to my ex-wife’s house and she wouldn’t let me in. I went to the government hospital, where I was a frequent patient, and they wouldn’t let me in. I created a scene that resulted in the police being called and me being taken to the prison. When the police took me for the blood test the next day, I manipulated the nurse into giving a negative sample report. I got away with it that time.
Again my family, knowing me well, put me in the psychiatric hospital for another three months. When I came out this time I stayed with one of my brothers, who travelled abroad a lot for work, leaving me at his home alone, which was perfect for my un-monitored drinking. I manipulated my family well. I manipulated my job well also.
I was able to retain my job because every time I was admitted to the hospital I obtained a “psychiatric” sick leave certificate. The psychiatric hospital was silent about my drinking Instead they maintained that I had a psychiatric problem and was being treated for mental illness.
By 2004 I was in prison for drinking. However, that didn’t stop me. I kept drinking, making my own drink inside the prison with ripe fruits and bread. I got released from prison to spent six months in a government treatment facility. The same day I was released. I bought a case of beer.
My family made me stay with one of my other brothers, where I was not able to drink freely. I plotted and manipulated and convinced my family that marriage was the answer to my problems. Help me get married and I promise to stay sober.
My sisters arranged many meetings with the families of numerous girls. Every time I came back from a meeting I would tell my sisters: “Yes. This is the one.” , and my sisters stopped believing me. My sisters took over and they made the decision. Thus I was married to the girl of my sisters’ dreams.
From the first day of our marriage I was drinking. I started taking her back to her family on the weekends so I could stay home and drink. Within a few months I blacked out and was again admitted to the same government run psychiatric hospital for “psychiatric” problems.
At this point none of my brothers or sisters would allow me to stay with them. They believed I was better off inside the psychiatric institution. I felt unloved. I felt unwanted. My family had deserted me. I had no place to go when I got out of the psychiatric hospital I was sick of myself. I was sick of my condition.
The nurses’ manager overheard my conversations with my family, trying to get them to take me in, he gave me a card with a phone number on it and uttered: “This person will help you.”
I called the number in Bahrain and a man from the program spoke to me. He spoke to me of many things which I did not understand at that time. I knew he cared. He understood. He promised to send me literature.
Within two hours, someone arrived from AA with literature for me. Someone I didn’t even know, someone that didn’t even know me, the AA man actually delivered on his promise. I was very much impressed. I called back a total stranger just to tell him that the literature arrived. The same night I called another member of the fellowship and went to my first NA meeting.
Three days later I attended my first AA meeting in Abu Dhabi.
For the first eight months, I attended every meeting that was available. In fact I had nothing better to do in the evenings except going to the meetings. The fellowship kept me going.
As the Abu Dhabi group was small then, I got the opportunity to read the promises of our AA program and sometimes the preamble during most of the meetings. Every time I read the promises, something inside me told me that I too can be sober. The promises can come true for me.
I earnestly worked the steps over phone with my first sponsor, the fellow from Bahrain who left his phone number at the hospital. After four months in the program I met my Bahrain sponsor face to face for the first time. He came to Abu Dhabi and we worked the first three steps together in person. From then on, either I went to Bahrain or he came to Abu Dhabi and I continued to do the steps with him in person. I gave it my best effort.
After four months sober, as suggested by my sponsor, I got involved in service. I went to the rehab to attend meetings and watch how the old members carried the message of hope to the patients there. My sponsor always told me that service includes attending the meetings regularly so that newcomers know that there are people available who understand.
When attending the meetings service is listening to the person who is sharing showing interest. This will encourage us to share our burdens freely. I believe that when sharing, I must share honestly what I am going thru.,
I arrange the coffee table, set up the chairs, and help clean up – all these are part of service. I did my best. I involved myself in all forms of service activities. I met lot of travellers in the meetings and they added immensely to my knowledge about this wonderful program and I continued my journey in it.
I was proud that once I went to a meeting and shared on the same evening that my father passed away.
My behavior had changed and my family saw the difference. I also got recommitted to my education and obtained by Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing within 2 years of getting sober.
Then it came to my financial commitments, and with my sponsor’s help I tackled those amends. I had started clearing away the mess I created.
When I had completed one year in the program, an old drinking friend asked me out for a drink. I declined and invited him to a meeting. He declined, saying he did not want to stop drinking. Later I came to know that he had misbehaved with our company telephone operator and I understood.
An AA fellow suggested to me that at the beginning of sobriety, avoid people, places and things which would remind me of my drinking days. I changed my phone numbers almost four times to get away from my old drinking friends.
Many of my old drinking friends died in alcohol related road accidents or ailments related to this disease. I am grateful that God gave me this chance, and the program.
After almost seventeen years inside the telex and fax room and now having attained a bachelor’s degree, I was appointed to a higher position. I started getting involved in the mainstream business activities of my company. I am now in a respectable position in my company; an event which I had not even dreamed of before sobriety.
I continued meetings and service, which helped me a lot. I was growing strong physically, mentally and spiritually. I started making a lot of good friends inside and outside of the program. My family was very happy about my change of attitude and behaviour.
With the support of the AA program and fellowship I stayed away from that first drink. My wife and I were even blessed with three children.
Life is not perfect in sobriety and I had to face some unpleasant things when sober. After the birth of our third child, my wife left me due to a misunderstanding. With her went the children. I was feeling miserable. But this time I knew where to go and what to choose. I went to a meeting. I was able to perceive things in a different perspective.
I pray to God for more clarity in life and the knowledge of His will for me. There is a purpose for everything that happens and I have to only accept it and move forward.
Without a family at home, I had lot of spare time. I went back to school again and obtained my Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
I continue to do service in the fellowship and by doing these things it helps me stay sober and remain serene.
Now I am six years sober and have the program in one hand and the fellowship in the other hand. Hence I do not need to pick up another drink.
I know that there is a very long way to go in finding and fulfilling the purpose of my life. But I am today happy, joyous and free and for that I am very grateful.
With profound gratitude to the program, fellowship and God am confident that I am moving in the right direction. One day at a time
This translation is one of three new stories that the members of the fellowship in the Arabian Gulf region have been able to get inserted into the Arabic Language versions of the Big Book. It has taken us 6 years but we have finally made it