How I beat the bottle and found the real, funny me

RECOVERING alcoholic Busiswa Qobo has got her groove back, 27 years after almost losing her life to alcohol.

RECOVERING alcoholic Busiswa Qobo has got her groove back, 27 years after almost losing her life to alcohol.

Feeling lonely and unloved, Qobo turned to the bottle at 11 and the drinking got worse in her 20s. Her life took a turn when she woke up in a forest with a strange man while her only daughter waited for her at home.

She joined Twelve Step, a programme that assists people with a drinking problem in 1999, but battled to stay sober.

Determined to change her life Qobo, 44, who, had lost the respect of her friends and community and had her child taken away from her because of her drinking, sought help at the Harmony Addictions Clinic.

She has been sober for the past six years now and is a respected yoga instructor, professional masseuse and drug and alcohol counsellor.

A true believer in second chances, she shares the tale of triumph and tribulations that have shaped her into the person she is today.

Q: What made you quit drinking?

A: Life became unmanageable. I caused a scene at my daughter's school. Her school work started to suffer. We had no money since it was always spent on booze.

One day I woke up with a strange man in Newlands Forest. I was only wearing one shoe. My child was waiting for me at home, hungry, and there I was with this strange man in a forest.

How insane is that? Waking up every day with no money and a babalas from hell, fighting like a mad person with everybody. Feeling depressed, day in and day out. It was hideous. I had to stop.

Q: What drove you to the bottle?

A: I was a lonely, empty child. I felt awkward, an outsider at school and even at home. I just wanted to be liked by adults, specifically.

Later, as an adult ,I drank again because I felt lonely. They say alcoholics feel like aliens. That's how I felt - lonely even when surrounded by other people.

Q: How have you managed to stay sober for the past six years?

A: I regularly attend Twelve Step meetings. I have a sponsor who teaches me the ropes of sobriety and I have a rich spiritual life. Staying sober without a spiritual life is impossible.

For me spirituality means believing in a Higher Power. For me it is God. I also find spirituality in yoga, which keeps mind, spirit and body in balance.

Alcoholism is a disease of mind, spirit and body. I find yoga an immense help. I will never be able to drink again and that's fine. It's not worth the split second of so-called pleasure.

Q: How is your relationship with your daughter, friends and community now?

A: Now I have my friends' respect back. The relationship with my daughter is still fragile, but with my Higher Power's help, I have hope. I go to church and I help others with alcohol problems.

I plan to start a Twelve Step meeting in Mandela Park, Hout Bay, where I live. I am actively involved in helping other alcoholics, which also keeps me clean. It gives meaning to my life. When I was drinking I felt nothing for other people.

Q: Can you say that quitting made you discover the new you?

A: Yes, I discovered the real me. The sober, clever, funny me. Someone who is unselfish and is prepared to work on improving my life, as well as those of others.

Q: You seem to love yoga?

A: Yes, I spent eight months in India learning the tricks of the trade. India was a wonderful experience and an enriching spiritual journey. It was one of the highlights in my life.

Who would have thought that a little girl from a poor and dusty township would land up in India studying yoga. It was mind-boggling. All good things started happening to me when I stopped drinking, miracles, I tell you, miracles.

Q: How would you sum up your life today?

A: My life is rich and varied. I have good friends. I earn my own money. I love the people I work for and I take pleasure in helping others. It's not all about me anymore. I hike, go to the movies and am learning about bird life. The world is my oyster.

If you have a drinking problem, contact an AA branch near you or visit Harmony Clinic's Website at