I’ve been in recovery from Alcoholism for almost 12 wonderful years with no complaints but gratitude. I regularly look back and can’t believe my progress of recovery and the person I have become today. Recovery has never come easy to me. In the early days, I used to listen to people in AA meetings discussing how they felt serene and how wonderful their lives were however I never felt that. I was nothing but a nervous wreck with so much emotional pain that sometimes I would curl up on the bed and just cry for hours. I had nothing to comfort me only the faith that god hand me in his hands and was nurturing my healing. It felt like I was trapped inside a box of anxiety and depression with the occasional reprieve of some sort of serenity watching black & white movies from an era gone by. That 90 minutes I would just blank out the pain. I remember people saying get to a meeting and you will feel better. This wasn’t the case for me. I went into a meeting feeling crap and walked out of the meeting feeling crap however I stayed clean another day. Sometimes it was a minute at a time. The funny thing was that with all the excuses in the world to not go to meetings, I made it to a meeting every day for the 1st year. Sometimes even 2-3 meetings a day. This was even more apparent when I had just left treatment.
The counsellors advised me not to go live back home because my dad was still drinking and they had very little hope for me staying sober if I went back there. I really didn’t have much of a choice as I burnt every damn bridge I had crossed in my life. It was hard, but I found a routine to avoid my father and our very sick relationship. I would get up in the morning and quickly leave the house. I would go and hang out with recovery friends. We would just sit and chat all day and go to meetings in between. We would go to lunch at Cafe Rouge and just chill there drinking coffee and smoking like troopers. I also developed a radar that could sense booze all around me. I was an obsessed demon. However, with the strength and encouragement of my dear friends which I will refrain from mentioning due to their anonymity, I kept clean. Those friends I still cherish in my heart and think about them all the time. We have since gone our separate ways. I left for South Africa, the others got married and started families and the other has twins like myself so we all have our own lives now. However, we all worked the programme of recovery which in my opinion is the 12 Steps. Together we were a force to be reckoned with. But in those early days it was daunting and really not for the faint hearted.
I also had regular counselling from one of the finest counsellors I have ever come across in my 12 years. David was kind of like my rock at the time. He was compassionate, he was a listener and he was at times an advisor. You may say counsellors are not supposed to give advice but believe me, I needed it. Addiction counselling is a different technique than the conventional style. With the help of my sponsor at the time and all the other sources I mentioned I stayed clean. I just felt like I was trapped in a box. I felt like everything at times was closing in on me. The feeling I could not breath from the high anxiety. It felt like I was in a permanent state of palpations. I also felt like a child in a grown-up world. It was daunting and I guess was due to being emotionally and mentally stunted from drinking for so long. I lived 90% of 15 years in black out and didn’t know how to present myself to the world sober, neither did I know or understand how to conduct myself with people. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever known how to. I was brought up in a very dysfunctional family so what seemed right to me never really jelled with the world outside. One of the many reasons why an addict is an addict. Fear, guilt, shame and many personality traits that I had were just no longer working for me with or without the drink. You see one of my biggest defects of character was dishonesty. I learnt that trait from a very young age as a survival technique. I needed to be dishonest in order not to receive a beating from my father. I needed to be dishonest just to seek approval from him and others. I never received help so I never knew how to ask when I was young. So, I grew up very self-willed and self-efficient. In affect I was an adult child helping my mother through her traumas and abuse from my father. Unravelling this stuff in therapy was a very painful process but very rewarding long term. I could never speak my mind neither could I speak my truth. Today I’m quite the opposite. I will not be a mat for people to walk on neither will I take shit. Something that I learnt from my counsellor very early on was to stand up to what I believe in. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong in other people’s eyes I just need to be honest.
Learning these new skills of life also did not come with ease. You see I have a need to be liked. I want the whole world to like me and speak highly of me for my ego to be nurtured. I never had any sort of self-esteem so needed external affirmation to feel good about myself. Don’t take me wrong we all love affirmation and enjoy feeling good but when one is constantly sourcing from outside things then it’s a problem. The whole world doesn’t revolve around me which was a bitter pill to swallow. Before my drinking career started I was quite a successful actor and got a lot of work. I was accustomed to being clapped at and people stroking my ego so that was probably my 1st drug of choice. Having a need to feel good from the outside took away the pain. My new sober life I thought I would get a round of applause from all my friends and family and putting me on a pedestal and treating me like an icon. However, when reality set in I was left with a trail of destruction which I had to go repair and make right what I had so unconsciously broken. But 1st I had to find some love and strength for myself in order to approach the people I had hurt. This came by working the 1st 7 steps. It was a process. I have worked through these steps of recovery a couple of times and I started to learn how to live them in my life. I learnt this when I came to South Africa.
At about 14 months in recovery I experienced another breakdown. I emotionally hit rock bottom once again but this time without a drink. I was having panic attacks practically every 5 minutes and suffering from severe depression. However, what I could not understand was why I was feeling this way. I had done all the suggested things yet I was having a meltdown. I finally made my way back to the Priory with a close friend of mine who also came in at the same time as me. I went and had an assessment although I don’t remember much about it and it was advised that I come back in for further treatment. This was impossible and completely un affordable for me. They then made a suggestion that I fly out to Cape Town and have treatment here where it was more affordable and also very good. That night I boarded a plane. I didn’t know this at the time but my life was about to change in the most dramatic way possible.
I was met by an elderly gentleman at the airport. We started our trip to a primary treatment facility by the name of Stepping Stones. On the journey, I was flabbergasted with the shacks and townships that I’d seen and even a bit worried that I’d be staying in one of those settlements. However, I was also blown away with the scenery and the site of Table Mountain. We finally arrived at my new home for 28 days and it was right on the beach. I could smell the sea air and the fresh wind on my face yet all I wanted to do was run. I thought it quite bizarre that there was a pub right next door and one opposite to a rehab facility. At the moment, a drink felt the right thing. It felt like if I took that first drink I know my pain will go. However, I was not only brainwashed by AA deep inside of me I wanted freedom. I wanted to be able to live life to its fullest without the need for alcohol. The night I stepped foot in the Priory 14 months before I knew then the game was up. In my heart, somewhere deep down I had faith that God was carrying me and I would get through this.
My 28 day stay at the Stepping Stones was so emotionally painful. Typically, I got the toughest counsellor of the pack however she wasn’t what she seemed. She was nurturing me and holding my hand the hold time I was there. I’m eternally grateful to her for releasing some of my demons that had no use for me anymore but merely were a hindrance and causing me so much pain. It was then said, I would be moved to a secondary.
When I finally reached secondary I was still very fragile and an emotional wreck. I was allocated a new counsellor and we went to work immediately. Secondary treatment was very different from primary. It was much more direct and challenging both from my counsellors and my peers. With my anxiety shooting through the roof this wasn’t fun for me. However, I stayed on the straight and narrow and continued to be as honest as possible throughout the whole process. Treatment confirmed that I was suffering from acute anxiety and depression and I was finally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and was put on medication straight away. From as far back as I can remember I’ve always experienced this discomfort. However, being diagnosed with the disorder kind of finally normalised it for me. I thought all these years I was just mad or had some very strange disease. I spent 3 months in secondary and this is where my journey of recovery really started to blossom. With the help of my counsellor we revealed what was the pain I had been experiencing all this time was. I was grieving. Yes, I was grieving the loss of my mother 10 years previous. You see I never actually dealt with my mother’s death because I continued to drink through it. This resulted in numbness that I was always searching for. Now that I was sober all my feelings were resurfacing and many of them were so confusing as they had been suppressed for so many years. I worked with my new sponsor as well and we revisited the steps. I literally began feeling a new person. Just like I was now looking at life again through technicolour. I had never felt so good for such a long time. Years. Zeki was back. Not the old Zeki, the new improved Zeki with a new set of life skills. Although these new skills made me feel so uncomfortable at times, but I was now reacting to life differently. It seemed like all my life I had gone against the grain and now I was finally following the grain which was proving a lot more sensible.
After spending 3 months of crying and healing the time had come to make my way back to the UK. I was in 2 minds about this as I started to grow very fond of Cape Town. On my arrival, back to the UK I threw myself straight back into my meetings. My father however had really deteriorated and was diagnosed with alcohol induced dementia and was now in a care home. There was part of me that felt very relieved and part of me that was struggling with guilt that I had just left him to keep drinking and taken his own path. Either way I was struggling to process it all. However, I worked through it. I also made a commitment that I would return to South Africa in a few months and decided to spend a year there to study and take time out to mature.
Whilst I spent my time back home I started to repair my broken relationship with people. My brother had started to talk to me again and we were starting to rebuild a very damaged relationship. I had subjected my family to many years of emotional abuse. My insanity had destroyed the trust of many people. Getting sober is the easy bit of recovery. Staying sober and maintaining healthy relationships with myself and others is a different kettle of fish. I was still quite fragile and worked very hard in new fellowships like Adult Child and Co-dependent Anonymous. I found a lot more identification in these groups as I recognised my core issues. AA I was a regular at to help fellowship with other recovering drunks but the other two was where my recovery and esteem building began. As far back as I could remember I had addict behaviour. When I was 10 years old I had my 1st nervous breakdown which resulted in me losing about 10 months of schooling. I was feeling those symptoms of anxiety that I’ve been talking about throughout this story. However, they presented themselves with constant stomach cramps and depression. I was not in a good way. My mother would take me shopping to get out of the house and we would pop into our local newsagents which had a turnstile of toys. I would ask my mum desperately to buy me one and would say if I got one of the toys it would make me feel better. By the time, we had got home I would be crying and asking for another because this one never worked. Much the same as my alcoholism. Constantly chasing the next drink to try and change the way I feel.
I was getting ready to leave for South Africa for a year out and study. There were mixed feelings from my family but I knew it was what I had to do. I had to be far away from my comfort zone in order that I start taking responsibility for myself. For too long I expected everyone else to pick up my pieces through destruction and now it was time I grew up. I felt a lot of fear leaving as my default behaviour wanted me to become a recluse and isolate. Safer to be in isolation than facing the world. It was a big challenge with many hurdles to come.
The day arrived when I jumped onto a plane and headed for Cape Town. With a new lease of life, I was ready to face the challenges. I arrived safely and was greeted by a friend whom I had met whilst I was in treatment. He also offered for me to stay at his place until I had the opportunity to find my own abode. I spent about 2 months on his living room floor but was so grateful to him and his aunty for giving me a home to live in until I was ready to move to my own property. In the new year, I was to start studying psychology which had become a bit of a passion of mine since getting sober. I had read all the self-help books known to mankind and now was ready to take it further. I think when one realises there is a lot more to just being an addict. It’s normal to question and learn about our minds. Many new people in recovery want to be counsellors and rescue the world. I guess it’s a process we have to go through as part of our healing. We need to understand what makes us tick. I’ve meet a lot of people in the “helping” career and most have a story to tell how their lives have been impacted with some sort of emotional or mental pain. Although they go into these careers to make money it’s also a way of themselves giving back.
I managed to get myself a job in a rehab facility as a recovery assistant which really never paid me much money. In fact, it was quite embarrassing what they offer to people in these positions considering what they have to deal with. However, I was happy to be busy. I got myself a place to live nearby and was so excited about furnishing it and making it my own. It was exciting times. I spent so much time on the beach that summer that people actually mistook me as a local I was so dark. Made a lot of friends and really was in a good place spiritually. I was happy.
In January 2008, I started my course at SACAP. It was amazing studying again. However, this time it was doing something that I wanted to do. Not those laborious lessons at school we used to have to endure. It took me a while but I was really getting some great marks. Even distinctions. I always thought I was academically stunted. I was far from being a grade a student. I spent a lot of my teenage years working as an actor so I missed a lot of vital schooling. But 1 thing I’ve always seemed to of had was common sense and I was very street wise. Throughout my life, I’ve always managed to get good work. Highly paid jobs with lots of responsibilities. In fact, throughout my life I’ve had higher paid jobs than a lot of my peers that ventured out to university etc. I’m a born salesman and used that to get me through life. Give me a £1.00 and I will turn into £100.00. I’ve also worked with some great business men and learned a lot from them. There are some very simple rules to follow in business and if you can just take them and utilise them to your benefit the world is your oyster.
Although I was amongst a lot of people whilst in South Africa I was still to find real friends. I met a lot of people through AA/NA meetings however I’ve always been very choosy who I let into my space. I guess it’s about not trusting too easily. It’s either that or just being wise. There were those to that I mixed with from treatment but just couldn’t have the kind of friendships that I wanted. I was also now craving female company. I’d been sober for 2 years and decided that I would avoid relationships for 2 reasons. 1, that I was so cooked and mentally damaged by my alcoholism that I needed time to heal mentally and physically before venturing into anything emotional and romantic. And 2, I really did not know how to chat women up without a drink. Don’t take me wrong it wasn’t like that all my life but for 15 years I had a crutch that removed any and all my inhibitions which gave me the Dutch courage to take on Miss World. Now I had no clue what to say and even felt a bit shy. Those who know me will laugh at what I’m writing. Zeki shy? You bet!!! I’m an actor and I can fool you very easily. But what I’m actually feeling inside is completely different to how my mask is performing for you externally.
My sponsor at the time caught on to all this very quickly as I did share with him my fear of entering wet places and night spots where I could meet women. I really wanted to also meet someone that was not in recovery. My sponsor also agreed to this. I never forget how wise this old man was and still is today. He said to sick people don’t make a “wellie” and recovery is about crossing a bridge to normal living. You see because of all my fears of the outside world I had shielded myself from life with recovery. I had become a recovery soldier and was now addicted to that. I was masking my fears through my addiction to meetings, sponsor, service and anything recovery related. In 2 years, I had exhausted myself by throwing myself into being the golden child of sobriety. Some might say there is nothing wrong with this. Look it kept me sober which is the main thing but there comes a time you have to let go and allow yourself to be part of society again. I was now rationed to maximum 3 meetings a week and 1 service position. What the hell was I going to do with myself for the rest of the time? I was told that I need to have fun. Little did I know how much fun my sponsor had in mind.
One night I was on the sofa all comfy watching series when the phone rang at 12am. It was my sponsor. He told me to go have a quick shower, get dressed up and meet him at the treatment centre where he’d just finished his shift. He said don’t ask questions just do it. So, I did as I was told. The next thing I knew we were in a night club. Now remember at the time my sponsor was in his early sixties. He didn’t give a damn. Took me to the bar and said what you having to drink? With a deep breath, I said “Redbull”. Sod it was going to let loose. That night was a huge stepping stone for me. I had made my 1st step into a world I thought I could never face again. I was in a wet place having fun sober. He even took me amongst girls to chat them up and although nothing came of it we had a lot of fun. I laughed so hard for the 1st time since I had stopped drinking. I felt alive. We left that venue at about 8am. I have never forgotten that night. We even still talk about it at times. Around the same time, I was even taken to a strip club which caused me much anxiety but this was all a lesson for me. I was being reintroduced back to life and being around women.
My 1st relationship in recovery was like a teenage fling. It was all passion and excitement but it was short lived as like myself I got involved with another addict which was still in early recovery herself and suffered from extreme bi-polar. This frightened the living hell out of me as it was like being with a Jekyll & Hyde. Not long afterwards I met another lady. Very attractive, very gothic with a great sense of humour. We had a lot of fun but something didn’t seem right. Slowly I started to realise she was actually fascist. Needless to say, that ended very abruptly.
My sponsor then made a suggestion that I join a dating site. I was horrified!!! Zeki join a dating site? I’ve never in my life been short of female company and now I’m being subjected to meeting women online. Anyway, I finally caved in and started cyber dating. Once again, my sponsor was right. I had such a good time meeting different people from all walks of life. It was hysterical some of the girls I met. Each with their quirks. Some dates only lasted a cup of coffee followed by an excuse that I had to get away for some reason or other. Some dates were really nice with lots of intellectual conversations but no attraction what so ever.
Finally, I met a lady whom I was attracted to and the feeling was mutual. We had I would say a very steamy affair. However, long-term it was going nowhere. I also came to realise that although we were quite compatible her taste for alcohol was a bit too much for me. One morning she woke in a foul mood and said she was struggling with some personal issues and asked me to leave. It’s funny. You don’t have to be an addict to have had trauma or a hard life. I think the difference is I had the privilege to have dealt with my demons through therapy and recovery. Also, I have the 12 steps to work in my life. I had written the steps a few times and worked them through with my sponsor. I was sat down with him and asked when would he need me to do them again. He said every day. You now go “live” the steps. That’s the whole point. This is your new way of life. He also taught me to allow myself to make mistakes and it was ok not to be perfect. My sponsor was never judgemental of people which I found endearing. If I was struggling with something or someone he would always remind me that we never make judgements of no one until we have walked in their shoes. Until this day, I’ve never judged how people work their recovery. What might work for me may not walk for others and visa versa. We’ve been given an instruction manual which is the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have learnt that the answer to my questions are in my prayers and by listening to other people and remaining open minded I’ve allowed a Higher Power into my life. Sometime the answer doesn’t come immediately however everything that I face in life reveals itself to me daily. I don’t need to go to a church to believe in God. He’s there I just need to listen to my heart. I also believe that the 12 Steps are not for everyone. Many people have found good happy recovery through religion and many other sources of treatment or beliefs. That’s their life and if it works for them who am I to say it’s wrong.
After the break, up with my girlfriend I decided to back off from relationships for a while. I felt that I had made lots of progress with having the confidence for relationships. It was time to just have some fun again alone. I also now had some very close friends. One in particular which I don’t want to name as it’s not my place to reveal someone else’s anonymity was quite encouraging. We spent quite a lot of time together hanging out in pool halls and just getting together. After a few months had gone by we were sitting by my friend’s pool when he happened to mention that someone had the hots for me. To be honest I was quite surprised as I also kind of liked this young lady myself and although I had known her for quite a while I never really approached her neither did I ever think she would have had any form of romantic interest in me. With this is mind I told my friend to set it up. I got the ladies telephone number which opened conversation between us. Bearing in mind I really still did not feel ready to get into anything serious. I was kind of still processing the previous break up and wanted time to just have fun. However, I was extremely flattered.
We started hanging out a bit. Going for drinks and just spending time together. There was lots of flirting of course between us both. We then became romantically involved and I was invited to spend the weekend with her and her friends at a holiday resort in Hermanus for the weekend. I agreed and although we had a lot of fun that weekend I still felt insecure about getting into something too deep. I just wanted a bit of fun that’s all. When we arrived back in Cape Town we continued seeing each other. However I think I was somewhat more reserved about the relationship than she was. I tried to kind of set boundaries but I was still very new at having intimate relationships. I spent 15 years in an alcoholic daze and had lots of very dysfunctional relationships so trying to manage my life differently was still a task at times. Don’t take me wrong I really did like this girl but felt very insecure and was paralysed with the thought of having to get into another relationship and once again to deal with rejection when she had had enough. I was projecting so far into the future I could have told you what would be our mode of transport would be in the year 2050. The crippling thoughts of an alcoholic mind.
One afternoon after spending the night with this young lady and her daughter they decided it would be fun to head out to Retanga Junction theme park to go and have some fun on the roller coasters. That morning I felt so overwhelmed that I decided to break loose and needed time alone to just have some space to think things through. Although this didn’t go down to well it was something I needed to do. I went home and drew all the curtains and just spent the next 24hrs watching series. The only time I left my flat was to go buy food. I felt fearful. I felt that everything was caving in on me and just wanted to breath. I spoke to my sponsor and he urged me to go easy on myself and not beat myself up. I was stuck in a position where I liked this girl but didn’t want the responsibility of hurting her. She’s such a good person with a lovely soul and I just felt the time wasn’t right for me to get involved. I needed to isolate. Sometimes the best way I clear my head is spending time with just me away from the world where I can pray and just be still to listen to the answers.
The following day I ended the relationship quite cowardly over a text message. I just didn’t have the strength to face anyone at that moment. I just needed to be alone. From what I understood and was told that she didn’t take it too well but I was just simply in avoidance mode. For the next week, I barely even looked at my phone I just wanted to be alone. I must also admit that in a crazy way I was also missing her company. It was like I wanted to be with her but purely on my terms. See her when I felt like it. Very selfish of me. I knew that it was not fair.
After my week of hibernation, I started to venture out again and get to meetings. I bumped into her a couple of times at the meetings which was somewhat difficult but I was really relishing the thought of seeing her. Eventually I got a message that she wanted to come visit me and talk which I was now ready for. We made arrangement that she come to the flat that evening after work. I was actually quite excited yet nervous of seeing her again, yet I knew I owed this to her. Deep down I had missed her.
When she arrived, it was quite awkward and we exchanged pleasantries however she told me the only way that she could let me know the way she was feeling was that she had written a letter to me and wanted to read it out. This felt a bit strange but I completely understood. In treatment, we were always advised that if we were angry, or resentful or had stuff we want to express and found it difficult a great way was to write it down. There is something very therapeutic in writing and I guess this is why I write so I can share with you. I get the therapeutic value of letting go and putting pen to paper or in this case fingers to keyboard. Then I allow others to read my memoirs as to allow it to no longer being a secret. This in its self is very much like doing Step 4 and 5 of the 12 Steps. Those that read are my witness’s and God is also within me as I write. It’s kind of like a spiritual release.
After she read the letter to me I was gobsmacked and lost for words. I didn’t realise how much I actually meant to her. Her letter was so beautiful it brought so much love and joy to me that there and then I knew Zandri was the one for me. I have refrained using Zandri’s name up until now. Because it is as from that moment she was not just another date that had gone wrong but was the girl I had been looking for on all levels, Spiritually and emotionally I felt an overwhelming connection that the hairs on my body stood on end. From that moment on I told her I wanted to be with her. I was not in love, I was not in lust I was on a level that I can’t describe. I had found my soulmate!!!.
We started developing a relationship over time. I was still weary of throwing myself completely in the deep, however, I went with it. Zandri still jokes today and says for the 1st 6 months I avoided calling it a relationship and it was on Christmas Eve 2010 we made it official although we’d been seeing each other for a long time before. Zandri would probably correct all this what I’m writing as my memory is so poor however this is how I remember it.
The winter of 2011 we decided to go on our 1st holiday together and this was her 1st time travelling overseas. We had planned to go to London to visit my family and her brother. Then we were to go to Cyprus for 2 weeks also. It was such exciting times. I had fallen so much in love with Zandri and was so happy to be with her. We also got our 1st house together in Bergvliet. Lehela, Zandri’s daughter and I were started to build a lovely relationship also. She was this sweet little 10-year-old girl. We would have such fun together especially in shopping malls. We would sing and dance up and down the escalators embarrassing Zandri to death. The more she felt embarrassed the more we would play on it.
We were all packed and ready to go on our 1st of many trips together. Behind the scenes, I was plotting and planning with my sponsor to ask Zandri to marry me. No one knew of my decision except for him. I was 39 years old and was finally ready to settle down. This was also nerve wracking. I’ve come close to asking someone to marry me a couple of times but this was real. It was really going to happen. You see what was different with Zandri was her stability. Her reliability. She was my best friend and my soul mate. It’s quite hard to describe in words but you know it when it happens. It was beyond that feeling of butterflies in the stomach, or that obsessional heavenly feeling of love. It was real. Love is so much more than just a feeling. It’s an action. We do things for each other that we would not do for others. We go out of our way. We work at the relationship. We may disagree with each other but that’s ok. When we have an argument the fear one of us might end the relationship is not there. It’s ok to have differences of opinion. It all felt right. I had never ever had this type of relationship with someone else before. Sure, it wasn’t all a bed of roses our relationship but it was real.
I agreed with my sponsor to make things more exciting I would ask her to marry me without a ring in had just incase she said no. But more importantly we could go pick a ring together from overseas. It would be magical. I had the whole holiday planned and the exact location I would ask Zan to marry me. 1st and foremost I needed to introduce her to my family.
When we got to London we stayed with my brother and his wife Ingrid in Palmers Green where we had grown up. My brothers flat is small compared to what I have become accustomed to in South Africa but it was perfect. It was wonderful seeing him again and I got the thumbs up from them. We spent a week visiting, shopping and spending time with Zandri’s brother as well. This was the 1st time I had met him and his partner. So, I had some points to gain in the Gutteridge family before dropping the question.
We finally flew out to Northern Cyprus where my father is from. I love the country so much and always feel at home there. It’s a place where I feel spiritually connected and if circumstances had been different I’m sure I would have ended up living there. Zandri met my family and also felt quite uncomfortable with the language barrier. However, it was like being in paradise. We ate at lovely restaurants, enjoyed the home cooked meals. Swam in the sea at night and sunbathed and relaxed during the day. The beaches are to die for. White sand and crystal blue water. In summer it feels like you are bathing in a bath.
Our local beach is called Kocareis and further down the beach is a 5-star hotel by the name of Salamis. I asked Zan to take a walk with me. We kicked our feet in the sand and chatted all the way until we reached a very shallow area where some speed boats were docked. We could see the fish swimming through our legs. The sun was beating down on us and there was nothing else there just some palms. I felt my heart palpitating so fast. I knew the time and setting was right. I knelt down in the water on one knee and Zandri’s face lit up. That moment she knew what I was about to do. I looked up at her whilst holding her hand and asked sincerely if she would marry me. There was a pause that felt like eternity and my heart began to sink. With a big smile, she said yes. I jumped up and started kissing her. It felt like the happiest day of my life. I was succumbed with tears of joy. I started dancing in the water screaming at the top of my voice that she said yes.
Quickly I told her we must get to the old village and by her a ring. The excitement was real. We made our way back to Kocareis and fetched our belongings. When we got to the old town the day was starting to cool and the shops were all open. The old village streets had some tourists hustling for bargains. The cafes were full of people enjoying a beer or a cup of Turkish coffee and we were on the hunt for our engagement ring. After some scouting around jewellers we finally found the ring for her. It was a beautiful marcasite vintage ring. It was stunning and just what we wanted. I did promise Zan that when we got back to Cape Town I would get her another ring as well. But she was ecstatic at the thought of being the future Mrs Hilmi.
The rest of the holiday went by with many happy memories. We reached back to London and we announced our news to all our friends and family. The support and love was wonderful. However, I had to now overcome the next hurdle asking her father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. This scared the living daylights out of me. Zandri assured me it would be ok.
When we got back to Cape Town we went straight to Franschhoek to spend the weekend and share our happy news. 1st of all I needed to tell Lehela that I asked her mother to marry me. She was so excited and was screaming. That was the first hurdle out the way. Then I went to ask Zan’s dad Barry for he’s approval. I was so scared I think I could have died. Barry is quite deaf so trying to explain this to him was quite difficult. When he finally understood, he shook my hand and asked if I know how to Braai. That’s the word for BBQ in South Africa. If I knew how to Braai then I was man enough to marry his daughter. Thank god, I did know.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my memoirs. I find great pleasure and therapeutic value in writing. It also assists me with my healing and recovery process to be able to express myself and knowing that someone has read my thoughts and the actions I have taken in my life.
My next blog will continue on my journey and I do hope you have the same time to read this once again.