Saying goodbye and saying *****
Hi.. my name is Tim. I am a compulsive gambler working recovery as best I can. I have also been heavilly involved with this site since it started back in November 2004 first as a volunteer and then as a paid staff member.
In the early days i had no real concept of what gamblingtherapy.org was all about. I was familiar with gamblersanonymous meetings and had been through rehab but online support didn't really mean anything to me. All I new for sure was that I needed something to do because I wasn't working (because of my addiction) and I was looking for things to do to pass my day and structure my week and help me not to gamble.
One day I found myself sitting in front of a computer screen looking at the cyber helproom (there was no forum back then) waiting for people to connect so I could supposedly "advise" them about how to stop gambling?? At first I was very nervous, I mean.. what the hell did I know about stopping gambling?? .. my own personal rock bottom had only been a few weeks earlier. It had involved spending the day sitting on top of a multi-storey car park trying to will myself to jump off and then a night waiting to have my wrists stitched back together after having had a close encounter with a kitchen knife. Pretty gruesome stuff I know but sometimes I find it helps to remind myself how low one I can go when my gambling takes over.
Anyway there I was shaking like a leaf having these conversations with people from all parts of the world about gambling problems. Very soon I realised that I really really wasn't alone. There were all these people who gambled in much the same way that I gambled and were experiencing very similar consequences and were going through very similar emotions that I was. In fact having spent the previous six months in self-imposed isolation I found it really quite overwhelming.
Almost overnight I had found a medium through which I could connect with others and connect with others in a way that i had seldom been able to do with face to face or in real groups.
Soon I was volunteering 2 or 3 hours a day 5 days a week. I had meaning and purpose to my life once again and I stopped gambling. I also started to make other positive changes to my life. I gave up my flat that i had hated from the start and moved into a houseshare. I also joined a gym and started swimming and getting fitter. I also started to eat properly and cook meals for myself and others and even god forbid socailise like normal people do... whatever normal is! I also started to look in the mirror from time to time and see that i didn't have to look like a dishevelled wreck all the time .. just some of it LOL . I also finally overcome the shame I felt about my overwhelming debts and decided to declare myself bankrupt which had always been the sensible and the logical option for me giving my circumstances and personality.
Indeed I was learning that it was ok to make mistakes and that I could forgive myself and try to learn from my mistakes. I didn't have to carry my debts with me like a ball and chain forever and a day, beating myself constantly. The pressure relief was enormous and helped my recovery.
My life soon entered a period of stability and routine and i was ok with that. I had enough going on with my life to keep me ticking over and keep me safe from myself. Indeed i didn't want to go back to paid work while i was an undischarged bankrupt so volunteering on here suited me absolutely fine. My life was ok if unspectacular. I had moments when I even smiled .. o and yes I continued not to gamble.
Nothing ever stays the same forever though we all experince change whether we like it or not and that very much includes me. I was discharged from bankruptcy and then a week I accepeted the offer to become a fully paid up member of staff. Clearly my skills had been recognised and the organisation was willing to pay me for something that i also loved doing. You'd think i'd be happy right?? .. well yes and no is my honest answer to that.
.. great to be on a wage for sure. I joined a posh gym now that I could afford it. I moved back to a place of my own that i liked and i could now afford all the stuff that you need in a home and have the extra's to.. like the cable telly, internet etc etc.. that was nice for sure.. BUT at the same time my relationship with the site had changed. I was now a proffessional, this was my career helping others with gambling problems and those affeccted by gambling problems. And as a paid member of staff I now had to become a little more detached. It was no longer simply something I did a few hours a day cos I enjoyed it... but something i did 36 hours a week with all the obigations that paid work brings.
Don't get me wrong though in the great scheme of things it was still the right move for me... onwards and upwards I said to myself. I started doing counselling courses which i really enjoyed and helped me in my work a great deal. new functions come to the site.. the support groups, the forums, a buddy service (alas that one didn't survive) and the resources. It was all great really. I did my bit. I helped others conscientiously. I helped in the development of the site. Helping others was helping myself... right??
... I didn't especially see it coming to start with but in reality my stress levels and my emotions were starting to go off the boil. Sometimes I left work having literally been continuously online for many hours working concentrating and focussing on "others" who were sometimes very vulnerable people, only then to get home and log on to the site again to check to see what was happening. This is the thing you see... I wasnt gambling anymore but i was literally spending all my time living and breathing and thinking about recovery from gambling addiction and although anything is better than emptying ones bank account into a slot machine (my gamble of choice).. spending all ones time on the site isnt especially recovery in and of itself. I never really switched off from Gt.
After jusy shy of 3 years of not gambling I gambled again and do you know what... it was as if the time in between had never happened. The thoughts feelings and actions and consequnces were exactly the same as they were before. The whole gambling experince was the same.. which in reality for me ment I become a zombie like creature, eyes glazed over as i fed multiple slot machines at the same time until my money ran out.
Anyway to cut an even longer story shorter and to fast forward 2 more years and two more gambling episodes ive decided to call it a day. Time to move on to pastures new. Time to concentrate more on me and my recovery. Ive had quite a journey with Gt and i have met alot of wonderful characters along the way.. both collegues and the lovely people who use this site.
I'd like to thank everybody past and present who has been a support to me and i a support to them. I am not going to name names for fear of forgetting someone .. but you know who you are
Don't get me wrong am not completely disappearing I am still about and will no doubt reply to this my recovery topic from time to time but now is the time to ease into the shadows.. atleast for now.
My name is Tim.. a recovering compulsive gambler working recovery as best i can.
Thanks for listening.
P.s Its very cathartic writing this.
Taking life one day at a time as always.