The World Breaks Everyone
Its been 27 days since my last bet, and it feels like years.
Bottom for me came the morning I walked into my employers office and stood face to face with my friend, mentor and boss. Looking him in the eye, I admitted I had made cash advances from the company credit card and advances on my salary from the company bank account to fund a gambling addiction I had been struggling with over the last 9 months. Damages were somewhere in the range of $85,000. In addition, I also have overdue credit card debts, unpaid taxes, and loans from family and friends for about half that amount.
In 27 days, I survived the things I had feared the most. Letting down the people I loved and respected. Admitting I had failed and subverted my financial responsibilities and obligations. Admitting how deeply I had deceived myself, and by extension, everyone around me about my activities and wrongdoing. Losing my career. Losing trust. Losing friends. Losing loved ones. And the obvious, losing all my money.
Ive been in the process of taking the fearless moral and financial inventory we talk about at my weekly GA meetings. It is a wonder to me that I have not gone to jail or faced legal action as a result of my gambling addiction. But that is one of the greatest gifts Ive been given in the last 27 days. Did I ever expect to be met with kindness & forgiveness in one of the darkest moments of my life? Never. My boss listened silently, and did not interrupt or react once until I got to the bitter end. He then proceeded to offer assistance in the gentlest way possible. It was one of the noblest acts I had ever witnessed.
Truthfully, it was an astounding miracle to me that the ones I harmed understood my misdeeds in the context of my addiction, and in many ways, better than I did myself. I had never known or had experiences with addiction, but my boss and his board of directors had firsthand experience with addiction (one is a Ph.D. in Psychology and used to be a counselor early in his career). Looking back, their decision was more well-informed and enlightened than anyone could hope to expect, but ultimately, I am prepared to finish my current project through the end of next month and begin to repay my financial debt and my debt of honor to my boss over time. Prudent steps to limit liability to the organization have been taken, and I am actively seeking work that does not require me to handle finances or money. Ive been with my boss for the last 15 years. I will miss him dearly, but it will be a hard and necessary transition for all of us.
I, on the other hand, am only beginning to understand and come to terms with what I had done. I am working with a therapist and Gamblers Anonymous weekly. My past actions still weigh profoundly on my heart. I experience daily moments of anxiety and have to do breathing exercises to cope with them. I also struggle to communicate with my boyfriend about my addiction, and he thinks it is mostly a financial problem and doesnt want to talk to people who have been through this. He has not looked into any of the literature or resources I have forwarded to him. He doesnt understand the emotional and psychological components of the addiction. He isnt ready, and may never be ready, or even capable of understanding. He has stated he cannot understand any of it, and has backed off and stopped communicating for the last week because he needs time away from the problem (without telling me he would be doing this). We dont live together and I dont owe him money, but he must believe that somehow he will be on the hook if I slip up someday. I grant him that distrust, and also acknowledge his doubts and fears and worries. But I also feel under-qualified to educate him on these things and cant provide him with the help he needs while also working on the help that I need.
There are many moments of heaviness, minor depression, and anxiety for me these days. But they are balanced by small gestures of empathy, as well as grand demonstrations of humanity. But one memory stands out for me. As I walked out of his office that day, my boss said, You are the most efficient and effective person I have ever met and worked with. I know you can beat this thing. I hold that thought dearly and closely, as I try to remember how others see me when I am not gambling.
Surprisingly, after I did my homework, there was one more loss I had to learn to acknowledge, and probably the mother of all losses in my situation. Unlike a set of car keys gone missing, this had gone completely unnoticed, but may be the underpinning of my self-destruction. In my addicted state, I was able to lose all sense of self and time. The act of gambling allowed me to neglect my true needs and ignore my deepest aspirations. In the absence of inspiration, the abandonment of my ideals slowly followed. Subconsciously or not, through the culmination of my addiction, and lets face it, there are only a few possible endings to a gambling addiction, I was forced to start to see myself for the first time in many years. I am awake in this moment, and I am awake to myself when I am not gambling.
The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. - Ernest Hemingway-- 8/28/2013 6:47:42 AM: post edited by Sirena0215.-- 8/28/2013 6:48:47 AM: post edited by Sirena0215.