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Hi Adele,

At work, I most definitely walk a tight rope between managing guilt and making things right. From the start, my counselor was concerned the work situation might hinder my healing. If I hadn’t learned to place gambling-related theft in the context of addiction, while also remaining accountable for my choices, I don’t think I would’ve been able to do my job or regain some measure of self-respect these last couple of months. I’m starting to wonder if I’m a masochist, though, since dealing with my wrongs on a daily basis comes with some unique hazards. I normally would be the one to write up the report to handle a situation like this, and basically had to help my employers write myself up. It has been an exercise in taking ownership, as well as learning to not buckle under the torture of guilt. The final formal documentation has been processed and life goes on until my review in December. I do still wake up in the middle of the night from horrible bouts of guilt and anger and deep, deep regret. But in the morning, I know I’ve got this, because no one else can make it right but me. And I so want to live up to my integrity again. That is what drives me the most when I think about gambling. My addiction destroyed my integrity once. And that is something I can simply never allow, or let happen ever again.

I feel there’s also a danger in idealizing a fresh start. So, I’m focusing on making my current situation work, while casting an equal eye towards new possibilities. I can’t deny that it’s been emotionally draining, though. In a normal year, I would have taken a vacation by now to recharge, but instead, I’ve been sick twice – had the flu and a cold after kicking that. I’ve been moving boxes of stuff into storage while cleaning up and rearranging my home office. The stacks of books, paperwork and clutter sitting in my living room for the past couple of months have also begun to shrink.

Mental techniques and discipline are strongly in place to deal with urges. Thoughts of winning money come up for me between 5-10 times each week, but after letting those irrational thoughts run their course, the practice of seeing myself losing all of those times and reminding myself of rock bottom and all the worst case scenarios I’ve memorized during GA meetings has been the norm. I hunt down each and every gambling thought/urge and ask “why do you think that?” answer, ask why again, and continue until I’ve answered every “why.” I also ask myself what I think winning more money, or chasing after lost money, is going to fix in my life. Then I calmly go back to doing the laundry or whatever it is I’m doing.

Even though my relationship with my boyfriend didn’t make it, I have a handful of girlfriends I’ve depended on since I was nine years old. My sisterhood of the traveling pants, if you will, without the pants. And I have been blessed with a cadre of dear friends I’ve made over the last 15 years, and a handful of mentors who’ve provided solid advice and support, and probably saved me from myself a few times. Being the black sheep in my family, I was never close to my parents and brother. My habit of adopting surrogate siblings and parents began when I was five.

My heartbreak and loss of a significant other is receding slowly, but making room now for the hope and possibility of meeting someone again someday. It is tough, and as it should be, but I no longer feel cut off from the support and love of those around me and feeling grateful to be in my hometown again. Accepting generosity and love in full measure is also tough for me, since I grew up in a family that did not share positive or loving feelings. Digging out of my many years of avoidance, re-imagining a new future, and creating slow forward momentum are the gifts I’m experiencing at the moment.