Hi Sheryl
You will be getting stronger even if you don’t feel it. Once understanding comes of what you are dealing with, you begin to put mental barriers in place without realising it and given time they grow. The F&F recovery is very hard – it takes a long time to lose self-esteem and it takes a long time to win it back but you will. I know I am further down the road but the way I cope is to know that I can live with my CG in my life but only if his addiction never hurts me again – and to that end I live with the mantra that ‘I will never live with the addiction to gamble again’ etched indelibly in my brain.
I think every person I have ever spoken to who has lived with the addiction to gamble has ended up thinking that they are the one with issues and in the end I think it is impossible not to have some – but the F&F issues are woven around ‘how’ and ‘why’ and in time can be overcome as the realisation grows that you never stood a chance – you didn’t know what it was that was that was confusing and hurting you because the addiction was thriving on a secret you were never meant to understand; you were and are trusting and caring.
I believe your husband is sorry but at the moment I suspect he is still sorrier that his addiction has been exposed.
I cannot tell you what to do but I think it is good to have notes beside a phone when you are waiting for it to ring and you are not sure of your resistance. Headings that remind you of what you want to say and bigger headings that remind you what you don’t want to say – the words that help his addiction get under your skin. For instance ‘I’m sorry’ is meaningless without positive action that proves sorrow – so perhaps you could say something like ‘call me and tell me you are sorry when you are taking steps to change your life but until then don’t tell me you are sorry. Later on (and only when you are ready), this can be developed into ‘don’t call me unless it is to tell me you are changing your life’. In reply to ‘I can’t handle things’ maybe it could be said that ’you can, I have had to seek support for me and now I know support is there for you if you want it enough’. Control the call and don’t allow the conversation to deviate from that which you have prepared.
Avoid lengthy discussions – his addiction likes wars of words and is a master at manipulation, whereas you are not. A method not recognized professionally but which has helped many cope is to imagine your husband’s addiction as a slavering beast lying beside him on the other end of the phone.
Your husband is controlled by his addiction but you are not. When you threaten his addiction, it comes between you and controls the conversation. Once it is between you, you will only hear that addiction speak and because it only knows lies and deceit, it will seek to make you feel blame and demoralize you. When you speak the addiction distorts your words and your husband cannot comprehend your meaning.
My CG explained it to me by saying that all the time when I was telling him (for instance) that if he didn’t lie but lived honestly he would be happy, his addiction was telling him that I was lying because he truly believed that he was unlovable, worthless and a failure – he was lost and fought back the only way be knew because he didn’t have any other coping mechanism. The addiction to gamble only offers failure to those who sadly own it.
I think you feel you are still ‘letting him play you’ because deep down you want to believe that this time he is different. In my opinion it is good, although difficult, not to ‘try’ and believe him because in doing so you become receptive. If you can stand back a bit and listen to what he is saying, it becomes easier not get caught up in an argument that has no point apart from making you feel less in control. Once you begin to try and put your side the addiction has something to get its teeth into.
I hope some of this helps.