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#21135
paul315
Participant

February 13, 2010 –  6 Months Gambling Free! 
My name is Larry and I am a Compulsive Gambler. I placed my last bet on August 13, 2009.
It is my 180 Day Milestone and once again I get a key tag to add to my set, and as I have said before; It may only be a piece of black plastic with gold lettering, but it holds the keys to my recovery.
My first month in my recovery, and being a member here at GT and at GA, was relatively easy, like many at this stage, I was broke and could not gamble. However, I recognized that I needed help for me to stay gambling free after the obvious restraint was gone.
 
My second month was the beginning on my true efforts, but the reasons were not true. The reasons I kept attending the GA meetings and visiting GT were that while I did recognize some benefits, I also recognized that I was not strong enough to admit to my new Fellow Gamblers that I had slipped, either while facing them or by just not showing up or not posting.  I found by reading post from others and hearing the sharing about the efforts of others, that it takes a lot of courage and strength to admit that you slipped – or as I believed in my earlier stages while trying on my own, failed. Fortunately thought, I somehow knew that with the right frame of mind that I could use that same energy to control my urges and stop the progression of my gambling.
 
The third month was a little harder for me to keep my mind on track. I had worked with the creditors and family members that I owed to set up payment plans, thus giving me some extra cash to have on hand. Thankfully the barriers that I had put in place prevented me to instant access, I had to go through precise steps to get my money and in doing so gave me time to rationally deal with the urges and had to work daily to keep these money barriers current. I did not let an amount build up on hand that I would have considered enough to gamble with, I only keep "pocket change".
I was also feeling that I might be strong enough, and have enough sense, to gamble "normally"; to fall victim to complacency and my unconcerning thoughts, and chase my elusive dreams ones again. Thanks to all here and at my GA meetings, and to my working the steps of recovery, I overcame this period. I have now replaced  the feelings of complacency with those of being comfortable; it is a different feeling of contentment, one that does not cause stinkin’ thinkin’ – instead, it supports rational thinking and gives peace of mind.
 
During my fourth month I began a concentrated effort in working the steps, in changing my character flaws. Until this process, I didn’t give any consideration as to what character traits I processed, either good or bad. Character was just a term that you used to describe others based on how you perceived them; if they pleased you they were of good character, if not they had poor character. Now I recognize that I too have character that others can judge. I can now honestly look at myself and notice my virtues, or lack of, and make efforts to build and reinforce the ones that will help, and attempt to remove or control the faults that hinder. This is not an easy task, but it eliminated my doing some wrongs that I had sunk to being at ease with, and it has brought back to life the conscience that I was suppressing.
 
During the next  two months, I noticed that I was not having the urges that use to haunt me.  I started to notice that I no longer saw everyday common images as slot machine themes. During my gambling and earlier stages of recovery, everything I looked at reminded me of a slot machine. I still think of this some, but as a past memory, not a driving force, when I hear about someone thinking about and being attracted to their favorite machine; I had no favorite, they were all my down fall. I knew every pay out for each bet amount and combination that showed on every machine.  I would sit and think that the machines should just have blank screens, it would make no difference to me; in fact there were many times I just hit the buttons with my eyes closed, playing like a blind man. Only my blindness was within my thinking and controlled by my addiction.
During this past month I have also found myself being closer to the God I believe in and depend on for strength and guidance. I also gained the strength and confidence in myself to do things that I enjoy without fear of ending up at the casino, I can go past or be next door to a casino, I can sit next to a machine in a bar or restaurant, I can stand at the checkout of the store next to the lottery tickets; I can live.
I know that there are some, maybe many, that do not share the need for God or a Higher Power of any dimension; but I have found that for myself, and have seen that for others, such a tool is needed – one can not accomplish this task of overcoming an overpowering influence on our lives without a connection between our innermost selves and a greater spiritual principle. This principle may be derived from a vast amount of sources, but the source has to be greater then our own will power – a power that has already proved to be inadequate. (IMHO and contrary to a popular saying at GA, it cannot be the door knob either, the Higher Power has to be greater then us) But I digress, this is a topic more suited to my Ways & Means topic page.
One thing that helped me in dealing with the ever present and available gambling surroundings is that during my recovery I find myself at a bus stop inside a casino parking garage every Thursday.  My daughter picks me up there each week for a visit with them. I spend the night and am dropped of at the same casino Friday mornings.  Prior to my recovery process, these times were a complete disaster due to me "visiting" the casino, not just waiting at a bus stop. Having to conquer this temptation has provided me a habit forming way of being able to ignore the gambling lure, just as I can ignore other things out in the world that I have no interest in.
I do have alternatives to my being near the gambling, I could stay home or I could depend on others.  My daughter has offered to go out of her way and pick me up at a more distant stop; and a friend offered to come and pick me up and take me home so I would not have to go near the casino (he is a recovering alcoholic and knows about temptations). I appreciate and am thankful for both offers, but I can not let them, I can not push my responsibility off on others – their offers were more then help and encouragement, they were putting me in a bubble. However, I did use their encouragement and support to face this situation by knowing that I could call on them; and in forcing myself to live the life I was seeking, I was able to combat the temptations around me and come out a better person. I did not do this to tempt or test myself, I did it to be able to live my life. 
 
Thanks to all of you, thanks to my God, and thanks to organizations like GT and GA, I can say; my name is Larry and I am a Recovering Compulsive Gambler.
God’s speed. Stay strong. Keep aware.
Larry

"Day Two Is Still Another Day Behind" – With the help of a Higher Power, My 3G’s – God, GA, and GT, I will not face another Day 2.– 2/13/2010 6:52:59 AM: post edited by paul315.