I have seen the rep***s you have had and I hope you are feeling more positive as a result. Kathryn is an inspiration on this site – her thread ‘Be***ve’ is in our CG forum ‘My Journal’. You have asked Kathryn a question but I know she is getting on and living her gamble-free life and might not see it so I suggest that you write to her on her thread.
I see that Adele has pointed you towards my thread ‘F&F cycle’ which I hope helps you see the loop that unfortunately it is deceptively easy to get into.
You cannot stop your husband gambling Shelly, accepting that fact will take you forward. It is often said on this site that if what you have been doing hasn’t worked, then maybe it is time to try something new – reacting differently confuses an addiction that has been in control for a long time.
I don’t know whether you have read the following on other threads but I will write it here anyway because although not recognised professionally, I and many others, be***ve it to be an invaluable coping mechanism – I see that Kathryn has touched on it as a coping mechanism for herself.
Imagine your husband’s addiction as a slavering beast in the corner of the room. As long as you keep your cool and don’t threaten that addiction it stays quiet, although it never sleeps and is always ready to ward off potential threats.
Your husband is controlled by that addiction but you are not. When you threaten that addiction, it comes between you and controls the conversation or argument. It is the master of threats and manipulation and you are not. Once it is between you, you will only hear the addiction speak and because it only knows ***s 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 when I told him (for instance) that if he didn’t *** but lived honestly he would be happy, his addiction was distorting his mind convincing him that I was ***** because he truly be***ved that he was unlovable, worthless and a failure – he was a lost soul and fought back because he didn’t have any other coping mechanism. The addiction to gamble only offers failure to those that own it. However much your husband convinces you that he is in control – he is not unless you allow it.
As you have been married for 31 years your husband’s addiction will have caused a lot of wreckage and by no means, just financially. My CG was active for 25 years but turned his life around 7 years ago and lives a healthy, happy gamble-free, so my message to your husband would be that he has plenty life ahead of him to enjoy if he changes his life. However he will probably not listen to me – his recovery will start when he accepts he is a compulsive gambler and wants to change his life and he ***** the right support to do that.
Looking after yourself seems too easy an answer but strangely enough it is one of the finest ways to break out of the addiction cycle and can make a massive difference to the person you love, who owns the addiction. Your husband will not have deliberately hurt you – he didn’t ask for or want his addiction any more than you did. By changing the one person you can change – which is ‘you’; you will be supporting him in a different way.
Your mind will probably have been full of what your husband’s addiction is thinking and doing for 24 hours a day – days of ‘your’ life wasted on his addiction. It will have caused your self-esteem to crumble and your confidence to fade. Take some time for you every day and do something that perhaps the addiction has prevented you from doing. Think of you and your pleasure – think what makes you happy and does not involve gambling. Build up this time each day. The addiction to gamble is totally selfish – to enter recovery your husband will have to be selfish and likewise to trigger your recovery you need to think of self first.
Your husband will learn when he starts his recovery that he cannot gamble responsibly but it is a daunting thought for him before he takes the leap of faith. He will feel he is giving up everything he trusts in. Other CGs and dedicated counsellors can help him move forward and accept that he cannot gamble in the future – it is too big, probably, I think, for you to cope with suggesting to him. Just as F&F gain from the support of those who understand them – CGs gain support from other CGs. We cannot save a CG loved one – only the CG can do that.
You feel emotionally and physically drained but you have started looking after yourself by joining this forum. It is hard to take the journey one day at a time but on this site the method has proved itself to work over and over again. I am off on holiday for 2 weeks in a few days but I will look for you on my return.
Keep posting Shelly. You are doing well