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    • #14898
      colin in brum
      Participant

       
      Recovery happens one day at a time but I think it is important to mark anniversaries and milestones.
      Today it is 15 years since my last bet.
      Apologies to those who have heard it before but here is some of my story.
      I went to my first Gamblers Anonymous meeting on the 13th January 1996. I’d known I had a problem for some time before this but hadn’t had the courage to do anything about it. After all if I stopped gambling then what else would I do? There was nothing else. As far as I was concerned it was my life.

      I could give you any number of war stories regarding my gambling and the sort of person that I had become but I will just mention 2 that stand out. My mum came in one day and said that she had just been to the doctors and showed me the medication she had been given to help her cope with the worry and stress that I was causing her, her words as she waved the tablets in front of me were “You are killing me.” I had an obvious solution to this problem: I went into town, drew some more money out on the credit card and gambled it. After all if she was worried about my debts I obviously had to win some money to clear them. This made perfect sense at the time!! I lost of course.
      Sometimes my mum would try to take things into her own hands. Every now and then I would find my credit cards missing from my wallet as she would have removed them when I was asleep. This was, I now know, trying to help me but seemed outrageous at the time. Once when she did this I had been planning to place a large bet to clear my debts. The horse won and I then passed all responsibility for my problems on to my mum as it was her fault I hadn’t been able to clear my debts. I’d throw this back at her any time she tried to get me to stop gambling. Another time after searching the house for several days looking in the usual hiding places for my plastic I over heard her talking to my brother and realised that he had them in his house so that I couldn’t find them. How dare they!! This was my property. I took the spare key that my mum kept in her house and searched my brothers’ house and found my cards.
      When I returned home after losing yet more money the house was empty. Later on my brother came up and told me mum was at his house sobbing her heart out. I think he was restraining himself from beating the crap out of me for what I had done. He said that I had to sort myself out and until then I had to pack my things and go because of the way I was treating our mum. I made countless promises and played on all the usual heart strings and managed to talk my way out of being kicked out. I still did not stop gambling.

      I went to my first GA meeting 15 years ago and immediately felt a great sense of relief. I wasn’t the only one who had this problem. There were people in the room who had been off gambling for some time so maybe it worked. Anyway I decided to give it a few weeks and see what happened. Meetings were a bit of a blur to start with but one of the early phrases I remember came from a man called Dr Jack, “Unconditional Surrender!” I had to accept that the bookies had beaten me and there was no way I could win my money back, even if I did what would be the point because I’d only lose it again.

      I did manage to stop gambling, though to start with that was all I was doing. Another phrase I’ve heard describes it well; “white knuckle abstinence.” I learnt how to minimise the risk of returning to gambling, I kept my access to cash to a minimum and willingly gave control of my Credit Cards to my mum. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her as happy as when I told her I’d started coming to GA. I learnt to fill my time, which was harder, I’d had very little in my life apart from gambling. To start with I spent many afternoons just sitting in a cinema watching a film. As my main form of gambling was the horses this was my danger period. When I was in a pub I’d try and stay well away from the fruit machine and if I found this too difficult I’d just drink up and go home. Gradually I found more interests and better ways to spend my time. I worked in a bar on a Greek island for 12 summers the first 7 of these was while I was gambling. There were no bookies on the island (one of the reasons I used to go in an attempt to limit losses) but cards were an easy substitute. Some summers I’d return home white because you don’t get a tan sat in a bar playing cards all day. When I stopped gambling I did all the things I was trying to win money for but had never done; water skiing when I fancied it, occasionally hiring out a speed boat with friends etc generally having a good time. The dream world of the compulsive gambler? My dream world was a reality when I stopped gambling.

      It is now 15 years since I stopped gambling and I would have laughed at anyone who would have told me that this was possible.  My life has changed immeasurably for the better. Where I either lived where I worked or stayed at my mums when I was unemployed I now own a house.  Where even normal bills would have been a crisis I can afford to pay for normal day to day things and also for the unexpected things that arise. Where I dreamt of a big win to pay for luxuries etc I had a fantastic wedding followed by a dream honeymoon in the Maldives and have since been back a couple of times for an anniversary and another holiday.  I have great holidays every year which generally involve SCUBA diving, something else I would never have tried when gambling.  Again reality has surpassed my dream world.

      Far better than the material things; where I had absolutely no self respect, nor respect from my family, I have earned both. Where I very rarely had a girlfriend, I had a lot more pressing need for my time and money, I am married to a woman who I love and who loves me. Who would have loved me when I was gambling? I hated myself so I wouldn’t have accepted it anyway. When I visit my mum she is glad to see me as opposed to being relieved to see the back of me. My brother, the one who told me to get out of my mums life, was best man at my wedding. He shook my hand and told me he was proud to be asked.
       
      I have also changed careers a couple of times to something I thought I would enjoy and get job satisfaction from, I was right, I enjoyed both moves and absolutely love the job I’m in now.  Initially I took a large cut in salary. I can’t imagine being able to, or even thinking of doing this when I was gambling. A compulsive gambler voluntarily taking a cut in gambling ammunition?  Unthinkable!! I’d given myself a big pay rise though – stopping gambling was equivalent to the biggest pay rise I will ever have!

      It is not just about stopping gambling though. Fifteen years ago I was an ****hole who gambled. If all I had done was stop gambling I’d still be an ****hole. It’s very much about trying to change character defects. All the traits that addiction gives us don’t disappear unless you work at it.

      Without being complacent, I am less likely to have a bet now than I was 15 years ago. This is not in my opinion solely due to the time since my last bet. It is due to the fact that I am a different person now to the one I was then. The GA meetings and literature have helped in this. Reading and thinking about the “just for today” stuff. Looking at the “things to watch for, things to strive for” section, the Serenity Prayer, with or without the “god” word and lots of other things have helped remove or reduce some of the bad character traits I had then. I’m not a Saint, not even the Pope could do all of the Just for Todays all of the time. It’s more about just trying to do things better.

      I could not have stopped gambling without GA and I know that I could not stay off gambling without continuing to attend. I have seen many people stop coming to meetings thinking they have cracked it only to return in even deeper trouble than they were to start with. If I stopped coming to meetings I wouldn’t have a bet tomorrow or next week. I might not have a bet for months, maybe even years. But I would have a bet. I know this because I am a Compulsive Gambler and there is still a part of me that would LOVE to have a bet. The programme is called the GA Recovery Programme but I do not like to think of myself as a recovering Compulsive Gambler in the same way that I am not a recovering diabetic. Compulsive Gambling is an incurable illness and the worst thing that could happen to me would be thinking that I had recovered. I’d be as stupid in stopping going to meetings as I would be if I stopped taking my tablets for diabetes. I know it’s my responsibility to keep addressing my addiction in the same way that it’s my responsibility to keep taking my diabetic medication. I have and am continuing to recover as a person and that is how I relate to the Recovery Programme.

      Recovery is a gradual process. After a year of not gambling I would have told you my life was fantastic. Now I know that it slowly gets better and better. It’s a gradual thing but with every year of not gambling I have found myself in a better position than the one before.  The same is true this year and I can look forward to what the next one brings.

      Fifteen years, or even one, without gambling seemed impossible to me when I first walked through the doors of my first meeting.  In fact if they had told me that this would happen at my first meeting they would have been wrong – it would have scared the hell out of me and I’d have RUN to the nearest bookies. It has only been possible one day at a time. A very small thing one day at a time, but it has turned into something life changingly massive. This, hopefully, will be the way I stay off gambling. It is very nice to have not gambled for this length of time but what is far more important than when my last bet was is when my next one will be. The answer is and hopefully will remain NOT TODAY.

      I have unconditionally surrendered to the bookies. They can keep my money but they are not going to have anymore of either my money or my time.
      I am now responsible for my recovery. The way I look at it if I ever have another bet it won’t be because I’m a compulsive gambler – it’ll because that knowing I’m a Compulsive Gambler I’ve done things I know I shouldn’t do or stopped doing the things I know work and keep me in recovery. It would be MY responsibility and not anything I can blame on the addiction.

      One final thing, whilst I regret a lot of things I did when I was gambling, I wouldn’t change a thing. If I hadn’t done some of the things I’ve done, my life would have lead a different path. For a start I almost certainly wouldn’t have worked in Greece for 12 summers and so I would never have met my wife. I couldn’t possibly want to change that. There’s nothing we can do about our past so, without forgetting the lessons we have learnt, there is no point worrying about it. We can only effect our present. By effecting our present we can have a great, gambling free future.

      Whilst my recovery centres round GA, I found this site after it was mentioned at a meeting and now use this as well. It is a good site.

      My name is Colin and I am and always will be a compulsive gambler. I enjoy my recovery.

    • #14899
      Anonymous
      Guest

      Some wonderful words of inspiration here,.I'm a compulsive gambler that isn't gambling today.

    • #14900
      Anonymous
      Guest

      Fantastic thread from Colin. It gives me hope  and hope it inspires everyone…………..

    • #14901
      paul315
      Participant

      Originally posted by uncontrolled

      Fantastic thread from Colin. It gives me hope  and hope it inspires everyone…………..

      Good morning,
      I am thinking that Colin might be reading some of the post here so I too will comment on his Anniversary post again. It is a few weeks, or days, past January 13, but in recovery what does a day matter accept that it is how we work out our problems, practices our recovery, and live our lives.
      For the last couple of years I mentioned how this topic and Colin’s other topics and post have been a great inspiration and have shown a path for the rest to follow. Today a new member, Uncontrolled,  bares witness to this fact; the fact that the post from the past from the different ones that have breathed life into this program can help us all.  It may not necessary be the words that they wright ,although they do seem to be somewhat poignant at the time, for each of us tells the same story in our own ways, but the help comes from our searching for help and inspiration — "We have to go after recovery, it does not come to us", and spending time and effort to add strength to our resolve is a good way to take this action.
      So thanks Uncontrolled for awaking in others the idea that there is more to this site than today’s post and replies, that there is hope to be found in the later pages of the forums, and in the archives.  Thanks also for bringing Colin’s anniversary post to the forefront, his story is an inspiration to us all.
      And once again Colin if you do happen to read this, forgive my intrusion on any form of recovery you have been practicing away from this site, and for any presumption of that this year will mark another year for your living gambling free, but in doing so I am  sending you belated yet still hopeful congratulations for 17 years of living gambling free.
      God’s speed my friend. Stay strong.LarryThanks to my Higher Power, My 3G's – God, GA, and GT,  "Day Two Is Another Day Behind" and with the help from all I hope to continue to remain gambling free.

    • #14902
      Anonymous
      Guest

      I hope people read this, but the credit goes to Geordie. He directed me here. Please everyone, read, absorb and learn.
      Well done Colin

    • #14903
      Anonymous
      Guest

      Gread read. Go to the top of tread and read the first one !!!

    • #14904
      Anonymous
      Guest

      Please read just the first page from Colin…………………it may just help
      Helps me.

    • #14905
      Anonymous
      Guest

      Hope this helps all struggling with addiction. It certainly helped me ! Just read the 1st page !

    • #14906
      bettie
      Participant

      Wow, It’s been a very long time since Collin has posted. I hope he is off enjoying life.
       

    • #14907
      Dunc
      Keymaster

      Hi Bettie
      Colin is doing great and enjoying life… we all misas his inspirational words and straight talking
      I know he reads the forums still, he is just unfortunbately busy making the most of his recvery.
      Take Care H25 year poker player, 25 year Hierarchal fool, 25 year ego boost…  Intellectualisation was my down fall, simplicity was my salvation

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