19 December 2016 at 5:37 pm #5177velvetModerator
Christmas is here again and I am wondering if we could put the collective heads of the F&F Forum together and see how we can make this Christmas as stress-free as possible with stories, memories, advice and support for each other.
We cannot put our heads into the minds of the CG at this time but we can put together what we think might help F&F. It is my belief that most, if not all active CGs do not enjoy Christmas. It is a gathering together of family and friends. Expectations of good behaviour are too high for the CG. Expectations for getting everything perfect are too high for F&F.
Christmas is a time when it has become the practice for presents to be given in abundance and the CG, if he has any money left, will not want to part with it because it is all important for the winning gamble.
It is a time when the CG is asked to append his name to the Christmas cards that he has not bought, to send to people he believes think him worthless.
It is a time when the joy that the CG is told they should feel, just doesn’t happen.
It is a time when the whole world seems to be full of love but the CG is lost in his own despair.
How does a CG get round these feelings? With no money to spare for presents and a burning desire to escape and not sit with the family – he tells lies believing this to be his only option and longs for Christmas to be all over.
It becomes a vicious circle played out every year with each successive year adding to the whole sorry state of affairs. All the memories of Christmas’ past come flooding back and the uncomfortable situations apear more serious as the years pass.
The best action for a CG is to cause a row and get out before great Aunt Agatha comes round and tells you that you are a disgrace, or before Uncle Jack gets the chance to refuse to come because you stole Auntie Polly’s credit card 2 years ago and he can see through you if nobody else can!
If this forum is anything to go by the non-CG puts others first and want to protect everybody from everybody, usually at their own expense. They are desperately running around trying to please everybody like creatures possessed. Trying to do be everything for everybody and trying to make everything perfect so that nobody notices the CG, – if he has turned up – glowering away in the corner.
The only thing the non-CG wants is for everybody to gather round the table, put past memories aside and have a wonderful day together.
F&F plead ‘please make an effort – just for one day, not just for me but for John and Mary who love you’ They can’t understand why the CG cannot understand the words. The CG only hears he is being called useless and everybody would be better off without him.
Stress is at an all-time high, the F&F smile is fixed, the teeth are gritted and although the eyes are watery and no makeup can disguise them, nobody notices because everyone else is too busy doing their own thing.
Somebody will eventually mention Auntie Polly’s credit card. Somebody will mention how tired the non-CG looks with pointed looks at the CG. Somebody will mention the lottery or get the cards out for a nice game of brag!!
There will of course be those wonderful creatures – the in-laws, siblings, friends all in denial. Kissing and cuddling and telling everybody what a success CG is making of his job and how much the children love him and hasn’t he peeled the carrots well! The non-CG leaves the room and tries to control the tears.
If the CG manages to stay for part of the day his departure will be felt with pain by the non-CG, whilst the ones in denial splutter through foggy, alcoholic vapours ‘oh let him go he deserves it’. Not forgetting Aunt Mabel who now declares loudly ‘good riddance’.
How the memories of Christmas’ past come back to haunt. How many people say they do not like Christmas before it even arrives? How many of you are thinking about last Christmas and what happened when …..? How many of you are hoping this Christmas will be better but not really believing it? How many of you are putting off decisions till after Christmas for the sake of other people?
I am grinding no axe with this. I am hoping that perhaps we can give each other words of comfort and support and ways to get round the probable stand-off.
Knowing as we do now that compulsive gambling is an illness it would probably be better not to force issues such as ‘you will be there for Jack and Jill’? It is better to say Jack and Jill would like you there and so would I – but make no big deal as the door closes behind him on his way out, that is ‘if’ he has turned up at all.
How do you deal with Uncle Fred who thinks you need protecting and says ‘if you won’t say anything then by gum I will?’
Should you get on and just do the dinner, the cards etc and expect no help?
This is just me having another wonder. It is to try and help and not to point any fingers. It is not to do with ‘me’. It is to do with this Christmas and New Year and Birthdays and Anniversaries and all the other times when it is expected that families conform to a happy, carefree existence.
This is an invitation for all F&F to share and benefit from each other. Perhaps to get fears out in the open and past worries aired.
I know we cannot guarantee each other a wonderful Christmas but it would be nice if we could make a difference for our own sakes and for our CGs.
Velvet20 December 2016 at 9:19 pm #5178michelle45Participant
Thank you for a wonderful post. It really made me smile. I could relate to alot in it !! I have been thinking about Christmas. My plans are made with my daughter. My ex the CG has made arrangements to see our daughter. I’m a little unsure how Christmas will pan out . I have got many memories of past Christmas’s that weren’t great. So I took some advice you gave me in the past about creating new memories and am doing something different this year!
I agree it’s sometimes very difficult for f&f to put themselves first especially over Christmas. We sink to the bottom of the pile. I spent all my time trying to ‘ help’ my CG and trying to pretend everything was great. It wasn’t!
So to all f&f over Christmas. Don’t forget velvet’s basic advice. Do something that you enjoy over Christmas. Have some headspace away from gambling. Just for you. Just for today .
Wishing you peace at Christmas.
M x22 December 2016 at 2:25 am #5179BamsParticipant
I appreciate your post. I can relate to it very well. This is my 3rd miserable Christmas with my CG. We’ve had 9 together but the last three have been filled with sadness. I feel as if the more I try and the more I do ON MY OWN, the worse he gets. Almost as if my hppiness pisses him off and he has to stop it…he does. I watch his money dwindled away knowing he’s been no help to me whatsoever. He watches me sruggle needing new glasses or car repair and he chooses not to help me but to give it to the casino instead. I understand this is an illness but how do I keep from taking it so personal when my well being doesn’t mean as much to him as the casino? I’m having a really hard time wrapping my mind around it. Not feeling very “Merry” this Christmas and hoping I can put on a happy face for my family.22 December 2016 at 10:14 am #5180velvetModerator
Please start your own thread, your post deserves more than I can give you here.
I hope you will keep posting because there is so much to say and it cannot be given in one lump but understanding the addiction, I believe, is important to the well-being of F&F. It is the ‘gamble’ that means so much to your CG because it excites his brain in a different way to the way gambling would affect you or me. Without the right treatment he doesn’t know how to change the way his mind is excited – it is as though his head is full of water, leaving no room for anything else. Unless he seeks the right treatment and his addiction ceases to be enabled he won’t know how to tip some of the water (addiction) out to make room for good and honest thoughts such as helping you. He will almost certainly be unhappy with the way he is and I suspect your happiness makes him feel worse because he doesn’t feel happy – but you are not to blame and his unhappiness is no reason for you to be unhappy.
Your happiness is so very, very important both to you, your family and ultimately to your CG. If he wrecks your happiness then that is another piece of wreckage caused by his addiction which is moving on inside his brain like a roller-coaster with no brakes – giving him another reason to gamble which is his escape from reality.
I cannot tell you what to do but what I suggest is that you do more than put on a happy face this Christmas. I suggest you resolve to keep posting until you know what it is that is right for you. With knowledge you can make informed decisions and retake control of your life instead of allowing the addiction of another to control your well-being.
I am not suggesting you leave your CG or even that you stay with him – all decisions will be yours. I lived in the shadow of the addiction to gamble for 25 years, 23 of them with no understanding whatever. I wouldn’t be writing to you if I didn’t know the addiction to gamble can be controlled but sometimes when we think have tried everything it is time to try something different.
I suggest you have no expectation that your CG will behave himself this Christmas but allow him to go and do whatever he wants to do without complaining which only wears you out – and gives him a further excuse to believe that only gambling will eventually bring him hapiness. As I said I cannot tell you what to do but in my opinion informing other family members bluntly that your loved one is a CG but that you are now seeking help and would welcome support over the Christmas period without opinions could help you cope. Some people ask questions and want to know, other do not but gambling addiction is not normally a subject raised and any understanding is difficult.
Anything you disagree with or want to ask please come right back at me. Unfortunately the next F&F group is not until after Christmas but maybe during that group we can use it as Topic Group for F&F aims over the New Year celibrations and 2017.
Velvet27 December 2016 at 2:00 pm #5181i-did-itParticipant
As any post that ever hints on anything less than perfection in f and f usually is . But here’s my tuppence worth and I hope people who feel as insulted by the generalisations in this thread as I do get to read it :
Well it’s true you can’t put your mind into he head of a “cg”
For example – I love Christmas and enjoy it every year .
I also feel full of love every Christmas ( and all year long)
I never once thought my family would be better off without me -I am the glue which holds everything together – I am the mother- maybe not as perfect as some would claim to be , but a loving mother nonetheless
Maybe the in laws and cousins feel it’s time to stop targeting the “cg” and see the good in them? Interestingly the people who can see the good are the people who know him/ her best. – not some Inlaw great uncles !They may not be in denial they may just think enough’s enough- let the poor person have a Christmas where they are not shamed , where they are allowed to feel connected and included and from which they don’t wAnt to escape ?. It’s not a matter of denial- it’s more a matter of not jumping on the bandwagon.
. Why would a “loved one ” wish to have everyone pick on the “cg”? Is that not ganging up and bullying ? We all have good in us if people can get off their pedestal long enough to see it. Maybe this is a huge cultural difference but when people are invited to my home there is an understanding that they will show respect for all members of my family and if they don’t show this – they will be shown the door !
How would uncle Fred possibly know the family business and if he was going to be rude to a member of the family why would he be invited ? Makes no sense to me . It sound like it is his arrogance that is making everyone uncomfortable !
Maybe it’s just me but this reads like a very big axe is grinding and I feel generalisations based perhaps on personal experience or even that of some others are unhelpful and discouraging.
If you wish to use labels then yes I am a “cg” but definitely none of the above applies to me – I’m not saying it applies to no one – but I find the generalisations in this post very insulting and discouraging . Vera wrote a very good post about connectiveness and recovery – might be worth people popping over to read it .
We would all like the perfect family and sorry if I am bursting anyone’s bubble – it does not exist – maybe it’s time to let go of the quest for perfection and work on making what we have as great as we can make it ?
I am so happy I live with my Lovely supportive family where we are allowed to make mistakes and recover from them in a private environment . Maybe thats why I recovered ?
And finally – not all cgs have stolen !!27 December 2016 at 2:57 pm #5182veraParticipant
Thanks for highlighting the comments made in the previous post, I -did- it. Maybe I’m being oversensitive, but Christmas is a time when most families get together and we try to accept each other as we are. As a CG, Christmas was often a time when I over reacted i.e. an argument would flare up and I would escape to the casino, not because I provoked that argument (I often did that at other times, I do admit) but because it suited others to see me as a scapegoat for their own defects and I would over react , feeling dejected after all the effort I had made to ensure Christmas would be normal/happy/delightful for everyone and my perception (rightly or wrongly) would be that all my attempt was being slapped back in my face by one family member in particular, who has their own “issues” and who saw the opportunity to project those issues on to others. Because of my “previous history” I would be scapegoated and let down by other family members and as a result would end up in the casino. ( Yes, we CG mothers do put up a super human effort to make Christmas good for everyone!)
This year things were different because that family member did a “no show” , so maybe this proves that the CG is NOT after all, the cause of every ones’ problems. Maybe wider issues also play a part. It gives non CGS a great excuse when there is a “sitting duck” present who will pick up the flack for everyone else. No, this is not a “poor me” post. I don’t blame anyone for my gambling , nor do I project my “issues” on to others, but I’m aware now that I was that “sitting duck ” for years. This Christmas the focus shifted and I made no exit to the casino.
I use this personal example to highlight that it is not only the CG who is the baddie and the cause of all the family discord which erupts in families over Christmas. Every one has his/her own defects. If we were all as perfect and as innocent as non CGs are painted in the aforementioned post, God need never have sent Hs Only Son to redeem us, but not all believe that He did. Some see GT or GA as the Higher Power but in my experience that type of power in the wrong hands can do more harm than a million CGs in action.
Recovery, in my book is all about Awareness, Surrender, Acceptance, Honesty, Humility, not about collusion, rejection, blame , projection and cover ups.
CGS and Non CGS alike have a part to play in each others recovery. I do notice that this thread has invited comments from non CGS so if I’m intruding, feel free to rap my knuckles!
As A CG I have suffered my share of self deprecation, self crucifixion and self blame.
Nobody made me gamble.
Nobody had the power to stop me. It is only my God’s Grace and my co operation with His Grace, through human contact and understanding that I have been “clean” for all of 2016.
The last thing a CG needs is to feel rejected, ostracized or isolated.We have done that to ourselves over and over so this Christmas I refuse to pick up tabs that other people lay at my feet.
In a recent Link I received, the author/speaker highlights the emptiness that exists in “addicts” and suggests a whole new approach to sobriety. He says that the answer could lie in emotional re connection and cites the Portuguese model, since most have been at some point in our lives rejected , neglected or abused at a deep emotional level and the on going need to escape from this emptiness exists in every sufferer, not just in those whose suffering is manifested in obvious acting out behaviour i. e drugs, alcohol and gambling. It is a not so new but interesting slant.
We are all damaged in some way. The way we deal with issues, our own and others, is very often a reflection of how we are treated by loved ones. The last thing a CG needs is further rejection or blame.
Perhaps Christmas could be a good time to examine our actions and reactions and make an effort to find ways to fill the emptiness that exists in us all . CGs and on CGs alike.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL!
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