12 August 2013 at 12:26 am #9240
I’m 43 years old and I’ve been a compulsive gambler for 25 years.
Three years ago, it all came to a head. I was tasting metal in my mouth because of the guilt I felt for losing so much money. Luckily for my wife and kids, I was too big of coward to pull the trigger.
That same day, I was committed to a suicide ward and started on the straight and narrow – GA meetings, therapy, etc. All (gratefully) with the support of a wife who should have left me.
Before you assume I’m just a depressive personality, let me inform you that I’m not. I have a beautiful wife and 4 wonderful children. I own and operate my own successful businesses, have plenty of friends and a good social life. NOBODY, except for my wife, knows about the selfish act I was contemplating (I told everyone I was in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer).
Everything was going well for me up until a year ago – two years into my recovery – when I decided there’d be nothing wrong with a small, sure-bet on a baseball game. Which it was, I won. But I didn’t stop there, I kept playing and winning and was up substantially. But then I went on a mini – and when I say mini, it was only 5% of my winnings – losing streak. Well, of course I had to make this back. It was too much money to "lose". That’s when my real problem came calling to make up the lost difference – blackjack. Not only did I give back my winnings, I gave back my winnings AND three times that amount.
Now the old familiar feeling in my gut is back. The sleepless nights are back. The guilt is back.
But his time it’s different. This time I know this critical thing: I CAN’T WIN! I can’t. Even when I win, I lose. But it’s OK that I lost. Hell, I was stressing out every day watching and paying attention to stupid MLB games that I normally switch the channel on instead of paying attention to the important people and things in my life. Not to mention the fact that I was hiding it. Now that’s all gone (stress). It’s literally a relief mixed with in with this hell.
The bottom line is this: it’s day one of the future. I can do this if I don’t bet a penny on anything ever again. I cannot allow my thinking to get to the point where I believe it’s OK to win a little money on a sure-thing. Losing, or winning, even a penny is not winning or losing a penny, it means losing thousands.
From here forward, I am going to argue better with myself AGAINST betting when the inevitable, eventual time comes again that I think enough time has passed that I can gamble again and the outcome won’t be devastating. I know better.
Day 1 is not so bad if you’ve been down this disastrous road before BUT understand that years start with a single day.
I (we) can do this. It’s simply a matter of understand who we are and what we are. As compulsive gamblers, we cannot gamble a little. We simply don’t grasp ‘little’ well. That train left the station long ago.
12 August 2013 at 1:15 am #9241icandothisParticipant
Welcome! Day 1 can be the best day of your life, if you decide to make it so. I think you are determined to make it happen. We are here for you. You begin your journey now. The past is behind you. I believe you when you say you don’t grasp "little" well. Don’t do it anymore. Live the "bigness" of life without gambling. It is there for you.12 August 2013 at 3:12 am #9242
Thanks for the kind words, icandothis.
Funny thing, I didn’t lose all of the "winnings" plus the other 300% back in one day. It took 2 days. In fact, I was going to bet heavy on another sports team (Dodgers) to win back the first day’s loss before I decided on the quick fix – blackjack. And guess what? They won and I would have been back on top.
It’s maddening. Not because I would have been up again, that’s not it. I’d have eventually given that back too. It’s the always telling myself what I should have done: should have doubled down, shouldn’t have ‘hit’, should have bet more/less on that hand/game, etc.
Who ***** this extra kind of stressful thinking in their life? We don’t have enough worries and concerns that we need to add losing-result card images and losing sports scores into our psyche? How many ***** do I have to look myself in the mirror and explain this logic to myself again? God willing, none.
There’s really only one way to overcome the impending depression that follows losing – win it back. Since this is a fool’s choice and attempt, resulting in the exact – or more likely, worse – outcome, the only thing left is to suffer through it. Yet, even though I have years of ample proof to the contrary, a sick part of me truly believes I may win it all back, which is so ridiculously impossible, it’s not even funny, but it still tries to convince me. Since I can’t surgically remove this ill part of myself, I have to give more strength to the logical and reasonable side and try to focus on it.
Instead of telling myself that had I stuck to the plan I would be ahead, what I should be telling myself is the truth, which is, had I stuck to the plan, and kept sticking to it, I’d have lost far more than just a ****-load of money.
It’s no wonder gambling can cause insanity. I feel closer to it every time I hit these gambling bottoms.
I absolutely do not want this any more.12 August 2013 at 9:45 am #9243DuncKeymaster
Hi Danchaser, A Warm Welcome to Gambling Therapy
Having found us you have also found a diverse community who can help and support you on your recovery journey.
Here on the forum you can share your experiences in a safe, supportive and non-judgemental environment and by reading others stories am sure you will see that you are very much not alone in this addiction
Please click here to see our services page, feel free to use all that this site can offer…
To chat with others in real time you may wish to make use of the support groups, the ***** of these groups are advertised under "What’s on and When" or click here to see the weekly group schedule.
For one to one chat you may want to try the live advice helpline. Click "connect" when these options become available.
Also to say when you registered we would have sent you an email with an attachment, this attachment will help you navigate the site and find the support you so rightly deserve, alternatively this guide can be downloaded by clicking here.
25 year poker player, 25 year Hierarchal fool, 25 year ego boost… Intellectualisation was my down fall, simplicity was my salvation12 August 2013 at 10:32 pm #9244razzabelleParticipant
Hi Danchaser….You sound VERY DETERMINED and that is an excellent thing:)….I loved your line about "no wonder compulsive gambling causes insanity"…..I too have felt like I am about to go bonkers. Sending you encouraging thoughts and hope that we will ALL have a gambling free day! Keep Fighting This!You Get What You Give13 August 2013 at 3:27 am #9245
Thanks for the encouragement, Razabelle.
I have to be motivated about this. Anything less would have me chasing lost money that will never, ever be in my account again via gambling.
Honestly though, it’s exhausting just trying to keep positive while staring down the deceptive compulsion inside myself. Heck, I don’t feel like a compulsive gambler, regardless of the proof. I don’t get the shakes, get physically ill or have withdrawal seizures like most addictions provide when one decides to stop. But I do have a compulsion, that’s for **** sure. But ONLY when I give myself even the slightest nod of approval to gamble, then I’m a stark-raving mad stranger to myself. Maybe not at first, but eventually, I get there. That’s my old friend.
The thing that scares me the most right now is that this isn’t even the most sure I’ve been about not gambling again. I sure hope this is an entire war, because I’ve lost a few battles. But at least now I’m prepared for a trigger that before I wasn’t aware of before – this being that given time (two years this last time), I get lazy in my recovery (all ancient history now!) and allow myself to be***ve that I can just gamble a little and KEEP IT THIS TIME! ****** for that bull****!
This is the *** that lives in far too many of us compulsive gamblers: that we can be cured and it will all be like it was in the beginning – just a fun time at the casino. No way, no how. I’m afraid our recovery doesn’t end until the day we die and we cannot allow our guard down for even an instant, because this is precisely when the beckoning viper strikes (again) to deprive our lives of guiltless peace. And when I say "guiltless peace", I can even do without the peace, just give me the ‘guiltless’ (regarding gambling) and I’ll manage just fine.
As a side note: I’d like to thank the operator(s) of this site for affording myself (and others) the opportunity to write these feelings down while I’m in this current state to read again at a later date when I think all’s well with having beaten my long-ago gambling addiction. If you could keep it in operation for the duration of my life, that’d be perfect, because I need the man I am at the moment to remind the man coming later about just how dangerous he is.
14 August 2013 at 6:26 am #9246
Only 2 1/2 days out and I just finished watching a movie with my wife and children. Before that we spent and hour or so throwing a ball in the yard. I was able to look my kids in the eyes and focus on what they were saying since my mind wasn’t preoccupied with which team was ahead/behind in whatever game I had placed a bet.
After they went to bed, I found out that the teams I would have bet on did win (in particularly the Dodgers, which whom I had been placing the biggest nut). I would have had a very successful night.
You tell me, which is more important?
We watched the movie ‘Awakenings’.
There was a line in the movie that brought tears to my eyes (of which I averted, of course – real men don’t cry) as it was so poignant of where I’m currently at:
What we do know is that, as the chemical window closed, another awakening took place; that the human spirit is more powerful than any **** – and that is what ***** to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter. This is what we’d forgotten – the simplest things.
15 August 2013 at 2:09 pm #9247icandothisParticipant
What a great quote. Thanks for sharing. Will go in my journal. It’s not too late to "awaken" the giant with us all. (I am reading "Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins) Great book if you are ready to take action to change your life. Myself?…well all I can say is…baby steps. lol
I raise my coffee cup to you and to strengthening connections to the things that really matter. Like playing ball and watching a good movie with your kids!
PS Sounds like Awakenings is a movie I should see.2 October 2013 at 7:41 pm #9248sirena0215Participant
How’s it going? Had you seen the Breaking Bad finale the other night? Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say hi and hope you’re doing well. Hope you are on better footing with your recovery this month.
All the Best,
Sirena7 October 2013 at 7:51 am #9249
Oh yea, doing fine. Thank you.
I just ran out of gas there for a minute. I was supercharged when I decided to quit, but after the adrenaline wore off, I was left with the calm. Calm and I aren’t yet compatible. I’m afraid I’m an adrenaline junky. I like action (not talking gambling here, necessarily), even though I mostly refrain, it’s still my nature. Mellow-living and I have to get better acquainted, I suppose. I’ll get there.
I have no worries about gambling again. I’ve been down that path so many times, tried all the angles, tried all my conceived winning methods and believed I could gamble reasonably and rationally….I’m simply done with it.
How about you? Going by you continuing to post here, I take it you’re doing well. Excellent.
Today, we own this.7 October 2013 at 7:54 am #9250
Watch the end of Breaking Bad?
Of course!7 October 2013 at 8:02 am #9251
8-12-13 was my first post.
Almost 2 months ago. Seems like yesterday.
It’s true what they say – ‘The days are long, but the years fly by’.12 October 2013 at 8:17 am #9252bije71Participant
Hey dan, my first post on here. I’m nearly 42 and have not gambled since 15th November 2012. Before that it was May 2012 and before that June 2011.
I’ve had blips which started with oh it won’t hurt to have a small bet etc. But you win win win and then lose lose lose…..lose. You have hit the nail on the head by understanding that we can’t risk money to win money.
I feel a gambler in recovery needs to live in reality not chasing goals that are difficult to achieve. Most of us are adrenalin junkies who love the rush. But you can change that slowly.
It’s not easy and a lot of ‘friends’ won’t let u change as it’s hard for them to deal with a new you also. But you will find in time people slowly back off and people who are good for you will radiate to you and you to them.
And the reward is the new relaxed you, who can get up every morning and enjoy life. Enjoying the simple things in life and feeling good about It without the guilt of the gambling past.
I still go GA from time yo time which really helps me and I get to help others too.
My understanding in life is that enjoy life today and don’t chase happiness thinking ‘I will be happy when I get this or when this happens in my life’. Because you can be happy today, it’s just realising that you can be and that it is allowed.12 October 2013 at 5:23 pm #9253sirena0215Participant
Hi Dan, so good to hear you’re on track with your goals. When you talk about learning to live in a more balanced (mellow) way, I hear you! I used to live in constant high gear and am learning to identify the gears between high and low.
I’ve not had many urges or worries about a relapse (with the exception of one big clarifying experience I’ll write more about in my own journal), but it helps to know that you and others are winning their battles. Whether we come to our own understanding of our addiction from many angles and recurring events or through big traumatic life-changing experiences, we do eventually come to a place that shows us who we are now. And we decide to live differently. You and I know the tricky part is ‘living.’
May I ask, what are some of the activities you’ve discovered to get to a more balanced life?
All the Best,
-S17 October 2013 at 9:00 am #9254
What activities have a discovered to enable more balancing(?)….
None, really. Even during the most desperate periods of my compulsive gambling, I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to totally sacrifice the activities that I enjoy. Tapered back, sure, but not eliminated entirely. But enjoying and appreciating them is a different story.
I’m convinced that the last episode of Breaking Bad was scripted from an experienced addict. When Walt admitted that at the end, he was committing crimes because he enjoyed the power and rush it afforded him – regardless of the beginning ambition/goal – it defined adrenaline-junky addiction, and it defined me. I simply enjoy gambling. I love(d) the rush of being at the blackjack table, winning a months capital in an hour while risking a weeks pay on two or three hands. I crave it. There simply is precious little other that does it for me in the same vein as gambling does. I cannot and should not deny this fact or I risk losing focus on a major component of what draws me back in.
In summary, for me at this point, it’s not so much about what I’ve discovered to make my life more balanced, it’s about what I’m not practicing that makes my life unbelievably unbalanced.
Sirena, it’s a pleasure interacting with you. I sincerely hope the best for you in your recovery as you do mine.
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