15 October 2013 at 2:57 pm #1859
I hope you are recovering from your pneumonia and that your hubby is taking it easy after his accident. I do believe things happen for a reason even though we may not be clear as to the reason at the time, or indeed ever. I doubt if there is any such thing as a co-incidence!
I can fully relate to “acting normally” while in the throes of addiction. As a CG, I learned well how to adjust my mask to appear normal and managed to fit in to lots of situations where I felt a total outsider and most of what was happening went over my head. Gambling numbs a CG and it most likely does the same to the people close to the CG. My question is which came first, the need to gamble or the need to wear masks?
Just being the Devil’s advocate here, for the sake of wider debate!
I would be very interested to hear how your marriage counselling goes. In hindsight, it is something we, as a couple should have done many years ago, but we survived without it….(Many people “survived” concentration camps too!)…I go to Gambling Counselling, but I have reservations about it….My husband went berserk when he heard the counsellor had requested to see him. His reaction is unprintable. He clearly says that my gambling has absolutely nothing to do with him, and scoffs at the idea of “recovery”, but having said that, he has claimed all throughout our marriage that most issues and conflicts are one sided . In other words , he lives in denial and I get the blame when things go wrong…most of the time refuses to communicate directly. He waits for weeks or months and when least expected he lashes out in rage (usually in company) and betrays or belittles me by making paranoid or sarcastic comments about my “infamous” past!
Very supportive!!! Just the excuse a CG needs to run for cover! lol!
Anyway, life goes on and I need to remind myself that I alone am responsible for the damage gambling created in my life, and believe you me, to describe that damage as painful is a gross understatement!
So, on that note, I will sign off by saying
“Just for today, I will not gamble!”because gambling solves none of Life’s problems!
Keep posting Adele. I pray for you every day!16 October 2013 at 6:35 pm #1860
thinking about you Adele and wondering how did your counselling go?16 October 2013 at 6:35 pm #1861
thinking about you Adele and wondering how did your counselling go?17 October 2013 at 1:10 am #1862
Your kind thoughts and especially your prayers for me are very much appreciated.
The counseling session started with filling out lots of paper work. Then we spent about an hour with the therapist. She has her doctorate and is trained and experienced in addiction counseling in general, but not specifically in gambling addiction. She also does PTSD, couples and kids counseling. In fact, I was impressed that she received a special medal from the Army for her work with the soldiers the movie Black Hawk Down was based on.
This first session was lots of Q&A: All the basics – age, where we were born, siblings, etc. – then more personal things – questions about drug and alcohol use, abuse, temperament, thoughts of suicide, and physical, mental or emotional issues. She did ask my husband about what kind of gambler he was, and how much we thought he had gambled since it became a problem – his estimate was half what mine was. When she asked what he wanted to get out of counseling, his answer was to get our marriage back on track and maybe even better than before. Interesting ….
It was awkward for both of us – I became a little emotional, he was mostly stoic as is his way. He is never one to show emotion. But he is trying to be very open to this, and genuinely seems to want to make a change. I think his mind is still muddled though … he can’t seem to think clearly or think things through – at least in my perception. Of course I can’t remember past the end of my nose most of the time either, so what do I know?
Towards the end she asked that we hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes … eeesh. My husband (bless his heart) took my hands and began staring at me, but it freaked me out a little (lol), and I told her I was not ready for anything like that just yet.
She asked that we give her at least 3 sessions (she must have sensed my skepticism), and almost as an afterthought (I asked if there was something we could work on until the next session), she asked us to write down the things that first attracted us to the other … said it would be important for us to reconnect. I thought this was lame until I started doing it … She also asked my husband to write down what things made him want to gamble (I think, I can’t remember for sure now – this was right after the gazing thing).
Anyway, we have an awful lot to work on – his compulsive gambling, our indifferent marriage, individual issues … We are both therapy virgins, but we are both open to this (possibly him more than me to my surprise), and hoping for some solutions.
We go back on Friday, scheduled 3 appointments for next week, and 2 the week after trying to get as many in as possible before he goes back to work next month.
Vera, I wish we had gone to marriage counseling a long time ago. Our marriage has been troubled over the years but never anything like what yours sounds like. I’m so sorry that your relationship with your husband is so combative and non-supportive. I hope it isn’t always like that and the two of you share some good times together too. You deserve to be happy Vera – you really do.
Thanks for reading and caring.
Adele17 October 2013 at 7:33 am #1863san250Participant
Well done on getting through your first session. I’m sure most of the therapy is very similar and follows ‘models’. Having been through marriage counselling and individual counselling, I believe its important to listen to your body, it already knows the answers. I’d like to share a little of my experience with you. In my marriage counselling we found out the ‘background’ to our problems, where family scripts were written (how we follow patterns set down in families), it was interesting to find out how we think and follow certain things. Communication, how we ‘playout’ roles, he says one thing, I do the same thing everytime, that sort of thing. I found the marriage counselling interesting but seemed to deal with his problems more than mine. We were ‘set’ homework and this was hard, again after 24 year we were set in our ways. For me, more progress was made when I went to counselling on my own. I was able to open up more, and it certainly challenged how I was feeling and enabled me to move on faster. One thing that really helped us, was to arrive and leave the counselling by separate means. This enabled us to have the space we needed, firstly to get our heads ready for the session and especially afterwards when your head is spinning with all the information and observations. Sometimes we would meet on neutral ground, a restaurant or cafe, 30 minutes after the session to discuss what had happened, sometimes not. For me, I believe, the counselling helped to unravel the ‘spaghetti’ that our marriage had become. Our therapist described it as a plate of spaghetti and we were there to pick the strands out She said we had to become separate people to decide whether we would come back together on a different footing, with new communication techniques in place, or to decided if we were going to go our separate ways. For us this process took 9 months. I wish you lots of luck and am sending you lots of strength, take care, San xx17 October 2013 at 10:33 pm #1864
Thank you, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience in counseling! I feel less fearful, or less reluctant, or something … I’m not sure. I just know I could not articulate what I wanted to get out of our counseling (other than of course for my husband to get control of his addiction) because I had not one clue of what to expect from it.
We’ve been making spaghetti for 25 years too. His problem gambling is just the latest and most damaging issue to date, and probably, in part, a result of all the other unresolved issues over the years.
What you said about becoming separate people first … I was shaking my head up and down as I read that. I think that’s what has been happening with me since coming to this site. I’m beginning to see things differently, and see myself differently (albeit ever so slowly), even thinking of myself as single at times. And I don’t think my husband knows who he is any more. So I truly hope this is the beginning of his recovery and finding himself again.
Having read your post, I know I will need to really let myself be open to this counselor, and, as V says, “push things around” that she says in order to start unraveling the spaghetti …
I also appreciate your idea about going to the sessions separately. Based on our one experience Monday, I can see how that would be beneficial. There was a brief awkward silence at first when we got back in the truck – then there was this awkward, forced conversation … neither contributed anything positive to the experience.
I’m actually kind of looking forward to tomorrow’s session with her. Thanks again for sharing San and thanks for your well wishes. I hope to hear something good and positive from you on your thread soon.
Adele18 October 2013 at 7:48 pm #1865nomore 56Participant
Hi Adele, I thought about replying to you long and hard. Your post reminded me on the mess on my own plate of noodles. I agree with San that it would help both of you to become separate or rather to become single individuals (not as in single per se). Just like with you and your hb, we too had a lot of issues to work out other than the gambling. The addiction of course was the tip of the iceberg and what led to it caused a lot of other problems in return. It was all a great big nasty enmeshment of this and that. To untangle the web will probably take a lot of work and time for both of you. Just from my own experience I am wondering, if it will do you guys a lot of good to jump right into the middle of the pasta dish. It seems like your hb has a lot of unresolved issues besides the gambling and maybe, just maybe it would be a good idea for him to get some gambling specific counseling in addition to your marriage therapy. I can only speak from my own experience but when my hb went to the last inpatient treatment program he was finally after all those years able to uncover what actually “made” him need the addiction as a crutch to deal with his past. It is all intertwined and one thing led to another. If there would have ever been a chance to keep our marriage alive, it would have been AFTER he completed the program and started to really work on his recovery. Before that, it would have been all smoke and mirrors. As long as the addiction was alive and well, he would have agreed with everything a counselor would have said or suggested. He would have never addressed what really caused his pain all those years, mostly because he wasn’t really aware of it and not ready to deal with it in any way. Again, that is just my opinion. I also believe firmly that it takes a counselor who is familiar with gambling addiction to uncover the real truth, so to speak. Maybe like removing the sauce before the spaghettis can be untangled? As long as you both feel comfortable with the counselor right now and feel like you are making progress, it is a start. I learned in my training that addiction treatment comes first because an addict does have the capacity to see things clearly before starting recovery. That is the reason why a mental health evaluation oftentimes has to wait until the addiction is addressed, especially when it comes to certain mood disorders. I’m rambling here so I better stop now. LOL. Anywho, I wish you luck, you are tough and at the very least the counseling will help you along on your road to your own recovery!! Happy full moon today….22 October 2013 at 9:17 pm #1866
Hey NoMore –
Good to hear from you. The moon was beautiful that night! We left my mom’s house just after dark so we saw it when it was still big and looming in the sky – harvest moon – just gorgeous.
I think you’re right that he needs to get his addiction issues addressed before we can really delve in to our relationship issues. He has gone by himself today, and I am going to begin seeing the same therapist alone too, as I have issues of my own. Unfortunately there are no gambling addiction specific therapists in this area since there are no casinos within 300 miles. Sadly, I suspect there is a need – just no awareness.
Hopefully this will be a start. He will be home for another few weeks and will be seeing her 2 times each week.
Once again I am hopeful. He says he has not had the urge to gamble in a good while since being home with me and away from the temptation. And we are more relaxed with each other and enjoying a few simple pleasures.
Thanks for sharing and for your encouragement! Take care…
Adele23 October 2013 at 10:54 pm #1867nomore 56Participant
Hi Adele, the moon sure was pretty but I’m glad it’s over. I react really badly to it every month and when it is one of those special moons, white, orange, hanging low, you name it, it gets lots worse. Restless nights, bad dreams, the whole 9 yards. Anyways, it is upsetting that gambling addiction is still so underestimated and undertreated when it affects so many people and more and more each day. I think it is a great idea to see the therapist separately, you can say things you might not want to say in front of your hb and vice versa. As long as you both are in motion with the issue and get something positive out of the sessions, it is all for the better. Anything will help. On a side note, here is something interesting re the fact that gambling is still the “silent disease” and lots of people don’t even believe it exists. I watch this Dr. Phil character a lot cz I’m interested in what he is doing and how and so on. Have been tuning into his shows for some yrs now and in all this time, he has NEVER addressed gambling. To the contrary, he seems to avoid the topic with a vengeance. Whenever it is brought up, he ignores it and changes the subject. Makes me want to challenge him, cz he would be the one person to reach millions of people and raise awareness. Hm, tempting….LOL
Keep going, nothing can stop you but yourself!23 October 2013 at 11:39 pm #1868
I have actually thought about writing to his show, or at least I did think about it – especially early on when I was such an emotional mess. And I remember you mentioning it jokingly in a post…
I do think it would be a fabulous idea tho … simply to raise the awareness – like you say, not so much for help personally.
I wonder what kind of appeal/letter/ presentation would get the attention of his producers?
Adele23 October 2013 at 11:41 pm #1869
I have just returned from my first one-on-one counseling session and I am alone at home, so I wanted to think and “reflect” a bit as suggested by San.
My husband went for his first one-on-one yesterday, and we talked briefly about it last night (sorry Velvet, I had to ask a few questions). I am concerned that this therapist does not have any experience counseling compulsive gamblers, and so far – based on the 3 sessions we’ve had with her – It seems I know a whole lot more about dealing with it than she does (not judging, not on an ego trip). My husband said she seems to be “winging it” as far as a treatment plan, and that she basically talked about what things he could do in place of gambling. He’s not sure if he thinks she’s going to help him or not, but wants to give her a few more sessions – which I am certainly willing to do if he is.
When I got there, after pleasantries, I first expressed my concern at her lack of specialized training in compulsive gambling (which I was told she had when I made the first appointment) for which she apologized (unnecessarily – I did not put it to her in that way). I asked if she had some form of treatment in mind for him (she didn’t), and if he is supposed to be working on or thinking about anything in between sessions (he isn’t). She stressed that it was important for him to find something positive to do in place of gambling (DUH!) and that I needed to understand that I could not make him want to stop gambling (I assured her I absolutely understand that).
She said he ok’d her to discuss with me that he feels like I am his conscience when he is with me and he doesn’t think about gambling or have the urges, but when he is on his own, he feels free to do whatever he wants to do. At some point in this conversation, she told me (prefacing with a pause “I’m just going to say this because I’m pretty outspoken” and proceeded to say something along the lines of “nagging him would probably do more harm than good.” So now I’m thinking Good Grief! With all the things I’ve told her, shouldn’t she have a better idea of where I’m at in my recovery; that I’ve already been there and done all that? So I explained briefly my journey since finding GT and where I think I am on the learning curve – that I virtually stopped nagging months ago, that I put up barriers to protect myself as much as possible, stopped thinking about his addiction all the time, and started trying to think of myself instead.
At some point I discussed a list of concerns that I felt, knowing my husband, would keep him from making any progress in recovery if not addressed in his therapy; things like his inability to be mindful or introspective (he doesn’t think about it unless he is ‘forced’ to talk about it or I have reminded him of a group chat, etc.), or his lack of respect for money (he loves to spend money on anything), and his issue with impulse control (going to dating sites and the porn). I told her that, in general, I am not anywhere near convinced that he is committed to this. In this discussion she talked about the Meyers Briggs personality stuff and drew a diagram of where she thought (right now) he and I were: I am extroverted, he is introverted – I am intuitive, he is sensing (hands on – so probly won’t do the mindful thing), we are both thinkers more than feelers, and I am judging (not judgmental but more ‘take charge’ and quicker to make firm decisions) and he is more perceiving. The purpose of this, I think, was to give me an idea of what she was considering and how she was approaching his treatment. And she is fairly spot on in her assessments of us, so I am a little reassured with this.
She has ask several times, and did so again today, what we do together that is fun; when was the last time we did something we both enjoy – trying to establish a reconnection. So today I just told her that we have done some of those things – played golf, activities with our grandkids and friends – but that my heart can’t be in it when our relationship feels so disingenuous. She asked why? I said because for the most part, I do not trust him or anything he says. She seemed surprised and said “So… you’ve really built up some walls to protect your emotions haven’t you?” I tried to explain to her that it was really much more than that. I told her since I began my recovery, and with knowledge and support from this site, I have changed: I have slowly, and reluctantly, begun to accept the idea that I may have to leave my husband; that at times I’ve thought of myself as single; and that I am beginning to think I will be okay if that happens .
I told her about how poorly I was coping with his addiction before I found GT; about how initially the theory of separating the addiction/beast from the man I knew as my husband allowed me to better deal with his outrageous lies and behaviors. I sensed she was dismissing this thinking (she’s a doctor so I’m not really surprised) because her response to this was (and THIS is where I think her inexperience in CG became glaringly obvious to me) something like “Here’s the thing with addiction … If he was truly addicted he would gamble all the time, and he doesn’t do that. He has stopped gambling.” My mind started reeling and I don’t think I heard what she said for the next minute or so. I said “Wait a minute … just because he says he’s stopped doesn’t mean he has.” She questioned my disbelief. I told her he could be using his phone or laptop – he has done this and lied many times before. She asked if I thought he was gambling. I said “I don’t know – maybe … probably”. She asked if I questioned him about it. I said “Not really, it would do no good. If he was gambling he would lie about it, and if he said he wasn’t I wouldn’t believe him anyway.” She seemed a bit astounded by this … ugh… I want a CG therapist! Somewhere in this part of the conversation she asked if he knew what I expected of him. I said “I’m not sure. I’m not always sure I know what I expect of him. He does know that I will not live with the addiction in my life and that it is up to him to change – and I have to believe that I will know it when he does and will want to take a leap of faith.” I think she got it because she said “So you’re looking for some form of catharsis from him right?”
I went in today intending to determine if I thought she was going to be able to help my husband with his gambling addiction. I took my copy of the UCLA Individualized Treatment Plan for Problem Gamblers and showed it to her toward the end of our session at an appropriate time in the conversation (if such a time exists when it might appear you are telling the doctor how to do her job). She seemed genuinely appreciative asking if she could copy it, but then said to me (hopefully teasingly) as she copied it “I see you’re making the same mistake a lot of new therapists make in attempting to make a treatment plan one size fits all.” In the end she assured me she welcomed anything that would help and then said to me “You probably know more about this problem right now than anyone in this town.”
I can see therapy is going to be challenging for me, and after today I suspect the therapist thinks I’m going to be a challenge for her! I am going to give us time to get to know each other’s personalities. I’m going to give her time to better assess our needs separately and as a couple. And I’m going to give her a chance to gain some insight into compulsive gambling – I think I made my concerns about this pretty clear today.
Well, I’ve been reflecting now for over 2 hours, and I’m so glad I did! (Thanks San) These discussions aren’t exactly in the order they occurred, and certainly not precisely stated here because I have such a horrible memory – but I remembered a lot more as I was typing than I would have if I’d waited until later to do this. And there’s no shortening it for the purpose of posting, so don’t worry a bit if you skipped to the bottom after the first paragraph! HA
Adele24 October 2013 at 4:40 pm #1870velvetModerator
I never doubted you would ask a few questions, I would probably have done the same. I know that people who have been in counselling often want to dissemble their thoughts quietly and not physically share them for a time, if ever. I can only ‘suggest’ ways of doing things – I cannot tell you what to do.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned was that CGs have to learn to trust us. The non-CG believes, I think, that everything hinges on whether they can trust a CG in early recovery or not but how does a CG know they can trust a non-CG? Having run rings round a non-CG loved one for so long the CG will have heard the responses, arguments, theories so many times about how we think their addiction affects them, what it does to us and what they should do to find happiness – after all what could be simpler than ‘ just don’t bet?’ You are now aware about so many things that you were not aware about before, you know addiction is not simple and you are therefore forming new thoughts and opinions – you will have changed.
Your husband’s mind will be full of ‘his’ thoughts and ‘his’ hopes. For him to understand that ‘you’ have changed is, in my opinion, one thought too many. Both CG and non-CG have old behaviours and neither knows when a true change takes place.
Your husband has talked about the possibility of his counsellor winging it and he is not sure if she is going to help him or not. Two thoughts – a good counsellor would not reveal a plan of campaign; your husband will be the one to put the work in on his recovery, she can’t do it for him. She can only help him if he genuinely wants to change and this is something that nobody can know at this stage.
Your therapy experience is a different matter. You are seeing the same counsellor and I would have thought this must lead to a conflict of interest. For instance the rehab my CG went was not interested in my thoughts or experience – they were there for him and I would/could have clouded/screwed the issues.
You are terrifically aware and I suspect, from what you have said your counsellor is not as clued up as you. I hope she will be pouring over CG books and discussing gambling addiction with other counsellors at this very moment. She will have a lot of other experience to draw from and if she puts it together with the new concept of gambling addition she, hopefully, will be more rounded.
She has asked you questions and I hope you will give them some thought. What seems an irrelevant question often opens a door of thought as yet unexplored. Your husband possibly has not said what questions she asked him and more importantly how he dissembled his replies.
If the counsellor is acting as a go-between then in my opinion, she might help with your marriage but addiction is something else completely.
Gamanon members are generally not allowed into GA meetings unless they are specified as being mixed for a reason, such as a pinning. The reasoning behind the separation is so that there is a freedom to tell the truth, probably for the first time, with those who really understand what they are saying and without fear of retribution from those who have been affected by their addition. I know I would not have been able to sit with my CG when he first went to GA or when he went into rehab without putting in the most almighty oar that would have pushed him overboard. CGs understand CGs. Non-CGs understand non-CGs. We talk differently, we want different things, and we believe different things. It is my belief CGs and non-CGs need to find their recovery separately.
I see us walking on different roads but parallel, sometimes close, sometimes miles apart. I see us walking towards the same goal but achieving it in different ways. I believe that, eventually, because we have walked on different paths, with different pot-holes, different cross-roads, different views, we finish with a different story to tell. At the end, if all goes well, journeys can be shared, the new concepts learned along the way can be explored and relationships can go on, or not, with a greater understanding.
I am going to stop there because I have a strong feeling that I am going to get a strong reply. There are tons of topics in your post and I want to know that I am going in the right direction even if it means my ears being blistered. I so wish we could sit and talk, there is so much to say.
Well done on putting your reflections down so succinctly. I didn’t skip to the bottom but I haven’t addressed a tenth of what you have said. You are doing terrifically.
V24 October 2013 at 6:01 pm #1871san250Participant
‘My sweet parents raised us to have good morals, kind hearts, caring spirits, strength of character, and unconditional faith in God.’
Don’t stop being who you are … ever… just be mindful not all people are like this.
Hope to ‘see’ you later..
San xx24 October 2013 at 8:03 pm #1872
Well V, there’s nothing I’d like more than to sit and talk to you – I suspect we’d need coffee, meals, wine, possibly deoderant, and who knows, maybe a sorting hat and broomsticks! (I really want to hear more about that)
I will be reading your response many times before I post again, but I have to tell you now that I had already started another post because I’ve been mulling this all over in my head. **San – I’m amazed you caught my draft before I copied it to my desktop and deleted it to work on later! I appreciate your sage advice and do need reminding of that sometimes.
You have given me more to think about V, and this has helped tremendously already to sort some things out because my thoughts are in line with what you’ve said!
I have a busy few days ahead of me, but I hope to post tonight while things are still swirling in my head. We are supposed to see the counselor together on Friday.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for always being there for me.
Adele24 October 2013 at 10:21 pm #1873tarasweettaraParticipant
Since you have been so kind to me and replied to my thread and made me feel so welcome, I found your thread and read the whole thing. When I say I understand, I mean I really feel your pain and I am the child of a compulsive gambler. I remember my mom telling my sisters and I “never marry a man that tells you he once lost his stereo or his car in a card game”. My mom has never and will never be a gambler. My dad is a gambler of the worst kind. I remember my youth and the arguing between them. Every Friday (payday) when my dad didn’t come home, my mom would put his plate in the fridge. We would eat without him and she would load us up in her car. We would go to every bar she knew he frequented and look for his truck. When she finally found him, which she usually did, she would leave us in the car and go in to beg him to please leave before he spent his entire check. Often he wouldn’t leave, but would give her a few dollars so she could get some groceries.
She kept a calendar just for him. She would write down what time he came home. Sometimes he dissapeared for days. There were no casino’s and no legalized gambling in PA back then so he would have to find some underground gambling clubs or travel. My mom cried alot. We worried alot.
She kicked him out and let him back time and time again. She went to GA and Joined Gamanon. She took him to the priest. She went to counseling with him.
Guess what? He never did stop. Never. He can’t and he is done trying. My mom loves him terribly. They are still together.
She separated the finances. She refused to give him money whe he spent all of his. She went to school and got herself a good job and us kids never wanted for anything. She has been an angel.
My dad is at the casino right now. They are both retired. She still argues with him, but she has come to some sort of acceptance. He is old and set in his ways. He loves her and she has done what she needs to to protect her finances. They spend time together in healthy ways, but he still gambles. When he is winning he is good to all of us. When he is losing he is mean and miserable.
Then there is me. I swore up and down I would never gamble because of the pain it caused our family.
I love my Dad. I admire my dad but I am breaking the cycle. My sister has struggled with gambling and my other sister with addiction. I really believe there is a strong genetic component to these addictions. I should have known better.
I hope you are able to work through these things. Sometimes love is not enough. Sometimes it is.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.