Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family He relapsed and I feel disappointed/ashamed/confused

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  • #7070
    Sunflower01
    Participant

    My boyfriend and I have been together for about 8 years now. We’ve been through so many highs and lows because of his gambling. I stood by him through inpatient rehab, therapies, and group meetings. I’ve tried almost everything I could have. I love him. He has some amazing qualities and is so caring. We’ve recently been seeing a therapist together and things have been good. He had a small relapse a few months ago with fantasy football but he was honest and we got passed it. Currently we are stuck in the house and bored in a way, because of the coronavirus going around in New York State. Yesterday his mom asked him what he was going to do to keep himself busy in a group forum and he got very upset and said he doesn’t like her approach when it comes to discussing his problems. I understood her worries though. Today, he told me that he wouldn’t mind playing some poker online and felt it was okay because his big issue was never with poker. I broke down right there. I’ve been upset since and he seems to feel I’m overreacting. I know this is manipulation though. I just don’t know what to do anymore and whether I am enabling him by staying with him. I’m ashamed that I keep forgiving him but I love him and can’t imagine my life without him. The whole situation just really sucks.

    #7071
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi Sunflower

    I don’t hear someone who is enabling by being there – it seems to me, from what you have said, that you have been doing well. Please don’t feel ashamed of forgiving him – you are a generous person who loves a man with an addiction and that is just not easy.

    It takes a great deal of courage to face a gambling addiction and go through rehab, it takes a lot more courage to live the gamble-free life after rehab. It is also very easy for those who love a recovering gambler to say the wrong thing or to offer unwanted ‘advice’. It is important sometimes to show a trust that perhaps is not being entirely felt.

    I don’t ‘know’ Sunflower whether, or not, your boyfriend could play on-line poker safely although I do believe it would be very unwise for him to try. He said that he wouldn’t mind playing on-line poker, not that he had already played – maybe he needed to talk about what was going on in his head. I

    In my opinion, it would be good to suggest to him that you are concerned and that maybe he could share his thoughts with his counsellors from rehab or his local GA group. He would be welcome to pose his thoughts on this site in ‘My Journal’ or in one of our facilitated ‘gamblers only’ groups. Our Helpline is one-to-one and anonymous. His thoughts are not unusual, there is a lot of support and he will be understood. These are testing and terrible times for everybody. Gamblers, who are trying to live gamble-free, have had their escape route from reality cut off and coping will be tougher than usual.

    Keep communication open with your boyfriend Sunflower and please keep posting.

    Velvet

    #7072
    Sunflower01
    Participant

    Thank you so much for your insight and thoughtful response. I sent the link over to him and suggested he check it out. Today we spoke with his therapist and I hate to say it, but I think his thoughts are even worse. He spoke strongly about how he feel passionate about poker and wants to play. He went on to say without it he doesn’t feel full. He has this sense of belief that because poker wasn’t his primary form of gambling when he was bad that it is okay for him to do. I agree that I don’t think he can do it safely and feel like I am losing my mind when listening to him. He is pleading with me to create terms with him and to continue managing his money and helping him make positive choices but while he is playing poker. His therapist of course advised against it as well but tries to keep an open mind with him and gave him an assignment to write down how he plans on being responsible and how he plans to play poker without being compulsive. He also asked us to talk about our relationship and next steps. The love is still there between us, but when does he stop going backwards. I’m afraid there is no future for us as I don’t know what the right decision is to do. Do I leave him? Do we move apart for a while? Do we continue working on our relationship with terms? What is the right thing to do. I feel ashamed if I stay with him. I feel like I can’t tell anyone I know. It’s just such an unfortunate thing.

    #7073
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi Sunflower
    Nobody should ever tell you to leave or to stay – what you do has to be ‘your’ decision but decisions are best made with knowledge and that is hopefully what you are receiving here.
    I cannot tell you when he will stop appearing to go backwards. Your boyfriend’s time in rehab and his gamble-free time since are steps forward and any steps forward are good in the overall fight. Slips and relapses are not compulsory but many gamblers experience them as they try to control their addiction – slips need not necessarily be seen as negative in that they can wake the gambler up when he has become complacent but of course this is not always the case.
    My suggestion to you would be to do nothing while you are so undecided about what you want – stand still, listen to him, possibly help him manage his finances and yes – possibly see him crash. He is getting warnings but his addiction is telling him that they are wrong – he knows what he is doing.
    Laying down terms is a waste of energy while he is not listening – he could promise you the earth and mean every word but such promises disappear in a trice when his addiction demands to be fed.
    Sometimes separating is the only answer but you are the only person who can know if this is right for you and is what you want. What doesn’t work is ultimatums – if you threaten to leave then it is important that you are prepared and ready to do so. There is no right or wrong – every individual fighting this addiction is different. There is no shame if you feel you cannot continue and there is no shame if you choose to stay.
    Your boyfriend can control his addiction or I would not be writing to you, he has proved that he can live gamble-free. Complacency is the enemy of gamblers and I suspect he has become complacent.
    Keep that vital communication open and also with his therapist – sadly nobody can force him to stop gambling but he has a better chance to do so with support.
    Keep posting Sunflower. I have been in your shoes and I know that you will know what is right for you when the time comes

    Velvet

    #7074
    Sunflower01
    Participant

    Thank you so much. I find myself having mood swings when it comes to all of this. I know that no one should tell me whether I should leave him or stay with him, but if I stay with him and create “terms” that I know can easily be broken would I be enabling his disease? His therapist asked us to write terms and a plan. And we discussed we’d continue seeing him weekly regardless, but a part of me wants to know I’m not enabling him. I don’t want to make it easy for him to feed his disease but I also love him. A part of me wonders if it would be better to let him crash and burn alone because maybe it will make him hit a rock bottom that he hasn’t, although I felt there have been moments that he has. I also don’t want to see him go through that alone. It’s just very confusing. 

    #7075
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi Sunflower
    Enabling is giving cash to, or clearing the gambling debts of, a compulsive gambler. Driving a compulsive gambler to a casino would be enabling. Buying him travel passes or paying for his meal in a restaurant because he has gambled all his own money – in other words, freeing up his cash so that he can gamble, is enabling. It is ok to feed your boyfriend, it is ok to offer him a hug, it is good to offer him support and it is important to listen to him, without necessarily believing what he is saying.
    There is no point in leaving a gambler, or throwing him out, if the sole purpose is to bring about his crash to the bottom but if you cannot cope or, (as happens) love has flown out to the window then, in my opinion, separation is probably best. I am not opting out of answering your question but decisions on ‘your’ future must be made by ‘you’ because you are the only person who can know what it is that your really want to do.
    The shame you say you are feeling is entirely misplaced. There is no shame to be had in owning this addiction or loving a person with this addiction. Your boyfriend did not ask for, or want it, any more than you. He probably started gambling, as most people do at some time, believing it to be a harmless pleasure. For your boyfriend, however, there is nothing harmless about his gambling – for him gambling is toxic and he will never win.
    Compulsive gamblers do feel alone, they lack self-esteem and self-confidence and they usually feel entirely misunderstood. Sadly, you cannot save him, which is no reflection on your love for him – he is in fact lucky to have that love even if he doesn’t know it yet.
    I hope he will keep seeing his therapist and doing the homework he has been set. I hope he will join with others like him who do understand him and will support him during this difficult time.
    I wish you both well Sunflower
    Keep posting
    Velve

    #7076
    Sunflower01
    Participant

    Quarantining has caused my boyfriend to display very unhealthy habits with playing poker online. His therapist and I talked about disaster control and trying to manage what he wants to do by being financially in charge and setting terms to his gambling, as he was going to no matter what I said or did. We agreed upon terms and things were okay for about a week or two. This past week has been unbearable. I feel like a ghost in my own home, as he really only cares about playing online poker on the days he’s “allowed” and on the days he doesn’t he sits on his phone and plays pool, or a video game, or chess on the computer. I feel like his thought process is so unhealthy and I’m worried about him. I also don’t know how much longer I could live like this. I’m not stupid enough to think that terms will prevent him from making poor choices when it comes to his gambling, but figured it might help the situation since it would be difficult for him to find somehow else to live right now during the quarantine. I just feel so alone and lost. I’m tired for being taken for granted.

    #7077
    joerdj
    Participant

    Hi Sunflower,

    Just popped over from my journal section. 

    Wanted to check how things are going with you. 

    You should not feel like you are taken for granted, but that is just the nature of the beast (addiction) 

    I hope to hear from you soon. 

    Stay strong and positive ! 

    #7078
    Sunflower01
    Participant

    Thank you for reaching out and responding to my post. Things continue to get worse. I see the online poker taking over his life again. He can’t sleep at night and has stomach issues. I explained to him that this is all because of his nerves, but he doesn’t agree. I just feel like I am going insane living with him. If times were different I think I would ask him to find another place to live, but it would be so hard for him to now. I have put 8 years into this relationship and I’d hate to see it end, but I just don’t know it staying In it at this point would be best. I keep hoping things will change but they just don’t seem to be changing. 

    #7079
    joerdj
    Participant

    Hi sunflower,

    This is a thoug place to be.  He will only change if he is willing to change. You can not and must not try to change someone’s behaviour. He will not admit that he stomach pain is from the poker playing, but that is because he is an active addict. I’am also a compulsive gambler myself. 

    So all the actions has to come from his side and his side only. Of course you can support him but ultimately he is accountable for his own actions. 

    My best advice would be to safeguard your financial position and go in a damage control mode.

    The “allowed” gambling has to stop. As someone once said here ” gambling is like a mistress, staying close friends does not work”  but he is the only one who can stop and that can only happens if he admits to himself that a little gambling isn’t right. 

    #7080
    Sunflower01
    Participant

    I understand when you say that it being “allowed” needs to stop. But my question is what do I do?  if I don’t set terms with him (that I know he can easily break anyway) he would do it behind my back. The other option is if not allowed, does that mean I tell him to leave if he doesn’t stop? It is confusing because we live in NY, which is a hot spot for the coronavirus right now. It is probably difficult for him to find somewhere else to live. As angry as I am with him I care a lot about him and don’t want to see him homeless. How should I approach this? 

    #7081
    joerdj
    Participant

    Hi sunflower, 

    I think settings ultimatums only work if you are ready to follow it through, otherwise don’t do them. 

    There is not right or wrong way to go about it. For me I think he should hand over ALL his finances to you ( or someone else) and only get very small amount of cash for his expenses. Furthermore he should self excluded forever on all his accounts. Now these methods maybe you have already tried. If so there must be something that happened that he could still gamble. 

    Either way do not sacrafice your own wellbeing. Sometimes seperation is for the best, but you are the only one that can make that decision

    Kind regards. 

    If you need direct support you can always talk to the 24/7 helplines here 

    #7082
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi Sunflower
    Gamblers escape from reality when they indulge their addiction and of course, the reality of isolation is particularly difficult.
    Did you hear the therapist say that compulsive gambling could be controlled by reduction or is this your boyfriend telling you what he wanted you to believe? When a compulsive gambler gambles his mind is excited the more he gambles and in my opinion only abstinence leads to recovery although abstinence, in itself, is not recovery. One or two days off and then a day being allowed to gamble is not disaster control – it is a recipe for disaster.
    I feel very concerned about the way you are feeling. Feeling like a ghost in your own home, feeling as though you are being taken for granted, are not healthy feelings and your health is important. Your boyfriend can only make you feel like this if you allow him to do so, Sunflower because even if you don’t feel it, you are stronger than his addiction.
    When things were ‘okay for a week or two’ how happy were you? If you were happy then maybe you could tell him that you want to feel that happiness again. Talk to him about the way it was, for both of you.
    I cannot tell you what to do Sunflower, I know that the addiction to gamble breaks some relationships. Where do you see yourself if 5 months or even 5 weeks,? Decide what it is that ‘you’ want to and take control of your life.
    How strongly do you feel that it would be better for you if your boyfriend lived away from you because even though it is very difficult at the moment, it might be worth looking for an alternative place for him? Many addicts do become homeless and the responsibility does lie with them if this happens. It is important not to threaten anything unless you are fully prepared to carry it out but if you really want a break from this behaviour then you should do what feels right for you.
    Please keep posting – hopefully by keeping sharing your thoughts, you will be able to make the decision that is right for you and if it is right for you, it will probably be right for your boyfriend, even if it is tough.
    Velvet

    #7083
    Sunflower01
    Participant

    We have unfortunately tried almost everything. From inpatient for a month, GA, a therapist. Currently, I am in control of his finances and we see a therapist weekly. Right now we do therapy over the phone because of the situation. His therapist called the known gambling “harm reduction”. There was a time I believed it could be possible, but I do know now that I will never be happy unless he isn’t gambling. I see how it consumes his life and it breaks my heart. I just prefer the truth than a lie. I have lived through the days of not knowing where he was or what he was doing and it killed me. I know I have a lot of thinking to do and a tough decision ahead. I’m just afraid. Thank you for speaking with me and giving me your input. I greatly appreciate it. 

    #7084
    joerdj
    Participant

    Hi Sunflower 

    Please keep positive and keep posting!

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