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  • #4014
    mermaid
    Participant

    I´m another new person to this forum. I am from the UK, but don´t live there and I am married to a Cuban who is a cg. I am currently in Mexico, taking a break and time for myself and to think what I want to do from here (I have been living in Cuba). In a year and a half I have lost a lifetime´s savings (and as it seems many of those affected by their loved one´s gambing seem to be, I am a saver type) and have several thousand of debt. My husband, who has zero income and has had none for over a year and a half (and was in prison for a year of this and I was in Cuba supporting him during this time – not related to gambling and he had committed no crime, more because it is common to go to prison in Cuba, most men have spent time there) and is now on parole until next March. The nature of the problem has only become clear in the past 4 months or so since he was released from prison, and then things just got worse and worse. He has done terrible, criminal things to feed his gambling, directed towards me (he has never stolen or committed any crime to support his gambling…only with me!) Things are so culturally, politically, economically different in Cuba and gambling is completely illegal, but is everywhere and very corrupt. You can also gamble with pretty much no money at all, they feed you money through the night and then give you a couple of days to pay (although it is hard to go in there and start with completely zero but he has done that before – if he has absolutely no money this does stop him going…I think). And if you don´t pay they come after you and it gets dangerous. My husband has recognised the seriousness of his problem and wants to stop and is trying, but so far is only trying will power, which hasn´t worked, also because he just has no options available to him. And no one really understands gambling as an addiction in Cuba. No one trusts anyone, there is a high level of surveillance and anyone could be an informer, and internet is monitored and expensive and not easily accessible. So…I have tried to look for options to provide him with support, but so far not come up with anything that is realistic and I am focussing on myself too at present and trying to understand my feelings and path to how I got to where I am now and what I want to do next. To have clear strategies and be able to communicate myself clearly to my husband. He just wants me to go back to Cuba and support him in person, but I know I don´t want to yet. For now, I still feel I want to see if I can support my husband through some kind of recovery process, but that is very difficult when he has so little support available to him. So, here I am, learning and reflecting and sharing on this forum. Aside from looking for resources here, and possibly some Cuban somewhere who has figured a way to communicate about these issues by internet that works for her/him!!!!!! I have one question for now. Is it common that someone who is a cg generally has a whacked out relationship with money and has issues with compulsive spending, inability to keep money in their pockets (besides using it for gambling) and no real sense of the value of money, money is more a means to just be spent in the moment, often for short-term fun. I guess this is linked in general with beahviour linked with impulse control? I am in a different situation too because of the very difficult economic situation that Cubans live in and their constant challenge in obtaining money, but if my husband has even a couple of pounds for the day, he has to spend it quickly, any sum he spends quickly even though he doesn´t know where his next money will come from. this is linked too I think with his general desire for behaviour that is …escape…spending, parties, drinking. But there are so many issues focussed around money that seem interwoven in such a complex way and he grew up feeling himself to be very poor, even relative to other Cubans around him in his neighbourhood. So we not only battle and argue about the gambling (this much less now as I am not there (one!) but also because I have greatly increased my understanding of compulsive gambling and become stronger and clearer myself in recent weeks) but also just generally about the use and control of money and our very different relationships to it. All so hard when really the only way for him not to gamble is for me to completely control the money and for him to have very little in his pocket – and he has worked hard since the age of 12 to support himself and always earned his own money (up to becoming a prisoner and now being on parole). So many things! But…writing them down here for a start. And it is just so comforting really despite all the pain that people have and are experiencing to see that we all go through such similar things. Ok, I will share this in cyberspace and am happy to have joined this community 🙂

    #4015
    velvet
    Moderator

    <

    Hello Mermaid

    Thanks for starting a thread in the Gambling Therapy friends and family forum. This forum will provide you with warmth and understanding from your peers.

    Feel free to use the friends and family group, you’ll find the times for these if you click on the “Group times” box on our Home page. Now that you have introduced yourself you’ll find that many of the people you meet here have already read your initial introduction and they’ll welcome you in like an old friend 🙂

    If you’re the friend or family member of someone who is either in, or has been through, the GMA residential programme please take extra care to make sure that nothing you say in groups, or on our forums, inadvertently identifies that person. Even if your loved one isn’t connected with GMA, please don’t identify them either directly or indirectly just in case they decide to use the site themselves.

    You’ll find a lot of advice on this site, some of which you’ll follow, some you won’t…but that’s ok because only you fully understand your
    situation and what’s best for you and the people you love. So, take the support you need and leave the advice you don’t because it all comes from a caring, nurturing place 🙂

    We look forward to hearing all about you!

    Take care

    The Gambling Therapy Team


    PS: Let me just remind you to take a look at our

    privacy policy and terms and conditions so you know how it all works!

    #4016
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi Mermaid
    I am glad that you are here to learn and reflect using this forum – I hope you will find in it the support you need and that you will gain strength from knowing you are with those who really do understand.
    In answer to your question regarding CGs and whacked out relationships with money, it would be fair to say that your husband’s situation is common but also to say that much of what you have written is unique to your situation.
    Your husband has said that he appreciates he has a problem and that he wants to stop gambling. Of course words are easy and a gamble-free future will require action accompanying the words, however I hear what you say about the difficulty of getting the support he needs in Cuba. I hope you will feel able to tell him about this site and all our resources.
    Although the environment you have described sounds incredibly difficult and your husband will have to be very determined if he really wants to change his life, I can tell you that I would not be writing to you now if I didn’t positively ‘know’ that a gamble-free life is possible if he wants it enough.
    He is very lucky to have you willing to support him in the way you are already doing. You cannot stop your husband gambling but you can give him good support that will help him if he chooses to take the leap of faith and control his addiction. Knowledge of the addiction to gamble will give you power over it and help you cope. How do you communicate with him? Does he have any access to the internet at all? Does he have any friends or family in Cuba that know about his addiction and to whom he can talk?
    Well done writing your first post, I suspect it was very hard to write. I have read it a few times and I can hear how and why you are finding it difficult to come up with any solution. I will put my thinking cap on and hopefully support you as you deserve. I think that keeping a journal is an excellent way to plot your progress and ‘your’ progress is very important for you and ultimately for your husband. Your husband didn’t want or ask for this terrible addiction in his life anymore than you did, I hope it will help if you can give him hope that he can succeed. Although you have described a very desperate situation, I feel the more information and support that you husband can receive the greater his hope will be.
    We have a terrific Helpline which is open between 0900 and 17.00 hours UK time and is available for you and your husband – the advice is one-to-one and private.
    I am going to leave it there Mermaid until I hear from you again. I have an F&F group on Thursday between 20.00 – 21.00 hours UK time where you will be very welcome.
    Velvet

    #4017
    mermaid
    Participant

    Hi Velvet,
    Thank you so much for your reply. It is very helpful and supportive. In recent weeks I have read and read about compulsive gambling and the experiences of others (perhaps too much and perhaps time to step back a little!) and just still trying to figure out so many things. In the past few days I posted on the F&F forum of Gamcare and got several responses and they pretty much all were saying…how crazy?! How can you be with this guy? All the things he is doing go beyond him being a cg. Think hard about why you would be in such a relationship. And then of course, the usual take care of you and look after yourself and give it time and the answers will come up by themselves when you have more peace in your life. I know he is up against a huge challenge and that I have to decide how much I am willing to support him and what I actually can do. He can´t use the internet very easily in Cuba….there is limited access and it is expensive and while I am not there he generally literally has zero money. He tries to find 50c for some email time (which doesn´t give website access) and so we have been communicating by short email. He has sold his mobile phone so we haven´t talked by phone in the past couple of weeks and that is not a good option as it is so expensive. So we have email communication and I tend to write him my thoughts that way at the moment. He would not want to use this website from Cuba as he would be worried that people would monitor his history. Also he speaks, but does not read or write English, and I noticed that the Spanish section was quite limited, no? So…although at the moment I have told my husband that I am sitting tight in Mexico and waiting to see what he does…how he goes…what concrete actions he takes (knowing the limited options) to tackle his addiction and change his life (and he keeps asking me when I am going back to Cuba and saying how he needs me, but I have to see him somehow changing first and for a length of time), and also just taking the time for me, to rest and recover some strength and to learn more about cg and be clearer what I want to do. I am struggling to find the balance between being supportive and giving him hope and at the same time applying tough love and some conditions (me not coming back, me looking for concrete changes that he makes, his effort for honesty between us)…this also because I am not clear what I want and how much more I can invest in what is so much his battle, but also one that he has never had anyone understand or be able to support in the past. And…no one in his family understands, no friends do…for them it is just bad behaviour that he just needs to stop…and he feels a lot of shame about it. His mother knows and has bailed him out throughout his life, to the best of her ability as she is poor, but also just reaches out to help him every time she feels he is suffering and in trouble after a gambling episode, but i became the default person to …manipulate to get money out of and bail out and to look to for support. I feel my husband has been very open about his gambling since he confessed to me a few months ago, but hates to communicate about it…hates to think about it too much (of course). He is from a very different machista culture…men don´t talk about stuff and he hates to talk about his difficult past – so it is very hard for him to reflect on his gambling history and the triggers. Anyway, this was a fast reply….shot off quickly..I am still really trying to think what I want to do in all this…I thought I wanted to support him and at the same time I know there are a lot of other issues besides the gambling…the life of gambling and a life on the street from the age of 12 so intertwined. I know for now he comes from a very needy place in the relationship. I know I need to sit back too and see what he does.
    I would love to take part in the support group tomorrow, but don´t know how it works…how to make the box go green and join in as it says in the instructions on the page. And it would be great to talk by phone on the Helpline too.
    Thank you..I will keep reflecting and learning! I am so glad to have found this site.

    #4018
    mermaid
    Participant

    Actually, I started crying reading the comments on Gamcare. They seemed so emphatic about how could I be in such an abusive relationship, etc. It is so hard (impossible?) to separate the gambling from everything else and I see how it directly affects the behaviour of my husband, his moods, etc. I also see an essentially very kind-hearted very resilient person too. He has done terrible terrible things, but I think also if he were not my husband, if he were a good friend, I would want to help. Does that mean I sacrifice myself too much for others and focus more on them than on myself? I don´t know. I just would love to come through this together and I know he has no one else to turn to, even though he has to go through so much of this also himself and prove that he can do that for me to be able to support him. I have everyone around me…people on the forums, my family, friends…telling me I should leave him. This is also very hard. Anyway, I will try to think of more practical and specific ways that this site can help me in my current situation. And I am very grateful for it.

    #4019
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi Mermaid
    I don’t think that anyone should ever suggest you leave or stay with your husband – such a decision is yours and yours alone. Give yourself all the time you need to gain knowledge of your husband’s addiction because informed decisions are better. The negative comments you have received from Gamcare do not help you or your husband.
    All the CGs I have known have been good people who, through no fault of their own, own a terrible addiction that causes very, very, poor behaviour, they need treatment and support which is available for many, sadly it seems it is not readily available in Cuba.
    It might not seem very helpful but I assure you that looking after you is the best thing you can do for yourself and your husband. If you collapse under the pressure of his addiction you become another of its victims and then you will be unable to support anybody. It is better for him when he is trying to turn his life around that you are not part of the wreckage of his addiction– it is not something your husband would want. He needs you to be strong.
    It is not for me to say whether you focus too much on others but it is essential to focus on your own health and well-being if you are to be a good support. I think it would be good if you could tell him that you are seeking support for yourself and that you know that enabling his addiction only feeds it – clearing his gambling debts only leaves it clear for him to gamble again and so the cycle goes on.
    This week the F&F group is on Thursday and I do hope you can join. If you click on ‘Support Groups’ at the top of this page, then hover your mouse over ‘Friends and Family Peer Support at 20.00 hours UK time, the green box will appear. Click on the word ‘Join’ and you will be in the group.
    Keep posting Mermaid, I will walk with you for as long as you want me to do so
    Velvet

    #4020
    mermaid
    Participant

    Thank you so much Velvet for your reply again. It really is so comforting and very much helps at the moment. I have only starting truly talking about this in the past few days and I think I have been a little surprised by many of the responses I got on the Gamcare site, but then I would kind of expect that many people who reply are motivated too because they feel a strong opinion and want to express it. So forums are skewed that way. Anyway, I know that for now it is best for me to sit tight and take time to inform myself, find a sounding board, reflect and decide what I can and can´t do. And I think it is very important that I figure out how to send my husband clear messages, even if they are just short emails read every few days or so. I think all the time I am just expecting someone to get in touch with me and tell me he is in prison again or that something terrible has happened as a result of his gambling, but that is all part of it. I need to learn how best to apply tough love too.

    Anyway, I just want to say that your messages today have been really good to receive. I think I need to work on myself and how not to lose myself in someone else´s (my husband´s) problems and life, how to have healthy boundaries, etc. So much has happened in the past year and I am still reeling really from the year that he was in prison and all that happened with that and then the gambling addiction and its tough journey hit quickly afterwards! I will try to think hard on concrete things that communication on this site could help me with, and I would love to take part in the group on Thursday. Great to know you are “there”!

    #4021
    mermaid
    Participant

    Hi again,
    Something I am struggling with at the moment is that I am telling my husband that I am staying in Mexico for now to see how he goes and that I want to see him make concrete changes to combat the gambling. But really, neither of us know what those could be other than him using willpower, which I have read over and over that no one has experienced someone overcome the addiction by willpower alone with no support. So I am asking him something without really knowing what it is I am asking of him and yet it is a condition I am making to him! From here I can´t really know if he is gambling or not, only if he gets in touch and says he is in debt again because he has gambled. However, at the moment he has no money at all and nothing to pawn for the night as security, but I am worried as I think he will have $30 or $40 in the coming days. Willpower has not worked for him in the past, although I think he has only been serious in the past 6 weeks or so. Just after I left for Mexico, a month ago, after he had not gambled for nearly 2 weeks, he went and gambled for 3 nights in a row (so he said it was) went through every penny that was left for him (including as security at his mother´s and he travelled there to get her to give it to him), sold the last things I had left there and overshot by $300 still. So there is the triangle thing, money-location- time. He has plenty of time, no option for work right now and very few options for pastimes. He has tried to change his address with the court to stay at his mother´s (where there is gambling but less money and less easily accessible) and the process is just too complicated involving the supreme judge and a long wait time. And he won´t always be going around with absolutely zero money, although often is at the moment when I am not there, and generally doesn´t have a cent in his pockets – which in some ways makes him more desperate to look for a win (in his mind).

    So, I am stuck as to what to say to him. I keep saying I want to see concrete actions and not just words, but the only concrete actions I can see he has as options are just abstaining from gambling.

    Do you have any ideas at all? It feels very challenging.

    #4022
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi Mermaid
    This will be a bit of a potted version of a separation coping method as I am supposed to be somewhere else but I promised you I would put this on your thread. We can ‘talk’ about it over the next however long. As I told you it is not a method recognised professionally but it worked for me and it works for many.
    Imagine your husband’s addiction as a slavering beast in the corner of the room. As long as you keep your cool and don’t threaten his addiction it will stays quiet, although don’t ever kid yourself that it isn’t watching and listening.
    Your husband is controlled by his addiction but it is important to remember that you do not have to be. When you threaten his addiction, it will come between you and control the conversation or argument. His addiction is the master of threats and manipulation which you are not and nor do you want to be. Once his addiction beast is between you, the only thing you will hear will be his addiction speaking and because it only knows lies and deceit, it will seek to make you feel blame and demoralize you. When you speak the addiction distorts your words and your husband can’t comprehend your meaning.
    My CG explained it to me by saying that while I was telling him (for instance) that if he didn’t lie but lived honestly he would be happy, his addiction was distorting his mind convincing him that I was lying because he truly believed that he was unlovable, worthless and a failure – he was lost and fought back with blame and lies because he didn’t have any other coping mechanism. The addiction to gamble only offers failure to those who sadly own it.
    I believe F&F waste valuable time ‘wanting’ to believe that the CG they love is telling the truth and that ‘this’ time, maybe, he/she is different. I think it is good, although difficult, to not ‘try’ and believe the CG because in doing so you become receptive. If you can stand back a bit and listen to what your husband is saying, it becomes easier not get caught up in an argument that has no point apart from making you feel less in control. Once you begin to try and put your side the addiction has something to get its teeth into.
    This all sounds a little negative but the positive side is that it removes you from the centre of the addiction giving you time and energy to look after you.
    By looking after you first you will become stronger, you will be able to reclaim your own life and that is the right way forward for both of you. In pitying a CG you can become vulnerable to his addiction – don’t pity him but be strong and stand against his addiction, it is what he needs most of all.
    I will leave it there and go to where I should be – it was good to ‘talk’ tonight.
    Velvet

    #4023
    vera
    Participant

    Hi Mermaid.
    I am a Compulsive Gambler.
    If someone kept drip feeding me with money , which I didn’t have to earn, I could possibly become very irresponsible and gamble every day, while laughing my heart out at the stupidity of the person whom I was fooling!
    Have you any idea why you feel you need to send money to your husband, when you know what he will do with it i.e. gamble until he losses it all, then come running back for more, knowing it will arrive without any effort on his part?
    If he was diabetic , would you keep feeding him with sugar or a drug addict with heroin, or an alcoholic with alcohol?
    There is a huge difference between support and enablement.
    Ask yourself what is in this for you.
    You are doing him more harm than good.
    My advice as someone who plied all the tricks of the trade to get money and succeeded in losing the LOT, is
    STOP SENDING HIM MONEY!

    #4024
    mermaid
    Participant

    Hi Vera,
    Thank you for writing and for caring enough to give me advice. I know very well what you are saying. In the past I gave him money for his debts because I was scared of the consequences for him (once I realised what was going on and that I was enabling). This was the final time…is the final time and the situation is left over from something that happened a month ago. Again, I succumbed because I was scared he would go to prison, be beaten up, or even killed. But one reason I came to Mexico was so that I couldn´t get money to him even if I wanted to and that he knew that. I realise that the past few months have fed the addiction and it has escalated and escalated. I know. He also manipulated, of course, and it took me a while to figure out things…but now he can´t get at my money and knows it. So time will tell…Thank you again.

    #4025
    mermaid
    Participant

    Velvet, Thank you for your post and the slavering beast analogy. I had read it in several other posts and thought about it. I think it does help me to try sometimes to separate the “addict beast” from the rest of the person, although it also feels strange and somehow harsh to do this. But the cg can be such a Jekyll and Hyde and it is so true that they don´t seem to act or talk in any logical way when they are driven by the addict…or at least it is so focused on the fix and defending the fix. However, also when I think of this beast ruling my husband, so to speak, it makes me feel sorry for him…and I am trying to move away from feeling sorry for him, as we have touched on! But I find it so hard! I see him really struggling with this, I see what a grip it has on him and I feel sorry for him. But I am trying to do the tough love thing.

    I feel bad still for enabling him so much with paying his debts and handing him money to use (when I did´t realise it was for the gambling, and also after I did, but he kept saying I could trust him and to give him another chance…or he found some trick, or he believed himself he wouldn´t succumb and wanted to show himself he wouldn´t,then did – I think there was a range of scenarios at different times) and this was also apart from being convinced by him and wanting to believe him, because I was very concerned about the consequences of not paying his debts to those running the gambling racket in town. This also while he was in prison and because he is now on parole, and also because the country is so hard and the law is so random, corrupt and draconian (he spent a year in prison with no criminal charges and no evidence in the trial and this was reduced from 4 years). Then some of the times he found ways to get money out of me, taking my bank cards, pawning valuable things I needed. Now I want to stop giving him any money and have told him so and I believe he believes me and has seen it get harder and harder for him. However, the money I sent him for the last time will have a little over the amount he has to pay, most likely, maybe as much as $30, I don´t know, and I am very nervous about this. I tried every way I could to send the exact amount, but it wasn´t possible. It is also so hard when I know my husband has no money at all right now, but it is his own doing. So these are, yes, really early days for me not enabling his gambling with any money I give him in any way for any reason. And still not quite there in the sense that there is lingering money from a couple of weeks ago that hasn´t reached him, and he is incredibly worried because it is taking so long and he is under such pressure from the guy he borrowed from. So he is generally in touch with me briefly each day saying he is so worried and desperate and I try to stay firm, say he has to wait and that this is all a consequence. But I can´t help worrying that something quite bad will happen to him because of this unpaid debt. More…time will tell…It is much easier to not think so much about it all, not be so stressed – despite the fact that I write a lot about it all here! – by being so far away from him with so little communication at the moment. I want to be a support with firm, clear communication to him, but as discussed, I don´t know what actions he can be taking, other than using willpower because of the lack of options in Cuba. So I need to think what I can be saying to him. Another ramble! Time for bed here!

    #4026
    mermaid
    Participant

    I´m just going to go ahead and write this stream of stuff in my head. Today it is feeling harder again. Of course, some days are easier than others. I am here in Mexico really because I ran from….the addict…I have named it Chok…I don´t really know why, but I imagine it like some kind of Stone Age Man-Yeti, hairy being. I needed space from the addict, time to think, time to be by myself, and I needed to protect myself, emotionally and financially. Much of me didn´t want to leave, and I think I would have stayed there and battled longer (in vain) if it had not been for my visa expiring. So now I have just very little communication with my husband. He has really tried to be in touch, but also he has been in touch mostly about his gambling debt, how to pay it, asking for help from me, telling me how the money still hasn´t arrived, telling me about how hard it is for him that the man he borrowed money from to pay to the gambling sharks is pressuring him every day for the money and if I can´t complain to my bank, etc. etc. I will not help him again with money and I have known it is the worst thing to do for 2-3 months (it took me a while), but this is still from the past, still lingering. I know I need to focus on myself, but my thoughts are so much with my husband. We haven´t talked at all on the phone for more than 2 weeks. It is very expensive, but also he sold his phone, which really is a good thing as he had left it over and over for security with the gambling sharks and it enabled him to play and run up the debt. It took me a while to fully realise the role of the phone and I paid for him to retrieve it over and over because I also wanted communication with him. He walks around with literally zero money in his pockets, looking for some way to buy some cigarettes and he smokes a lot, but they are cheap in Cuba (but cost more than nothing!). Apart from the cigarettes, when he has a few cents someone has given him he uses it for a few minutes of internet at the state telecommunications office and gets in touch with me, but this is less and less. Today he had about 10 seconds left and just left me a quick message on Facebook that he hoped I was doing well and that the money had still not arrived and could I check with my bank except that he would have no way of communicating with me now. So I just have to…try…to let go. He is where he is because of gambling. He has no money because of gambling. People (powerful people with a lot of influence who could potentially resort to dirty tactics) are pressuring him for their money back because of gambling. He has no work that gives him at least a little income because of gambling. He doesn´t have his own nice space to live in because of gambling. I, his wife, am here in Mexico because of gambling. I miss him and the person I thought he used to be because of gambling. There is so much pain because of gambling. I cry because of gambling.

    #4027
    michelle45
    Participant

    Hi mermaid

    It was nice to talk to you in group. I can really understand where your posts comes from. It does help to offload it all. You are in such a tough situation but are starting to look after yourself.

    Your husband is in a situation of his own doing and you know you are not responsible for him. I can ‘see’ you battling with yourself over the money but you are the rational one and know what will happen to it if you send more.

    As you have said you can do no more. You have to look after you because who else is going too?

    I hope you are able to do something you enjoy today. It will make your day easier. Leave some space in your head for things other than gambling.

    Take care. My thoughts are with you

    M

    #4028
    mermaid
    Participant

    Thank you so much, M. That is so kind. It is good to have you “there”. I know all of us here are in and/or have been through such difficult situations. And sometimes it seems almost the hardest thing to look after oneself. It must be extra hard as well for you with your daughter. But it is so true, that we need to really care for ourselves, make ourselves strong and live empowered lives. We don´t have any magic wands to make this addiction go away as quickly as we discovered it was there! I know on the money thing and feel guilty as well for giving him money so many times. I also had no idea that I was drip-feeding him money (not large amounts, but steadily it really mounted up and he used me feeling sorry for him and wanting to feel he was eating better, etc.) while he was in prison. Prisons are also terrible places for intensifying addictions. I am really trying hard to stay firm with him!!!
    I do try to do nice things for myself each day. Which I think mainly revolve around nice things to eat, some wine, walking in the park for at least an hour, being able to connect to a good friend by Skype. What do you do? Do you have things that you try to do each day to take good care of yourself? I am not there right now but hope to be in a space soon where I can give support to others based on what I have learned on this journey. Power to us! 🙂

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