26 June 2016 at 2:04 am #4751
Hello all, first post after reading many.
My Mom has been gambling for 20 plus years. SHe lives alone and is very independent. She has had access to money that my siblings and I have not been able to prevent her from gambling it all away.
She has finally reached a point where there is no more money, I won’t go on about all the usual stuff but I am confused at what my role should be? Her finances are now being managed by family members and she has said she know she has an addition problem. She refuses to go to meetings and has not had any action towards real recovery. She has never started a conversation about her gambling ( except in the beginning when she would win). Every time we would bring it up to her she would be adamant that she did not have a problem and always change the subject. When I bring it up now I know she does not want to talk and if I push it out comes the beast. Is this just a waiting game for her to start a conversation because if it is I don’t think it will happen EVER. Denial wins every time and she has conned everyone to thinking that everything is fine. Should we just let her be and wait for the eventual crash? She says that she can do this on her own and I know this is not possible. If my biggest role is to listen, that is easy because she has never talked about her addiction. We have stopped giving her any money, we used to by her gift cards for groceries, gas etc but all this did was free up more money for her to gamble. She gets an allowance now, it’s only been 2 weeks. I am expecting her to find a way to get money right? Did we intervene in her finances too early? We are trying to enable her to stay in her home which she loves. What am I supposed to be doing at this point? She is 80 years old and it breaks my heart to see her like this. My mother is gone and there is the beast in her place.I feel like I have failed her but I know I had no control to prevent this.
Just need some help with next steps…..
Sorry for the rant I could have gone on for days26 June 2016 at 9:32 am #4752
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, youll find the times for these if you click on the Group times box on our Home page. Now that you have introduced yourself youll find that many of the people you meet here have already read your initial introduction and theyll welcome you in like an old friend 🙂
If youre 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 isnt connected with GMA, please dont identify them either directly or indirectly just in case they decide to use the site themselves.
Youll find a lot of advice on this site, some of which youll follow, some you wont…but thats ok because only you fully understand your
situation and whats best for you and the people you love. So, take the support you need and leave the advice you dont because it all comes from a caring, nurturing place 🙂
We look forward to hearing all about you!
The Gambling Therapy Team
PS: Let me just remind you to take a look at our26 June 2016 at 4:09 pm #4753
I can understand your confusion; your mother is like an out-of-control child and her children, who have a right to be supported by her, are struggling to deal with her unacceptable behaviour.
Please put all thoughts of what you might/could/should have done – the past is gone and everything that you did, you did for the right reason, nobody could or should ask for more from you. I hope it helps when I tell you that I did everything wrong for all the right reasons for 25 years. With knowledge DD you will be able to cope and hopefully see your way forward with this incredibly sad situation.
I remember a friend of mine telling me that the Doctor had advised her mother to lose a lot weight when she was 84 and we agree that at her age she was ‘entitled’ to live the rest of her life eating whatever she wanted – the only person she ‘might’ have been hurting was herself. The gambling addiction is very different of course because it hurts those around it as well as the addict and the pain is often unbearable.
I wondered when I read your post and you compared the addiction to ‘the beast’ whether you had read the analogy that I often write about the addiction being the snarling beast in the corner of the room. I won’t repeat it unless I hear from you that you haven’t read it, however, I do think it is a good coping method in your circumstances. I will wait to hear from you on that.
I believe that if your mother will not consider seeking help she is probably not accepting her addiction – I think it more like that she is telling you what she thinks you want to hear so that you back away but her words are useless without action. Are you close to your siblings; have you considered getting all of you together and talking to her with one voice? Are all your siblings aware that enablement will only keep your mother up to her neck in addiction? The addiction to gamble is divisive and unity among those around the addict is vitally important because nobody is to blame.
I agree with you that just listening is probably never going to be enough for you because you are suffering and that is not right. A listening ear is good when a person wants to work their way through the confusion in their minds but your mother appears to be capable of abusing your listening ear.
How are you enabling her to stay in her own home which she loves? If she lost her home because of her addiction where could go? With you and your siblings united against her addiction she might see that the home she loves is under serious threat?
I will leave this first post here DD and await your reply.
Well done writing your first post, I know it could not have been easy.
Velvet26 June 2016 at 5:56 pm #4754
Thanks for answering Velvet….
Recently my sister and I decided that since she is never willing to talk that we would write her a letter, We were offering our help.
There were financial ultimatums contained in the letter and she complied with all our requests for credit card , passwords etc.
What we did not see coming was the other person who has taken our mother (yes I have read the “beast ” from your posts). She got very upset at the letter and said we broke her heart and made her feel incompetent and worthless. She lashed out and said we(brother and sister and myself ) were the last people she would ever come to for help. She said some hurtful things but we did see this as the addition talking and not really her. Her world is a facade and she now believes the lies. She has calmed a bit but if we bring up the CG I know what is going to happen. Should we not push until she is ready to really commit? My siblings and I are united and will not give her any money. Yes I think she would lose the house if we did not take over her finances. The only place she would have to go is either with me or my sister.
When we talk as long as the word gambling is not mentioned it is like nothing is wrong and we have a normal conversation.
I told her I bought some books on women and gambling addition and had them sent to her…she did not lash out but got quiet.
BTW this all got started when my Dad died 27 years ago.
We are not ashamed of her addiction and have told her that but she is very embarrassed we can tell. My mother is a very intelligent, warm ,giving person, who has been hiding her true feelings for years. This addiction has not had financial implications for us siblings…she has just gambled any money she could get her hands on away and there is nothing left.
Do we poke the beast? Do we just have superficial conversations that do not address the problem?
We are all grown and can’t believe that she is suffering with this at this stage in her life….we want our mother back and we want her to be at peace and lose the beast that controls her world. We need to face that this may never happen and it is heart wrenching.
Thanks for listening…..26 June 2016 at 7:48 pm #4755veraParticipant
Yes, DD, it is heart wrenching for you, your siblings and for your mother.
Gambling is a ruthless addiction and has no respect for age, class, creed or gender.
My personal opinion, reading what you have written, is that your mum probably turned to gambling through loneliness and loss of her husband. Gambling can play the part of a “lover” and I know many women who were sucked in. I have seen them stroking and talking to slot machines as if to coax them into some positive response. Your mother feels upset and threatened because you are “taking her ‘lover’ away”.
My suggestion to you and your siblings would be to avoid mentioning the G word to your mother. Surprise her with some alternative activity ( a walk , a drive in the country side, a trip to the cinema, a meal out) to replace her gambling outings. She is not a young woman and as we know “old habits die hard” Twenty years is a long time to spend gambling, so as well as the addictive element it will have become habitual behaviour for you mam. Safeguarding her home is indeed the biggest and best thing you can do, but you also need to take steps to help her to restore and safeguard her dignity and preserve her self esteem.
In my experience, a lot of women continue to gamble because they falsely believe that gambling is their way of life and the only thing they can do well!
I am the mother of three grown up children.
I am a compulsive gambler.28 June 2016 at 12:51 pm #4756
I also sent a letter to my CG in a similar vein but it wasn’t until he was in recovery and living a gamble-free life that he told me his reaction to my written word. He said he read it a hundred times and saw different things in the words every time he read them but he never saw the spirit in which the letter had been sent. He read it so often, the paper was tired, damp and screwed from where it had been folded and re-read so many times – it was illegible – but his personal perception of what he thought I had said was dictated by his addiction. I believe you were right to hear the addiction talking in your mother’s words.
The normal conversations you are having are great. An active CG often doesn’t feel normal, so when the realisation comes that they have a real problem, normal is an unfathomable concept which they believe is unavailable to them. Keep those positive conversations going – well done.
I fully understand that your father’s death triggered this terrible reaction in your mother and I think it is important, for her and you, to remember the good times before his death when she was the warm, intelligent, giving person you write about. Did she have hobbies and interests and if so where they solely dependent on your father?
Your mother could not have known that addiction was the price she would pay for gambling – she probably saw it as a mild release, a chance to forget. If she had known it was something that would take over her life and detrimentally affect her relationships with those around her I am sure she would never have placed that first bet.
I think maybe an intervention with all your siblings and those closest to her that she cares about might be an answer – a chance to talk to her positively without blame or judgment, with no mention of her addiction. A chance for you to tell her how much you love her and to offer her another way to spend her time, maybe to remind her of a forgotten hobby or interest or friend, she used to enjoy (because addiction does cause friends to drop away). Careful planning between you all is important because the united front is paramount and everybody must know what it is you are trying to achieve. Love, compassion and positivity must be central; it is vital that she is heard but not criticised – maybe physical contact (depending on your relationships) will help. She will feel lonely and so above all she needs to hear hope. Having had the intervention maybe a relaxed social could follow so that she could feel a very special, important, welcome and normal part of her loving family..
The beast will be there in the corner and it will be wide awake but poking it will result in negativity. Sadly having gained life and grown rapidly over 20 years it will always be there in her corner and it will not want to withdraw its claws; but it can be quelled, your mother can live in control of her addiction because if it were not so I wouldn’t be writing to you now.
I agree with Vera that doing things with your mother is an excellent idea but of course you have your own lives to lead and you cannot be with her all the time so I think that looking to see what used to give your mother pleasure is worth considering. Does she have friends of her own age? Does she enjoy books, jigsaws, knitting, cooking, what is it that she used to like to do before the addiction took over.
If you are anything like I was, I only had to look at my CG when the addiction was affecting my life to start thinking about his gambling and what it was doing to him and to me but of course there is more to a person than their addiction – if you can find it. A light, bright and positive approach may be the answer.
80 is no longer the ancient ‘sit in the corner and wait to die’, that it used to be – your mother could still have a full and productive life but she needs to tools to help her cope. I know she is reluctant but GA do offer the tools, as does this site in its facilitated CG groups and on our Helpline. There are many people willing to help her without judgement and with understanding.
I hope you all realise the importance of looking after yourselves, the last thing your mother will want to see is that her addiction has destroyed your lives.
I wish you all well and hope you will keep posting
Velvet29 June 2016 at 12:06 am #4757twilight16Participant
Welcome to GT, I hope you feel a bit more settled from the responses you have received so far and by reading threads of others here who are suffering from addiction in their families.
The more you read and respond, you’ll find that you can manage, applying strategies from others here.
I too am a child of a CG. In my case, it’s my father. His addiction made my life unbearable for decades and it wasn’t until I stopped enabling him that my life started to get better. However, just as life there will always be bumps in the road, as well as detours but the key is how you chose to react to these setbacks.
I also wrote a letter to my father. I sent it to him registered mail and he didn’t even acknowledge receiving it until I asked him about it. He then became very hostile, shifting the blame on me saying how dare I write him such a letter. I thought it would be a wake-up call but it wasn’t. In the letter I had written actions I would take, ones that are not in my nature but necessary. I learned early on that if you are going to make a claim you better follow through or the addiction will never take you seriously. My point is to follow through with whatever you say, don’t buy into excuses or sad stories, even though they may seem plausible. You have to show strength against this addiction because it will not rest.
A strategy that allowed me to have a relationship with my CG father was to separate the addiction from him. I was able to put the hurt and anger towards his gambling aside, only acknowledging the father I knew and loved not the addiction.
However when the beast would come out, I would stand firm against it, not giving in. I just kept my stance. I know how hard this can be but I kept reminding myself, that I was doing this for him. I was doing this for him to see how the addiction was ruining his life and I wasn’t going to support his decision to keep gambling. However I will warn you that there were times when separating the addiction from your mom may not be possible. In this case I would just pull back.
I can already see from your posts that you do have a good sense of this addiction and already have implemented good strategies. Just don’t get swayed by the addiction’s charm either, don’t give it any room to pull you in. When you stand tall against this addiction, you are also protecting your mother.
I too wish your well and feel free to ask any questions you may have.
Twlight30 June 2016 at 1:44 am #4758
Thanks twilight and velvet…our Mom my not have all the traits of a CG as she still has friends , hobbies and leads a full life, That is the Mom I know..the Mom we don’t know (but we do) has lead this secret life of gambling . She minimizes her time at the casino when we all know how much damage you can do in 1 hour there. She bounces, borrows pad day loans etc. we were all taken back by how much we hurt her when we sent the letter . She read things into that letter that never existed from our point of view, similar to your story…I do not have expectations about her recovery as she has not fully come to terms about her addiction. We are concentrating on getting her bills paid and keeping a roof over her head. My mother is one of the strongest people I know but to a fault. She can’t open up and talk about any of this. We all let her be through the years because she did have a full life but now that we reflect we should have been more involved . ..but when asked she would always she she was fine but what she was really saying was the total opposite and we missed it.. I no longer live in the same state so this has fallen mainly on my sister which makes me feel badly. Mom is too proud and we would never get any other family or friends involved in her recovery.
That decision needs to be hers alone. My siblings and I will support her as best we can and try to see she remains accountable to what is best for her regardless how much she lets the beast show,,,that is not our Mom. Never thought how true the saying “one day at a time” is. Posting has made me feel so much better with our plans and I am going to suggest my sister post here when she returns from vacation also. It is amazing to me that people like you take the time to do this for others….you rock!8 July 2016 at 1:43 pm #4759
I fully appreciate the belief that your mum is strong but her problem/addiction brings down the strongest.
You wrote earlier that you had given her books on women and gambling and that she had gone quiet, maybe you could ask what she had thought about them, not in an interrogating way but as someone interested in her opinion of behaviour that confuses you.
It sounds to me as though you are doing well when you say that you and your sister will watch her to make sure she remains accountable because the problem, possible addiction, your mother has is that it feeds on itself and grows until it consumes those around it. I suggest that she doesn’t want to open up and talk about it because it would be an admission of her fallibility to her daughters and also to herself – not talking about it does not mean she is happy with the direction she is going in. I believe that keeping fearless communication open is important and listening is the most important thing of all.
I hope you will keep posting, your mother is lucky to have such caring daughters even if her problem prevents here telling you so.
Your sister will, of course, be equally welcome in this forum.
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