Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family My mother’s addiction is affecting me

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  • #3662
    grandvee
    Participant

    I’m an adult and I live with my mother. We both work but I seem to take on most of the bills at home. She has had a gambling addiction for years. I did not notice it until her brother passed away about 10 years ago. She has had times when she doesn’t come home until the wee hours of the morning. She has borrowed from payday loans, family, credit cards, 2nd mortgage, myself, etc.
    We currently split the rent. She pays for gas and internet. I pay for water, power, trash, cell (hers and mine combined), car insurance (hers and mine combined), and television (I know it’s not a necessity but we both use it). She rarely buys groceries and I feel like I’m raising a child. Mind you, she earns more money than I do. I can afford to pay these things but I just don’t feel that it’s right. She recently asked me to take out a loan because she had written some checks (at the casino) that she didn’t have the funds to cover for. I took out the loan and I told her it had to get paid with her income tax refund. I believe her refund arrived yesterday because she left the house yesterday and did not return until 4 this morning.
    I don’t know how to approach her. I always feel that I’m going to say the wrong things or that I’m going to be the cause of her going bananas. I don’t want to be responsible for my mom anymore. I’m tired. I can’t move out because she can’t afford to pay the mortgage plus all of the bills I pay (which she does not). I want to break free but I don’t want to feel guilty. I need help, she needs help. I don’t know what to do.

    #3663
    velvet
    Moderator

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    Hello Granvee

    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


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    #3664
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi Grandvee
    The first post is our welcoming message but this is a personal one from me.
    I understand why you want to break free and I hope that when you have been with us for a little while you will see your way to denying the addiction to gamble the ability to control ‘your’ life, without guilt.
    In this first reply I hope to help you with your concern about approaching your mother without her going bananas – and more importantly without you climbing the walls and pulling your hair out..
    Although not recognized professionally, the following is a coping method that has been used by many of us at the beginning of our recovery and I hope it helps.
    Never forget it is your mother who is controlled by her addiction – you are not and you do not have to allow it control of your life.
    Imagine her addiction is a slavering beast, always watching from the corner of the room. As long as don’t threaten it, it will stay quiet. Your mother’s addiction is the master of threats and manipulation but you are not and nor do you want to be. When you threaten her addiction, the beast leaps between you and controls the conversation – you find yourself in the middle of argument without knowing how you got there. Once it is active and between you, you will only hear her addiction speak – it will use lies and deceit to make you feel blame and to demoralize you. When you speak to your mother, her addiction distorts your words and she won’t comprehend your meaning because it is distorting reality to fit her personal perception.
    My CG (compulsive gambler) who lives in control of his addiction has explained to me that when I was pleading with him not to lie but to live honestly, his addiction distorted my meaning. He was convinced I was lying because he truly believed that he was unlovable, worthless and a failure. He was lost and fought back with everything and anything to make me back away, because he didn’t have any other coping mechanism. Your mother’s addiction only offers her failure although she is not ready to accept that.
    I believe F&F waste valuable energy ‘wanting’ to believe that this time they are hearing the truth, so I think it is good not to believe anything because in doing so you become receptive to the addiction. If you can stand back a bit and listen to what your mother 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 to recharge your batteries and look after you.
    By looking after you first you will become stronger, you will be able to reclaim your own life and start to learn to cope. Ultimately this is the best thing for your mother too.
    I cannot tell you what to do but giving money to a CG is the same as giving an alcoholic a drink. In my opinion clearing her gambling debts is wrong as that enables her to gamble without responsibility.
    I will leave it there for a first post and wait for your reply. There is so much to say but I know it is hard to take everything in. Your mother never wanted or asked for her addiction any more than you which probably doesn’t make you feel any better although I hope it helps you realise that her behaviour towards you is not deliberate but is the behaviour of someone with an active addiction.
    I would not be writing to you if I didn’t know that the addiction to gamble can be controlled but more importantly on this forum I know ‘you’ can come out of this and live away from the shadow of the addiction.
    Speak soon
    Velvet

    #3665
    grandvee
    Participant

    Thank you for the reply velvet. Would it be rash for me to all of a sudden tell her I want to split all of our house bills between the two of us? I know she had to hit rock bottom before she can even begin to see the damage her addiction has caused but at the same time it still would affect me. If she hits rock bottom, then she can’t pay her bills, her portion of the mortgage will either go unpaid or I will have to pay it for her since I live there or else my dad will have a fit if it goes unpaid since his name is on the account and would affect his credit (he doesn’t live there). Either that or the house will be lost, her debt will remain, we will end up without a home. I read somewhere on these forums about being the “surrogate” spouse and that’s exactly what it feels like. My dad and she separated but it seems like I’m picking up where he left off.
    I agree that I shouldn’t give her any money because that just enables her. But at the same time she can’t pay certain things because she has racked up so much debt. She hasn’t even finished paying off her 10 year old car due to refinancing. I called the casino and apparently they have a “self-ban” that she can do but she has to go the casino to actually do it (and at each casino). Is there any hope?

    #3666
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi GV
    Even though I know it would be fair, I cannot say if it would be rash for you to tell your mother that you want to split all the household bills between the two of you. I cannot tell you what to do – I can only support you so that ultimately you will be able to make informed decisions about what is right for you. I believe the ability to know what to do comes with knowledge of the addiction.
    The answer to your question will always lie with you. ‘If’ you had the conversation you suggest, would she listen or understand? It is unlikely she would do either if her addiction is active. Have you thought through the consequences of her answer? Threats and ultimatums with someone with an active addiction are, in my view, a waste of energy. Unless you have fully thought through what you will do if/when she does not keep her side of the bargain, then I suggest you don’t make the suggestion – yet. Every time you make a threat or an ultimatum which you cannot carry through, her addiction will see it as a weakness on your part.
    Do you have a good relationship with your father? Is he aware of your concerns? If your father does not live in the home then it seems to me that him having a fit, if she reneges on her debt, is not nearly as bad as the misery and fear that this situation is causing you, his daughter. If your dad has opted out of responsibility to his wife, leaving you to feel like the surrogate spouse then, in my opinion, you have a right to demand support for you. I think it is right that he is made aware that his credit may be affected but to also be quite clear that you are not to blame in any way. You cannot protect everybody – you can only protect you and never forget that ‘you’ matter.
    Does your mother accept she has a problem? If she does, then self-banning is a terrific way for her to show you (and herself), the sincerity of her desire to live gamble-free.
    There is always hope but it does require your mother to accept her addiction. You cannot save her – I am not judging, it is a mistake many of us have made.
    Keep posting – you are doing well
    Velvet

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