Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family New to the site, hello and my story

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  • #4480
    onajourney
    Participant

    Hello all,

    My name is onajourney. Thank you to those who have already made me feel welcome in some of the group support meetings. How to even start with my story. My significant other is a CG. It is a challenging thing. I am a pretty strong person and I have already done a lot of self-evaluation and growth in my own personal life over the last 15 years or so. I know who I am, what I want in life, and have put together my plan for proceeding forward. That being said, I knew that my significant other had an issue with the casino. Particularly slot machines. When I first found out I was confident that I would be able to remain somewhat detached from the illness so that I could be supportive and help them to overcome this horrible disease. It hasn’t turned out quite the way I imagined it.

    I find myself frustrated beyond measure at times because I already do know that there is nothing I can do to make my SO stop what they are doing. They have to want it. The challenge is that my SO also happens to be an addiction therapist. They know the answers. They know all the right things to do, they provide that information to their clients for goodness sake. Yet the most challenging part is the will to do the work and the will to want it, and the denial they are in about the fact that they think they can manage this thing.

    I read one of the threads earlier about the CG an the Non-CG cycles that we go through and that couldn’t be more true in my situation. I hear every single time how my SO will quit, will go to meetings, will give up control of finances, will do all the right things to stay away from that place, but every single time they are near that place they go, without hesitation and even so much so to have pre-planned it. We’ve talked about the mental rationales, excuses, and justifications that they tell themselves. We’ve talked about strategies to stay away, but it all seems to be for naught when the car is within a short distance of the casino.

    As for my part, yes the non-CG pattern is all too real for me. Being connected to my SO the way that I am I know when they are at that place before I even have to check a bank account. I feel it. And the panic and anxiety sets in, then the rush of phone calls, chat messages, text messages, all to be ignored or blown off. I’ve even made trips to the casino while they were there. Then when the CG leaves the casino and finally gets in contact with me, I have to take on the role of soothing their emotional state because for them the flood of guilt and shame comes in, the self-loathing and beating themselves up starts and I do not want them to get to a point where they feel they have no options left but to do something to themselves.

    Thankfully, in every other area of our relationship things are very good. We’ve worked hard for the last 12 months on honesty and openness at least about them going and the amount that is spent and even what they were feeling that led to them going.

    But it’s still the same cycle, week after week, month after month. Thankfully I do not have the blaming, criticizing, and anger/fear emotions pointed at me. My SO knows that this is their problem, not mine so at least I don’t also have to feel the backlash and to be pointed at as if I’m the one to blame for why they are doing what they are doing.

    I do not feel at this time that giving up on the relationship is the way to go, because 1) I’m in love with this person, and 2) every other aspect of our relationship is fantastic except for this one issue. So I’m not giving up the ship, but I do feel totally stuck in this particular area. I feel as though I have to help them, support them, love them and help them get through the emotional baggage that caused all this in the first place, but when it comes to how all this makes me feel? Well I have to deal with that on my own because no matter what I say, what feelings I express to my CG, what bargains, contracts, or agreements we make seems to make a difference. So I have to deal with my emotional state on this by myself. I can’t rely on them to help me because that only adds more pressure on them which is what causes them to go in the first place.

    It’s a very vicious cycle. I can’t rely on family support for a number of reasons I won’t get into and I can’t seek local professional help because that could cause some backlash with their job. So after a long search I finally found this website and now I’m here hoping that I might be able to find a place here where I can express what I’m feeling and maybe find some support and help for me too while I do my best to help and support and not enable my CG.

    Thanks for listening!

    onajourney

    #4481
    velvet
    Moderator

    <

    Hello Onajourney

    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!

    #4482
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi OnaJ
    I don’t think that anybody who loves a person with an addiction to gamble can ever be entirely detached from it – it is an addiction that seeks enablement and who better to give it than the person closest – however must knowledge you have gathered your closeness will always render you the most vulnerable.
    Your SO/addition therapist is twisting the words that you would probably want to use to support him/her and he/she is using the words as weapons, which to my mind says he/she might know the answers but doesn’t fully understand or accept them. Finding the words or actions they don’t recognise, in your case, ‘might’ be the different approach required.
    I am going to put my thinking cap on because I am aware that CGs who have tried recovery but not fully accepted it are more than capable of doing the greatest damage – they can talk the talk like professionals but they are nowhere near ready to walk the walk. I am not sure that trying to deal with your SO’s emotional baggage will help because the CG is often not aware of what triggered the addiction apart from placing a bet and feeling an overwhelming excitement that bi-passes most of us. I don’t think that bargaining or contracts make a scrap of difference. My main question to you is ‘does he/she ever express a desire to want to stop gambling and has he/she ever actually gone in to a GA meeting?’ The reason I ask is that I was told by a CG early on in my quest for survival that CGs could fool others but they couldn’t kid a kidder – GA is full of those who are not fooled.
    I am hoping that you will now know that you are not facing this alone although I fully appreciate that it is you that is in the direct line of fire. I believe it is really therapeutic just to write ones thoughts down, to get your feeling out of your head and put them in a place of safety where you will not be judged.
    There is an F&F group tonight 20.00-21.00 hours UK time – it would be great to ‘meet’ you there, you will be very welcome.
    Velvet

    #4483
    onajourney
    Participant

    Hi Velvet!

    Thanks for replying to my post. It does help just to be able to put my thoughts and feelings out there instead of holding it in, for sure. I try to be very conscientious about how I communicate with my SO. So I try to let my initial feelings happen internally, so I don’t just say the first thing on my mind and then be hurtful. So it’s nice to now have a place that I can let those initial thoughts/feelings out so I can process them and be very thoughtful in my communication with my SO. It’s one of the things that is our strongest trait in our relationship is our ability to communicate without blame, criticism, and judgment.

    You made some very good points that I’m going to definitely ponder. In particular these 2:

    “Finding the words or actions they don’t recognise, in your case, ‘might’ be the different approach required.”

    And

    “I don’t think that bargaining or contracts make a scrap of difference.”

    You are absolutely correct, she knows all the right things to say, and so do I. I would be curious to hear from you what your ideas are on what words I could use that she wouldn’t recognize?

    And you are also correct in that none of the contracts we’ve made, none of the agreements we’ve had have made a hill of beans worth of difference. The bottom line is she has to want it, and so far she’s wavered on that.

    The thing I hear most often is she wants to be able to manage this. On one hand she enjoys the recreation of being able to go into a casino for a little while, like you and I would enjoy going to a book club or doing crafts (not that you like these things, just trying to make a point…) But the problem is she can’t control her behavior while there. She always spends more than she plans to, usually to the detriment of being able to pay her bills. She never stays as long as she plans to. And the thing of it is, she knows she has a problem. She’s told me she does. I hear 2 different things at the same time. I have a problem, but I want to manage my behavior. So, in terms of step 1 of GA, she’s got the “admitting I have a problem” part down, but the acceptance of it, and the acceptance that she can’t actually control this is where she’s in denial.

    To answer your question, yes she’s expressed many times a desire to stop gambling. We’ve talked about the things she needs to do and the things she needs to put in place in order to do that, but it comes down to wanting to actually follow through on it, consistently over a long period of time. And that’s where it breaks down for her. Yes she has been to GA meetings before but she doesn’t go regularly. In fact we were going together at least to the open meetings that are near us. the closed meetings, where they actually do the step work happens at a different GA meeting location that is too difficult for her to attend, both because of distance and time. It conflicts with her work schedule.

    There was a time, where for almost 90 days she didn’t go to the casino. She was doing very well, I was feeling more secure and trusting. Things were going well, and then one day she somehow convinced herself that maybe she could go and gamble like normal people. That she could go in there for recreational use and not get caught up in the compulsive nature of it. But the first time she went in there, was it. As they say in GA, the first bet is the one to avoid right? Well it’s been an up and down rollercoaster ever since.

    She realizes that she needs to go back and do what she was doing in those 90 days. But getting her to do it, and getting her to keep doing it is the challenge.

    One thing I do want to mention, she may be one of the rare cases where she knows what her triggers are. There was a time when she could walk into a casino and just play recreationally. Spend only what she planned to spend, stay only as long as she had planned to stay, but there came a point where the switch was flipped and she’s never been able to get back to that place again. And I think that’s where she’s stuck. She feels that since she did it before, she should be able to do it again. But the truth is, I think for those who have moved into an addiction, you can never go back to that place and that’s the part I think she has a hard time accepting. If I did it before, why can’t I do it now?? Ya know, that’s the lie they tell themselves. That’s the lie that the addiction will tell them.

    But, most of what I’ve written has been about her. I think for me, the support I need is just to be able to have a place I can express my most raw emotions about this. I’m sure you know that it’s very hard for those on our side of the fence. There is nothing we can do to make this stop. There is nothing we can do to make the person we love quit. Even though we know that, we still try anyway. I know I can’t make her stop, I know I can’t even make her want to. And that’s frustrating. And it’s painful. I saw someone else’s post on here that the gambling for us is not even the primary issue, of course it’s a huge issue, but the bigger issue for us is the being lied to, the being manipulated, the broken trust, the dishonesty. For my SO and I, we have worked hard to just be open/honest about her going. I’m not nearly as mad at her for going when she tells me the truth about it. But she adds the lying and deceiving and the sneakiness about it on top of going, then that is what really angers me. She has no reason to hide this from me, at least I’ve never given her any reason to lie or sneak. But I know it has nothing to do with me, it has to do with her and her guilt and shame about it all.

    So I guess, given my long verbose response, all I really wanted to say was even with the little bit of communication I’ve had on this site, I already feel a little bit of relief. I don’t have family or friends that I can talk to about this. My family doesn’t know and I don’t plan to tell them for a number of reasons. Her family knows but plays the ostrich with their head in the sand thing about it, they have another child going through alcohol addiction recovery. I believe there is a genetic component to this in their family, they have a family that has had many addicts of different sorts through several generations. And I can’t search out local counseling because she knows everyone in that field so I have to be careful not to put her in a compromising position with her job. And I can’t share it with friends, for the same reason (not that we have many right now, not because of the gambling, but actually just because we both moved back to our hometown recently and lost touch with a lot of our friends so from that front we’re sort of starting over). So it’s nice to have a place I can go to really let some of this stuff out, and it’s already been a little bit of relief, and I’m sure more is to come.

    So thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to respond!

    onajourney!

    #4484
    onajourney
    Participant

    Oh and I did want to tell you I had already blocked off that time in my calendar so I could attend that F&F group meeting. So I’ll be there!

    #4485
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi O
    Its rotten when you get cut off mid-sentence! I was writing that I thought it would be good if you did it first, if necessary on your own – show your SO the way, it seems to me she is unable to see her way forward.
    V

    #4486
    onajourney
    Participant

    So when you say “do it first.” what specifically were you talking about! Lol. You mean to meet new people and go do things outside of the house that are interests of ours? Tough to do, she sometimes gets up at 7 and is out the door by 8 and not home till 7, so she’s exhausted from dealing with other people’s mental and emotional baggage, so we rarely do things during the week. Saturday’s we try to get out and do things together, and Sunday’s she stuck home doing paperwork for work all day. Her company is still in teh 90’s and does actual paper paperwork for all her clients. Seriously, I keep telling them they need to move to electronic records, timesheets, expense reports, etc, but they are in the stone ages.

    Anyway, any suggestions???

    #4487
    onajourney
    Participant

    I should add btw, that there has been progress that’s been made. She used to beg me to go to the casino in the evenings after work, or on the weekends. To which I always answered, that’s your decision not mine (or something along those lines). however, she doesn’t ask that anymore, nor does she go. The challenge I have with replacing the casino use with something else is the only days she seems to now go on, is during the day. She runs the satellite office for her company in our ******. Her company’s main office is in a town an hour away, but like 10 minutes from the casino. what she’s been doing lately is she goes up on Wed’s for her management meeting to the home office, but she doesn’t schedule in appointments in her calendar for that day until much later in the afternoon, thereby giving her several hours of a window where she gives herself the room to go. now yesterday she told me that she’s not going to do that anymore. but the problem is, the only time she’s super triggered to go is when she’s actually near the place, otherwise it’s not so hard for her to resist. She’s not going in the evenings anymore and not on the weekends anymore. So replacing her midweek, during the day trip is harder to fill with fun social things since it’s right in the middle of the workday. Her meetings get over with around 11:30 in the morning so if she were to schedule her next appt at 1 or 1:30 that doesn’t give her enough time or opportunity to go because that extra time is spent traveling back to her appointment. so I just thought I would also throw that out there!

    #4488
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi O
    I meant for you to do things that interest you and take you out of the house, giving you different things to talk about with your SO, thus raising an interest in her to join you or do something herself other than gambling – but primarily to improve your life which will get held back by her addiction.
    If one is exhausted by other people’s problems it is good to maybe listen to music, go the theatre, anything but the subject that caused the exhaustion. Likewise, the addiction to gamble is exhausting for those who live with it and it is important that F&F fill their lives with different, happier, more positive endeavours. Relationships spark off each other and my favourite quote is ‘you may never know what results come from your actions but if you do nothing there will be no results’ – Mahatma Gandi. It is easy to get stuck in a rut when addiction is in your home, it is sadly true that many F&F give 24 hour anxiety over to an addiction that they neither wanted nor asked for.
    Your SO knows the time when she is most likely to indulge her addiction but that in itself will not deter her if she is triggered. She has asked you for physical support and you are willing to give it which is great but abstinence is not recovery and in my view she requires treatment from those who understand her gambling addiction. She is an addiction therapist which gives her an insight into addictions but not necessarily her own, she thinks she knows all the answers but it seems to me she doesn’t know how to put them into practice.
    If you show her this site, I suggest you don’t encourage her to read your thread. F&F threads are for F&F to gain their own recovery. F&F should be able to talk here openly without fear of judgement. Equally, in my opinion, as your partner is a CG and wants to write in the CG forum it is best that she gets the support from other CGs who are trying to control their addiction and CGs who have controlled their addiction without fear of correction from someone who loves her. It doesn’t work when a couple use the site as a way of communicating with each other. When my CG was fighting for his recovery I came in for a lot of flack and blame (I know because he told me later) but because I was unaware I didn’t jump in and defend myself or call his honesty into question. He was talking to those who understood him as I could not, and therefore they were able to give him the insight that I could not. We can be too close O and we can be too determined that we are the ones who can save those we love, we can be greedy to be let in and anxious of what might be lost if we stand back.
    It’s a tough battle O but I know it can be won, I know the addiction to gamble can be controlled. It takes massive courage and determination to face it and F&F give their best support when they look after themselves and stand against the addiction by allowing the CG freedom to fight. Your SO is lucky to have you on her side.
    Speak soon
    V

    #4489
    onajourney
    Participant

    That was a good response. Couple of things come to mind while reading it. You and I agree she needs therapy with people who understand her and yes she’s got that therapist chip on her shoulder about ‘I know what I need to do” thing. But you’re absolutely right, I don’t know if it’s a matter of her not knowing how to put into action what she knows she needs to do, or if it’s some sort of motivator/want to/will/decision/something…I’m not sure. I know you’re right, abstinence and recovery are not the same thing. However, you can’t have recovery if you aren’t abstinent.

    Today is the big test. She is in the area where the casino is right as I’m typing this. Her meeting should be over with here soon. She just pinged me and sent me her location (something she chose to do, not because I asked her to). So I know she’s not at the casino right now. The question will be in a few minutes when her meeting is over and she’s supposed to call me before leaving the parking lot will be the true test. So I wait with baited breath hoping that at least for today on a day that is her biggest trigger and challenge, that she will choose to follow through on what she said.

    She’s been working hard the last 48 hours to tell herself over and over, “I”m not going, get in the car, call home, and leave. I’m not going….” She’s been planting that seed in her head and from what she told me this morning before she left the house, what normally would happen is that she would already be starting with the excitement of going to the casino, and she would already in her head be there, but this morning she said she doesn’t feel that way. So hopefully she’ll be able to carry through with it.

    I also agree with you that I have no intention on giving her my screen name so she can go look at my posts in the forums. I don’t want her reading my stuff. It’s one thing for me to talk about the support I’m getting from in here, and even talk a little bit about what I might be feeling/expressing on this site because that I can filter without giving away too much and it’s good for our relationship to at least share some of this. On the other hand I totally agree with you, I’m here to get the support I need and if she chooses to join the site as well, we need to keep our individual activities on here totally separate. I shouldn’t be reading her stuff (and she shouldn’t be giving me her screen name) and she shouldn’t be reading my stuff. We can talk generally speaking about together if we feel so inclined, but not in detail. I want to focus on me while I’m in here and she focus on herself while she’s in here.

    I feel even a measure of relief from my emotions just by the few days I’ve been on here and talking to people. It’s hard to hold all that raw emotion inside so that you don’t blow up at your partner and puke all your emotional baggage on them. It doesn’t help the situation anyway.

    So….i’m going to allow her the freedom to fight this addiction on her own. I’ve already started. This morning while she was on her way to her meeting, she called me, and asked me if I wanted her to send me the location of where she was at when she got to work. I told her that if she felt like that was the right thing to do, then by all means do it, but i wasn’t asking her too, nor was I going to babysit or be her policeman. She replied back that she would be doing for herself and for accountability. I said that’s completely up to you. She just sent me her location about 10 minutes ago all on her own. I never brought it up again.

    So hopefully these are all positive steps. We had a good long talk about this and some other relationship thigns last night and one of the things I told her was that that its great that she’s making these steps, but in order for my belief and trust in her word to come back it’s going to take her holding to her word consistently, every time, over a long period of time. It’s not just a one time thing and boom the trust is back. she agreed and understood that. So I’m just trying my best to get out of the way and let her be the one coming up with solutions. Me, I’m just trying to keep my own emotions in check and I’m really fighting that thing inside of me that wants to fix it all but knows I can’t! That’s probably the hardest thing a F&F person can do. So I read and re-read, and re-read over again the serenity prayer. Knowing that in this particular case, I cannot change this thing. I just need to let God work his work in her and I’ll sit back and be patient.

    So that’s where I am today.

    Onajourney

    #4490
    onajourney
    Participant

    I did have one question for you though V. i know abstinence and recovery are not the same thing, but I’d like to know from you what you think the differences are? What is recovery in your mind vs. just staying away from the casino?

    OAJ

    #4491
    michelle45
    Participant

    Hi oaj nice to meet you.

    You sound like your making positive steps . Just wanted to comment as I had asked V a similar question about recovery. Recovery is talked about alot but I was getting concerned as I wasn’t sure I would recognise steps towards it. !

    Now whilst writing this i am thinking about my own recovery from my exs gambling addiction. It is a much longer and more difficult journey than I imagined. Training myself to have different responses to the same outcomes. For myself I think about my ex’s recovery as being more aware of others needs and not just his own short term goals. About changing his behaviour when things are tough. Not resorting to gambling but finding a different way. Not just once but many times over a sustained period.

    Your earlier post commented that your partner did not demonstrate the behaviour often talked about on here by f&f therefore maybe more difficult to detect a change? My ex acts differently when not gambling.

    I’m sure a response from v will provide an explanation and give you clarity.

    Regards

    M

    #4492
    onajourney
    Participant

    Thanks for going in and commenting on my post!

    With my SO the good news is I don’t get a lot of the blame part of the CG cycle. She knows better than to blame me, or others for that matter for her decisions.

    I think for the most part I will be able to detect her progress in recovery because doesn’t it really all come down to actions? I’m a very observant person and I’ll know if this is for real or not just by the way we deal with this. If it’s for real then she’s going to take the initiative, I won’t have to push for it. And yes in my mind, like you, it’s a about changing things not just once, but repeatedly, consistently, over a long period of time, which is what I shared with her last night.

    The good news (for both you M and V) is that she didn’t go to the casino today. She held to her word. Which of course, for today I’m relieved, happy about, and most certainly proud of her for. The question is, will she maintain that same behavior every time, consistently over a long period of time. Only time will tell, but at least for today she didn’t go.

    I’m doing my best to try and stay out the way, and to not drive the ship so to speak, this has to be her taking the initiative, her having to make it a priority, her having to actually be the one to come up with the solutions and I will support, not the other way around.

    But for today, it was a good day. The next big test will be the next time she’s in that same area near the casino, will she repeat what she did this time? I don’t know, we’ll see!

    #4493
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hiya OAJ
    The word ‘recovery’, in my opinion, is a bit deceptive as it implies there will be an end or a cure. I know that many CGs do not like the word but it is now in common usage.
    F&F can recover completely from living with the addiction, they can go on and forget but for the CG there is no cure and little chance of completely forgetting.
    So to answer your question, I believe that ‘recovery’ is a word that implies a process that is underway and abstinence is a part of that process. I think most CGs probably have false starts with their recovery and I have used the term a ‘true recovery’ before now as being the one that changes everything but cannot be recognised as being ‘true’ for a long time.
    For me, therefore, neither abstinence nor recovery fit the bill completely. I have however seen true recoveries and in each case the difference has been tangible. I liken it to putting down a heavy load, a burden that was so great it weighed down every aspect of the life it inhabited. Freedom is precious and worth fighting for, so having gained freedom the CG is better equipped to fight the addiction, although they can never completely destroy it – what they can do and do amazingly well is control it.
    The CG burden contains painful memories and guilt and it is important that some of the pain is tipped out to allow space for new thought and real hope. The CG will not know how to do this because the addiction hates giving any ground and doesn’t intend to allow such understanding. If the CG is abstinent but hasn’t dealt with the addiction there is a vacuum which the addiction will gladly re-fill. Many CGs mistakenly believe that abstinence is recovery. Debt can be cleared, relationships moved on and everybody has relaxed. However the danger is still there and mind bets keep the addiction alive which is why, not only the right support but also on-going support, is so important. .
    If I write any more I think I will begin to ramble so I will leave it there for now and wait for you to reply and ask any questions you may have.
    V

    #4494
    onajourney
    Participant

    Hi Velvet,

    That was a great comment. I love what you said “I liken it to putting down a heavy load, a burden that was so great it weighed down every aspect of the life it inhabited. Freedom is precious and worth fighting for, so having gained freedom the CG is better equipped to fight the addiction,”

    So what you’re saying is that for true recovery, yes abstinence is part of it, but really it’s about the letting go, the surrender that has to happen. If that happens then the true recovery really is in process. I know what you’re referring to because there was a time in my life that I struggled with control. not an addiction, but just life in general, things happening to me that were outside of my control and i fought them, tried to change them, tried to solve them, work around them, tried everything to make it go away and it wasn’t until I came to a breaking point, literally a mental breaking point, where I reached out to God (sorry if we’re not allowed to talk about God here, it’s just my story) and from the depths of my soul had to shout and get angry and ask him if he even loved me. It was after that when I finally just surrendered. Just said you know what, life is going to be and do to me what it will and I can either fight it or I can go with the flow (and it really is a flow). The moment I surrendered, was the very moment that my burden was noticeably lifted and my life forever changed, almost automatically. I wasn’t solving anything anymore, not trying to change my circumstances anymore, and voila everything changed.

    is that sort of what you’re talking about with “true recovery.” That that surrender has to happen where the burden is lifted and acceptance made?

    If so, and I probably already know the answer to this but I’ll ask your thoughts anyway, how does one come to the place of letting go, surrender, acceptance?

    I’ll wait to hear your response! And thank you so much for the thoughful words you’re sharing, it does help to take the edge of my emotions a great deal. So thank you for the struggles you’ve had that have brought you to a place where you can help others, you’re a shining light V!

    OAJ

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