10 June 2014 at 2:10 pm #3413
Hope everyone is well, enjoying their recovery, doing what you love and not being stressed out by the addiction.
Below is a piece I wrote for an newsletter a while ago.
Not all compulsive gamblers are the same…
I get teary eyed when reading about a compulsive gambler in true recovery.
This is one who is active in their recovery, even when their last bet was years ago, being fully aware that complacency never did any addict any good. It can drift them to dangerous waters; a place they don’t ever want to be lost in again.
They are nurturing the support system they’re worked hard to achieve, whatever that may be, either through therapy, groups, etc. having barriers firmly placed to avoid a slip. As they know how easy it can be to be dragged in by the addiction to gamble, they don’t entertain the idea, “Just one bet…and I’ll walk away and everything will be OK.” They know they are weak against this addiction and they are taking sole responsibility for their past actions and debts. However, small or large, the important point is that they are.
These compulsive gamblers deserve all the praise in the world and more. I can’t help but smile thinking of their families’ joy and how thankful they must be that their compulsive gambler is now committed to a life of recovery, living a normal life one step at a time. It’s the life they always wanted for them. Nothing will ever compare to their happiness, as they know too well the madness of the past when the addiction ran rampant in their homes. I always hoped this would be my father’s outcome.
However, for every true compulsive gambler in recovery there are millions that are in denial of their gambling problem; literally refusing any acknowledgement and responsibility. They not only continue to fool themselves but others, often defending their addiction until they are literally blue in the face, denying any wrong doing. It’s just luck they say; it is against them. Yet, they live and breathe gambling, letting their compulsive gambling take first place in their lives and homes. They don’t really hear the desperate cries and pleads of their spouses, children, siblings, and parents begging them to stop, so wanting them to listen to reason, wanting to help them. They just turn the other cheek and continue to deny and gamble and gamble until they lose everything.
Their reckless actions eventually jeopardize their family’s well being; bills are not paid, credit cards are maxed and closed, loans are in default, money is missing, creditors are calling home at all hours of the night and anxiety has become a permanent resident in their once secured homes.
In turn, loved ones of the compulsive gambler find themselves boxed in by their loneliness; feeling such hopeless that they can’t begin to explain properly, struggling with what they should do, as they see the addiction grow stronger in the one they love.
However, these compulsive gamblers are the ones not addressed in gambling awareness. They are not talked about; it’s like they don’t exist, and the attention is only on the ones that are in recovery. Yet, the compulsive gambler in denial is the ones that families struggle with the most.
There is no doubt that public awareness of compulsive gambling has become more mainstreamed than ever, but it still has a long way to go. Not everyone that gambles becomes an addict, but those that do, cause such havoc in the family unit. There needs to be more awareness of what these families go through and how they should seek support.
As a child of a problem gambler, I know all too well the hopelessness I felt with my father’s addiction. Nothing I said or did would make him stop and as the years kept on passing, I fearfully saw the addiction get stronger within him, as he continued to demand help with bigger price tags and outrageous and unreasonable bailouts that I was having a hard time living my life.
Then I started seeking support and found a support group of family and friends that were very much like me. I couldn’t believe how many of us existed throughout the world; struggling with their compulsive gambler, feeling completely overwhelmed by the situation they were in. Not knowing what they were going to do, just knowing they couldn’t continue to live the life they were living, and I was one of them. Through our bonding and story sharing, we supported each other, often at awe at the similarities of our experiences with our compulsive gambler. We wanted to understand the addiction and we did, and we learned how to not let it manipulate us through our loved ones anymore.
After many many rocky years with my father and his addiction, I finally was able to have a relationship with him on my terms. I had to make difficult choices along the way that were gut-wrenching, but I can’t help but think that in the grand scheme of things I not only saved my life, but in ways my father’s.10 June 2014 at 11:42 pm #3414moniqueParticipant
A great piece, Twilight. Thank you.
Monique11 June 2014 at 2:10 pm #3415jenny46Participant
I agree with Monique , a great article and made special in that you can now apply your sadness, struggling and learning in such a way that it goes on to raise awareness in others.
Its a subject that should be up there side by side with all the other addictions in terms of the issues it presents but amazingly and running to form always seems to remain well hidden.
Jenny x11 June 2014 at 9:01 pm #3416san250Participant
Lovely article Twilight. I love the bit that you can now have a relationship with your father on your terms. This bit I am hanging onto with my fingertips as my cg tries to manipulate me still and have it all on his terms. I’ve been told I am very stubborn by many people and I know I am battling (not the right word) with the addiction but I only take so much.
Thank you for writing this and sharing it with the world.
Best wishes San x12 June 2014 at 10:00 am #3417berberParticipant
Dear Twilight, what a good article you wrote. I too felt that nobody understood what living with a CG was like (before recovery even) – but thanks to the support groups, I know other people are walking a similar road as I am and it helps … we hold hands in cyberspace along the way 🙂13 June 2014 at 5:39 pm #3418Paul808Participant
Dear Twilight, thank you for this. I could relate to your words on many different levels. As a former gambler I too had found myself in unthinkable hardships not just those that I put onto myself, but onto others. If it wasn’t for group, I honestly do not know where I may be. Thanks again and all the best.17 June 2014 at 12:20 pm #3419
Hi Monique, Jenny, San, Berber and Paul,
Your feedback and delight in the article brought smiles reading how we all have become stronger in our recoveries and our personal situations.
Yes, our cg are different, however, we can easily identify a cg in true recovery, which is what we have always prayed for verse ones that aren’t, and we have the skills to know how to deal with tough situations.
Really hoping everyone is continuing their own recovery, enjoying life as it is meant to.
XXX Twilight18 June 2014 at 1:03 am #3420daddaParticipant
I am very glad that you shared your story. What you said about your parents divorcing and you “becoming enabler” til you were 30 (on a reply in another post) strikes a chord in me. The easiest (and financially, best) solution when he filed for divorce (oldest 18, youngest 16) would have been for me to GET OUT. However, my daughters had watched me be steamrollered through their lives. I’d often, even after returning, had to stand between him and a daughter when things grew heated. What I saw was that it was extremely likely that he would “choose” one or the other to help support him, do the chores and so on. This staying and standing tough has destroyed me financially for the time, but it has at least enabled my daughters to see reality more clearly.
My oldest daughter has signed a lease (a year ago) that begins in August and will put distance between her father and her. My hope was to get both daughters OUT and away from both of us, so they could see things and think without mainpulation, bias or ANYTHING coming from either of us (and they will be). People have told me I should just leave and leave them to “figure it out”. I was in my forties before I figured it out! I also didn’t grow up with this as my “oxygen” and normal environment; in fact that is part of what “saved” me. Finally realizing I’d never experienced CRUELTY, especially prolonged. Sometimes I have sort of doubted whether I made the right choice, but your story confirms what I feared. I’ll gladly take the loss if it helps them to recover themselves and live happier, healthier and more satisfying lives in the long run. Thank you!5 July 2014 at 1:14 pm #3421ellParticipant
hello my dear twilight
when i read something from you i keep say with big words that YOU ARE AN ISPIRATION. You are so so mature with the addiction . All my wishes too you and your lovely family5 July 2014 at 2:48 pm #3422
Ah, so nice to hear from you Ell, a big hug to you. NOW YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION! Thank you for being the sweet person you are. Hope all is well with you and your family.
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