Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family Trouble saying no my Mom who is a gambling addict

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  • #3580
    goodgirl78
    Participant

    I am really glad that I found this forum. I realized that my mom had some kind of issue gambling almost 16 years ago when I was in college. I am 36 now and my mom is 77. She has been gambling every since I left home and has lost everything at this point – and only has a roof over her head at this point because I regularly pay the rent for her senior housing. My oldest brother doesn’t speak to her anymore and my other brother has a light/superficial relationship with her. She regularly “borrows” money from me and her friends (my brothers won’t give her money any more) and of course, never can really pay it back. She goes into her overdraft every month (I have tried to turn it off with no avail) and gambles what little money she has which at this point is only in the form of a monthly social security check – she has nothing left. I am not in a great financial position myself – student loans, no savings, and debt that I am trying to pay off – but of course that does not matter to her – only the “fix” does.
    My problem is that my mom will ask me for money for groceries for or gas and the last time I gave it to her, she took the $20 I lent to her, filled up her gas tank, and drove to the casino where she overdrafted hundreds of dollars – so when it came time to pay the rent, she had no money at all – so I then paid the rent (she can’t live with me!). Tonight, she asked me for $100 for food and gas for the next two weeks until she gets her social security check. I told her that I wasn’t going to give her cash because the last time that I did, she took it for gas to get her to the casino. Her response was “don’t worry about what I do with the money, that’s my business.” Ha! I told her to make her grocery list and that I would take her grocery shopping, but that’s it and that I do not have the money to regularly pay for her rent or basic necessities (which is true, but she doesn’t care about that.) She just told me to “forget it” and that she would “live on a dozen eggs for two weeks” or “take an overdraft to get food.” (The irony being she will take an overdraft to gamble, but not to eat.)
    Anyway, I guess I am mostly just venting her and looking for support. It is SO hard to say no to my mom and SO had to NOT feel guilty. For my whole life, I have put her first. (My dad died when I was very young so she has been my sole parent.) At this point in my life, I feel like my relationship with her is so harmful to me because she just keeps exploiting me financially and emotionally and taking advantage of me time and time again. Lately, just when I feel like our relationship is “getting better” and I feel comfortable spending time with her socially, having her over for dinner, etc. she then uses it as an opportunity to ask for something. It’s so exhausting and hurtful. She told me she was going to get me a coffee maker for Christmas with points from the casino and then a week later told me that she couldn’t because she didn’t have enough points so she got something for herself instead. This for the daughter who has done so much for her as of late.
    What I would like to ask is how to I deal with it when she acts like I’m the bad guy? It’s so hard not to get into an argument or a back and forth about why I won’t give her money, how when I did it last time it blew up in my face, etc. etc. It’s just such a huge waste of time and emotional energy. I have to see her tomorrow for Thanksgiving and I am really not looking forward to it. I don’t know how to have a functional relationship with someone who used to be my mother. 🙁 For all those people voting for casinos and lotteries in your state, DON’T. All they do is exploit the old, lonely, poor and vulnerable.
    Thanks for listening.

    #3581
    Dunc
    Keymaster

    <

    Hello

    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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    #3582
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi GG
    Well done writing your post, I know it would not have been easy.
    I know that what I am about to say doesn’t change anything overnight but I do know that it works. The best thing you can do for you and your mom is to put ‘you’ first. You are not responsible for your mom or her addiction; you cannot save her from herself; the only person you can save is you and you deserve not to live in the shadow of her addiction. It all sounds so easy but I know how difficult it is – she has raised you, you feel you owe her a duty of care because she is your mom.
    I felt responsible when the addiction was close to me. It was so hard to begin to understand that I could not change my CG (compulsive gambler). I believed for 25 years that my love would conquer all and as a result I spent 25 years doing everything wrong for all the right reasons. It was so hard to put me first when I had spent my life putting my CG first. In my head I argued that this would not/could not change anything but in fact it changed everything.
    I can’t address all your points in this first post but I wanted to let you know that you had been heard and that you are among those who understand you.
    It is hard not to get in to an argument with someone who has this addiction which is the master of manipulation. The following is not professionally recognised as a method of coping but I know from personal experience and the experiences of many others that it does work.
    Never forget that it is your mom who is controlled by the addiction to gamble but ‘you’ are not. Her addiction is a merciless master of threats and manipulation but you are not and nor do you ever want to be. Imagine your mom’s addiction as a slavering beast in the corner of the room. As long as you keep your cool it will stay quiet but when it feels threatened it leaps from the corner, to stand between you, causing and controlling an argument that is scarey. Once it is active you will only hear the addiction speak and it will seek to blame and demoralize you. When ‘you’ speak, on the other hand, the addiction changes the reality of what you are saying to fit your mother’s perception of herself and that is what she hears.
    My CG said that he couldn’t believe me when I told him he would live more happily if he lived honestly because his addiction was distorting his mind and convincing him that my words were lies, that I didn’t really love him, that I couldn’t possibly know or care what he felt. The addiction to gamble offers failure to those who own it. CGs believe they are unlovable, worthless failures who fight back in every way possible because they don’t have any other coping mechanism than to escape into a gamble.
    If you can stand back a bit and listen to what your mom 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 reclaim your own life and be able to cope and make the right decisions for your relationship. One of the best ways to win the fight against the addiction is not to play the game.
    I have a Friends and Family group on Tuesdays between 20.00-21.00 hours UK time. Although I cannot tell you what to do – because all decisions you make have to be ‘yours’, I will answer your questions honestly – It will be great to ‘meet’ you in real time.
    If anything I say confuses you or if you want to ask anything else please post again soon.
    Velvet

    #3583
    dadda
    Participant

    Hi! I am the mother of two daughters; my ex-husband is a CG who filed for divorce when our daughters were just about to go off into the adult world. I did not know about the gambling PROBLEM until after he filed. I just knew he bought “some” scratch tickets and lotto and very,very occasionally (or so I thought) he would go to casino.

    I can’t begin to imagine what it is like to be the child, only that it must be harder than being the spouse, in several ways. One article I read put it well, as it explained how often children’s roles are reversed – they are “expected” to be the adult and the “parent”, or in some cases, sort of a “surrogate spouse” especially if divorce has occurred.

    Anyone can tell you not to feel guilty, but in many cases, it is normal to take care of aging parents (who don’t have addiction problems). Obviously, there might be some ways in which if they do, some assistance is appropriate, but figuring out what is and isn’t might be very hard, I think.

    Especially since you have responsibilities of your own and no unlimited funds to draw from, I hope that you get the information and support/encouragement to set appropriate limits. A lady in Gam-anon (phone conversation) made a good comment to me; she pointed out that if a person “did” $1,000 worth of cocaine, it would kill them – not so with gambling.

    You might feel bad not to be able to help your mother, but AS a mother, I guarantee it sometimes was hard to say “no” or discipline my children even when I KNEW it was for their long-term good. Sometimes you have to act differently than your feelings tell you.

    Anyway, I am living with our youngest (21) because neither of us can afford to live on our own. Her father wanted a divorce, but was not willing to follow through with the legal consequences of his “adult decision”.

    As you can see with your mother, the same is occurring. There are consequences to the decisions she is making, and as an adult – she should be willing to take those. As an addict of course, she wants to continue on without those … and if she can talk you or anyone into accepting those consequences, she will. Who is going to bail you out, though, when you run up against a problem?

    I hope you will find strength and encouragement, here and elsewhere, that will help you. I really love my daughters and was living life – not perfectly – to, as I thought, have some savings and assets for when their college or weddings came up, etc. I can’t even give them good suggestions, at this point, as to how to deal with the negative items on their credit that shouldn’t be there … and had to put my own student loans on forbearance the other day (and am grateful they were so understanding).

    Please make sure that you can take care of yourself … one of the things people often don’t think of in budgeting are the “inevitable” emergencies … like car repairs … or economic trends beyond our control. I know an often quoted suggestion is that a person have about 6 months of living expenses banked for such things. If you don’t, I encourage you to seriously think of using that as a help to setting limits and if you help your mother, do it in ways that she can’t (easily) use it for gambling. It sounds like that is what you are aiming at, and I applaud you. I think you are definitely on the right track!

    Please know too, I am glad you are here. My own daughters don’t like talking too much about their father or how they have been affected. Reading your and other posts from children affected helps me to understand some of the issues they are faced with.

    #3584
    twilight16
    Participant

    Hi Goodgirl,

    I was once the forever good girl and easily manipulated girl, until I started my recovery. I learned the bailouts I thought would open his eyes to his addiction did the opposite. It only allowed for his gambling addiction to grow into a immortal monster and thighen its claws on my emotions and purse strings.
    Helping you mom is admirable to an extent because she is your mother, but when she continues to gambling and put herself in the dire situations regardless of age is irresponsible. I don’t believe in bail outs, and when she said she would survive of eggs until her next check. It’a the addiction in her playing big shot, so don’t spend anytime worrying about her needs. She is fine with bare minimum as she has been gambling most of her money.
    There is much to learn about the addiction, it is the master of manipulation. If you feel she is mentally unstable you could contact social services and have her evaluated due to her age. It is known many dementia patients increase their gambling.
    The most important thing is for you to start your own recovery, everything else should be second.

    Take care,
    Twilight

    #3585
    goodgirl78
    Participant

    All, thank you so much for your replies. I have just learned that social security is going to give me my mother’s monthly retirement benefits so that I can control her finances and pay her bills that are going unpaid. She is already acting out, but getting the finances under control are a good start. We are scheduled to meet with a gambling counselor next Monday, but I will be joining one of the chat forums for moral support. Thank you and Happy New Year!

    #3586
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi GG
    It is common that when a CG gets close to entering recovery that they act out in varying degrees. They are afraid to face the future without their addiction which they believe is of paramount importance to their well-being. I liken it to the loss of a best friend – the person you had confided in, loved and trusted more than anybody else. All your friends and family had told you that the friend was no good but it is hard for you to accept, especially during the break-up, when all you can remember is what you believe were the good times.
    Your mum is facing a void in her life that she doesn’t yet know how to fill. Her counsellor cannot make your mum stop gambling but she should supply your mum with the tools to face her addiction, so that she can change herself.
    Listening is an important support you can give your mum. Telling her you are there for her in her battle but letting her know that you are strong is good. The thing that struck me most when my CG entered his gamble-free life was that he had to learn to trust me. I was there to be absolutely honest but not judgmental. I was there to have compassion but not softness. I was there to give an ear but not enablement.
    I would be delighted to meet you in the Friends and Family group on Tuesdays 20.00-21.00 hour UK time.
    This will be a difficult time for you, never give up hope but keep your expectations quiet and avoid arguments that achieve nothing but loss of energy. Functional relationships do not come overnight following the experience you have had. You will probably feel impatient for change but your mum will have a greater impatience – you can both only take one day at a time (ODAAT).
    Keep posting – you are doing well
    Velvet

    #3587
    goodgirl78
    Participant

    Hi Velvet,
    Thanks so much. I will definitely be going the group next week. I’m so glad (and saddened!) there are so many others out there like me and my mom who are going through the same struggles. If I didn’t have a resource for support, I’d be so lost. Another struggle I’m having of late is with my boyfriend (we are both 36) who doesn’t understand addiction at all and comes from (thankfully!) and addiction free home. He wants to get engaged but he is afraid my mom’s gambling will impact out future life together, financially, in particular. I could definitely use some advice there on how to talk to and deal with him because he sometimes ends of making me feel worse without meaning to.
    Anyway, thanks again for your kind support!

    #3588
    dadda
    Participant

    Hi,Goodgirl. I am glad to hear the positive; that you will be able to supervise the finances while hopefully your mother progresses in treatment! I am glad to hear too that you will be getting support. Sometimes people don’t feel like it is “much” or “anything” to lend an ear or be there, but that has literally been a lifeline for me at times.

    I won’t say too much now … but I wish you and your mother the very best; and even though it may not be easy, I am positive it will be worth it! A big hug and best to you!

    #3589
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi GG
    It is really hard for someone who comes from an addiction free environment to understand it. If the addiction to gamble had not entered our lives without invitation, I doubt many of us would have been aware of it, or understood what it is like to live with it, either.
    I think it is good that your boyfriend is talking about his concerns because it means the subject is out into the open – far better than ignoring something that ‘could’ affect you both if you haven’t dealt with it. I appreciate that he leaves you feeling worse sometimes – I know what it is like to hear unhelpful comments.
    I have my thinking cap on to properly consider the question you have asked about how to talk to your boyfriend and I will write again soon.
    Keep posting and ask anything you want to know
    Velvet

    #3590
    Kevin7
    Participant

    Hi Twilight.

    Great response. I have a question though that I’d like your thoughts on.. So My mom is a CG and I am basically in the same position as GoodGirl. However, rather than saying to me “oh fine then, i guess i’ll just survive on eggs for the next 2 weeks” she says things like “If you dont give me the money I’m going to go home and kill myself and end this and you’ll never have to deal with this again, if that’s what you prefer.” This is basically her response whenever I start persistently denying her the money and she starts to feel I really mean No. And of course I give in and give the money to her, since I obviously don’t want to gamble with her life.. and if anything happened to her I would always be thinking in the back of my mind “what if i had just given her the money? maybe she’d still be here.” Now I know, it may seem like an empty threat, just to get the money by scaring me, but she has attempted suicide multiple times before, for similar reasons.. So I don’t want to take the chance. Again, sure, she probably won’t not go through with it , but what if she does? I never know what to do in these situations and it obviously never helps in the long run either.. What are your thoughts? And I’d love everybody else’s input too!

    Regards,
    Kevin

    #3591
    vera
    Participant

    Hi Kevin,
    I know your question is addressed to Twilight, primarily, but you did ask for others’ responses too.
    My reaction to a suicidal threat from anybody, would be to call the GP, or the Mental Health Team, if that person has a history of suicidal attempts, as your mother has.
    CGs can be very manipulative and may resort to emotional blackmail in a desperate attempt to get money to gamble.
    For a close family member, it would be a terrible legacy to carry if, God forbid, your mother carried out her threat.
    My suggestion to you is to inform wider family about the situation you find yourself in. It is a very heavy burden to bear and of course when we weigh up money against a loved one’s life it seems that handing over the money would be the obvious choice.
    You need to seek help for YOU , Kevin. Tell your mum, when things are calm that you cannot continue to enable her gambling habit by giving her money. Ask her not to make any further requests of you . Remind her that there is help available and that you will support her when she is ready to reach out for real help.
    That is what I would want my son to do.
    I am a Mother who is a Compulsive Gambler.
    I hope this reply helps.

    #3592
    worriedmama
    Participant

    Ditto Vera’s advice Kevin. The threat of suicide is the ultimate card … it stops you in your tracks. I have had those threats by my CG and it is awful and as Vera says such a heavy burden.
    However, you really have to take them seriously for both your mom’s sake and your own. I took my son to urgent care when he threatened it. It was awful but at least you know you have done everything you can.
    Take Care
    Cathy

    #3593
    twilight16
    Participant

    Hi Kevin,

    Welcome to GT, it has been my saving grace and a place I was able to aquire skills that helped me in my recovery to eventually live a normal, happy life.
    Your journey will not come without bumps and hiccups, just stay on the road, doing what you can. Having a parent that has an addiction is heartbreaking, because they are your flesh and blood. However, when the addiction starts calling the shots and the addict lets it, then changes have to be made or the child will fall down with the parent. The child will be left with nothing but more heartache and empty pockets.
    The threat of suicide is no joking matter and it makes me sick to think that it is often used by any addict to get what they want. It is a selfish threat, that should never be said to make a loved one give in to their demands. I realize your mom has a history with suicide which I feel a professional would be the best to advise you. But I do know I could not live my life in the shadows of anyone threatening to kill themselves so they can get what they want. That I find too controlling and manipulative, and cruel.
    When my father first said it, I was stone cold terrified. I didn’t know what to do, where to run to or how I could help. However, I was too far in my recovery to give in to his demands of money. I knew I wasn’t helping matters if I did.
    The last time my father threaten his life, he did so to my neighbor. He said if I didn’t help him he would kill himself, this was said to the neighbor’s high school son. I had him Baker Acted and he is finally living a good life.
    I don’t know all the details of your mom, but if she stills has a house she is still in a good spot compared to many other cg’s who are homeless. Is she paying her bills? Does she come for gamblilng money when she runs out of money? How regularly are you giving her gambling money?
    If you don’t change your ways, the addiction will get worst, more than you can imagine. I gave money to my dad, someimes it was easier than dealing with his addiction. However, it backfired, because it saw me as its money source. You are in a tight spot, but you can start changing little by little, as you have written your mom gets reactive and lays the guilt on you, but you have to push that aside and not give in.
    If possible have a heart to heart with her, let her know your feelings and whatever you tell her, make sure you stick by it. If you don’t, the addiction will laugh and know it has you in the palm of its hand.
    Your recovery is what is important, it is the only chance you have to live a good life and in the long run it may help your mom truly see what her gambling addiction is doing to her.

    Take care,
    Twilight

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