Saturday, 22 June 2019

Patience

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. My Problem Gambling Support Group had a topic meeting based around the importance of having patience and it is one of my biggest character flaws. The question that was asked was “Are you patient with others, yourself and your recovery? Do you still find yourself looking for the quick fix or have you learned the art of being patient?” I am going to delve into each part and hopefully writing about it will help me see where I am struggling with patience.

I have always been an impatient person when it comes to most things, if I want something I want it yesterday. Once I get something into my head that I want, or to be more accurate about my thinking THAT I NEED, then it becomes my sole focus and I cannot settle until I have it. If I end up not getting it then it tends to ruin my day and I sulk and huff like a small child, which was an acceptable reaction when I was a small child but not so much anymore.

When it comes to being patient with others I get frustrated if someone cannot do a task as fast as I can and instead of using that as a moment to teach them how I do it I tend to just take over and get it done. If I ask someone a question via text and they do not give me an answer straight away I cannot settle myself until they respond. In my head I know they are busy or have something else more important to deal with but I still find myself thinking that they should have responded immediately. If I am to meet someone and they are late I get really annoyed and time feels like it goes so slowly when I am waiting for them. I start thinking why are they late and why did they not tell me, almost to a “How dare they make me wait” state of mind. What makes all of this even more ludicrous is that I can forget to respond to messages and I certainly have terrible timekeeping so for me to hold others to a higher standard than I hold myself is laughable.

One area where my patience is improving with others is when it comes to my kids. Back when I was gambling if they were not doing what they were told or could not follow a simple instruction I would shout at them instead of sitting down and explaining to them why they should not be doing something or explaining to them how to do something. Since I have entered recovery I have focused on trying to be better at this and I have noticed a difference. Do I still go from zero to shouting on occasion? Of course I do, but I have been trying different techniques to improve things which include reminding myself that they are kids before I say anything and by taking deep breaths and counting to ten.

 I have never really thought about patience when it comes to myself but on reflection it is something that I have struggled with for a while, probably coinciding with my gambling addiction. In my youth I would have been keen to play football and hockey even though I was terrible at them (and terrible is being kind) but in recent years if I am not good at something I will just not do it. I would say for the past eight years I have had no desire to try something I am not good at or to spend the time to try and improve at something I am not good at. Video games would be an excellent example as I get bored so easily with them now and the reason is that I cannot be bothered learning how to play them. Same goes with sports, in my head I would like to try tennis but I do not have the guts to go to a club and learn how to play. It is almost like I am embarrassed or ashamed to admit to someone that I need help so I avoid trying anything new.

The one positive I can take from being in recovery is I started to write this blog and I have had some great feedback on it which has encouraged me to keep writing. Writing was something I didn't even know I would have an interest in or even have any talent at but I tried it and really enjoy it and get a lot out of it. This was a complete leap into the unknown so if I can take this experience and apply it to other things maybe, just maybe, I can get a few more hobbies which can only be a good thing.

Shockingly the one area I am a master of patience has been my recovery and that was a major surprise to me. In the past when I tried to stop on my own I had all these grand ideas of how I could stop easily and fix my finances within months all of which was to get me back to gambling as quickly as possible. I think what has helped was all of the advice I got in G.A. and in my PG Support Group from day one. It was like everyone was echoing the same thing, the same cliche, “One Day At A Time.” I just accepted that if all these people who had been in recovery for years were all saying the same thing, if the G.A. recovery program which has helped people for decades has it as their slogan pretty much, then it must be THE way to do things. So from early on I have accepted that patience is a must for recovery. It took me 14 years of gambling to get to this point so there was no way it was going to be fixed in a few weeks or months, it’s going to be a lifelong journey.

So, do I still find myself looking for the “quick fix” or have I learned the art of being patient? It’s a mixed bag for me early in recovery. In certain aspects of my life, like my recovery, I have a lot of patience and feel like I have mastered it. When it comes to my kids I am improving but with plenty of room to grow. Other areas of my life I still have thoughts of wanting a quick fix or just a complete lack of patience. Those are where I need to improve and I also need to accept they will not improve overnight. Patience is a puzzle and I have not quite figured out how it all fits together yet.

Russ

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