Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Q & A

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. So I came up with the following idea for my Skype Problem Gambling Support Group meeting which was a change of format for what we normally do. The idea was a quick-fire round-table discussion which went down really well with those who participated. I thought I would take a look at the questions a bit more in depth here and share my answers. Plus I have had an extremely busy week potty training (not me, I was potty trained 12 months ago) and haven’t had much of a chance to write anything else.

1) What defect would you most like to be rid of?

Impatience would be the defect I want rid of the most. Outside of my recovery I am a very impatient person, if I want something I want it yesterday. People who cannot do something as fast or as well as I can frustrate me and instead of using this as a teaching moment I just take over and get it done. Things that get in my way annoy me, such as unexpected plans that I do not want to do. I don’t like to wait for things to happen; I can become restless and irritable. A good example of this would be somebody in work saying they need to speak to me and they arrange a meeting for a few hours later, I cannot settle when that happens. I want to know what they want right away and I start to question what it could be about or why they cannot speak to me right now.

2) Do you believe your actions in active addiction would be considered insane?

Absolutely, in comparison to someone who does not suffer from a gambling addiction my actions would be considered totally insane. I would sit up waiting for my pay to hit my bank account until 1am just so I could start gambling straight away on some South American soccer or IFT Tennis in America. It was a release, I had probably not gambled for a week or so by this stage as I had ran out of money and could not wait to get my next fix. I have sold things to get money to pay bills and instead of lodging the money in the bank and paying the bill I would lodge the money and start depositing into my betting account thinking I could win some money but end up losing it all. So now I have no stuff and the bill still isn’t paid. I would win money and proceed to lose it all because I would get reckless as I felt it was “the bookies money” but once I had lost it I would start chasing it with my own money because I would convince myself that it was my money and I needed to get it back.

3) Do you accept the person looking back at your in the mirror?

I am not at that point yet as I am still early in recovery at the time of writing this. I would say I accept the mould of the person that I see looking back at me in the mirror, I accept the journey this person is starting out on, but there is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of room for improvement. What I see looking back is definitely not the finished article but I am encouraged by what I see compared to pre April 2nd 2019. I feel I will get to that point where I do accept but it will take a bit more time.

4) Do you believe you have hit your bottom and do you believe your bottom was enough?

This was an interesting question because I have been open and honest about the fact I do not feel that I have hit rock bottom in relation to others who I have met in recovery or stories people have shared on Twitter or Reddit. I’ve heard a few quotes about rock bottom in G.A. which I quite like, “every rock bottom has a trap door” and “rock bottom is the point where you stop digging.” I do not feel I have caused the financial devastation that others have and I have not destroyed relationships the way others have but I could see where I was headed over the next few years if I did not do something about it. That is one of the reasons why I like to share my story and recovery because I like to show that you do not have to wait until you hit rock bottom before you say enough is enough and I want out. In relation to the actual question I feel like I got off before I hit my own rock bottom, as I think there was so much more damage I could have done, but I hit a point where I had enough and I asked for help.

5) What is your favourite step?

Personally I am currently working through Step 4, which is a lot of work but worth doing, so I have only worked a couple of the steps. I did hear a great quote about working the steps on Podcast Recovery (excellent podcast and cannot recommend it enough), “The steps are in order for a reason and you should work them in that order expect any step with a 1 in front of it, you can work those steps at any point in recovery.” When you look at the steps and read 1, 10, 11 and 12 that quote is so true which leads me to my favourite step, Step 12.

“Having made an effort to practice these principles in all our affairs, we tried to carry this message to other compulsive gamblers.”

I feel like my blog is a big part of this step, as is sharing at my meetings and those are some of the most enjoyable things I do in recovery right now.

6) What is your greatest fear in Recovery?

Complacency is easily my greatest fear in recovery; it’s something not only am I aware of but also warned about by others on a regular basis. I tend to go all in on things and become obsessed about them then drop them when I get bored. Or I will get to the stage that I think I have done all I can and no longer need to work at it. I keep reminding myself that this is a lifelong journey and I constantly need to be attending meetings on a regular basis. I just hope that should complacency strikes I am able to recognise it happening and stop myself sliding towards a relapse. That’s another reason I have told so many people I have a gambling addiction as the more people that know the bigger my support network and if I do not recognise myself slipping hopefully someone else will and call me out on it.

7) What was your greatest fear in active addiction?

This is a great question and although my immediate thoughts went to being caught out I think I will go a different direction. My biggest fear was to admit that I was beaten and asking for help to stop, it was doing everything I am doing now, being accountable for my actions, having to stay clean, and having to give up gambling. I always thought I was in control and if I wanted to stop I could but that was not the case. It got to the stage towards the end where my greatest fear was going to be realised, I started to see that I was never going to be able to stop on my own and I would have to admit I was done and ask for help.

8) What resentment do you need to let go of?

I resent where I am in my work life even though I do not control the frequency of promotion opportunities that come up in my company. I just resent the fact I do not have that much experience when going for future promotions and also believe I am wasted at my current position and I could be doing so much more. The funny thing is, if anyone was to take a look at my performances over the past couple of years they would probably tell me I am lucky to be employed never mind thinking about promotions. I have not put myself forward to gain new experiences that might be useful for future promotions, I am the one who is happy doing the bare minimum (and I normally struggle to do that). It is up to me to take charge of my future promotion opportunities and to ensure I am prepared when it comes to experience; no one else can do it for me.

9) Do you keep track of your clean time?

I do, I use an app called I Am Sober to keep track of my time and I know the date of my last bet but what I have stopped doing is keeping track of days on a daily basis. I decided to stop that after day 7 as I feel it puts too much unnecessary pressure on myself. I am still able to check on my app if anyone asks me and I do have a rough idea of the days I am on or if there are any milestones coming up. Early on in G.A. someone said, “It doesn’t matter how many days off a bet you are, what’s important is how close you are to the next bet”, which is a quote that has stuck with me. I also seen this quote from Muhammad Ali which I think fits well here;

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

10) Have you stopped obsessing about gambling?

Yes I have and it feels amazing. Gambling consumed my life and when I ran out of money all I thought about was how I could either get more money via borrowing or not paying bills or working out a budget as to how I would survive the month. I still use Flash Scores as my go to app for checking sports scores and I know they show the odds from Bet365 underneath the games. If I see a crazy result I do go on and check the odds, not from a betting point of view but just to see how much of a shock it was. I suppose that’s just gambling being normalised these days and odds are used so much when people are talking about sports. I would also say I am out of the loop when it comes to sports now, before I would have known nearly every game that was on that day but now I only tend to find out if I see it on Twitter. I still watch sports but not nearly as much as I used to and I have come to realise that I was not watching sports all the time because I was a huge sports fan but because I am an addict.

I really got a lot out of the meeting when these questions were asked and I got a lot out of writing my answers out here. It’s nice to be able to briefly touch on several topics at the one time and something I may do again in the future. I want to give another shout out to Podcast Recovery, @PodcastRecovery on Twitter, as this was the place I got the questions from as they post them up regularly. Definitely worth a follow on Twitter and an excellent resource from the podcasts, to questions and even a daily thought, the two guys behind it do an excellent job.

Russ

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