Monday, 29 July 2019

Working The Steps: Step 4 - Part Two

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was on April 2nd 2019. This is the second part of my Step 4 work and is another long one. Anything in bold or italics is from the worksheet and the rest is my own.

II. Priorities – Principles and Responsibilities

When joining Gamblers’ Anonymous and committing to a new way of life, and a critical review of priorities, principles and responsibilities is necessary to determine if they are in proper perspective.

There are numerous items in our lives that are hazardous to our basic well-being. Because of the high priority placed on them, other areas of life are neglected which, in essence, cause growing and continuing problems. If priorities are out of order they will affect participation in all phases of life. A constant balance needs to be maintained between knowledge of self and communication of that inner self with the outside world. Periodic re-evaluation is an essential tool in this phase of moral inventory as life events, age, and participation in the program will affect emphasis on priorities.

Examine the following suggested priorities to determine if they are in a sensible and orderly sequence. How do you fit into the world around you?

  • Abstinence from gambling.
  • To myself and my greater power.
  • To my family.
  • To my job, vocation or profession.
  • To my goals, dreams and aspirations.
  • To my friends, neighbours and community.
  • To special interest areas.


PRIORITIES (by consensus of opinions)

1) Abstinence from Gambling: If, by your own admission, you are a compulsive gambler and have made a commitment to stop, there is not one thing that should supersede abstinence from gambling. Without abstinence very little else is possible, for by the very nature of the illness a lifetime of growth, responsibility, awareness and peace of mind are an impossibility.

LETTING GO OF THE GAMBLER:

a) How important is it that you stop gambling?


It is vital for me that I stop gambling as it was destroying me mentally and it was not going to be long before it destroyed me financially and more importantly destroy my relationships. I am aware that my next bet is not just about losing money but I will lose my kids and partner as well. That is not a bet worth making in my eyes as they are the most important people in my life.


b) Do you try to implement into your daily life the Gamblers’ Anonymous recovery program?

I think I have more of a bespoke recovery program and I am trying to incorporate more Gamblers’ Anonymous elements into it. I am reading more literature and working the steps and trying to get my head around the G.A. recovery program and how I can apply it to daily life.

c) Do you attend meetings regularly?

I attend a G.A. meeting every Monday night and have not missed one since I entered recovery. I also attend three Skype meetings a week with my Problem Gambling Support Group as I currently have free time when they are scheduled. The two meetings that are the cornerstones of my recovery are my Monday G.A. meeting and my Wednesday Skype meeting, those are the two I am focused on attending regularly.

d) What do you do for other compulsive gamblers?

I am writing a blog, which although is mainly to help me, I have had good feedback from other compulsive gamblers that the blogs have helped them and they can relate. I also share in my meetings and reach out to other members if they are struggling. I post and comment regularly on the Reddit Problem Gambling Sub. I have been a guest on the All In: The Addicted Gamblers Podcast to share my story and I am scheduled to do the same on Podcast Recovery.

e) What does Gamblers’ Anonymous mean to you?

My G.A. meeting is a fellowship of like minded people who have been through what I have been through and in most cases have been through a lot more and are there to listen to me and help guide me on this road of recovery. It’s a room where no one judges you, where you will be supported through the tough times and where they will enjoy the good times with you.

f) Do you listen and evaluate what others say at meetings?

I listen intently at meetings as my fellow members have experienced issues that I have not yet experienced and I learn from them. I always come out of meetings buzzing and I go over the meeting in my head on the drive home.

g) How are you involved in the program?

Currently I just attend G.A. but recently I have co-chaired my first meeting and I imagine more opportunities to chair will come along in the future.


2) To Myself and My Greater Power: One cannot be right for other people until right for oneself. In order for this to happen there must be an inner feeling of self-esteem and a feeling of belonging. An idea that self-knowledge is not enough to sustain you, but with the help of a power greater than yourself all things are possible. That is, when you become one with the power, happiness and peace of mind is the result.

a) Have I honestly faced myself and examined my strengths and weaknesses?

I feel that I have honestly faced myself and examined my strengths and weaknesses which was not an easy thing to do but I feel it has been an amazing step in my recovery.


b) Write a description of yourself.

My name is Mark, I am a compulsive gambler and my last bet was April 2nd 2019. I am 32 years old and live with my long term partner and two children, aged 7 years old and 3 years old. I work in an office job Monday to Friday. I love the NFL and enjoy watching other sports. I am laid back and tend to take things as they come; I am not exactly striving to get things done currently. I enjoy spending time on my own and although I am trying to go out a bit more to friends houses at the weekends when possible I still find myself not making as much of an effort as I could. I am focused on my recovery and trying to improve myself. I am a good Dad and love spending time with my kids, even though they can be extremely frustrating at times. Between my kids, work and recovery I am keeping myself busy but could definitely use my free time a bit better. I am still a very impatient person and can get frustrated quite easily which is something I need to work on. I am lazy in work and need to improve on that but struggle with motivation as the work bores me and I feel my potential is wasted in my current role. Although based on my work rate over the last 12-18 months my employer would probably say I have no potential and I am lucky to have a job.

c) After reading the description, can you say that you would choose a friend fitting that description?

Before I entered recovery I would probably have given up on them but now I would encourage them to keep moving forward and improve themselves. Although it still would not be a person I would go out of my way to be around.

d) Would you say that you are neat and clean, both of mind and body?

My own personal appearance is a mess, scruffy hair and beard. I don’t like wearing nice clothes, either jeans and a white T-Shirt or lounge pants in the house. I have not been eating healthy since entering recovery so my body is probably not as neat or clean as it could be. My mind is better than it was but there are still character defects there that need to be worked on.


e) Imagine a model person possessing all the qualities that would make him a desirable friend. How do you compare? Is it possible that you can strive to become that person?

I think I can strive to become that person and the main things that are probably the easiest to fix are the defects relating to motivation. If I can start and be as motivated as I am currently in recovery in the other aspects of my life I think things will start to fall into place.

f) How would you describe your general attitude toward life?

I am thankful for the life that I have and grateful for the people in it who have shown me support since I entered recovery. There are days where I cannot be bothered doing anything and I need to start and learn to enjoy every day, especially for the people who are most important to me.

g) Do you believe in a power greater than yourself?

Yes

h) Write a description of your greater power, whatever you conceive it to be. Be thorough!

My kids and my partner are my Higher Power. My kids mean the world to me and I want to be there for them for the rest of their lives. They are the reason I get up in the morning (literally, they are the best alarm clock I have) and seeing their faces keep me going. My partner also decided to stand by me during this and I will never be able to repay her for that, the best I can do is to keep going in my recovery.

i) What do you will or wish for yourself?

I wish to stop gambling and become a better person, a better partner and a better Dad.

j) What does your greater power will or wish for you?

They wish me to stop gambling and become a better person, a better partner and a better Dad.

k) Is there much difference?

No it’s exactly the same

l) Would living the life designed by your greater power be fulfilling?

Yes, it is what I am striving to achieve.

m) Can you become “one” with the power?

From being in recovery I have found myself becoming “one” with my Higher Power. They want what I want and I want what they want. I feel that recovery will strengthen my bond with my family and bring us closer together.

3) To My Family: There is nothing more important to a person’s fulfilment than the family. Through the family one can satisfy all the basic needs of a human being: To love and be loved; to cherish and be cherished; to provide and be provided for; to give and receive; to feel wanted and feel needed. All the basic needs of a human being can be realised through the interaction of a family who love one another.

a) Write a short description of the love and caring you have for each member of your family.

Kids – My kids are my life and all I want is the ability to be there for them and to show them that I love them. I want to be their Dad and their friend and I want them to be able to come to me for advice. I will always be there for them no matter what.

Partner – I love my partner and she gave me the two most wonderful people in my life. She stays at home while I work and I am so grateful for that. When I was gambling I did not show this nearly enough, if at all. The fact she stood by me when I admitted my problem is amazing and I can only repay that by staying off gambling.

Mum & Dad – My parents are amazing and gave me such an amazing life when I was growing up. They have always been there for me and are there for my kids when we need them. I love them so much and unfortunately during my gambling I never showed this. I was distant, borrowed money from them under false pretences but still they stood by me when I admitted my addiction. Again the only way I can repay them is by staying off gambling. If I can be half as good at parenting as they were with me my kids will have a great Dad.

Other Family Members – I am an only child but my extended family are important to me. Again, I have not been showing this in recent years during gambling but I will attempt to make up for that.

b) Write a short description of what you think each member of your family feels about you. Do you think these feelings are justified?

Kids – My kids think I am amazing and can do no wrong, obviously they do not know about my addiction. I will talk to them about it when they are older and I just hope that from now I can live up to their expectations.

Partner – She is proud of me for admitting my problem and entering recovery. I’m sure she also feels disappointment and hurt from broken trust but she can see I am working hard on my recovery.

Mum & Dad – Pretty much the same as my partner. They can see I am putting the work in and the best way to repay their support is by continuing with my recovery.

c) Do you reveal (or show) by words and actions the feelings you have for each member of your family?

My kids aside, probably not as much as I should be doing but I am trying to be there more for my family and trying to talk more to them. Sometimes things are just so hectic with family life I don’t have a chance to talk to them without the kids running about but I can and will make that time for them.

d) Are you responsive to the material needs of your family?

I no longer control my finances and my wages are used the way they should have been over the last number of years.

e) Are you responsive to their emotional needs?

I feel like I am there emotionally a lot more than I used to be. Before I was numb to emotion and from an emotional point of view I was always distant with my family.


f) Do you share your thoughts and feelings with your loved ones and do you allow them to share their feelings with you? How do you do this?

I share my thoughts and feelings with my family as keeping those emotions hidden is not healthy. I would have no problem sitting down and talking about how I am feeling and asking for help if I need it, before I would never have done that. I do allow them to share their feelings with me and this is generally through conversation. If I feel something is not right I will ask instead of just assuming everything is ok.

g) What kind of an example do you set for your children? Explain.

I like to think I set a good example for my kids through my actions, teaching them what is right and what is wrong and how to behave properly. I do feel like I get frustrated quickly with them and shout too much, this is something I am working hard on as I do not want them to think that is a normal way to act.

h) What do you do to earn their trust?

I try to be honest with them and show them that I love them. I spend time playing with them and doing things they enjoy. I encourage them and let them know I will always be there for them.

i) Write a description that would best describe your family life. Do you think that each member feels as through he/she is a vital part of it? See if you can determine whether each member enjoys peace of mind and happiness as a result of being part of the family.

My family life is a stable and loving environment for my children and everything me and my partner do revolves around them. I think each member feels a vital part of it but my partner probably has the toughest job day in and day out. She stays at home with the kids every day which is probably the most demanding job in the world. She rarely gets a chance to sit down and now I have dumped control of my finances on top of her. I try to tell her often how much I appreciate her and try to help out as much as I can in the house to give her breaks. Hopefully once things settle down a bit financially we will be able to get her away on a well deserved holiday for all her hard work for the family.

j) What do you feel you can do to improve the general well-being of your family?

As long as I continue doing what I am doing in recovery and stay away from gambling our general well-being will steadily improve.

4) To my job, Vocation or Profession: The better portion of a person’s life is spent performing his/her job, vocation or profession, be it housewife, attorney, labourer, laundress, hairdresser or sales. A person’s profession plays a vital role in the total picture relative to one’s general well-being. All too often this area is looked at as a necessary evil rather than as an area to help achieve fulfilment.

a) Do you enjoy your job? If not, why?


I enjoy my job and appreciate the job I have but I do feel like I have far more potential and could be doing much bigger things within the organisation although based on my performances over the last few years I think I am the only one who sees that potential.

b) At the end of a day’s work do you feel that you have been accomplished anything?

I generally feel like I have accomplished nothing. I am lazy and unproductive and I need to address this.

c) What rewards do you think you acquire from your job?

I get a decent wage, great holidays and a flexible working pattern.

d) Do you give it your best effort?

Not at all if I am being totally honest, I have put zero effort into my work for years.

e) How can you become better at what you do?

Take a bit of responsibility and motivate myself to do what I need to do. If I put my mind to it I can be extremely good at my role. I am hoping the effort I put into my recovery will seep into my work life if I start to focus on it.

f) Do you think that you are in the right profession? If not, what do you intend to do about it?

I am in the right profession for having a young family. I have a secure job that is reasonably paid with a decent pension.

5) To my Goals, Dreams and Aspirations: A person with goals has hope, happiness and a healthy state of being. Hope, happiness and a healthy state of being are natural by-products in the pursuit of worthy goals. A hopeless person merely exists. The person with goals, dreams and aspirations lives life fully. By envisioning ways to rise above yourself and achieve that which is just out of your grasp, a healthy state of being is maintained. The thrill of living is not so much an achievement, but attempts to achieve. The pursuit of goals fosters confidence, enthusiasm and courage. At day’s end a person may be comfortable in the knowledge he lives twenty-four hours with serenity.

a) What are your goals in life? List them and write a description of each.


To stop gambling – This is pretty self explanatory, I want to stop (which I have done) but more importantly I want to stay stopped. This for me is a daily goal that I will be working towards for the rest of my life.

To be there for my kids and to be a role model – I want to be a positive influence on my kids the same way my parents have been there for me.

To become a better person – I want to be a better person in all aspects of my life; I want to be a productive member of my family; a better friend and a better employee. I also want to continue to reach out to others struggling with addiction and sharing what has helped me.

To become financially stable – I want to pay off my current debts and live within my means on my salary. Also want to learn to budget effectively and learn to respect money again. This is a long term goal as it will take me about 10 years to become debt free.

Family holidays – To be able to go on a family holiday every once in a while would be fantastic.

Buy a house – Currently we rent and to be able to buy a house would be a major accomplishment. Again this will take time but worth working towards.

Promotions in work – I want to move further in my career, currently I have had one promotion and will be looking to continue moving up the ladder.

Exercise – Nothing major but a bit more exercise in my weekly routine would go a long way.

b) Which of these are realistic, achievable and are worthy of your time and effort?

All of them are realistic and achievable with a few changes to my mind set and some effort.

c) Would the pursuit of these goals interfere with your other responsibilities? How?

No, everything I wish or dream for is in some way linked to my recovery.

d) Are you doing anything positive to achieve these goals or are you just wishing they happen?

I have embraced recovery and I am taking an active role in it. Once I start to focus on my goals then I will begin to see results.

e) Do you have a definite plan to achieve these goals?

I have an ever evolving plan of recovery but as long as I stay gamble free and continue working to become a better person then I will be able to achieve these goals.

f) What actions are you taking on a daily basis to achieve these goals?

I currently attend four meetings a week and I try and write a new blog once a week. I also speak to people in recovery on a daily basis and all of this helps me stay away from gambling and continue on the path I am on.

g) What price are you willing to pay to make these goals happen? Will it be worth the price?

The only price I have to pay is to stop gambling and it will be worth it.


6) Friends, Neighbours, Community and Country: Our general well-being benefits from associations that we have with friends and neighbours and the part we play in our community. It offers us the opportunity to be an integral part in the general scheme of things. It is a great sense of fulfilment to feel you can be a working and integral part of the community of mankind.

a) Make a list of your closest friends and write a short description of your feelings towards each one of them.


Friend 1A – One of my best friends and someone who’s opinion I respect and who I would trust with my life. Only see each other a couple of times a year but in constant contact via text. Love him like a brother.

Friend 2A – My other best friend is again someone who’s opinion I respect and who I would trust with my life. See him slightly more often for lunch on occasion but again in constant contact via text. Love him like a brother.

Friend C – Not only a friend but also my sponsor and I feel like I can tell him anything and trust him 100%. An excellent role model and we are in constant contact via text.

Friend D – A work colleague who has become a long time friend over the years and one of my best friends. I feel like I could tell him anything and trust him totally and know that he would be there for me in a crisis.

Friend E – Work colleague who was the first person I spoke to about my gambling addiction. He knew something was wrong and took me out for coffee and we talked it over. I owe him a lot for what he did. Probably the friend I see most due to working together and usually meet up once a month to play some computer games.

Friends F – F is for Fantasy. I have made a number of friends when running my NFL Fantasy Football leagues and would consider a few of them to be close friends.

Friend G – A friend from back where I grew up who I have not made the effort to see over the years but I would still consider him a close friend and massive influence on my life growing up.

b) Is your action and behaviour toward them consistent with your feelings?

In the past they were not but I like to think they know how I feel about them although I could do more to show it.

c) Can you accept them for what they are, or do you find yourself critical of their shortcomings?

I can accept them for what they are and I do not feel I am in a position to be critical of anyone’s shortcomings.

d) Are you there when they need you?

I’m there for any of my friends if they need me and I hope that they know that.

e) How would you describe your relationship with your neighbours?

I would say hello and that is it.

f) What do they think of you?

No idea.

g) What is your role in the community?

I do not have one.

h) Do you take part in community activity, such as local school activities etc.?

No.

i) What do you do as an individual to make your community a better place to in which to live?

Absolutely nothing.

j) Write a short description of how you feel about your country.

The people we need to die in this country for it to get better keep getting younger.

k) What do you do to make the country a better place to live in?

I will try not to let my children grow up to be sectarian. They will be brought up in an environment that is tolerant of all cultures.

7) Special Interest Areas: There are many other areas in life that apply to an individual that hold a high priority. We all have them but they are different for each one of us. It could be a hobby, or any number of things. If they are all good, if we enjoy them, and they are important to us, then we should pursue them just as long as they do not interfere with the well-being of others.

a) Make a list of things you do that you take special interest in.

NFL, Fantasy Football, watching other sports, watching films and watching TV shows.

b) Along side each describe their importance to you and the benefits you derive from doing them.

NFL – It is my favourite sport which I follow year round. I watch as many games as I can and it gives me an opportunity to relax and unwind.

Fantasy Football – Again this is something I do year round and gives me something to research and read about and connect with other people over.

Watching Other Sports – I do this less now than when I was gambling but I still enjoy watching a sporting event that means something.

Watching Films & TV Shows – I love to binge on Netflix shows or watch a good film. It’s a nice way to get an evening in. Also enjoy documentaries which give me an opportunity to learn about things I did not know about.

c) Is there any value in them other than the pleasure?

I have a close bond with some of my friends over NFL and also Fantasy Football gives me an opportunity to connect with other people.

d) Can you financially afford them?

Yes, although I no longer play Fantasy Football for money.

e) Do the other members of your family have an interest in them?

My kids enjoy watching films with me.

f) In your pursuit of these things, what hardships, if any, do you place upon your family?

Sleep deprivation during the NFL season from September to February.

g) Do you ever find that you are shirking responsibilities in other areas of your life in doing these things? In what way?

Generally not although staying up late for NFL can lead to me being late for work.

There is one more part of Step 4 left to post and then it is on to Step 5, hopefully if you have read all of that you have gotten something from it and maybe you decide to give it a go yourself.

Russ

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