Monday, 6 January 2020

It's Been A While

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. I haven't posted in a while but I am still going strong and thought I would post some of my current thoughts and feelings.

It's been over 9 months since my last bet and, as crazy as it sounds, I am so grateful for this addiction because it introduced me to recovery and without recovery I wouldn't have realised how lucky I actually am. I have two wonderful kids, a partner who has stood by me, a roof over my head (even if it is rented), family, friends, my support groups, a job and my health. I have everything I could ever want. If I go back gambling the way I was I will lose all that, which is a dangerous situation for an addict to find themselves in because it will feel like there is nothing left to lose and nothing worth fighting for. It's important for me to remind myself what I will lose if I go back out there.

As for how I feel about gambling now..I still love gambling, I would be lying if I said I did not love it, and I have found nothing that gives me that buzz that gambling gave me and to be perfectly honest I don't believe there is anything out there that will, and that's OK, because I have accepted that to live a happy life I do not need that buzz that gambling gave me. I do not need the ups and downs (mainly downs), the stress, the lying, the cheating, the stealing etc. that comes with this addiction. I am now content, I can see how lucky I am and appreciate what I have. I still have debt which I am paying off and it will probably take about 6 years but I can even appreciate that because I am learning the value of money again.

When it comes to urges I feel I have been pretty lucky that I haven't been tormented by them the way I know other people have. I do still think about gambling though and that is fine because I am not in charge of my first thought but I am in charge of my first action. So if I see the odds of a game (I was a sports bettor) then I may think "that's a good price" but as long as I choose the correct action after that thought then I will not gamble. For me it's all about trying to do the right things each day and if I do that, use my support network, continue to be open and honest, then I won't gamble, at least not today. One day at a time as they say in GA and it's a method that has worked for me.

It doesn't matter how many days off a bet you are, what matters is how close you are to the next bet. This is something I heard at my local GA and it has stuck with me because it is so true. Even now I can see when I reflect on my gambling, a lot of it feels like I am looking back through rose tinted glasses. Remembering the "good" times but not the bad times. That's why meetings are important for me because they give me an opportunity not only to express my feelings but to share my gambling experience and to hear what other people have went through. I have lost count the amount of times I have listened to someone share and think to myself "I forgot I used to do that" or "that's right, I did that once". I go to 4 meetings a week, one in person and three via Skype, while I am not suggesting that it is for everyone, it works for me. I gambled seven days a week so four meetings a week is nothing to me.

I mentioned feelings above and that is probably the biggest change I have noticed in myself since entering recovery. Before when I was gambling, and if I am being brutally honest before I even started gambling, I didn't care about other people, all I cared about was myself. I didn't feel emotion, whether I was supposed to be happy or sad I was just very meh about everything. Those closest to me always said I was very laid back and took everything in my stride but I think it was more that I just didn't give a $hit about anyone or myself. That sort of emotional environment (or lack thereof) was what helped cultivate and grow my gambling addiction in my opinion. Now though, because of recovery, I have emotion. I feel what it's like to have empathy for someone now. I have cried with sadness and cried with happiness. I care about how others are progressing in their lives. I now truly believe that in recovery you have to give it away to keep it and that is very much via emotional connections in meetings or via social media.

I only meant to check in and ended up rambling on a bit but my ramblings will maybe offer hope to somebody checking in for the first time or for someone currently on their journey because that's all this is, a journey, there is no end point, there is no destination and on this journey you have to give it away to keep it.


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