It can be difficult to keep up with Recovery as life begins to get full. As life continues to get better we must remember where we came from. We are only one bet away from returning to active addiction.
My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. I seen the above post on twitter (@podcastrecovery) and it really resonated with me as it is something I know I have to keep reminding myself of. The personality I have had for the first 32 years of my life is fertile ground for addictive behaviours to grow and thrive. I can see it in everyday life which is why it is important to remember that one bet will send me back to where I was. When I find something I like I will go all in on it to the point I sicken myself of it then give up and move onto the next thing or complete the task in question without getting the full enjoyment out of it.
A good example of this would be when it comes to food, if I find something I like I want it every week, sometimes multiple times a week until I get fed up with it. Now, that is exactly how I was with gambling once I got a taste of it, apart from the fact it took 14 years for me to get fed up with it.
Another example would be when it comes time to upgrade my mobile phone. Once I get the idea into my head that I want to upgrade my mobile phone it is all I can think about until I do it. I cannot settle myself, constantly looking at reviews online, looking at the best plans, figuring out when I can go and get my new phone. Then the minute I get it I'm not even that excited about it, I was more excited about the anticipation of getting it. Which again, I can link that to my gambling because for me the build up to placing a bet was the most exciting part for me, far more exciting than the match or race itself. Even with the casino side it was the thoughts of what the next spin could bring rather than the spin itself. I can never just enjoy something in moderation, I have to be all in.
It happened to me this week, I wanted a film to watch on Wednesday and seen Sky had the Matrix on, so watched it for the first time in ages (still stands up even to this day). I could not wait to watch the 2nd and 3rd ones, even when watching the first one my mind was thinking when I will get the next two watched. I watched the 2nd one on Thursday and the 3rd one on Friday. Over 6 hours of The Matrix in 3 evenings. Now, it's easy to say there was no harm in that and that is normal behaviour but for me it just reminds me of how I was when I was gambling. Constantly thinking of the next bet while my current bet was still on going. Doing what I wanted to do night after night without considering what anyone else wanted to do. I know for a fact if something had got in the way of me watching those films I would have been frustrated. Now, I would have quickly snapped out of it because of what I have learned in recovery but if I was back out there gambling what I have learned would be quickly forgotten.
Sticking with TV, Netflix and the binge watching style of viewing. I absolutely love that because that's how I am as a compulsive gambler, I want everything right now and on my terms. I wanted to watch Watchmen (Who watches the whatchmen?) On Sky Atlantic but I couldn't cope with it being weekly, so I have them all recorded to binge watch. I haven't started them yet as I am working out when I will have some time to get it watched in the shortest amount of time. Narcos, one of my favourite TV shows, is on Netflix and all episodes are available when it drops. I will have been anticipating a new season for 12+ months and I usually watch it in one night, no sleep. Do I enjoy it? Of course I do. Do I really appreciate it? I don't believe so, I just needed my fix on my terms and that's exactly how I was when gambling.
Money wise I still struggle with managing the small amount that I am in control of (my partner can see the transactions on this account and is in control of the main money). I find myself spending more as soon as I get paid on silly things I don't need but want like lunches out, sweets, games etc and having very little money in the week or two before the next payday. This is the exact same cycle I was in when gambling and it is something I am constantly trying to work on.
I'll finish with this and it is emotions. I am attending one meeting a week in person, three meetings a week via Skype, on the GamCare chat rooms nearly everyday, sometimes twice a day, reading the Problem Gambling subreddit and writing for my diary/blog/subreddit (it's the same stuff on all three). I also speak to my sponsor daily and have a WhatsApp group with the people from the Skype meetings to talk to. That's a lot of outlet for my emotions and to talk about how I feel. To reach out if I am struggling or need help with something. To offer hope to people. It's hard to imagine I kept all these emotions so bottled up when I was gambling that, I personally feel, like they died and I was emotionally void when I entered recovery. I try to imagine having to bottle all this up again, how it would make me feel inside, the pain I would feel, how I would suffer alone again. How, eventually I would become void of these emotions once again.
It just reminds me how important my recovery is for me, because although my last bet was over 9 months ago, these character defects will take a long time to work on and they might never be fully removed. My addiction is just waiting on me, waiting on me to think I've beaten it, waiting on the right moment to strike.