Thursday, 6 February 2020

Ego - Part 3: Megalomanical...

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. This is continuing on from my last two posts about my ego and will look at Megalomaniacal thought patterns a penchant for exaggeration and dramatization mainly focusing on the time during my active addiction.

Megalomaniacal thought patterns - Having high expectations of oneself is a healthy and productive frame of mind. However, spending a lot of time thinking about how one’s greatness will far exceed anything conceivably realistic is not healthy or fruitful. 

Penchant for exaggeration and dramatization - As mentioned, egotists have an insatiable desire to make themselves appear important to impress others. As such, they’ll often exaggerate and dramatically overstate various aspects of their life. If an egotist perceives their life’s progress as inadequate – a common characteristic of such people – they’ll embellish anything and everything in order to make up for this “gap”. Should someone call them out, they’ll frequently overreact in a desperate attempt to get people to buy whatever they are selling.

Megalomaniacal Thought Patterns

The definition of megalomania, taken from the Cambridge dictionary, is “an unnaturally strong wish for power and control, or the belief that you are very much more important and powerful than you really are.” I feel like it will be easier to break this down into two separate parts to dig down further into how it relates to me during my active addiction.

An unnaturally strong wish for power and control

Reflecting back, I feel like I have desired control over my own life for a very long time, probably from when I got into a relationship with my partner but that grew stronger when we had our first child. It wasn’t that I just wanted my own space because I was afforded plenty of space and time to myself, it was that I felt my life was no longer my own, that my partner and my kids came before my needs, which is obviously the way it should be. I believe I struggled to grasp this concept and gambling online offered me the perfect escape into a “world” where I felt that I had all the power and control. As long as I had money to play I didn’t have to answer to anyone in my gambling world. I could get lost in various countries via various sports. The thoughts of what winning would bring, with what I could do with the money that I won, they were all happy thoughts. Obviously now I know I would never have done anything with the money but at the time it allowed my mind to drift off and imagine how much better I could make things. Plus, if I was responsible for making things better for my family then they would be grateful and appreciate me, even though they already did. Of course, when the addiction really took control and I was in debt and was trying to hide this from my partner I was scrambling for control over everything so the secret wouldn’t come out. Hiding mail, making up excuses for having no money, whatever it was I was desperate to control those situations and come at my partner from a position of power if a conversation ever arose. I could even make the point that my “final act” in active addiction was because of my strong wish for power and control when I finally admitted to my partner I had a problem and needed help. I would rather have gone out on those terms over being caught as in my head, I felt like I was on the front foot and in control. I blindsided her with my admission and was almost prepared for any questions she may have.

I would often daydream about being a famous singer or sportsman and would think about all the fans I would have who would be cheering for me and looking up to me. I liked that idea of being in demand, of people liking me and wanting me. Like if I was listening to a song I would think of myself singing it in front of people (I can’t sing for shit by the way) or watching sport and thinking that could be me (yet to find a sport where it could be me). I spent a lot of time wishing I was in a more powerful position in life than I was in.

The belief that you are very much more important and powerful than you really are

“I don't know how to put this but I'm kind of a big deal. People know me. I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” Those are the words of one Ron Burgundy and apart from the leather-bound books and apartment that is how I viewed myself. I expected people to treat me with respect and to appreciate everything I do, especially at home. If I did the dishes I expected my partner to organise a parade. If I vacuumed and mopped she better get a Bank Holiday in my honour. Then in arguments I would throw things I did back in her face, making out that without me the house would fall apart. At that time I believed it as well, I thought I was the one who was hard done by and wanted to make sure my partner knew how important I was to the household. If I messaged a friend I would expect them to reply straight away because it was me that was talking to them. If they didn’t I could feel myself getting more and more frustrated. On the other hand, if I was gambling and didn’t want to be disturbed and my friends kept messaging me I would get annoyed and started shouting at the phone that I am busy and mute the conversation. Of course, when I finished my gambling I would try and start the conversation up again because it was on my terms. In work I did absolutely nothing for years but yet I believed that I was an important member of staff and not only that but I deserved to be working at a much higher grade because I was so much better than everyone else, even if I wasn’t putting in the same effort.

Penchant For Exaggeration and Dramatization 

When I first read the above it I thought “finally, one trait I didn’t have” but on further reflection I think that it could be the trait that was at the forefront the most during my active addiction and that’s because I was pretty much living a double life. When anyone asked how I was my response was always “doing well” or something equally positive and short and sweet. I didn’t want them to know that inside I was drowning, struggling to stay afloat, not only financially but also mentally. To be honest, I don’t think I wanted myself to know how bad things were and wanted to believe that everything was fine and gambling will make it even better. If anyone asked me about why I had no money, usually a friend I was trying to borrow money off a week after payday or my partner asking why when asked to buy a loaf of bread in the shop I needed to borrow £10 off her to get it, then I would become desperate and overreact to get what I wanted. Instead of messaging a friend to borrow £100 until payday I would have this full story typed out with reasons why I needed it, how an emergency came up, all this other total bullshit, as I believed it would help me in my quest to borrow money. Same with my partner, except I would tend to overreact if she asked me why I needed money. I would throw things back in her face that I had bought or how I give her money each month, how I hardly have any money etc, anything to get her to stop asking questions and give me the money.

I would also just flat out lie to my friends or my Dad if they asked me about my gambling. They weren’t trying to find out if I had a problem, they were just asking if I had done a bet at the weekend for example. Instead of telling them about a bet I actually did (obviously I was past the stage of telling them exactly what I was betting on as they would probably have me locked up) I just lied about a bet I didn’t do at all. If it happened to be around the time I had no money to gamble I would lie in that instance as well that I had done a bet. In my mind I wanted to keep up the idea that I gambled “responsibly” because that's who I had become in other people's eyes. I was someone who gambled and if I lost that part of my image I had nothing to offer anyone.


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