Monday, 6 April 2020

To My Younger Self

My name is Russ and I am a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. Another week of lock down completed and I am trying to make the most of it. I have started running. The last time I ran (or did any meaningful exercise) was in the Summer of 2018. I’m finding it really good for my mental health, especially as I am confined to the house most of the day. Writing helps as well and I have fallen behind by a couple of days on the questions so I will try and catch up this week. 

Day 2

“We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.”

Immanuel Kant

Write a response to your younger self for this thought: “But I can’t do without gambling.”

It is scary to even think about living without gambling, after all it is the one thing that you love the most, even over your two kids. It’s something that you do every waking moment of the day that you have money and if you don’t have money you think about gambling or work out how to survive the month because of gambling. You think gambling makes you happy, that it is the way you can achieve a lifestyle that will make you look and feel successful. If you feel successful you think that people will like you. In your head it is also an easy way to make it in life, a way to get things for free. It’s the thing that you do, the only thing that you do. It’s how you make and maintain conversation with people. When you win it gives you a feeling of superiority and reinforces the idea that you are better than everyone around you. Most of all, gambling gives you a feeling of belonging, it’s your safe place that you can be yourself.

Well, I hate to tell you, but all of that is pure bullshit. You may love gambling but I can tell you how much more meaningful the relationship with your two kids becomes when you finally enter recovery. You are their hero, they idolise you and quite honestly you don’t give a fuck about them, but recovery changes that for you. It’s hard to fill the void at the start but you manage to do it and shockingly you actually start to become a bit more productive at work (eventually).

There is no longer the worry of how you are going to survive the month because you have money, not a lot, but you have money. You buy more pairs of trainers in your first year in recovery than you have done since you turned 18. You wear socks without holes in them in recovery. You have new hoodies. As of April 2020 you have an addiction to buying Kindle books but that’s OK! You are in lock down because of Covid-19, the whole world is except for Sweden (there’s a pandemic, starts in China, tell someone).

You think that gambling makes you happy but it is the reason you are miserable. It is one of the reasons you hate yourself more and more with each passing day. It is why you hate people and blame them for all of your problems. It is why you hate the world. Gambling is the reason the first thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning is roll them and think “why the fuck did I wake up”. That lifestyle that you want to achieve to make you look and feel successful, to make people like you, it’s all an illusion. No one knows about your gambling because you work so fucking hard to keep it a secret so even if you were successful (you weren’t) then no one would know because it would expose you as the addict you are. As for making conversation and maintaining it, in recovery you learn how to talk to people properly and actually figure out what empathy is. The new relationships you build in recovery are deeper than any you have experienced before and the old relationships you start to repair become even more meaningful. 

That feeling of superiority you think being right gives you, that’s your ego talking and boy do you have a big ego. You will find out that you know pretty much fuck all about life when you get into recovery. You have been escaping into the world of online gambling and living in this fucked up bubble you created for yourself. It’s unhealthy and it will destroy you from the inside out. 

The biggest thing I can tell you is that in recovery you have finally found the place you truly belong and this is what you have been searching for your whole life. It is a place where you are constantly learning and constantly thriving. You are helping not only yourself but also helping other people some of whom are complete strangers. When helping others you are not looking for anything in return either, you are doing it because you want to do it, because you are in a position to do it. You have good intentions in recovery and you help others for the right reasons. You work on your character defects and start to become a better person. 

I’m not going to sit here and say everyday is all flowers and sunshine in recovery. It’s not. Some days are a struggle. Some days are fucking brutal. At some point life will ask you to make chicken salad out of chicken shit but you know what? Recovery gives you the tools to be able to navigate through that.

I know that if you somehow could read this you would laugh at it and delete it, saying it was a load of shite. I know this because I am you and that is exactly how I would have reacted if someone had tried to tell me I needed to stop gambling and get help. The date you start your journey is April 2nd 2019 and it is the best journey you have ever been on. Best of all? There is no destination.


Quote and question taken from “The 365 Addiction Recovery Journal: Daily Journaling With Guided Questions, To Become A New You” by 21 Exercises.

1 comment:

  1. Over the last few nights I have read your complete blog from start to finish and would like to congratulate you on your abstinence from gambling over the past year and your ongoing recovery.
    I thought you Monday night sharing was good but this insight into the mind of the recovering compulsive gambler has blown me away.
    It is an absolute pleasure to know you and be a small part of your recovery in GA(The College of Knowledge).
    Compulsive gambling as we know is an incurable disease. There is no destination. We must continue on this journey for the rest of our lives and I am ok with that as long as I can have you and the like minded people in our group by my side along the way.