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My name is Simmo
#1
My name is Simmo and I am a compulsive gambler, I've been attending GA weekly since April 2016 and recently joined the forum. 

This is my second time reaching out to the GA rooms and this time I intend to stay.

I spent years in denial and that I could tackle this illness on my own.  I went to GA 12 years ago for a few months, but didn't stick to it, I was heavily in denial and constantly looked for differences between myself and everyone else in the room.  I didn't gamble every day, I was what you would call a binge gambler, short sharp spurts of gambling that were progressively damaging and increasing in their intensity.  But just because I didn't gamble every day or think about it every day, I didn't find myself itching for that next bet, I created a disassociation with everyone else in GA.  "I'm not the same as them" "My gambling isn't that bad" "I can control it"  All delusional thoughts but I'm only now able to see that.   Unfortunately, the denial at that time was too strong and the delusional thinking resulted in another 12 years of gambling, losing girlfriends, a house, lots of money, lots of time, I became emotionally vacant, destroyed my self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence, and eventually crashed into severe depression and considered taking my own life.

I am a Son, Father to 3, husband,  Grandson, Brother, Uncle, friend, colleague and it was through thinking about how I would leave everyone else feeling with me gone that kept me from carrying out my thoughts.  I didn't care about me, I had fallen out of love with myself.  "I'm just an idiot who causes chaos, causes a storm in what was a calm sea"  "I'm a failure"  "I can't control myself"  "I can't do this anymore" "They will be better off without me"  All thoughts that would spin around in my washing machine head. 

I was off work for 6 months, 3 of those unable to function as a person, literally spent 3 months on the sofa watching box set after box set and playing games on my phone.  At this time I didn't want to gamble but I had transferred addiction from gambling to gaming, and even though I was still in debt, still managed to waste another chunk playing.   It was a tough time, and after finally seeking help thanks to my wife, I went to the Priory, saw a psychiatrist, was put on medication and a 28 day stay in hospital.  I am grateful and lucky to have a good job with insurance, otherwise I would not have had the access to what was critical care at that time.

This was my rock bottom!!  Could always have got worse, but for me, this was as low as I was willing to accept.

I learnt a lot in the Priory, but the most important factor was being directed back to the GA fellowship. 

I'm now nearly 8 months into recovery, I still have my wife supporting me for which I a truly grateful, she was so close to packing up and leaving.  Working the program is helping me enormously, step 1 especially.  Today, I whole heartily accept that I have a gambling addiction, that I had crossed the line into reckless compulsive gambling.  By accepting the problem, the questioning inside my head stopped, and moved on to how can I fix this.

Going to GA meetings is my number 1 priority, in recovery I am useful to others, I become trustworthy, caring, empathetic, loving, happy, I listen to people, I share my opinion, I don't judge others, I am working on maturity, I change from demands to desires.  I live a calmer, less chaotic life.  I still struggle, but I'd much rather struggle in recovery than spend another night standing at a fruit machine, not eating, not drinking, busting for the loo but unable to walk away, ignoring my wife's calls, missing out on so many aspects of my kids growing up, being vacant from the family both physically when away and emotionally even when at home.

No matter how bad things have got, I have found hope in the GA fellowship.  Spending time with and sharing life experiences with like minded people, having a genuine connection with people is changing my life for the better.  I take it a day at a time, I'm in a lot of debt, but without gambling it's going to get better.  Learning to accept that it's going to be a slow process is really hard, but helps.  As a gambler, I always want and expect a quick fix.  There is no quick fix to paying off debt.  Hard work and dedication, working the GA program, one day at a time.

Just for today.... I will not gamble
One day at a time.  My last bet was 15/03/2016 and I hope and pray each day that it stays that way.
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#2
Hi Simmo,
Great post. I'm sure others will welcome you back but just wanted to say recovery is about progress and although you haven't mentioned, if you haven't got one, a sponsor may help too??

Keep posting...
Smartie xx
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#3
Thanks Smartie,

I don't have a sponsor yet but it is something that I feel I need. I'll put the feelers out at my meeting tonight.

Simmo
One day at a time.  My last bet was 15/03/2016 and I hope and pray each day that it stays that way.
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#4
How did the search for the sponsor go??
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#5
Not very well, mainly because I didn't ask, what I did do though was asked about having a step meeting once a month and try to put some emphasis on working the steps. I will get a sponsor soon.
One day at a time.  My last bet was 15/03/2016 and I hope and pray each day that it stays that way.
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#6
The way payday makes me feel has changed over the last 8 months. Whilst gambling, I used to justify gambling more by the amount of overtime I was doing, I would always have gambled more than I earned, so once payday arrived, I was always chasing money to cover bills etc. I constantly lived in debt, moving money around from one card to another to keep on top of payments. In march on my last day of gambling, it was payday, and I got my bonus.... now rather than being happy that we could put some money away to go on holiday for instance, I managed to clear my overdraft!

Now, payday is a pat on the back for another gambling free month, and also a time to set the budget for the next month. It's a time when I see progress with debt payments and that debt cloud that I'm in slowly lifting, too slowly for my old way of thinking but now I just accept it for what it is, it will take a long time to clear.

My wife and I use YNAB (youneedabudget) and it's really transformed our way of life around money. Because I can no longer borrow money, we have to make sure that yearly expenses are budgeted for and a little put aside each month. By having a budget it also guides our spending decisions, and if we can't afford it, we don't spend it. This along with not gambling is making life seriously more manageable. I have a debt management plan running with StepChange and my expenses are no longer more than my income. I don't spend money I don't have, I do not understand how I managed to gamble so much money in the past, I don't like spending even a tenner now, but I used to chuck thousands into machines without thought.

I am proud to be a recovering compulsive gambler, it enables me access to the 12 step program that assists me to become a better person all round, morally mature, and most importantly honest. I'm certainly no saint, and every day I will do something that would be considered selfish, or morally wrong, but having the tools to be able to acknowledge, understand, and change my attitude and behaviour means that every day I grow. My mind is open to suggestion, I'm no longer a know it all, must control everything kind of person. I care, I'm starting to feel emotions that I've had locked away for all of my adult life.

I believe that every person would benefit from working the 12 step program, even those who are not addicts of any kind. It's only step 1 that mentions the addiction, the other 11 steps are around growing one's self and living an honest, serene live.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Simmo
One day at a time.  My last bet was 15/03/2016 and I hope and pray each day that it stays that way.
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#7
All that sounds super positive simmo...

(17-11-2016, 01:50 PM)Simmo Wrote: I do not understand how I managed to gamble so much money in the past, I don't like spending even a tenner now, but I used to chuck thousands into machines without thought.
Simmo

That's why going through the 12 steps with a sponsor can really help a person's recovery...
Its not just a financial recovery but a spiritual one as well....
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#8
Debt is still a big cloud over my head, but it's slowly lifting. Acceptance is vital, my credit rating is now shot, I am now seeing progress towards paying off the debt as well as building an emergency fund for those irregular surprises that pop up. I won't be able to borrow money for a very long time, and to be honest, I'm not sure that I ever want to other than a mortgage perhaps.

I have to remind myself that I must now live life within my means, and it's actually not that bad, it enables me to look forward to and appreciate going out so much more. My wife and I are going to see Micky Flanagan in May, and we had the money available in the recreation category of the budget, all because I am no longer gambling. I'm finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it's still very distant but it is there.

Today, I will not gamble, I will continue to improve my life, my maturity and keep working the 12 step program, for I wish not to return to the hell when I was gambling.
One day at a time.  My last bet was 15/03/2016 and I hope and pray each day that it stays that way.
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#9
I can't believe nearly a month has passed since I last posted anything on here. Still NO gambling, and looking forward to a month where wages have increased due to overtime. I can finally start building a safety net in my budget and pay a little extra off of my debt. Working the steps is continuing through daily inventories however I still need to engage fully to carrying out step 4. I don't have a sponsor yet, and this is something that I must look at getting sorted. I guess there are elements of my life that I still wish to avoid confronting even though I can see through other people's recovery that it's such a liberating step to undertake.
One day at a time.  My last bet was 15/03/2016 and I hope and pray each day that it stays that way.
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#10
So, it's 2017, a new year, normally a time for resolutions for me to make and fail in the first month of the year. I'm not making any new year resolutions this year, I'm just sticking to working the GA program one day at a time, I can set life goals at any time of the year.

This has to be the best Christmas I've had since I was a kid, mainly because I was there in both body and mind, appreciating the family, far less about the gifts, more about the time with loved ones. All because I'm not gambling and working the 12 step program.

It feels great to have my life back to a manageable state, it's not perfect, but there is far far less chaos. Whilst I was gambling, I used to blame everyone around me for making everything so chaotic, but it was me, I was the one causing the chaos. Everything is a lot calmer, no rushed decisions, finances are manageable with the help of StepChange for my debt management plan, and using YNAB has transformed our family finances. It's been a mindset change, but my wife and I now work together on all of the finances, everything is fully transparent, and every penny is accounted for.

Having come down with the flu over Christmas, I didn't get to a meeting as I had planned, so I'm really looking forward to getting to my meeting tomorrow.

Just for today I will not gamble

Simmo
One day at a time.  My last bet was 15/03/2016 and I hope and pray each day that it stays that way.
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