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My Therapy
Hi, my name is Edward. I am a compulsive gambler; my last bet was on the 12th December 2009. This is my story of what gambling has done to my life. My days as a gambler started at a young age. My first memories of gambling were in the arcades whilst on holiday with my parents. I must have been 12 or 13 the first time I gambled my money away. When walking along the sea fronts in the Isle of Wight, Great Yarmouth or Prestatyn, the arcades were like a dream world to me. It was as if once I walked in there I had no cares or worries in the whole world. Whilst my younger brother was happy putting very small amounts in the sliding machines, I would be on the big jackpot fruit machines. Nobody could touch me when on those machines. I used to get kids watching over my shoulder and I used to get agitated by them, telling them to go away in less polite terms. That machine was mine, and nobody else’s. At such an early age, I didn’t have much money so it was very brief the times that I spent there, and even though I rarely won, I always wanted to go back for more. I was hooked on gambling already. Things went on like that for a year or 2, every time we had a breakaway I was itching to get into the arcades.
I remember then, my mum and dad increased my pocket money. This was just amazing. At 14 years of age, having steady money every Saturday, I felt rich! So what else was better than to gamble it all away? I used to play cards with my very close friend at home. Somehow, his luck at cards always outweighed mine. We used to play 3 card brag and 13 card brag; all the while I loved the prospect of the chance that I could win some money. I loved playing cards. No matter what game, whether for money or not, I always loved playing cards. The feeling of turning over a straight flush or a prial of 3’s to me was the only buzz I needed to make me happy. Losing my money was never an issue to me because I knew that the following Saturday I would have another lot to lose. My younger brother used to save all his money and I used to laugh at him for this. I was a fool.
As time progressed, I started going in pubs under the age of 18 as some places thought I looked 18. On one occasion I ended up playing brag with a group of people I didn’t know and they cleared me out completely. I was devastated. For the first time in my life, from what I recall, I had to borrow money from somebody. Having not identified my problem, things only continued to get worse. I got my first job when I was 17 working as a waiter in a hotel. I remember my second pay check. I had never ever had this amount of money at my disposal before. It was a dream come true. There I am, young Edi, with all this money. People would look at me and think ‘’look at him, he’s loaded’’. Or at least, that’s what I thought. Within a few days, my bank balance was at zero. I had been in pubs, feeding notes into fruit machines to my heart’s content, not even concerned about money slipping away from me. I wasn’t concerned about anything. I would sit back down with the lads after a heavy loss and I would even deny how much I had lost. I would bat off the investigations by saying ‘’It’s ok, I’ve only lost a couple of quid’’, or ‘’you win some, you lose some’’. This attitude towards gambling only served to drag me further and further into the mire. I remember on one occasion, at the start of summer in 2006, I had just received my monthly wage. I went on an alcohol and gambling binge. I had all this money, so in my own mind I was a big shot. I was buying drinks for everybody, and I mean everybody. I was paying for the taxis, I was paying people into clubs, and my money was flying out of my pocket. The night in question cost me a lot. I was a 17 year old gambler trying to make some sort of name for myself. I would always think that people would respect me for what I was doing, when all along people were laughing at me and taking advantage of me. A couple of concerned people asked me at the time if I was ok and the ego inside me just said ‘’of course I am, why wouldn’t I be?’’. Gambling turned me into a monster, an egotistical prima donna.
At that time, my gambling habits focused on fruit machines only. The only people that knew about it were the people who went to the pub with me. What happened next was about to change my life. My 18th birthday came along, and finally I could walk into a pub legally. It was a great day on my 18th. All my work friends came with me to the pub and got me well and truly drunk. It was a week after then where my life took a turn for the better. I met a wonderful girl. She was like nothing I had ever seen before. She was smart, funny, tactile, and beautiful, the most amazing smile I’ve ever seen and she had gorgeous, glossy hair. In an instant, I had become a better person. This girl had inspired me without even doing anything. I met her at work, but didn’t see her all that often because she was away a lot of weekends. Anyway, eventually I managed to get her out on a date. We kissed on the first date and I knew from that point that I wanted her. A couple of weeks later and after a second date I asked her to be my girlfriend and she said yes. Those were the good days. Things were great for the first couple of months, but gambling still had a hold on me.
On one occasion I went out with a friend and lost all the money I had on fruit machines. I had at that time just lost my Grandmother to cancer, hence the reason I was out drinking. All seemed well but once I started gambling things went from bad to worse. I remember getting in the taxi feeling sick as a dog, wallowing in my own self-pity. All the while, the only thing on my mind was taking my own life because I had made myself feel absolutely and utterly worthless. I lost everything I had. I lost all my money, and my dignity had evaded me too. This was probably my lowest point. I remember in the taxi on the way home thinking ‘’nobody would miss me’’ and ‘’nobody would care if I die tonight’’. I was blind to the consequences of such actions. I arrived home, grabbed the gin and necked down half the bottle. I then proceeded to sharpen a kitchen knife and take 2 boxes of pills. I wrote out a note to my family, to the girlfriend, and to my older brother who is a compulsive gambler pleading him to get help. Then I did it, I slashed my wrists in the bathroom. My brother discovered the bathroom in the morning covered from top to bottom in blood, subsequently finding me in my bedroom. The next thing I remember was coming around and seeing my mum in tears next to me. I then started to cause a scene in the hospital, blaming her for all the things I had done. I don’t know how I dared to blame anybody but myself for what had happened. Meanwhile, my partner came to see me every day in the hospital. She must have wondered what on earth had possessed me to do such a thing. I never told anybody the truth, I just had to lie and bury my head in the sand and everything would be ok. After 4 days, I came out of hospital and she nearly left me. I seem to remember begging her to stay with me, although I don’t know if this is true or not.
Because I had been out of work for so long, I was back to borrowing money from people. The problem was that every time pay day came around I was paying back the majority of my wage to other people, so I never really had any money at all. She used to question why I had so little money, or that I could always find money to do the things I wanted to do but not the things that we should have been doing together. All in all, I was a terrible boyfriend to her. I always convinced myself I was a good boyfriend and that it was her being unreasonable with me. I couldn’t be farther from the truth. I was forever making excuses to cover my tracks when all I had to do was to tell the truth the people. Things went on like that. Pay day would come; I would waste my money in a week and then make excuses as to why I had none. I had everything right there for me already, I just never realised it. I always thought that I could bring more happiness to our relationship with a nice win.
Soon after the incident, I recall going to Center Parcs with the lads for a week, and I had taken loads of money with me to spend whilst I was there. On the first night, we went out in Bath and were having a great time even though it was a Sunday, which was really quiet. Anyway we were in a pub in Bath, quite late on in the night, and instead of being the social creature I should have been, I ended up leaving my friends to go on the bandit. Immediately I started to lose. The more I lost, the more I wanted to win it back, until the point came where I realised that not only had all my friends left me and gone back to the hotel, but also I had a little money left for the rest of the week. What had I done? I spent the rest of the week feeling utterly sorry for myself. I had ruined everybody’s week because of my gambling addiction. I had to borrow money from the others for the rest of that week which was very embarrassing. I was lucky that my friends were willing to bail me out; otherwise I would have been in some serious trouble. The week turned out to be ok, but it could have been so much better if I had not have been so foolish. I still see the guys that I went there with and it still crops up in conversation.
There have been times where people haven’t been able to bail me out though, times when I haven’t had much of an escape route. There was a week where I went on a driving course to Blackpool, and I had taken with me spending money for the week from my savings that I had just taken out with me. Anyway, within 3 days I had spent all of my money in Blackpool, the majority being fed into bandits. At the time I blamed the fact that I was bored and on my own for my gambling. My girlfriend had arranged to come and meet me towards the end of the week and we were going to have a fun filled day at the pleasure beach. She got ill with food poisoning that week, but she still came. I had begged her to go to my house and get me some more money from my drawer. She was the only person I could trust with it. I don’t think she did do though as she ended up paying for the 2 rides we managed to get on at the pleasure beach. I was using her again. Poor girl had come all that way only to realise that her foolish boyfriend had lost all his money.
Once I got home, the savings didn’t last very long. I was about to leave my job and go to university so I didn’t have the steady cash flow I was illegally gaining through work. I used to take money from the tills without being noticed, it was a little system I had devised to feed my gambling addiction. I knew I couldn’t afford to gamble, so I had to find a way to get hold of money. I must have taken a lot throughout my 2 ½ year tenure at the hotel. I also used to rob money from a machine which was stationed in the bar area at the hotel. I nearly got caught on a couple of occasions but luckily nobody ever found out. This is one of the things that I have never really discussed with people. Because I no longer had this cash flow, I was at a difficult point in my life as a gambler. I had to find another way to get hold of money.
Interestingly, I had a bank account which was offering interest free student overdrafts, so I went along to the bank and arranged one of these overdrafts. It was free money, so I thought. It was a week before I came to uni so I went out and started spending all the bank's money. Then the student loan came in once I had left for uni, and that was more free money. So again, I went out and blew it all in the first 3 or 4 weeks. I was stuck again. I had maxed out my overdraft and spent all my student loan on binge drinking and binge gambling. What did I do? I went to another bank for another interest free overdraft. I have no idea how I convinced them to give me this account. I guess I needed it that badly that I wouldn’t have stopped until they did give me it. Needless to say, this amount of money didn’t even last me until Christmas. I was in dire straits financially. I was even worse emotionally, and worse than that I had to lie to cover all of my tracks along the way. One or two of my friends from university were starting to pick up on my gambling problem, but very rarely would somebody confront me about it. Even if someone did confront me I would rubbish it and say to people that I could control my gambling and that it wasn’t a problem. It really was a problem; I was slowly losing everything that I had.
Over the summer of 2008, I landed myself a cracking job working in a diamond tipping workshop. I was paid a lot. Anyone with any sense would have paid off their overdrafts, and believe me, that was my intention. But I couldn’t do it; instead I was gambling away all of my money once more. Because I had more money, I felt I could gamble more, so I started going to the casino to play the fruit machines there and play on the card tables. I never ever won in that place. Every time I went it was a bad trip. All the while I was covering up my tracks to people. I remember going out with the lads from work, I spent about an hour on the fruit machine and when people asked me where I had been I would say that the misses wasn’t happy at me being out and that I had been on the phone to her. I was horrible. I look back now and I am glad I have rejected that person that I was. I was a good guy when gambling wasn’t in my mind. I was forever feeling sorry for myself because of all the money I was losing and quite frankly, I was becoming more and more anti social because of it. My friends were even concerned at this point.
It was in the summer of 2008 when I first stole my dad’s credit card to feed my addiction. In one night I would run up on his credit card and walk home when I reached the limit. Then I would tell him and cry my eyes out and promise not to do it again, only to do the same thing the following week. I was a sick, twisted individual. I knew I could get away with it, that’s why I did it. It wasn’t long before my dad stopped trusting me with his credit card. Towards the end of my second year at university, I borrowed his credit card with his permission because I had run out of money again. The same night I was in the casino running up more and more money on his card. I got agitated when I reached the limit on the card and then walked home feeling sorry for myself and convincing myself that it would never happen again. I knew it was going to happen again. 2 nights in a row I maxed out his daily spending limit. I had the money there right in front of me really. I was able to treat the girlfriend when she came for our end of year ball. We had some good times all at my father’s expense. I never told her what I was doing, although by this point I’m sure she already knew.
Our relationship continued to break down through my third year of university, especially after she met somebody who made her feel really good about herself. With my nature I was always convinced that no matter what I did, I could always bring her round and make her feel happy again. Right now, I know that as long as I am that evil monster I will never make anybody happy. On the 11th December, we went out with my friends from university and she came along. Before we went out I opened up to her about all of my gambling issues and she assured me that I should have told her sooner. It felt good to tell her. I seem to remember her saying ‘’if you continue to gamble, you will lose me’’. I never believed it. I always thought I could control my gambling, but I now know that I can’t. On that Monday night, I have no idea what happened. I ended up on the fruit machine and left her to her own devices with my friends. I lost my last pound at around 1.00am on the 12th December. We went home, we argued, I started to smash things up and blame everything on her. This was now too far; I had really crossed the line. She left the following day and we spoke very little until the following weekend where we met for coffee and broke up. She said we would never be together unless I sorted my problems out. I think that if I ever gambled again, the monster inside me would rear its ugly head once more.
Since coming to GA I have admitted that my life had become unmanageable. I haven’t had the need to lie to anybody at all. I am enjoying my life more now because I am not gambling, and most of all I am no longer ashamed that I am a compulsive gambler. I am ashamed of what I have done to myself and other people in the past, and I want to make amends to people for what I have done. I am doing all that I possibly can to rectify my mistakes and look at life from a more positive perspective. I know that certain people will never trust me again, and that is understandable. But I trust myself once more and that means a lot to me. Through GA I have found hope. It has given a solution to some of my problems and given me the strength to deal with life in a more responsible manner (albeit not completely). GA has shown me what I was, and knowing that has only made me want to strive and improve myself for the future. I have goals, I have ambitions, I am mentally and physically active now and I am happier now. I am able to tackle life problems in a more reasonable manner and I am no longer scared to ride out and stand up to my fears face to face. I feel a new person.
Since I have started to work on the 12 steps of recovery I have become far more in touch with myself emotionally, yet I still know something isn’t quite right. The key for me is that I am being patient. I know that the road ahead is a long road and I will get to where I want to be eventually. That is, I want to be at peace with myself. Only then will I be completely happy.
As for the ex girlfriend? Well right now I don’t feel as if we can make it as friends. We have both tried but inevitably something goes wrong somewhere down the line. I am slowly phasing her out of my life. I will never forget all the amazing times we had, but like all good things it had to come to an end at some point. The main thing is I don’t want to make her feel hurt anymore.
I have realised that life isn’t easy, but life is also for living. We must do things in our life to be happy. Not just sit around and wait for good things to come our way. We must work hard for what we want. If I do this, I know I will be successful in my recovery as a compulsive gambler. I haven’t hurt my family or my friends for months because of this. I still however hurt myself on occasion; and that is when I am being lazy and on the drink and doing nothing with myself.
Thanks to GA, I can wake up every day and say ‘’Just for today I will not gamble’’. My name is Edward, I am a compulsive gambler and my last bet was on the 12th December 2009.
That was a truly fantastic therapy and is virtually a mirror image of myself as a compulsive gambler,the onlt trouble is,that I have had 21 years of misery and pain and suffering,before ive finally began to arrest this disease.Well done to you and keep going.Andy
Hi Eddi,

Great to hear you are beating this horrible illness. Your story is very similar to mine and it is inspiring that people can beat this illness. I have been off gambling for 20 months and am enjoying a normal life. It is still very difficult and I too had problems with the drinking early on in my recovery. I have now stopped drinking from xmas day and that has helped. Keep up the good work and let's enjoy a normal life full of happiness instead of a gambling life full of misery.

Take care Mo
Thanks for your feedback. Together we can arrest this addiction and live happier lives. I hope this brings some hope to some people who have been through the same things as me.


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