I feel for you too. People often measure the extent of gambling addiction by the amount of money lost, but the one thing that hurts many of us so, so much is the loss of time. You can build money up again, but you can't get back Birthday's or Christmas's and family days out. You can't go back and make everything alright but how I wish I could.
My two kids were only knee high when I started gambling. It's like I had my head buried in a machine for so long that now when I look up, there are two teenagers standing there, and one is at University. 2 decades gone just like that. The worst thing is having the chance to make things better taken away from you. My children no longer need me in the same way as they did before. Yet now, I need them so much more. I have dedicated the last two gamble free years of my life to trying to pay down debt and get us a new place but it seems the nice house my daughter always wanted will now be the one she gets herself. This is so painful to write. I am so proud of her for that, but it wasn't how it was meant to be. It was meant to be 'our' house.
All I wanted was to get us out into a nice new house with a garden and room for them to play. They asked me every single year for a trampoline but now no longer need one. My house is emptying. I am running out of time to make this right. That's where the pain lies and it is so heavy in my heart.
Know that you are a good and genuine person holycrosser and your pain is shared unfortunately by millions. I hope that you find peace soon. I hope we all do.
Lost and found.
I could really connect with what you wrote above. I have a similar situation. There doesn't seem to be a day gone by that I don't think of all the awful things I did just to gamble and the people it hurt. When my oldest daughter was born I held her in my arms, minutes old, and whispered to her that I would never gamble again. Three days later I was back at it! The time I lost with my children and wife, the time I will no longer have with my wife, the missed opportunities just to be in the moment, rather than being on the outside looking in.
For what it's worth, I have found a lot of serenity through working the twelve steps through GA and now helping others to do the same. Once I knew who and why I had to make amends to then I could start to do so, and leave the past in the past. I know I can't get the time back but I can be there for them today. They might just want to talk, to share a drink, to just trust that I will do what I say.
I have to trust in my higher power that it will be okay, that I'll get a job, that I'll pay back everyone and that I will be able to be there for them, and others, when the time comes.
Thanks for the share about how you are feeling.
I know, Chris. We have to forgive ourselves and move forward but it is hard when you see how you affected people and when that harm is still affecting them, even when you have done everything you can to change.....
One thing that I can say, that has helped me so much is just being able to talk with the kids, now they are older. They know my story, all of it. They know I messed up but they also see the work I put in to make things right. Like you, I wish I had committed sooner. Like you, I wish I had kept my word all those times before.
I found self exclusions from as early as 2008. I started gambling regularly in 2000. I have posts on various forums going back many years and it just makes me think why it took me so long. Did I need to reach my own personal rock bottom? Probably. Did I do that? Absolutely. I suppose it really is a process, giving up. It's not an instant fix, but a decision that takes time to put into practice and fully commit to.
Foolishly, I remember gambling 'for' my family. I saw it as 'doing it for them'. I thought I could get us a home quicker. Then when I couldn't make profit from gambling, I tried gambling to get us out of the debt I had made.
I remember coming down at nearly 9pm some nights to make the kid's meals. I remember birthday presents not yet wrapped and rushed birthday teas because I was busy stuck in a losing session. I wasn't even present when I was physically there. I was always self soothing....thinking about my next bet. I was never in the moment with my family. I couldn't follow a film or keep up with regular conversations. I couldn't even keep focus enough to play a board game. I remember the kids saying, 'it's your turn again, mum' repeatedly....They were there with me, focused on the game, and I was somewhere else, absent, distracted, dying to get back to the laptop. I distinctly remember walking round a zoo with the family. It was always my favourite thing to do. I might as well have been in the desert. I was fine on the outside, but inside, I was so disconnected. I didn't feel anything. My head was just dead and I came home and broke down in tears when no one else was around.
It's just those simple things, you know....the special things that tie you together as a family. Good things come out of bad times though....We make an effort now though to play lots more games and we connect better than ever and we can really talk about anything now. Like Arnie, I am well and truly back, but it's just a shame that you have to go through all that in the first place just to feel part of the family again.
You can hate yourself forever or you can just learn to hate gambling. I am done hating on myself because I know that the longer I do that, the more time I lose with the family. I have left the hate behind, but I am still working on the hurt. Time will heal this for both of us and a sense of pride and achievement will reign over regret.
It has helped to talk about this again. The lockdown has created a lot of time for ruminating and it is not good for an anxious mind. I bury a lot of pain in order to remain positive and focused but it is important to remember why we are doing this and also to be honest about the way we feel. I think in some ways, we will always be on the road to recovery. It's not like you reach your destination and that's that. It's a journey rather than a destination and we have to stay on our guard because a recovering gambling addict still has the word addict in it.
Thanks for lending an ear. 🙂