So if someone struggling is challenged or advised by someone else who has a fair chunk of clean time behind them and is clearly in a good place spiritually (based on how they present) - should then by default the recipient of that advice accept and assimilate what has been offered as opposed to getting offended or feeling hurt and retaliating as a form of defence?
Whilst I appreciate there is an argument that each recovery is different, I would be inclined to challenge that with the idea that whilst each recovery is different, they are roughly the same in nature.
I have been on here over a year now and have yet to come across a member who deliberately sets out to hurt and maim people, isn't it more to do with that person having walked those paths before and is desperate to help the struggler avoid or overcome the same pitfalls he or she once faced?
Let's talk about this because I think from time to time some good people leave the forum because of this (those on either side of the fence)
A great topic for discussion imho. I feel a bit of a fraud being here and commenting because, touch wood, my gambling addiction is behind me now. For me, CBT therapy and Gamblock seems to have done the job. (I'm not complacent, I KNOW all it would take was a few drinks, a night in a casino or round at a mate's whilst he was gambling online, and I absolutely wouldn't be able to stop). It's a form of madness, a mental illness! But only manifests itself once I start. If I don't start then for me it's not a problem.
I think you're correct that everyone's goal/destination is the same - to not gamble, but the route we all take is different. No one size fits all. I think it's hard in the initial stages for a vulnerable person to admit they are addicted, or that their addiction is having a negative impact on their lives. It is still seen as "weak" or a lack of willpower. That's just a fact. And certainly to the outside world it's an impossible compulsion to explain. How many times have you heard "It's simple... just don't gamble! Job done!"
So when someone joins here it's a massive step to begin to admit to themselves their might be an issue. (And let's face it, people only register here after a loss, because when they're winning who wants to be associated with "losers", the buzz is reinforcing why they were correct to "risk it all" whilst Joe-Schmoo grinds it out in their little job, polishing their Mondeo on a Sunday morning, etc. Incorrect thinking of course, but valid.)
IMHO most gamblers have massive egos but low self-esteem so the last thing they want to hear, having found the courage to sign-up is to be talked down to, belittled, told that they are damaged/broken human beings. Some people on here give advice, whilst well-meaning, which comes off as rather arrogant, high-handed and "know it all" - ie/ things like "when you learn more, when you know as much as I do you'll one day realise" or talk in grandiose terms as if they are speaking for everyone here.
It can grate, and have the affect of making it all seem like too much to admit. There is no answer to that. Words on a page or screen will always be cold because you can't hear the emotion spoken, or the kind eyes with which it's said.
I think the important thing to hold on to is that the very action of a stranger wanting to post to simply try to help a fellow human in crisis is ultimately a good & positive thing.
(PS/ I'll "lay my cards on the table here" if you'll pardon the pun - I only still really post on here from time to time because I've substituted my gambling problem for a nascent boozing problem, however I can't find any alcohol forums to join as the few that exist are all USA and seem quasi-religious "born again" 12 step schtick, which is not for me).
Best regards to everyone here.
They leave the forum because they understandably cant handle what is being said to them. Its confusing to them because it challenges the mind altered state that is a gambling addiction.
Nobody is rude to them because that would get moderated out. I and others dont always express my thoughts in a way that they want to hear and to put it simply, that scares them off.
I now thank the people that challenged my twisted thoughts because they are the ones that made me think even in an angry way at the time. I was so ill in my first months on the forum that I spent well over an hour deleting all my posts (when that could be done)
Somebody quite rightly told me I was playing at recovery. I WAS and that was the TRUTH but I got so cheesed off with them because I wasnt ready to hear the truth.
I got plenty of "there there", "take care Hun" and "sweet dreams" but Im not sure that was really helping. I dont now think that soft soaping is the best tactic as it can just leave a gambler in a comfort zone and nothing positive gets done
I wasnt ready for 10 months to hear the truth! I had even started advising people when I was constantly relapsing....how messed up is that? The sheer delusion and some would say arrogance that I was ready to help anyone.
I dont blame myself entirely now as I was ill with an addiction which had altered my state of mind for 40 years.
I can generally tell the people that are not ready now...not always but its all in what they write...the confusion is crystal clear to me but I know they wont like being told the truth. The sad thing is that is a considerable percentage of new joiners.
Its not their fault and I try and find a way to get through on any level. Its the most powerful addiction I know about. It wont let people go easily and in the face of that addiction words can seem empty
Best wishes to everyone on the forum
To add to your posts yeah for sure I can also see now how a refusal to accept constructive criticism and convert that into a proposed attack is the addiction at play, working it's magic in usual way... Ensuring that you lead yourself to a place of isolation and loneliness, with noone to answer to or noone looking over your shoulder when the open door presents itself you can jump right in.
I guess addiction is like having a nightclub with no bouncers on the door... You can trot in and it may be fun for a bit but soon enough things will get frisky and you may find yourself in over your head - if you make it out alive you'll probably be disaffected in some way ("where were the bloody bouncers!")
Someone at my GA meeting told me that I can him some of the most inspirational advice after I had been attending for 3 weeks and he'd been going for a year... Ha!
I must try to remain open-minded and search for wisdom in all the available places... And not look at day counts like some kind of roll of honour.
Someone got in touch with me when I first started all this, I found him inspirational and used to be a proper fanboy towards him, he was 6 months further down the road. He got in touch because he disappeared after about a month of me being here, he had relapsed and went on many gambling escapades whilst I worked my recovery. He is now on day 40 and got in touch because he remembered me from before and said he was inspired by some of the things I wrote as he found them so relatable and advantageous to his recovery.
Maybe he failed to g rasp that some of what I was saying was underpinned by what he was saying to me in the first place... Without his initial help and guidance I probably wouldn't have got this far?
What an odd addiction this really is. Like you say joydivider, what a powerful addiction this really is.
I think we need all the friends we can get when we are dealing with this, even those that are alluding to the fact that you are acting like a schmuck 😂 perhaps those are actually just the sorts of people you need on your side.
Some people on here give advice, whilst well-meaning, which comes off as rather arrogant, high-handed and "know it all" - ie/ things like "when you learn more, when you know as much as I do you'll one day realise" or talk in grandiose terms as if they are speaking for everyone here.
Heres an example:
When I read this I thought "s**t, I do this all the time"
The old me would've shot into defence mode and written a message to Friedkin condemning him for making such well-rounded statements with no substance - which is exactly what I would be doing as he'd just hurt my feelings
Thankfully the new me can catch my ego at play and understand the true essence of the message + integrate the wisdom offered into how I move forward with my future posts. After all this recovery (amongst many things) is an evolutionary process.
So yeah, leave your egos at the door guys and gals! Easier said than done of course but try and keep an open mind at least!
No one signs up to Gamcare because they are "wise". We have all been put through the mill by our addictions. I think male gambling (can't obviously speak for the female bingo/slot/need for community/ gambling) is fuelled by ego and testosterone. Such types of people (including myself in this) find it VERY hard to admit defeat/weakness or ask for help because it goes against everything in our personalities which led us to become CGs in the first place.
So when we come finally find the courage to sign up in our darkest moment, sometimes certain styles of comment can be a red rag to a gambling bull. But, as I said, I believe it all comes from a "good place" of wanting to help. Everyone's addiction manifests in different ways. Trying to enforce a uniform "you must do this, this is the only way to get clean" can become problematic.
Only my opinion, but it's in the discussion section.
Something I'd love to start a separate discussion on sometimes is the absolutely ridiculous Gamcare filter on words like r e d, or c u t, or f e d. I understand about the concept of "safe spaces" for teenagers, but surely anyone who is old enough to gamble is old enough to hear words like f e d without having some type of Elton John hissy fit? Makes a mockery of the pain if we can't even talk like adults suffering?
Yes some great comments on here which inspire me further.
It can be difficult knowing what to say and finding the line to get attention in a positive way without cheesing people off. I have a lot to say and obviously it can be too much for a first reply. Its finding the balance between writing an essay and just saying take care and phone Gamcare
Ive seen threads where the post may attract five replies offering platitudes and then the new member never posts again. I wonder if they did feel helped or even if the forum was worth their time.
What I mean there is I find some replies too lighthearted for my liking but Im not playing god...everyone has the right to reply how they see fit and Im not better than anyone else when it comes to caring. I dont always get it right...our hearts are in the right place
Ive often started typing and then thought I just cant add anything here based on the angle of the original post. Ive looked at my words and thought that just looks patronising in this case. They may already have had some good advice and I cant add anything more. I delete my words and give it some more thought if I can actually help. Its frustrating but I cant help everyone. Then again I cant shoulder the exponential rise in gambling addiction and have to remain calm for my own sanity in recovery
As Friedkin says the blanking out of simple everyday words doesnt help matters on this forum
Gambling is so entrenched within our society that I see no end to this which pains me.
Best wishes to you all
I think its important to always bear in mind when responding to any poster that we do not know what stage they are at. It'd be great if everyone who visited gamcare came to quit but that simply isn't the case. Some people merely suspect they may or may not have an issue and are just curious as to what is out there. They may not be ready to admit they have a problem and they don't need to be. It is their life not ours...
I see something similar in my day job, I work with victims of abusive relationships. I cannot tell you how many people tell "he/she needs to leave" but we dont ever say that because we know saying that means he/she will leave our office for good... we work with them , and educate them but ultimately give them the choice to leave or stay as they become empowered with the understanding of their situation, this may take weeks or years but it's their life and their choice.
The same applies to gamblers, those who have overcome feel compelled to flash the warning lights in the face of the next person because they know the hardship but we are all different and in different places mentally and emotionally so a simple little guiding light is better.... never underestimate the power of planting a seed in someone's mind you may not be around when the flower booms but a simple seed is all that is needed sometimes....
Excellent post Alkynat.
I personally like to think that a GamCare Diary is a place of sanctuary where one can record one's own thoughts, feelings, hopes, worries and aspirations. Anyone visiting a diary should in my opinion show respect, understanding and compassion and avoid being judgemental, critical or abusive.
There is an abundance of advice available on the Forum which people can choose to follow or ignore. It is an individual's choice when all is said and done.
If someone doesn't like what they read on another person's diary than surely it is best for all concerned if they just keep off it.
I think sometimes it's hard for people who have been literally to the brink of death or have lost everything to see someone heading that way so they try to barricade a person in to protect them but that doesn't really work. Sometimes you just have to show them the paths available and let them choose in their own time. For many people on here gambling probably isn't the bigger problem in their life, it is merely a tragic way of trying to cope with bigger problems so until they can see the real issues tackling it might just be a bit too big of an upheaval battle today, but there is always tomorrow...
Let's face it: some people are better at recovery than others.... my answer is....
A few months back I bumped into an old acquaintance from rehab days. During the chat he asked me if I was gambling or not. I said yes I was still struggling. he then told me that he hadn't gambled for a number of years. He then took it upon himself to give me some advice and I listened. At the same time I noticed he had a cigarette in one hand and a black bag with two cans of strong lager in the other. You can guess what I was thinking and it goes along the lines of... was this man in recovery or was he just abstaining from gambling? But the bigger point I want to make is this....
Did I value his advice any less than I would if he wasn't smoking and drinking alcohol??... No, it was still good advice and it was meant well. Another question?
Was this man any better at recovery than I was?... my honest answer is I don't know. I didn't know him well enough. Does putting down one addiction and picking up another mean that this person is better at recovery than I am?? Answers on a postcard.
I think like another poster has said... "we are all equals in recovery". We gotta work on this ego, hierarchical thing. So many people stop posting cos they get into the mindset that if they admit "again" that they have messed up that someone whom has 3267 days gambling free is going to give them grief and make them feel even worse than they already do.
For me, I am not going to dismiss someone's thoughts because they are still gambling. It is perfectly possible to talk the talk but not walk the walk. It is perfectly possible to give very good advice and support but not be taking that medicine yourself. At times this is me. It is what it is.
An interesting thread. Regards to all.
I also just realised that I tend to get such positivity and inspiration from good news stories and progress in other peoples recoveries, when it goes the other way it has an adverse affect on me... Especially when I felt like they missed something glaringly obvious ("you need to realise xxxx" or "next time try this")
However apart from signposting I guess each person is responsible for their own journey and I should try to be respectful of that.
I see why it is widely proffered not to invest in other peoples recovery too much, if you're not careful it could affect your own.