Last week we found out that my sister has had a serious gambling addiction for 10 years. She 'admitted' it to me a couple of years ago and my parents bailed her out thousands of pounds. She swore on her son's life to me that she wasn't gambling anymore, and that if she felt the urge to start again she'd tell me so that I could help her. Of course, it turns out that she did start again and that she didn't admit it until challenged (because of yet more money with dodgy reasons for needing it being taken from my parents). She has now started attending GA and is very remorseful, but I'm afraid I just don't trust her. How can I?
I know that gambling addiction is an illness, but the emotions I'm feeling are making it very difficult for me to even talk to her. I have said I'll support her, but I am absolutely furious and so, so hurt. I am crying every day, it's affecting my ability to concentrate at work. For 10 years she has effectively fleeced parents, they are pensioners and do not have disposable income, as well as having a big loan guarantored by me which has caused no end of stress. We've paid for holidays, I'm pretty sure things I've given her have been sold, every phone call has become a request for money, she's been given thousands of pounds by my parents over the years none of which has been paid back really. I came to dread the phone ringing because I knew the begging for money (and now I know it's all lies) or moaning about being skint would inevitably come. The ease with which she has lied to us all is so hard to come to terms with, I'm finding that harder to accept than the eye watering amount of money that must have been gambled away over the years to be honest.
There's more, she has been particularly spiteful to me, more so than to my parents. I feel like I have taken the brunt of things emotionally. I won't go into specific detail though as I worry that she may be registered here and could read it.
How on earth do I get through this? How will I ever trust her, or be able to look her in the eye, again? Does GA make people face up to all of the hurt they've caused? She's not the kind of person you can easily talk to about this sort of thing, I have to walk on eggshells for fear of another spiteful outburst but I just can't carry on doing that any more. My own mental health, and that of my parents, is suffering.
Mate.welcome, remember it's your sister and she will need the support.
She will also need to put in place the blocks and steps to stop her gambling, you are right not to trust because she's broken it.This illness makes you do that.
You will find loads of advice on here, she wont stop until she is stopped , good luck don't hate her, but she must help herself
Thank you. I know she’s my sister, but she’s torn my family apart with all her lies, and she has been really spiteful and vile particularly to me over the years (I’m sure it’s probably projecting). That’s not something I can just brush off. I want to support her, but I can’t until I’m in a better place and that’s what I really need help with.
Everything I read (and I’m a qualified Mental Health First Aider) says that you have to look after your own mental health in order to support someone else. How do I get there when I’m this hurt and angry? How do I get over the resentment I’m feeling about the impact on me and my parents?
It seems all very well to say that if she’s remorseful and wants to stop, which I believe she is, that we should all support her, but it’s really not that simple is it? This isn’t just about her. My mum was crying all night about this. I’ve cried every day since I found out. I’ve had to take this afternoon off work because I can’t cope with work whilst this is going on. What I really need is for understanding about how it’s impacting me and my family, and for someone to say it’s OK to feel like this.
Even when she admitted her gambling last time she lied about the extent and how long it had been going on for. How do I ever believe a word she says again? She’s an accomplished liar.
Hi there 🙂
I'm no expert and am also on the other side of the fence as I'm a compulsive gambler although it's been a few yrs since my last bet .
There's many part's to your post and as I've never attended GA I'm not really qualified to speak about that , although I would ask are you sure she's regularly attending meeting's or just telling you what you want to hear ? again as far as GA making people do thing's ? .... well I know that your supposed to admit your powerless over gambling and that you should look to make amends to those you've wronged by working the steps of GA but I guess saying one thing means nothing unless you actually do , I may have got some of those thing's wrong so apologies to any GA member but I'm sure someone involved with GA will post soon to clarify .
It's admirable the way you've continued to offer support but there's a huge difference in supporting a compulsive gambler and enabling them and from where I'm sitting you're sister is taking everyone for a ride and using any such handout's to continue to fund her gambling .
Trust is a huge thing for the family of a CG and as I know you really do want to trust and take what she's saying as gospel but I know from my own experience with addiction that I would have said and done anything people wanted to hear and see in order to carry on Gambling and would suggest that unless you have total transparency from your sister, ie , credit reports , bank statements , C card statement's then take nothing at face value .
In my experience thing's can and will improve but only if the Compulsive Gambler want's that change and is willing to embrace everything they need to do in order to protect themselves from the ability to gamble and their loved one's from the damage they can and will cause when in the grip of addiction .
Sometimes you have to accept that until the moment arrives where they no longer want to gamble , you just have to protect yourself and your family from them , be there for them for support but not to bail them out any longer . You need help yourself in order to understand the mind of a CG and what you should expect along the way so maybe think about support from Gamcare by phoning or even attending a Gamanon meeting for family affected by a CG ?.
I'm sorry I can't help resolve this for you but I'm sure some of the partners of CG's will be along at some point to offer further support .
My best wishes to you for now
Sorry to hear what you are going through. The advice above about seeking out the nearest GamAnon meeting would be a huge help to you. Have a compulsive gambler as part of your life is indeed extremely stressful as you have discovered, this person who you care about swears blind she will do one thing then does the other. The endless lies and half truths destroy any trust and anything that gets in the way of the addiction is a target to get rid of.
At a GamAnon meeting you would meet people in the same boat as you who would give you invaluable advice.
I attend GA meetings and they are a huge help in my recovery. The 12 step program is the same basically as the AA one, just gambling instead of drink. If she goes to GA and works the steps she will eventually reach out to the people she has affected the most, but that is a long way away. The first step is the most important, its holding your hands up , recognising you have a problem that you cannot control and ask for help. So it has to come from the person themselves, they cannot be forced to go as its pointless. you can advice etc but unless they admit they have a problem and really want to address it then its a waste of time.
One crucial piece I read in your post is about the bail outs. I would say the majority of people who go to GA and really seek change are the ones who have hit rock bottom and have no where else to turn. With the safety net of family bail outs or gifts they will never arrive there.
Like any addict, CG's will lie, cheat, steal, sacrifice relationships, ruin jobs etc nothing is sacred. We will do whatever it takes to feed our habit. Your sister has a serious problem but its up to her to get help, all you as a family can do is offer support.
If I were you I would seek an GamAnon meeting, go and tell your story and get advice, then you need to sit down with your folks and explain what you have learned. You can then try and address the issue as a group. You can all speak to her together as one. Its no guarantee she will see the light but if she knows that she will not longer be bailed out then it may help her realise she does indeed have a problem.
The bad news is there are no guarantees here. Its all down to here at the end of the day, you can only control your own actions. Get support, support your parents and then you can properly support your sister if she really wants it.
In addition to meets for yourself and your mom have a read on the Compulsive Gambler's side of the forum as it will give you a better perspective of what you are dealing with. Also I found reading up on gambling addiction very helpful.
As family of addicts we are trying to put the emphasis back on ourselves and let the addict start looking after themselves... which they usually do when they are left to face the natural consequences of their actions. We start to make personal boundaries for ourselves (what we will and won't put up with) instead of rules (what the addict can and can not do). This alone takes care of a LOT of resentments.
All very difficult at the start but does get easier.
Great advice to have a read around.
Im a highly educated person with a very good job. I have a lovely house, beautiful wife and 3 kids..... and I’m a recovering compulsive gambler.
I still haven’t a clue why I wasn’t able to stop before and I simply can’t explain a lot of my behaviours. It’s a strange illness that takes control. Hopefully you’ll find some good advice to support on the site, but as you said yourself, your own mental health comes first.