My partner and I had a good chat last night. He’s been gamble free for the past 60+ days but he said that recently he experienced, for the first time, a strong urge to place a bet. He identified the trigger as the feeling of rejection at work. He was so looking forward to working with someone as a mentor but apparently this mentor did not have the availability for him. He said he was aware that this feeling of rejection was irrational as the person offered to do it in the future. He also shared that during the time that he was feeling the strong urge, he was not thinking straight. I suggested thinking about the dark times he got himself into due to gambling but he said he it was very difficult to do this as he felt like he was ‘possessed by a demon and just wanted to place a bet and escape’. He also shared the thoughts in his mind like ‘I’m out of debt now… who cares? I just want to escape’. He said, he’s thankful that he was very exhausted from work that evening and had a couple of beers so went to sleep and did not place a bet. He also phoned his sponsor which helped. He did say though that if he was not tired from work, he most likely would have placed a bet or at least tried (he’s got gamstop now).
He was feeling guilty that he did not tell me immediately about the urge as we agreed previously on his ‘recovery plan’ but I reassured him that as long as he told someone ie his sponsor then that’s a step towards the right direction. I asked him to speak to at least one person if he gets those strong urges if he’s not yet ready to tell me immediately.
I was looking at the bright side and thought that this is somewhat positive. Prior to this, I was starting to feel like his recovery was too good to be true as he rarely felt any urges apart from this one. It was also good that he was able to identify one of the triggers and hopefully will develop healthy ways to cope. I’m a bit concerned when he said that if he wasn’t exhausted he would definitely have tried to place a bet. But at the same time, I’m happy he found the courage to share this with me.
I continue to check his back account daily and he’s clear of any gambling transactions. He’s credit report is clear also. We agreed that he will manage his finances and he is starting to build some savings. I know this can be very dangerous but he requested for this so that he is inspired to manage his finances well. I was tempted to ask him to move his savings to my account due to this recent urge but I stopped myself as I didn’t want him to think he was being punished for sharing his vulnerability to me.
Thanks for reading up to this! Just thought I’ll write about it as this has been on my mind since we had the chat. I welcome any comments or advice really!
Praise to both of you. This is indeed great progress. Urges are natural and should not be punished but addressed which is exactly what you both have done. Urges to bet is not the same as going through with it and it is perfectly normal to still feel this way. Just because your partner has given up gambling doesn't mean they won't want to bet. It is ingrained in the brain to seek out gambling in times of distress, irritability, upset or arguments....it is the go-to safe place for the brain and the thought can be automatic and very persuasive. We all try to remember the bad times when we get urges to bet, but the truth is, the rational part of the brain is not at work when urges strike, it is not 'memory' that creates the urge but the desire of the brain to soak itself in dopamine, the drug that you get when you gamble. So, the outcome of all those other bets, the debt, the hardship, the stress, all go out the window when urges strike because we simply are not thinking about the past but only on the present moment. Indeed, we are not really 'thinking' at all.
That's why safety nets need to be in place to protect us from those knee j**k reactions that lead us to bet. It is a false memory that gambling makes your partner feel good. The drug is powerful on the brain but destroys the gambler and there is a battle that goes on between sacrificing the health and well being of the addict to get that all important high for the needy brain.
I have done the very same this last week. I told my partner that I am struggling with thoughts to bet. I don't want to bet deep down, but I am lost with all the virus destroying my focus, my financial goals and my security. It is a difficult time right now for everyone, but a very testing time for addicts. Your partner and your good self have obviously got this together. I used to say to my partner that you don't need to worry when I am telling you that I want to bet....it's the times when I don't speak up that I am harbouring a secret desire to self sabotage and I won't say anything because I don't want my cover blown.
Indeed, that's what is happening here...a bit of self sabotage. Your partner feels let down and looks for comfort in something like gambling because this is what they have trained themselves to do. Hitting the self destruct button is a knee j**k reaction to a situation because you don't know how to process your feelings so you look to bury them in a machine. Hours spent gambling is extremely soothing to a troubled mind, even if you are losing money. That's the catch. It is the time spent gambling that some addicts need and to lose themselves in that search for escapism and distraction. Gambling is just as addictive as winning. It is like being drip fed anaesthetic. The drug softens the blow of losing money and numbs the senses so that you keep doing it until you have nothing left. Your money runs out and all you see is that deposit button and within seconds, you are back spinning reels and losing even more of your self.
The fact that your partner identifies their triggers and has spoken openly to you about this, is really a great testament to the confidence they have in you. You can now both look at ways to rationalise the thoughts and work out ways to deal with the so called 'rejection' in a way that actually reflects real life. Taking things personally and being negative feeds gambling addiction. Every little thing can make us fly off the handle and run to gambling because we can fail to process our emotions. It is this same inability to process our emotions which also makes it very difficult to see how gambling is affecting us and it can keep us stuck in the same cycle because we might see gambling as a solution and not the problem.
Talk it out and try to make your partner see that they have personalised this response at work. Gamblers have a huge tendency to be negative and think irrationally and it is that same destructive thought process which leads us to bet. If we see things from a balanced perspective then we don't look for reasons to bet. We process the world around us better and accept the way we feel sometimes instead of burying it.
One thing that helped me a lot in life is learning that I can't control what people say, I can't control what people think but I can control the way I respond to it.
Very best wishes and strength to both you lovely people. ((hugs))
Thank you @lost-and-found, your response means a lot to me. It will be a challenging life long journey to say the least but I think having and building an open communication with my partner can ease it a little bit. I always told him we're in this together. As long as he keeps on trying and he continues to work hard to beat the addiction, I'll stick by him and support him. He needs to learn to trust that he can be completely honest with me and I will not be judgmental of him. I know that this will come in time.
I wish you the best with your recovery as well! Hug back!! 🙂
Firstly I would like to say that he has done fantastic to reach 60 days, that in itself is a credit to his genuine determination to cut this part of his life out. Without a genuine desire to want to stop gambling, 60 days would not have been achieved.
My personal experience with this is that I have often gambled in the past due to a stressful week and a lack of plans/activities at the weekend that I felt would sufficiently give me that escape and downtime I required. So although he said that he felt he was being irrational, in fact for a compulsive gambler it is probably the opposite. Having a bet, or a desire to want to have a bet, when thinks go wrong, or something doesn't go to plan a lot of compulsive gamblers can relate to. It took me years before I finally understood what a lot of my triggers were, but you will get there. The fact he was able to acknowledge and work one out after 60 days is again a testament to how much effort he is placing in his recovery.
What I always tell myself and is so very important is to just take things one day at a time. There are going to be little obstacles in his recovery but they will be learning curves for later throughout the years. I personally have had 18 month phases without a bet, and randomly out of nowhere had a slip. But you have to pick yourself back up and get back to looking at it one day at a time, and move forward. Everyday that he doesn't have a bet, is a great day, and up to now he has had 60 great days, and hopefully many more to come.
Best of luck to you both.
Thank you @jp3. Yes one day at a time. I hope he’ll eventually develop that frame of mind that if he slips he can get back up again and that doesn’t mean all previous efforts were wasted. When he was talking about the urge, he was like ‘Imagine if i gave in? I’m not sure if i could ever forgive myself. After all you’ve been through!’ I told him it’s not the end of the world if that happens but we do have to make sure we make adjustments on his ‘recovery action plan’ and the stops we have in place.
thanks for sharing your experience with us and wish you all the best in your recovery. The responses are really helpful to me, pls know that i appreciate this very much.
Yes it looks like he is getting excellent support from you and its all about a feeling that he can talk to you and keep talking to you about it.
He must continue to express his feelings and this is for the long term, even a lifetime
The mind heals but I feel its always susceptible to escape when it cant process the information in a considered or rational way. Im having difficulty processing this lockdown and what it actually means when they talk about longer term implications
I understand his feelings and even feeling good can be a trigger point is so much as what can harm me when Im feeling top of the world.
My best advice is that you continue to make time to talk and discuss scenarios. I know that the wrong sort of news/stress coupled with what am I doing this job for type feeling when alone in a motorway service station for example could and would trigger me.
That is why it is a very good idea just to pop his savings in your account with as little fuss as possible..
It really isnt about treating him like a baby and he should see that...just enough in his account thats not going to lead to real problems.
The strength and serenity is turning what seems like a negative into a positive feeling. A lifetime seems heavy but that has to be turned into a positive source of strength.
I believe the mind creates strong barriers in recovery. I believe it heals and my overall thought is why would I gamble. Ive got some hard earned money and why would I give it away?
However I respect the FACT that it was my drug of choice for 40 years. I respect and fear my enemy and have learnt never to be complacent
My best advice is there shouldnt really be a day when you both say yippee its all over now.
Best wishes from everyone on the forum
It really is a difficult time at the moment for everyone and I can imagine how the lockdown is causing anxiety for probably everyone - just on varying levels. I hope you continue to keep well.
Thanks for your encouraging words. It's easy to sometimes forget that my partner has a gambling problem especially during the good times when we're all happy and the gambling seemed to be just a bad memory. In a way, hearing about these urges pull me back to the real gravity of the situation. We should never be complacent.
Last night we had a good long chat, until 2am! He was feeling resentful towards some people and he suddenly burst into tears. He gets very sensitive if for example, he messages someone and they don't reply to him within the day. He takes that as a rejection not considering factors like maybe the person was very busy, had an emergency, no internet access etc. We talked it out and it was really nice actually, I feel more connected to him now more than ever.
He said he's so glad to be able to talk while as previously, he'll just gamble away if he feels down like that. This morning he felt refreshed and thanked me for keeping up with him. He also reached out to a few people in the GA community to see how they're doing which I thought was really nice.
Just an update
Last night (at 1 am) he told me he wasn’t feeling well and needed to phone GA. Sadly no one picked up. He prefers speaking to an addict so didn’t try gamcare. When he was trying to phone Ga I checked his bank acct and email. Found he registered on a gambling website. I felt numb and almost had a panic attack. I knew i should be prepared for that but still i felt very sad. When he told me he couldn’t speak to someone and said let’s just sleep i told him i checked his emails. He was super annoyed with me because we didn’t agree that i access his email (he didn’t know i saved the password when he used my phone before). He got angry but i apologised what led me to do it. He then asked me to delete access to my email which i did (thought he can just create another email to gamble anyway so what’s the point). He then told me he was feeling anxious the past few days so he checked the odds of his favourite slots and discovered there was a chance of a big win last night. We agreed he should try his best not to go to these websites but as many know if the urge is so strong it’s very difficult to do this. So because of the chance of a big win, he then registered on a new gambling website. Thank heavens Gamstop prevented him from actually gambling. He felt so self-disappointed and he said he felt so down after doing it. He said if not for gamstop he would have gambled his savings he built recently (it’s not much at this point) and probably would have taken a loan. Of course i tried my best to stay calm and told him last night that it was great for him to first of all seek help by telling he’s not feeling well and needs to phone GA. I said, he didn’t gamble and it must be celebrated. But deep down, i was feeling so sad also. I wish i could just take this illness away from him, no one deserves to suffer like that. The look on his face when he said he wasn’t feeling well - he was so scared. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
this morning he seems fine, he’ll also speak to his sponsor today.
Sorry to hear that. Is there a chance he will join us on here? We can offer support and advice and often someone will answer in minutes.....
At the very least, he is talking to you about this. That is a huge start. So many recovering addicts feel the need to stifle urges and not talk about them because they are upset that they have these thoughts, often when they have put themselves and their families through hell. It's hard for someone to understand that he will not want to gamble in the way that you might think. He just feels that he needs to out of years of conditioning himself to bet. He is fighting hard and it will take time.
Know that he is not out to get you or doing this to deliberately go behind your back. Addiction is a compulsion and there is little thought at all that goes into it. Remember that consequences don't stop you from wanting to bet. That's why we need protection in place. Nothing in the past is enough to stop you wanting to gamble in the present because in that moment of 'need', the present urge is all that exists and it is powerful and compelling. The brain screams for the hit and the addict can feel very much along for the ride. It is scary and I relate very much to the 'look on his face'. I feel it. Right now, I am scared too. I feel down and am plagued with urges. Recovery is a journey, it is not a destination and it will take time for things to settle. He is still in very early recovery and his brain chemistry will make urges difficult right now.
You are being incredibly supportive of him, but also remember to take care of yourself. You are doing the right thing. He will not like the intrusion on his personal space because he has already handed over a lot of his pride, his insecurities and he feels vulnerable. He wants you to trust him but knows that he needs help and it is hard for someone to accept that they have to surrender some control over to someone else. His anger comes from his addiction making him feel backed in to a corner. He is not angry at you, he is angry at himself but it is so hard to process our emotions and that anger can sometimes seem misplaced. It is easier to blame someone else than see that the fault is actually our own. You handled this very well indeed and kept your cool. That was not an easy thing to do. He is scared, you are too. It is hard for both of you and he knows that. He is just scared and angry that this is happening and he will feel out of control sometimes and powerless. The feelings will ease. It will get better, so long as he keeps away from gambling.
The addiction has had its own way for a long time and it won't like being restricted or controlled. It's kind of like an infection....you take antibiotics and for a while, the infection gets worse as it fights with the treatment to survive. Any attempt to control his gambling will be met with resistance and he will feel cornered and scared of the way he feels. Encourage him to express his concerns to you, let him vent his frustrations and hopefully, the urges will leave him alone very soon. Urges are just the addictions way of trying to control you, to coerce you and they tend to flare up whenever the addict is under stress. Obviously quitting gambling is very stressful so it is completely natural for urges to be difficult at this time. Continue to be there for each other and know that he doesn't like this any more than you do. It's no party for him. It is hell. Nobody would choose this life. Understanding this helps those affected to relate more to what is happening and not feel as angry or upset as it is very easy to feel let down, hurt and shut out. Gambling is not selfish like people think it is. It is actually a loss of oneself. Gambling fills the void where a happy, thriving person used to be. If you can see this, then it will help you to help each other. The very best of luck to both of you.
Please encourage him to chat on here if he doesn't already. The support is incredible. xx
Thank you lost and found, you have no idea how much i picked up from your response. Thank you. And i really wish you well in your recovery, not sure if you believe in a higher being but I will pray for your continuous recovery as I do for my partner.
Gambling is a horrible disease indeed. But i’m glad today was pretty good. We went for a nice run. He said he feels much better now but still a bit on edge. So he requested if he could choose the film we’ll watch tonight which i granted! He’ll also look into switching his bank account to Monzo as I learned from the group chat here today that Monzo has a gambling block for transactions. I’ll also encourage him to get on here for additional support.
Thanks again for your kind words here, meant a lot to me.
Just thought I’d pop by and say hi after meeting you in chat today. I see from your post above you have spoken about the change of bank account - that’s fantastic. That should give you both a bit of peace of mind.
Your partner is very lucky to have such a supportive, understanding partner to support him through this. Just remember to look after yourself in the process as it as it can be hard at times. I know as although I’m a CG, I was once on the other side of the fence with an ex partner.
i hope you have a lovely Sunday and hope you see you in chat soon.
Take good care of yourself
Thank you so much Lively @livelysoul
I learned loads from the brief time i spent on the chat - apologies if i left so abruptly!
Spoke to partner about Monzo last night and this morning he made the full switch! And i got the app (with his consent) on my phone as well. Brilliant.
Thanks again and have a lovely day ahead x