Really appreciate your words on my diary today. You have what I want. You appear to have put a lot of work into yourself and more work into learning about your addiction. That’s all I want. I don’t want to just stop gambling I want to understand the route cause. I want to become a better person and make sure I never return to the dark place I’ve been in for far too long. I want to understand why I do it to myself so that I don’t need or want to do it ever again.
Im going to start your diary from the beginning tomorrow and learn as much as I can about your journey so far. You seem to be doing well so I think it makes sense.
I was listening to the radio today and there was a show on about working in business, the bloke said something quite intriguing (about business but it made me think about gambling)
He said that whenever one ventures into any business deal they are basing the outcome on speculation, and with this speculation comes the possibility of it leading to profitable outcomes or loss of earnings. He said that this is one of the basic, fundamental rules of business and he said that each and every businessperson should be mindful of this when they attempt to put together deals, forge relationships and make commitments to others.
See where I'm going with this? From time to time I read comments from people here who refuse to buy into the idea of gambling addiction as an "illness" - instead preferring to allude to the idea that that is a smokescreen and refusal to accept responsibility for ones actions (greed, selfishness and such like)
I haven't had a bet for a while so being 'in the madness' is a bit vague for me to recall, but I certainly have not forgotten completely what it's like to be in the 'on tilt' mad frame of mind when huge, stupid bets are thrown on to chase previously stupid and impulsive bets... Until there's just nothing left in the pot. What I'm hitting on here is that EACH AND EVERY TIME I lumped on those silly bets I was CONVINCED it would come in and I'd go home happy. When it invariably did not I would always delude myself with some reason that my luck wasn't it that time, but it would be with the next one... A law of averages, surely one will land in the end.
Looking back I was well in the throes of this illness. Businesspeople make measured decisions according to this bloke. I am, have been and have the capability of being a fairly well-rounded person when I have needed to be - I have a house, a stable job, a family and education behind me.
So why would I blitz all my money and more ten times over on these hugely irrational bets? Some were so impulsive I'd just look at the odds in desperation when chasing, not even pay attention to the sport or the team... And the bet would be on in an instant... All i'd care about was the potential return and getting my money back.
With roulette id be chasing and do that 'anger clicking' thing online - lumping stupidly on a number until the winnings would be sufficient to make back lost money. While the wheel was spinning I'd be convinced it would come in this time and I'd close the laptop straight after.
It was insane behaviour, and certainly not driven by greed or selfishness as some allude to. I believe my wiring was skewed which caused this ill behaviour and the crazy bets which have got me into a mountain of trouble and debt were endemic of the illness.
Of course I appreciate there are rubbish entrepreneurs out there who suck at business and make terrible decisions and send companies under - so not all businesspeople are so measured like the bloke said, but I guess he was just focusing on the 'well' ones - most of whom are consequently successful in their dealings... I think there are more measured businesspeople out there than there are crazy ones.
With gambling I do wonder you know... Are there more sick gamblers out there than well ones? Surely if you had enough good wiring in you you'd literally just find something more fulfilling to do with your time?
This time last year I would've told you I'm a no good, piece of s**t human being for what I did. Today I have forgiven myself which I believe is an integral part of recovery... Plus have also began to analyse my gambling behaviour, specifically the rationale associated with some of the bets I placed, and realised that I never stood a chance in the wake of this illness... I never stood a chance whilst I was doing nothing about addressing the reason this illness was manifesting inside me.
Take care all x have yourselves great weekends.
Where do i begin, even outside gambling i never thought i was mentally ill, yet always thought i was DIFFERENT from most people. On more than one occasion my wife has suggested that i had autism but it was never diagnosed or treated as a kid. When i first came here read many posts and when people described it as an illness i sometimes couldn't bring myself to think that way in case i was taking a cop out for the things i'd done in my life & perhaps trying to make excuses.
Not so long ago i worked in the property business, had lovely clothes, earned a decent salary & drove a nice car. My wife earns a lot more than i ever did & ran her own car. Solely due to gambling all that changed & we had to share one car & we were becoming poorer by the day. If you ask many gamblers what it is they're trying to achieve i'd expect most would say a better life, material things & nice holidays etc etc.
Am i unique ?. For me it was all about brinkmanship, i couldn't accept that the high st bookmakers were going to beat me despite the odds being massively in their favour & millions of pounds behind them. I never wanted a big house abroad, a ferrari or what the rich & famous had. So what did i want to achieve ?. TO WIN & nothing else so i suppose i am mentally ill or obsessive ( are they one & the same thing ? ).
I've learnt many things in recovery and first and foremost I'm not normal. If i was why would i continue gambling whilst watching everything we'd achieved & worked for slip through my fingers yet continue steadfastly on the path of destruction. I'm a geminian so maybe there's some truth in the twins theory (good one bad one ). In the early days when i first stopped i pondered all these questions for hours on end. Am i any the wiser ? hell no. All i know is i'm obsessive, can't accept defeat and this mindset brought misery to me and my loved ones.
So what about the future ?. Know my frailties, keep things simple and concentrate on the things i do understand rather than the things i'll never fathom out. If i'm tempted to gamble compare my previously scatter brained existence to the life i have now and accept what i am yet strive to be better one day at a time.
I guess I got married without really understanding what my end of the bargain was in it all...
I guess I had a child without being properly ready (emotionally and in terms of maturation)
I guess I took a job that was not fulfilling but convenient and easy on my mental health, I guess I used to take personally the comments and derogatory onslaughts thrown my way... I was very sensitive and let this affect my mood and behaviour, I didn't see that in my field (healthcare) I am surrounded mainly by sick people (patients and most of the other people I work with) - I fitted in which is what drew me to the job.
I guess I gambled for many reasons, one of which being that I felt it about time something special happened to me, I believed my 'turn' was due - I had got to the front of the line and all my dreams would come true via a life changing win. It never came.
I guess the dysfunctional relationship with my parents was in part due to my failure to see that their behaviours were governed somewhat by their own sickness and issues, and not by a wilful intent to make my life a misery.
I didn't realise any of the above at the times they took place.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Especially when you integrate it with clean time 😉
Keep going all, have great GF weekend.
I'm super duper skint at the moment.
I wish I was good with money. I wish I was good at squirreling away money like other people I know...
Stupid car has costly repairs to make, just about made up the money for it...
'rainy day' fund has been ransacked... Hoping for a brace of clear skies and no rain for a bit 😄
One thing I'm getting good at it is not wallowing in moments like these and being able to flip things over... I don't know how but since last year when the bottom fell out of my finances I have continued (and always will continue) to put £100 a month away in my son's account. He is almost 3 and financially is in a very comfortable position for his age lets say.
Me however, I scraping pennies together. It's all good though, as long as I make that £100 every month everything else that happens in my financial world is secondary and inconsequential to me.
When all this originally happened I called stepchange to apply for a DMP. I was f****d financially. The man told me that to qualify for one I would have to forgo putting the money in my son's account moving forward. I was too proud to stop doing this and just couldn't bring myself to fail him anymore (he was 1 at the time, just a one year old) so I informed the stepchange representative that I would attempt to service the loan and carry on with the monthly payment to my son if possible. He told me it was doubtful that I would be able to continue with it based on my earnings and current financial outgoings.
I have never missed a payment to him since, nor my debt for that matter. We have been on 3 holidays since. The last one was wicked. We are away next week too.
I work hard but have learnt to live modestly. I couldn't have done the above without the help of my lovely wife, Aldi, the discovery of parks/nature reserves, rediscovering the gym, kids cinema in the mornings (reduced tickets for kids and adults + a free cheesestring on entry), making new friends through GA (whose houses I can hang at and drink coffee), giving up smoking, alcohol and pubs + discovering that a swede is cheaper than a ready meal in the supermarket. To all the above I am truly thankful, appreciative and grateful... These lifestyle changes have offset the horrible debt payment I make each month and the fact that I am perpetually useless at managing money.
Today I am skint, but happy. Before I was skint and lost with no sense of perspective.
Life goes on ✊💪✌️
I am proud of myself.
None of the above would have been possible if I hadn't have made the decision to stop gambling. I'd had enough and in time with staying off a bet, all these things had to happen too to ensure any sort of progress would be maintained. Stopping gambling underpins everything in my world.
Every time I gambled all my resolve disappeared... every time that bet slip was confirmed and handed back to me. I used to throw my slips in those little bins dotted around in the bookie when they invariably crashed out (I was a gambler with integrity and was brought up better than that - would you dash paper all over the floor in your own home?) and used to see the little bins piled up with crumpled slips as a symbol of the resolve I had built up and wasted over the years by giving into gambling each time.
I guess one day I managed to free myself from its spell, kick the bin over, grab as much resolve as I could with both hands and I got the hell out of there. Haven't been back since.
Resolve is gold dust in the recovery world. But you have to earn every bit of it. It is finite and can run out on you if you just sit in an armchair smoking a pipe, relishing in the idea that you don't gamble anymore.
Earn more resolve. Every day. Do something useful and constructive with your freedom that reminds you not to gamble, do something that reminds you how you can't gamble and what happens when you do gamble... Do something like this every day. Earn your resolve.
It's lonely being an addict; lonely because for whatever reason/s we've decided to seek solace and escape in a substance, a behaviour, a way of approaching life that is isolating and ostracising.
But we do this knowingly because the long and short of it that this is an easier way to cope than the unknowns associated with reaching out to other people.
So we become quite rusty in this area... The FOBT, the roulette wheel, the slot machine... They don't talk back to us, they don't challenge our thinking, THEY DONT CARE ABOUT US.
Its so tough when you leave it all behind you because that's when you'll need to lean on people for care, support and strength. But how can this be effectively executed by an addict who has little mastery in this area and who's principles in this area are corroded (let's face it, by shaking hands with the devil we also signed up to a life of isolation and a generally insular existence)
Is it easier to bat people away when they come close to you post-addiction? Do you really have a bona fide grievance with that person or is it more a cowering fear of actually relating to people - both 'on and off the pitch' by that I mean it's pretty easy to relate to someone when they are soft sponging you with "keep going, it's all going to be ok" but extremely tough and asomewhat alien concept (by someone who wants to care for you and look over your shoulder) that you're being a twit or could help yourself by doing something differently (remember, the machine doesn't talk back... It just stays silent then takes your money in the end)
Reaching out/relating to people is hard because it becomes an unknown out of our control thanks to addiction. Addicts struggle with grey. This won't change overnight, even after gambling. An acceptance that most (if not all) of life is shrouded in grey can and will make the practice of relating to people slightly easier to manage and assimilate into daily practice. Besides, you don't have to always accept what people say, in the same way that you don't actually have to be affected by what people say if you choose not to be.
Oh another thing... Like most gamblers my mind only tends to retain the 'bonanza' moments associated with my gambling and filters out the s**t, soul-destroying memories associated with my illness. However something came back to me today which I must hold onto for future reference:
It's wasn't so much about the highs for me, it was more about not being able to handle the lows.
Moreover I had a ineptitude when it came to accepting losses of any kind... Even a couple of quid in the fruity. My body and mind knew the lows associated with loss (even small ones) could be remedied with a win of corresponding value, and all that required invariably was a quick click of a button, a scribble on a slip, another note in the machine. So simple right... Who wouldn't when put so simply.
Conclusion: f**k gambling it's just not worth the bother. I can't handle highs because I just want more, I can't handle the lows because my wiring is skewed and all I can think of in a low is how to engineer a win to cancel it out..
Post-addiction as long as I go to bed with a shower, a meal in me, a good days work completed and knowing my loved ones are safe and well that'll do... It's a win in my book.
You can wake up to a win most days thinking like this. With gambling that wouldn't be possible.
Nice post. My counsellor used to always talk about ‘what’s tolerable’ or my ‘window of what’s tolerable’.
I think that captures our addict mindset well. Similar but more accurate and less self-damning than saying we’re over sensitive.
I used to find criticism, negative self judgement against others etc simply unbearable. Hence the escape.
Actually it’s not the end of the world if you feel inferior. It feels bad. But things pass.
This is where mindfulness has helped me a lot.
I think you are doing great Signalman. I will forgive myself for past problems so I can stay gambling free and not look to far in the future to be greedy. I will try and look after myself and family. It was good reading through your Diary and thank you for posting. I believe it will help a lot of people. Most of us just want a simple life a balanced life. I believe gambling is an escape for most people for problems we have never dealt with in the past and we escape by planning gambling and how to get the money any way possible and find the time to gamble and also escape by thinking about how we could have done this again. One big escape. I feel by dealing with my problems on a daily basis and forgiving one's self will keep me on the right path. Thanks again and all the best on your own path.