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.
Long time off a bet now...
Wife went to play bingo the other day, no issues there - reminded me of last month when we were at the seaside and my brain tricked me into thinking I could take my elderly mum to play some bingo and just sit/watch (for old times sake I told myself). I probably would've done this successfully but with hindsight I can see how complacent thinking like this opens trap doors... What was scary was that at the time it seemed like a good idea. On the way there I came to my senses and detoured to an old cabaret she used to take me to when I was a kid. It was rubbish BUT
More importantly the realisation/reminder that this addiction waits for its opportunity and preys on complacency.
Today at work someone (with a gambling addiction) signed off with "I'm off to collect my winnings"
I heard him the first time, but felt obliged to ask him to repeat himself. He elaborated on his comment with some jubilant promungulation regarding a profitable cashed out bet coupled with a pub raffle he had found out he had won today.
That's great mate, but I find your bet slips in the bin and down the back of office cabinets all the time... judging from those life isn't champagne and roses all the time is it... Maybe tonight will be feast but tomorrow will most probably be famine.
More importantly (to me) I need to check my behaviour, it was unnecessary for me to ask him to qualify his obtuse statement. Call it curiosity if you like, I'll call it a dormant gambling addiction that isn't going anywhere any time soon. I knew his comments would give me a cheap buzz, I fell prey to them in that moment.
Something else I need to work on is getting my 'filters' in order. By that i mean the inner workings is the ole' ticker... I met up with some old friends for a lovely pub meal today. Old friends I let down badly in the past, old friends who have given me chance after chance to remain in their company, old friends who still invite me out as more of a 'clinger on' than a stalwart member of their group these days... It's fine, I'll take that... I am grateful they still give me time of day after my treatment of them over many years and the amount of energy they invested in me (one day if I ever work the 12 steps I will certainly look at making amends to them, if anything to unburden myself from all the guilt associated with my treatment of them!)
Anyway, my cat is ill, he is 12 years old. He was supposed to be brown bread by now but is still going a year after his diagnosis. Someone asked after him. I gave an update, someone else chipped in with stories of their cat who is older and is still going strong, despite some health issues. I filtered this information in all wrong and felt overriding jealousy that their cat is much older than mine and is going stronger - I asked them how old their cat was.
They said 17 and proceeded to tell me about how they had trouble verifying the exact age of the pet...
Later on at home when I was cleaning my cats litter tray I reflected on their story and realised to my dismay that I couldn't tell you how they managed to verify his age because I had walked off half way through their explanation... All I wanted to know was the age of the cat and once this gave me an angle to feel sorry for myself and bathe myself in some pain I was done with the conversation. Feeling quite dejected after that realisation. How rude of me.
Also I paid £15 for a casserole in some hipster pub/restaurant which I only consumed half of because I went to change my son's nappy and on my return they had taken my plate away. I am still obsessing about the "loss margin" associated with this unfortunate turn of events (I didn't say anything to the staff there as I was on a good run with my friends today and didn't want to burst my own bubble with old, obsessive behaviours) anyway does this type of behaviour sound familiar to anyone? 🤪
I can't help but feel aggrieved by the whole thing.
Aggrieved. How ridiculous.
As mentioned above, filters are not working properly. Need attention.
How do the last 2 paragraphs relate to gambling addiction? Well I gambled as an escape from a world which I found overwhelming and difficult to decipher. I almost destroyed my life and everything around that as a result of my gambling. Entering recovery, somewhere along the way made I realised that the world is not so overwhelming and difficult to assimilate... It's more to do with the existing skill set that I use to decipher it with in the first place. Lack of attention to this skill set leaves it depleted and with that I am vulnerable to some form of escape when things start to feel a bit funky.
More often than not - just the realisation and marking of some of these behaviours when they emerge serves as a way to neutralise them in that instance and in that moment, such has been the case today.
Without the realisation they are left to fester and multiply and contaminate my mind further + future conduct. Once my mind is intoxicated to an unmanageable level, I am in trouble.
See closing statement in paragraph 4... Addiction lays dormant. It's not going anywhere any time soon.
But that's fine... I came out on top today.
I know one answer to solve my anxieties about how things played out today would be to just not care about them and move on like most normal people would... But I do care. That's who I am. I do care how I conduct myself, even the intricacies of my behaviour. I will be hard on myself and put pressure on myself to be better when I feel I could have been.
My mistake previously would have been to spare thought after thought to the occurrences and beat myself up for failing and not meeting expectations (as has been engrained in me from a young age) but thanks to a good recovery I am now going to draw a line under it and go and eat a packet of crisps (feel a bit peckish, had a light lunch you see)
I think externalising the internal in this way is a good way for me to use my diary at this stage in my recovery.
Take care all x
How are you doing, I have just read your diary and can see many similarities with me. You have not posted for a while just hoping your ok and hopefully still GF.
I am proud you managed to confess early in your recovery to your wife, I am still unable to do so, this will be the 8th or 9th time that she has found out that i have screwed up and i don't think it will end well.
I will follow you and wish you the best in your recovery my friend.
Passing through to visit a friend - quick stop to say hello to my other comrades :o)
Basically I barred all my devices from GamCare because I became haplessly addicted to it :oO (who'd have thought eh) and I'm planning to bar myself again from it after this message -
Just wanted to say life is still moving in the right direction for me - I hope it is for you too. I continue to work hard at this - accessed the run of counselling offered by GamCare and have my last session this week - I wasn't really sure if I was getting much out of it until a few weeks ago when my son developed epilepsy and had the most horrific seizure - turns out the counselling was doing its thing as I have managed the situation and my emotions as best I can - without turning to something sinister to change the way I feel (settled for a packet of cigarettes the day it happened - they were pretty useless in terms of providing any pragmatic support but they were of course far cheaper than other outlets I would have made use of in my checkered past) :o)
The epilepsy is a life changer for us - but so is 550 odd days without soul-destroying punts. I am no more special than the next guy, and neither is my son (although he means everything to me) - so whilst it hurts that he has this condition, we are thankful that he wasn't taken away from us when it all happened - plus grateful that it is something we can live with and manage - some people don't have that luxury - people are taken away from them in an instant or some illnesses one cannot bounce back from - I would have never spoken like this 550 days ago because my head was too far up my a**e to think of myself as a collective member of a wider society. I was a lonely soul - incapable of accepting myself and accepting my role in something bigger... even if someone greeted me in the bookie or looked over my shoulder at the machine I was playing I would bark at them to go away - I rejected all form of connection - I guess all my recovery work has taught me that if your systems broke there is still hope - you can build new circuitry with healthy connections - it just takes time, patience and hope.
I'm still a moody git though with no friends and butterflies in my wallet. Next year I'll be debt free. I still wake up each morning next to my wife and my boy - I'll take that for now. When I'm ready I'll work on the other stuff. I'm still working hard at my recovery, but could always do a bit more I guess - especially lately. I hope that my ramblings offer someone out there a bit of hope and self-belief - once you have that you're halfway there.
Don't forget to help others. I will never forget you all. Without this platform I'd still be broken for sure.