I promised myself I would write on here when I remembered. 2 years ago, I stopped gambling.
I was addicted to gambling for many, many years and spent ridiculous, almost life changing sums of money. I lied, I became a shell of myself, I was physically and emotionally broken. Rock bottom found me in a hotel, having left my husband a letter disclosing EVERYTHING. He had no idea. He didn’t speak to me for three days. I betrayed him most of all. I risked everything in my life for gambling.
So. Two years later. I can tell you I’ve had no urge to gamble for well over a year. Sometimes I ask myself the question- would I? I very quickly remember the trauma and remind myself that I am not a gambling addict and my past does not define me. For me, I’ve really had to shift my mindset towards a place of gambling meaning nothing to me. A gambling ad no longer triggers urges or guilt. A friend’s race night no longer fills me with fear. It does not control me.
Everyone is different and achieves success in their own way. Here’s what I did:
-MOST IMPORTANTLY, disclosed everything, in all it’s horrific detail, to my partner in full detail, gave him access to credit report, told him that he could check up on me whenever on my bank account (I would hand over phone whenever)
-block everything with Gamban/Gamblock
-switched banking to Monzo and enabled gambling transaction block
-phoned Gamcare many times when feeling suicidal and at extreme rock bottom
-took up the Gamcare counselling and attended a block of ten sessions, this was life saving and thoroughly helped me to understand my situation
-sorted things financially and repaid almost all of my debt over the past two years, I know for many this might take longer or need a more extreme financial solution for some people but the first step is the hardest. I worked a second job.
- made spreadsheets, sought financial advice, made plans for progress, focussed on the future
- use this website to read the stories of others. I still log on to read stories every now and again. I’ve read some tonight and it reminds me of how awful it was and how I can never go back to that.
What I didn’t do (perhaps controversially for some but everyone’s journey is different):
- I did not tell everyone. I told two friends and my husband. He told his cousin. That’s it. Gambling addiction will not define me as a person, I suffered with it. I will always be cautious of return. But I do not believe I should be defined in everyone’s minds by it. it was traumatic enough for me at the time. I have since told a few more friends.
- I didn’t hand over full financial control to my husband. For me, I needed to be accountable but I also knew that I had to learn to battle this fully on my own and to be able to control my finances again. Yes, this could have allowed relapse but I showed my husband my account statements for the first few months and that was enough for me. I now fully control my finances well, have an empty credit card with huge limit, savings in the bank. My husband and I might have split up over this- I felt that I needed to learn to do this myself and be accountable to myself. I didn’t want to land the responsibility of checking up on my gambling on him. I am aware this doesn’t work for everyone. But I feel it’s a huge burden to place at someone else’s door. My husband and I are independent financially (except mortgage) and we like it that way.
- I did not make excuses for myself. I recognised it was my responsibility to overcome this addiction, with the support tools in place and counselling. I didn’t kid myself on that there would be any more chances. I didn’t allow myself to even consider one slip up. It was non negotiable, this was it.
It was very hard and it took about 9 months for urges to disappear. I talked to my husband about how I was feeling, even though it was difficult. I picked up new hobbies, I put down my phone, I read more. Suddenly, I had time again. I was sleeping again. I didn’t wake up with panic attacks. I didn’t feel like I was going to kill myself anymore. Every time I felt an urge, I thought long and hard about rock bottom, about the feeling of losing many thousands in an hour.
Your path might be different to mine, you might need different things but I wanted to share with you in case it helps. My life is transformed, I’m living again. I have money in my pocket again and I’m not lying to everyone around me. Gambling took hold and strangled me for a while. Slowly it last eased it’s grip, though the threat remains. I will always be vigilant now and remind myself of the dark depths of despair if I need to. But, for me, focusing on what I’ve gained in my life by quitting is the motivation. My husband and I are better than ever, scars are mostly healed and we no longer need to talk/argue about it. He doesn’t hold it against me or throw it at me in an argument. He’s proud of me, despite everything. This is a big deal as he’s not the most forgiving type. But he respected me coming out with everything, in detail, on my own accord without being found out (though I would have been soon). It’s in my past now and I won’t ever allow it to creep into my future.
If you find yourself tempted- think about your darkest moments; the hurt on someone’s face, not having money for a bill, lying to borrow yet again, losing truckloads in the clock of a few buttons, spending hours glued to a phone and ignoring family/friends, feelings of isolation. They should humble you and mindfully focus you on the reality of gambling.
I no longer need Gamban or Gamblock or any of those things. I know that I can be trusted. I have handled large sums when sorting out house things, I’ve saved a good amount. I have got to a stage where gambling means nothing to me. It’s ‘meh’ , nothing. Equally, I know I can not ever let it creep in with one small bet etc. I have to be vigilant, but not obsessed/paranoid, about its potential to return. But I know I can do this and you can too!
Good luck on your journey!
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