I just wanted to give you an update of where I am having been away from GamCare for over a year.
It is with absolute delight that I can inform you that I am just six days away from being gamble-free for a whole year. This will be the first time that I have managed to do this in twenty years and only the second time in the last forty years since I started gambling on the 2p/10p fruit machines in seaside arcades when I was a child. Obviously, I am so proud of my achievements especially when I considered myself pretty much incurable when I kept posting about relapses on this forum in the past few years. I even lied about not gambling when I started a gamble-free year thread a few years ago and I continue to regret my actions to this day. This just proves what being a compulsive gambler can do to you.
So what's changed? Well, my last gambling episode on Christmas Eve last year was not my worst but it was still bad enough. It was one of those moments where I said 'That is really it now', a comment that I have made so many times in the past and one that I never followed through. Serious health concerns in my immediate family helped me to re-focus but we have had plenty of health concerns in the family in the past few years and these have not stopped me from throwing my hard-earned money away.
Well, 2020 has changed my mindset completely. Dad died this year and this was extremely hard. Covid-19 has had a massive effect on my life, both in work and socially. My job remains unchanged, fortunately, but I did have to work from home for much longer than anticipated. Covid is still very much at the forefront of how I undertake my job duties on a day-to-day basis and this creates quite a lot of stress and extra work. But we are getting there. Seeing gambling establishments closed during many parts of the year was an absolute delight but this was not the biggest help for me with regards to making decisions as whether to gamble or not. Dad's passing was. The moment that I relapse - which I sincerely hope will never, ever happen again in my lifetime will be the moment that I let him, myself and the rest of my family down. Starting a new decade on a positive note was another very good tool in helping me overcome my battle with this horrible, horrible addiction.
Due to my gambling 'career', I have never, ever been able to experience love outside of my immediate family nor have I had a relationship with anyone. I still live in the flat that I have lived in for so long now but what is really different is that I now have a canine to keep me company and to go on walks with. She is adorable and she has helped me re-focus on what is important in my life. I have met so many lovely people on our walks and I have got together with a few colleagues on walks with our dogs. My canine is now my world.
I experienced an unexpected five-figure bill earlier this year - something to do with my flat - but not gambling and still earning meant that I had this one very important thing. Options. I had options as to how to deal with this bill and this has now been dealt with. Had this happened a year previously when I was still very much in the midst of gambling excessively, I really dread to think as to how I would have felt then.
Finances this year has been amazing. For the first time in my working career, I have been able to really enjoy the benefits of the earnings that I get from my job. I have savings too and I have managed to get all the gadgets that I wanted along with the odd impulsive spends such as getting away for a short, unplanned break in beautiful surroundings with the dog. The bargain-hunting skill that I have in me - something that has had to be instilled in the past due to having to scrape for pennies - is still there and this is a skill that will benefit me in the long-run.
Another thing that I have really benefitted from this year is the fact that my long-term plans remain unchanged (and perhaps slightly better) from what they were at the start of this year. Every single year in the last twenty or so years, my long-term plans would be affected by my stupid choices that I would make with regards to gambling. However, my long-term plans remain what they are... long. Very long. I'm talking about around twelve years from now. In twelve years' time, I plan to find myself in a position where I can start to think about working part-time and also finally living in a place that I deserve to with regards to the work that I do on a daily basis.
I certainly do not see myself as being cured from gambling. Far from it. I have always said that you would need to have refrained from gambling for at least the same number of years that you have had a gambling problem and in my case, it would be for the rest of my life. I do find myself in a much better position that I did a year ago today and I am fully committed to continuing with the progress that I have made so far.
Sorry for the long-winded post but I thought that it was time that I shared the progress that I have made so far in my journey away from the evil world of gambling. I can certainly vouch that life is so much better when you don't waste so many hours/days/weeks of it gambling and whilst the long-term outlook remains very similar and very slow, the short-term outlook is certainly incredibly positive.
I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and may 2021 be a year that works for you.