A plain normal life. What a great rut.
My first bet was made at age 12. Since I am now 57, I will skip early years of gambling and get to what occurred in my life that got me to the wonderful place in my life called recovery.
I always lived on the edge craving excitement. Whether it was living like an outlaw and seeing if I could get away with it or betting on a 40 to 1 long shot, I enjoyed, and later found out I needed, the rush. The reason I needed it was I had an uncontrollable and an incurable disease. It is called compulsive gambling.
Like most compulsive gamblers, I won… at first. But over the years when it got to the point that there was not enough to win, my life became completely unmanageable. Becoming a great liar and rationalizer I hid my problem from my wife. I would also try to hide from my higher power, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. I surely couldn’t hide from him!
After several years of trying to manage my gambling with no success, it got to the point that, when I had spent and used all avenues to get my last dollar, I was actually relieved! That meant I could finally go home.
I remember the last time I made a wager at a casino. I had just cashed my sixth check at the casino for $500.00 – that was the casino’s limit for me. I lost it in a matter of minutes. Dog-tired I was really glad it was over. Looking back I can see that to do that was not only sick but also insane. Had I lost my mind? I thought so.
Larger than the money issue was the shame. I had depended on lying to get me through life. It became second nature. I would lie to bankers, loan companies, friends, relatives, co-workers and anyone else I did not want to know about my addiction. The funny thing is, I hate it when someone to lies to me! I also made crazy rationalizations to myself and to GOD. Things like, “I haven’t been gambling in three or four weeks” or “I am not going to try and win money. I just want to get back what I had lost.” You can see how out of control of my life was.
Within a few days of my last trip to the casino, my son informed me that my wife was planning an intervention later in the day. When the time of the intervention had come and gone, I asked my wife about it. There was no intervention, but we did have a three-hour talk. With me trying to defend my actions with deceit and word manipulation, my wife asked when I was going to quit. I told her when I could pay off the debt I had due to gambling. It was about $78,000.00. I told her I could retire early and settle for less retirement but a larger sum of instant money that would pay my debt off. What a terrible life decision! She then asked what guarantee would she have that I would not gamble again. It was then that I finally became honest. I told her the only way she could know for sure was to call our marriage quits after more than 25 years. Her response floored me. She said separation was not an option. If I went down the tubes then she was going with me!
By this time my opinion of myself was rock bottom. Still being honest I told her then to make a call to someone or something that could help. She called a residential gambling addiction rehab center. Ten days later I reluctantly entered rehab. One of my better moves. In the next 6 weeks I learned about my illness. At first, I had a hard time thinking of my gambling as a “disease.” When I entered rehab I had decided to give it a strong effort, but to call it a disease was just blaming my gambling on something else. Copping out. After being in rehab a while and going to many G.A. meetings I began to understand and accept the truth. COMPULSIVE GAMBLING IS A DISEASE! I truly believe if I would not have bought into the disease concept I would not be in recovery.
That brings me where I am today. I told Bea over the phone that my worst day in recovery is better than my best day gambling. Not only have I learned to live life without gambling through. I have also learned how to manage other areas of my life in a better and happier way. I have a right to be happy. In closing I want to give all glory to my highest power, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST who made this story of success possible. I will also continue to do the things G.A. has taught me, like going to meetings and reaching out to other compulsive gamblers. Back to the title of this story. A PLAIN NORMAL LIFE. WHAT A RUSH!