Compulsive Gambler: Life Before & After Recovery
I am a Compulsive Gambler. I didn’t know this. I knew I had a gambling problem. I had a gambling problem for over 20 years. I couldn’t gamble like normal people. I couldn’t sleep when I was in or near a casino. I had to gamble all night, staying up if they closed in the wee hours of the morning or stay up all night if they were open 24 hours. I could stay up for days gambling. I never could go to the casino with a couple hundred dollars. I always had access to more money. Almost every time I gambled I would end up with nothing. If I won, it was never enough, I wanted to win more. If I lost, I couldn’t go home a loser. So I would leave the casino, go to a nearby bank and withdraw money. Larger and larger increments of money. I would use credit cards to get cash advances. I would borrow from friends if they won. I would transfer money into my account from my husbands account (money that was used for house ). I sold my jewelry. I emptied out accounts that I had saved for my daughters weddings. I gambled all of the inheritance from my mom. I took all of my life insurance savings. I borrowed everything I could from my 401k, and I even have stolen money from a family business. This is where this addiction took me. To do things that are unbearable to think that I could do. But I did it. I did it to Gamble. To stay in Action.
I hated myself, I could not look at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t sleep at night. I would lay in bed thinking about how I would cover money I just lost. Or how I could get more money to gamble again. I was thinking of other ways to be deceptive. To continue my life lying, stealing, cheating, abusing myself in my mind, body and soul. I gambled weekly at the casinos. I lied to my employer saying I was sick and I was gambling. I lied where I was to my family, I would tell them I was at a friends, but I was in a casino. Then I couldn’t leave the casino because I lost so much money. I couldn’t go home. I stayed at the casino for three nights, sleeping in my vehicle, wearing the same clothes for four days. Maxing all of my credit cards and emptying every account I had. I didn’t answer the phone when my husband or daughters called me. Finally I answered a texted that I was in a casino, they begged me to just come home.
Every time I drove home after having lost so much money, I would yell horrible things to myself, calling myself horrible names. Saying “I won’t do that again”. Only to get paid the next day and go right back and lose my entire two weeks paycheck in just a couple hours.
I contemplated suicide.
Then a miracle happened: My family did an intervention. Telling me they would have nothing to do with me if I continued to gamble. Telling me I needed help. I continued to gamble with out my daughters knowing. But my husband found out and one day when I came home he gave me a forms on “Excluding” myself from casino’s in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The next day I called out of work and drove to the Casino Control Commission in Atlantic City. I put myself on the “Exclusion List” for all casino’s in New Jersey including on-line gambling. I left Atlantic City and drove to a Casino in Pennsylvania and I put myself on their “Self – Exclusion” list too.
What a relief I felt. It was like I took a 500lb weight off of my shoulders. I cried, I laughed and I cried some more. I was scared but I knew deep down this is what I needed to do.
The next day I went to my first Gamblers Anonymous (GA) Meeting and began my New Life Journey. First I had to admit and surrender to the fact that I am a compulsive gambler and my life is unmanageable when I gamble. At every meeting I went to I cried nearly the whole time I was there. I actually had to face what I had been doing and what I had done. But this has been an amazing journey. The miracle of GA has given me my life back. I am finally proud of who I am again. I am back to being a wonderful, kind, loving, and responsive mother and wife and person.
This has not been easy, but I have began to love myself again. The GA program has been giving the tools to continue on my path of Recovery and I will continue on the right path “One Day at A Time”. My last bet: 1-14-14.