January 6, 2021
“Today So Far” …. I hear this every time I participate in a 12-step meeting. And…I SAY IT at every meeting when asked what recovery milestone has been met. “Today So Far” is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given! It means I’ve learned a better way of life. And I haven’t had to place a bet or have a drink to live “life on life’s terms.” It keeps me in touch with the fact that recovery is attained one day at a time. It is not an “event” it is a process. Each day in recovery is a gift.
Today (So Far) is a milestone of sorts. It is my 25th “Birthday” in Gamblers Anonymous. It feels right to share this morning’s Journal Entry with you…it’s the best way I can express what I’m feeling today. Journaling is one of the best tools I’ve found in recovery. My feelings and thoughts are expressed unfiltered and unedited…they just flow and I can release them, honor them, and let them go. So excuse any typos, incomplete sentences or grammatical errors. This is how I journal. So..here’s my #TodaySoFar entry.
25th GA Birthday
Curious. Today is a day to give thanks for the endless gifts and blessings of recovery. Yet my thoughts are of Tommy W., Anton’y, and Lanie…those who didn’t survive this insidious, patient, destructive disease. All three of these beautiful souls, along with countless others we lost, experienced glimpses of the gifts…they held the delicate petals of early recovery in their hands and asked in wonder “Can this be REAL? Can my life REALLY be better…can it be THIS good?”
The internal battle of early recovery is palpable..”Am I really worthy? I’ll probably screw it up again, so why bother?”
“No! I want this. I AM worthy. Im going to fight for a better life – free from the bet and free to love and be loved.” Read more →
So young, so old
I’m 24 but the heaviness inside makes it feel like 60.
I’ve been like this all my life, grew up too fast and it had it’s good things. Now, due to gambling, it came to the bottom.
I don’t remember the first time I gambled nor the first time I got in contact with it; but I do remember being a little boy and hearing my mom acuse my dad of gambling. All of my family’s problems are derivated from money. My mother worked her way up from a very poor background and takes every penny into consideration. My father on the other hand melted thousands of euros over the years.
I’ve gone through some harsh times during my teenage years, and have read that usually problem gambers have other associated psychological illnesses. I’m pretty sure that’s the case with me, even though I have never been diagnosed. I think I suffer from a bunch of them.
As I write this, I realize I’m being too rational, just like a good problem gambler.
Fact is today, after a 1000 euros melt down, I come home to my girlfriend and, even though she would like to understand, she doesn’t. I’m thinking of my father. Of how lonely he is now, of how broke and helpless he must be. I admire my father to my guts but I don’t want to end up like him. It’s what I most fear.
I tried to call him…i just wish he would know what to say…how to stop this madness…
Keep strong !!
Now I have to stop “ITS KILLING me”.
I have worked so hard for my money which is the reason why I got into the road of chasing a loss . I am 33 and never really gambled apart from November 2016 when my uncle gave me a football bet which won . After that day I have lost at least 45,000 maybe 50 . I tried to chase back a 100 pound bet which escalated into thousands and thousands . I have thought many of times to end my life but found I couldn’t do it because of my family I leave behind . I lost another 15 thousand today but self excluded myself from many online sites and the casino . Roulette has nearly wiped me out off this world . I could cry to think about my losses but I just need help . Thank you to the stories I have read because I cried thinking how alike I am to all of them . I need help because I feel if my life is over .
How did I let this happen…again?
I am a 53 year old woman who never expected to be in this situation. I grew up near a bingo hall, which eventually turned into a gambling resort. I went there on occasion with my family, but I never found it to be much fun. My mother always said, “We should go to Las Vegas! Aunt J and Uncle M go there every year and want us to join them. I wasn’t interested. I did eventually to to Las Vegas several years later. I wanted to attend a conference being held there and had just met someone who made all the travel arrangements. It was a fun trip. I only brought a little money and ended up bringing it back home. Then the Vegas trip became an annual experience. Every year was bigger and better! I still wasn’t spending a lot of money, but I was begining to experince “gambler’s remorse”.
I didn’t worry about it then because Las Vegas was far away and if I gambled once a year, how bad was that? Then the local casino popped up. Jump ahead 10 years and I find myself a compulsive gambler. That was the catalyst. Out of site out of mind wasn’t working any more. After two failed attempts at “fixing” my gambling problem on my own, or with my husbands help, I finally admitted to myself that I have a serious problem. I am now attemding GA meetings and put myself on the exclusion list at the local casino. That was the easy part. Now I live with the fear of losing the person who means the most to me. Although my husband swears that he will stay with me and help me through this, I worry 24/7 that he will change his mind and leave me. I don’t recognize myself anymore. I know I can get back to that person again, but has the financial damage I caused mean that I will end up alone? I wish I could jump ahead a year to see how my life ends up.
I have struggled with compulsive gambling for 20 years. Casinos, bingo, and lottery tickets have destroyed me. I always saw the lottery as my only way of ever making it in life. I have been in therapy for years going faithfully trying to find the answer to my problems. I have suffered a lifetime of abuse from school bullying to my brothers verbally abusing me all my life. I have tried medication, therapy, electric shock therapy, and 12 step meetings. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I have struggled with suicidal ideation for years. I am getting to the point of coming to terms with just no hope in sight. Years of gambling have taken it’s toll. I now am 47 and severely overweight from the stress of nothing working out for so long. I am tired and just don’t have it in me to try anymore. I have come to the point of thinking that things are out to screw me and I never had a chance in life. I am the only one in my family that never had a career or made less than 60,000 a year.
There was a Christmas fair every year at my elementary school. The first time I went I was six years old. They had games of chance in one of the rooms and there was bright ball that bounced on board with squares of five colors. There were odds that were determined by the amount of squares that were represented by each color. I took a quarter and picked a color, I would of been better off shooting myself with a gun, because then at least I would of had some chance of surviving. I stayed at the fair all day running from room to room begging relatives for quarters. Already I understood it wasn’t the fact that losing meant money was lost that mattered, but that you were out of the action, if the quarters were gone. The crazy thing is from that day forward quarters, dollars, credit cards, or anything else of value only had one purpose; they were a tool to gain that high I got for the first time that day of my first Christmas Fair. I came home that night and could not sleep and I lied in bed with so much energy and a warm feeling like a heat flash: one would of though my parents gave me speed. Every year other kids at school, thought of Santa Claus when December came around, but to me I knew that the ball and that feeling that felt so good was here again.
I was watching a basketball game not long after I was introduced to that magical and glorious ball. I was in my Grandfathers room and we were watching the Knicks and that Hawks. Two brothers were playing against one another and my grandpa was not happy during the game. At the end I thought his team won and was surprised he still was not happy; then the statement that would define the rest of my life came from his mouth“it’s not who wins or loses that matters, but by how much they win or lose by that matters”. I didn’t understand quite what he meant, but I can assure all, no different than a smashing Serve from Sampras to end Wimbelon, my life and my childhood and any chance at normalcy was dashed that night. Somewhere deep inside I knew that there was a way to combined the two most amazing things in the world that ball from the fair and sports, and that was game, set, and match. My life was for all purposes over and no one knew, I had not even come close to hitting puberty and my path was already determined.
I could give a million stories about the roads I travled in the 33 years that came after that magical ball landed on a color for the first time, but we all have our War stories, and while they are all different, they are still the same. I have worked counciling those who have been confined, due to lost of therir senses and I have been on the other side with that white jacket one too many times. I have taught kids in schools as a teacher, and I had to go to six different high schools as a student myself due to that ball. I have gone to collect money from others in ways I am not proud of and I have been chased from my home, city, and state more times than I can recall. Most of the time I dont even know when I am telling the truth or not, but then I recall a professor I once had that used to say” The truth is overrated”. Seven months ago two little girls came Into my life, they are the most beautiful creatures that have ever arrived on this planet of ours. They are mine and I am a father. I don’t want to leave this world without my story without my battle meaning something positive for them and for others who have suffered, because of a disease that kills you a little at a time,; until you are not sure who you are, who you were, but only sure that you don’t want to know who you will be tomorrow. There is hope though for me, for you, and for all of us, if we stick together, if we fight as one, for in the end all that read this I consider my people my brothers and sisters and I love you all, for those who have this disease know me better than those who love me ever could. Thank you to anyone that reads this.
Suicide Prevention Month
September is National Suicide Prevention month. Gambling addiction has the highest suicide rate of all addictions and the statistics do not reflect that many of these suicides are mistakenly reported as single-car accidents, wrong-way drivers, heart attacks, cerebral stem strokes (from an overdose of anti-depressants), and so forth. This is a true story of two friends of mine, who both planned their suicides down to the last detail and thankfully, both survived. The names and details have been changed to protect their identities, but the stories and devastation are true.
Mary, a 60 year old psychologist became so depressed with her inability to stop gambling, an activity that was consuming her every moment and thought, that she had to stop seeing patients because she no longer cared about their problems. Her husband, her one true love had become ill and diagnosed with dementia, as well as complications due to a congenital heart defect and diabetes. She had her own physical limitations due to severe crippling from rheumatoid arthritis. Mary had 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren- the light of her life. All that being said, Mary still could not tear herself away from the video poker machines to get home and check on her husband. She missed many of the grandchildren’s recitals and sporting events because she had hit another jackpot. Her children stopped telling the grandchildren that she would be there because of their disappointment and sadness of being let down, over and over. Mary found herself unable to concentrate and many times after hours of gambling could not recall how she actually drove home. Read more →
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. Read more →
Don’t see the Gambler
This remake of The Gambler with Mark Wahlberg should be boycotted by the Recovery Community. Despite the horrible ravages of addiction on the portrayed gambler, never is there any mention or example of GA, therapy, rehab or any hopeful intervention at all. After artfully showing how insidious, overwhelming, and demeaning the disease is, the filmmakers decide the last scene should be about the gambler getting even. What a Joke, BAD Joke!! Here they had a chance, as in the first Gambler with James Caan to show how gambling addiction ruins lives and families and instead they try and make an art movie that somehow says a sick gambler can get even without any treatment. Very sad, unintelligent and moreover detrimental to progress in brining Recovery into the light. Thanks for posting this Lanie and all have a Happy New Year.
I thought I was lucky………
My name is Nancy and I am a 46-year-old woman who has the most wonderful man in her life and two terrific boys who are 10 and 4. Rewind two years ago and I had never gambled a day in my life and thought that anyone who gambled was wasting their time and money. My boyfriend invited me to go to Laughlin for the weekend and I said, “Lets go!” We had a blast and as we enjoyed our Bloody Marys at the bar, my boyfriend would hand me twenty dollars for me to put in the keno machine while he played video poker. As I yawned and played a game that was so simple yet bored me to tears. I sat there and played until I would lose and couldn’t wait to get some food or hang out by the pool.
We went back there quite a bit our first year together due to my boyfriend’s uncle dying of cancer with months to live. And then it happened……while sitting at the bar while the bar was going crazy because we had just won the Stanley cup, I was jumping up and down and looked down to hear this faint bell ringing that seemed nonstop and I had just gotten 6 out of 6 on keno……. I hit my boyfriend’s arm and said, “Look, I won!” Wow, I just won $440 and couldn’t believe it and I said “Now what?” He said “Cash out and go turn your ticket into the machine to get your money.” That’s it? I felt like I was up to no good but I had money and that was it for me, I wanted to save it and go shop or something, but he says “OK, but let’s play $100 of it……ok?” Well the next morning I won the same amount again. It still wasn’t hitting me yet but he said, “You are so lucky!” I felt special because every time I won it made him very proud of me and it felt good. Read more →
Recovering Gambler concerned about internet gambling
I was watching Huckabee Saturday night and there was a Senator on urging folks to write to your rep to stop legalization of internet gambling, here is my letter. I encourage all to do the same Here is the web site:
I am a recovering compulsive gambler and I am writing to urge you to restore the US policy banning Internet gambling in order that the destructive effects of this devastating emotional illness does not have a conduit to dismantle families like the one I had prior to my gambling addiction.
The compulsive gambler many times doesn’t even realize they are in the grips of this crippling addiction and now it’s up to you to eliminate internet gambling and help save the families of your constituents, prevent underage gambling, reduce the destruction caused by problem gamblers, and other illegal activity which is virtually impossible to enforce on the Internet.
Please consider the implications of setting up a casino on every computer in America. Allowing internet gambling to continue would be like allowing cancer to go untreated, or other diseases to be left to run their destructive course. Read more →