Monday, December 31, 2007

Preventing Relapse

I found it helpful to identify the things that make me want to gamble...then....making a prevent myself from gambling the next time that instance occurred.....I had to develop new coping skills.

Some Common triggers that come to mind:

Having money
Not having money
(ha! That covers about every moment, does it not?...having money, meaning…having easy ACCESS to money…and not having money, insofar as, not having enough money to afford what one needs…or what one FEELS they need).
Certain time of day (lunch hour…or right after work)
Certain time of year (holidays)
HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired)
Consuming alcohol or Ingesting drugs
anniversary of a painful event

I believe that knowledge DOES empower us.

I do know people who decided to walk away from gambling….and have not given in to urges…but most of us…*I*, for one…turned to my friend, my lover (gambling), my 'bubble', when I felt unable to cope in ‘normal’ ways.

On the occasions where I’ve done this…once I stopped gambling and could clearly look back at what had happened…what the ‘triggers’ were…and the circumstances that ALLOWED me to gamble…I’d find ways to eliminate the possibility in the future…I’d make a PLAN.

Once a ‘trigger’ has ‘activated’ my ‘addictive voice’…my mind and my heart begin racing…the first thing that I need to do….is acknowledge what’s happening…and SLOW DOWN…..breathe deep…and relax.

My ‘wise self’ always knows the answers…in the past, I just haven’t always listened to it…in recovery…I am making a conscience effort to hear it…and do what it says.

I have to remind myself that I am OK. Whatever this is…no matter how bad this is…gambling will not make it better…it will not…it can not…I don’t DESERVE to gamble (because of this pain/stress)…I deserve to NOT gamble…I deserve the joy that I will know….once I am able to relax…and slow down…and let this pass…without giving in….I have to comfort myself…reassure myself that this..whatever this is…no matter how bad it feels and how strong the urge is to gamble…these feelings are normal (fight or flight response) in all animals….it is what we DO with these feelings that is important….I can cope..I might feel like I cannot…but..this is going to pass….

Tomorrow is going to come…this feeling will pass….

Then..for me…reaching out was important…quickly getting in touch with others in recovery who could help to keep me grounded in reality.

Before I put this into practice…my own personal triggers almost always led to gambling.

But…for ME…there was something else that would sometimes occur.

Sometimes…it wasn’t a ‘sudden’ impulse…sometimes….it was a slow gradual ‘process’….where…my thinking would start gravitating towards gambling….sort of preparing for the ‘opportunity’ other words…I was almost WAITING for the next stressful event…the next ‘excuse’ to go.
Acknowledging that process..prior to the stressful event was helpful to me also.

And…even if I have NO THOUGHTS at all about gambling…I STILL do things to protect myself.

For instance…in the past…if some ‘unexpected’ money would somehow fall into my hands….money that no one would know about…no one would miss….I could ‘take care’ of that money just fine.

So now that I know that that’s a weakness…I am quick to make a phone call….to tell my husband about any funds he is unaware…not like ‘Hey..I’m calling because I’m afraid I’ll gamble’ (which I am not)….I just call and say…like any ‘normal’ wife would say ‘Hey…guess what!...we just got a check in the mail’.

I call it ‘keeping me safe’…’protecting myself’....(commonly known as roadblocks).

It’s not always easy. It’s not….but it is do able.
And I am worth it.

So are you.

Related: Relapse Prevention Plan

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection." --Buddha

**********************************************************************Some sites that I used to develop my own relapse prevention plan--

Worksheets: Relapse Prevention

Worksheets: Recovery Plan for my Life

Worksheet: My List of Negative Gambling Consequences nrgs_worksheet_01.rtf

Worksheet: My List of Warning Signsnrgs_worksheet_02.rtf

Grieving (the loss of gambling)

...I didn't feel too much at all when I was in the cycle....when I stopped gambling I was soooooo emotional for a long moods were extreme...

and...there was so much GRIEF...

grief for the life that I lost when I began gambling....things would never be the same again...

grief for the loss of secret lover for a very long time.

plus....dealing with the grief and responsibility that I was running from to begin with.

the thing is....I gambled to get away from feelings...and now..i had feelings in bucketloads.

find ways to relax.
it calms down.
it gets better.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

My addiction evolved

Often…our first gambling experience is a win…or at the very least, it was not particularly unpleasant…more than likely we did not end up in jail or the hospital or spend all of our food or bill money. It was ‘fun’.

I gradually began to gamble longer and with more and more money…and then there were changes in my behavior…I began lying, isolating, hiding my losses…and my obsession with gambling grew.

As the addiction grew, my monetary losses increased, because, even when I ‘won’, I could not stop gambling…until it was all gone…and on the rare occasion that I DID leave with winnings…I’d quickly return…and continue to gamble…until it was all gone.

It wasn’t really THAT important that I win….I was going to gamble anyway….’winning’ simply meant that I didn’t have to take any more money out of my bank account…or make another cash advance on a credit card…YET.

My financial problems led to more lies, cheating and stealing from family and friends, selling items that are precious to me…increasing shame, fear and anxiety.

While gambling…I was unaware of the consequences…I was unaware of everything else…I was in my bubble….so…at any given stage….gambling was the obvious ‘solution’….it provided me with relief.

Until the ride home.

*Related entries: How did this happen to me?

It is STILL not better out there. -- My friend in recovery, Jean Leo

We are worthy - YOU are worthy of a fantastic life.

It’s not always easy to believe that.
Most of us have done things that we are ashamed of.

Our shame can keep us in the cycle…
We cannot undo what we have done…but in order to move forward, we must find a way to rid ourselves of the shame.

Confession and restitution….making amends.

It is not always possible to make amends directly to the individuals we have harmed.

I heard a speaker, who spoke of some waitress that he was really ugly to….or maybe just waitresses in general….and…once in recovery…since there was no way that he’d be able to locate the individuals that he’d harmed…soooooo… order to make amends for prior behavior…this guy became the biggest tipper…he would never ever complain to a waitress…about ANYTHING, EVER….

And he was able to forgive himself.

That is the opposite of shame…forgiveness.

Identify the things we are ashamed of…make a list (another writing exercise)….I still come up with something new from time to time…things that I’ve done long ago…but just now recall…and I add them to my list….and then I think of things that I can do…to rectify them.

For instance….one of mine….My children don’t know about my gambling addiction…well…I imagine they DO know..but we do not discuss it.

When they were young…they waited on me often. I was always late picking them up. When they were at karate…all of the other moms would sit there and watch their kiddos for an hour…I would leave…to gamble.

I was never back before they finished up….that was for EVERYTHING…when I picked them up from school, from a party, from a sleepover…ANYTHING…I was late.

Today, my children do not wait.
Today, I will move mountains to be sure that *I* am the one waiting on *them*.
I have, on occasion, been held up, due to circumstances beyond my control…and…a part of me would want to get upset about it…about making them wait..but then…I try to calm myself down…I try to relax…and know that…all I can do is the best I can do…and…while I can still recall visions of those little guys…noses pressed up against a glass door…looking for their mommy…and while that STILL saddens me…I know that I am a better mom because of it….and today…I am doing the right thing….and I know…

I know..that regardless of what I have done in the past
TODAY I am doing the right thing
And I am worthy of a fantastic life.
You are too.


"Forgiveness is not an emotion, it's a decision."-- Randall Worley

I'm hurting now...what can I do?

When I'm hurting...I SAY that...but...all I really want is to stop hurting...I don't really want to DO anything...

There ARE things that we can do.... here's one...

Gamblers Anonymous offers the following questions to anyone who may have a gambling problem. These questions are provided to help the individual decide if he or she is a compulsive gambler and wants to stop gambling.


1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
3. Did gambling affect your reputation?
4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
12. Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
20. Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

Most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions.

The G.A. Step One worksheet tells us that…if we have trouble admitting our powerlessness, then answer the 20 questions, in writing…not a simple yes or no answer…but a thorough, honest answer….citing specific occasions that come to mind...detail what happened at work, at school, arguments that you can recall...*all* that you can recall.

I have found that…in doing this myself…my answers are much more powerful when written while I’m still in pain..or shortly thereafter.

Not only can this be used to CLEARLY see what gambling has done to us…to our lives…but it can also be a good tool (roadblock) when one is having urges…when that voice starts saying ‘Maybe it wasn’t really that bad’ or ‘Maybe I’ve exaggerated everything’ or even ‘I’m better now…and this time I’ll be able to stop/control it.’

Most of us…when we are in pain…and are told to ‘write’…to write what we feel or what we’ve done or what we’ve just experienced…say ‘yes, that’s a great idea’ then we don’t do it.

There are many things…SIMPLE things..that we can do to help ourselves…if we’d just LISTEN…and be WILLING (to do whatever it takes to help ourselves) and DO IT.

There’s a lot at stake here.
EVERYTHING is at stake here (for me).
No one else can fix this for me…no one else can fix ME…
*I* have to do the work…and first…I have to discover what the work is.

Having something…PROOF…of the TRUTH..when that ‘addictive voice’ starts talking may be of help.

That ‘addictive voice’ does not want us to do these things..that part of us does not want us to protect ourselves…that part of us wants us to gamble again…someday…it is patient.

When it starts speaking…we can use all the help we can get.


One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation. --Arthur Ashe

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Can I get better?

Does GA work?
Am I doomed??

Well…g.a.--- the people in my g.a. group say that working the gambler’s anonymous program is the only way to abstinence and recovery…and that even if one becomes abstinent (without g.a.) they are doomed to return to gambling.

For a while, I believed that..because the only people that I knew who were having any success at all were in the gambler’s anonymous program…

I’ve made quite a few friends on the internet who are finding success WITHOUT g.a.

I know many people who are not using g.a. who aren’t doing so well…BUT….I know a lot of people who DO attend G.A. and have been doing so for YEARS who aren’t doing so good either.

I read an interesting article yesterday…the title implies that it’s an essay on the power of language in recovery, but it’s really a lot more than that…

The author speaks of the ‘New Recovery Movement’ and how attitudes (and language) around recovery needs to be changed…and ALSO…talks about the need for addicts in recovery to speak out….to show that RECOVERY DOES WORK….it CAN and IS being done….to show ‘Living Proof’…

Also…he speaks of the many paths to recovery..

Snip from the essay:

1. Affiliated recovery is a phrase that depicts the traditional pathway of initiating and sustaining recovery within an organized recovery mutual aid society. Affiliated recovery would include those individuals who are recovering within the framework of AA/NA or in such 12-step alternatives as Secular Organization for Sobriety or LifeRing. The term would also apply to those individuals who are recovering via participation either in specialized addiction ministries or broader religious pathways of recovery in which addiction is framed as a sin and recovery is defined in terms of redemption and living within a sober, faith-based community.
2. Virtual recovery or cyber-recovery is a phrase that describes people who have initiated or sustained their recovery from addiction through internet discussion and support groups, without face-to-face contact with other people in recovery.
3. Disengaged recovery is a term that depicts people who initiated their recovery within a professionalized treatment context or a recovery mutual aid group, perhaps even sustained that recovery for an extended period of time within that professional or mutual aid structure, but then disengaged from active participation while continuing to maintain their sobriety and emotional health through other methods. Such eventual disengagement is anticipated and encouraged in some groups (e.g., Women for Sobriety). It also occurs in traditional Twelve Step recovery groups much more frequently than publicly acknowledged, but this style of recovery has not been “blessed” by the Twelve Step community.46

(46Given that open acknowledgment of this phenomenon is likely to stir controversy and powerful resistance in some circles, I will briefly elaborate. I believe that sustained participation in mutual aid groups is an essential sobriety maintenance function for many people, that such sustained participation is a framework for spiritual fulfillment and meaningful social fellowship for many people, and that the survival of mutual aid groups as viable organizations requires a cadre of leaders and elders committed to sustained involvement. This does not alter the fact that many people with severe and persistent alcohol and other drug problems can and do achieve sustained recovery without life-long participation in such groups. This is also a way of stating my belief that the impact of AA and NA on America’s alcohol- and other drug-related problems far exceeds the impact reflected in the number of active members at any point in time.)

4. Solo recovery is a term that describes people who recover from severe alcohol and other drug problems without the aid of either professionally-directed treatment or participation in recovery support groups. Terms such as maturing out, natural recovery, spontaneous remission, auto-remission, and untreated recovery have been used in the addiction research community to depict this phenomenon. The acknowledgment of solo recovery is an important step in celebrating the growing pluralism of the culture of recovery in the United States, but it is likely that this term will give way to other yet to be coined terms. The reason is that studies of natural recovery confirm that most people who recovery from addiction without the aid of treatment or support groups do so with significant family and social support for their personal recovery. One of the challenges of involving people in solo recovery in the New Recovery Advocacy Movement is that many such individuals shed alcohol and other drug problems without incorporating
addiction or recovery into their personal identity and story. It will require visible accounts of solo recovery for such individuals to self-identify themselves and consider participation in this movement.
5. Manual-guided recovery is a term reflecting a mid-point between affiliated and solo recovery. Here the individual seeks outside assistance in the form of a written manual that provides a highly proceduralized approach to altering his or her relationship with alcohol and other drugs without face-to-face contact with others in recovery. As more of these manuals move on to the Internet, the paths of virtual recovery and manual-guided recovery are likely to merge. There may be better words to depict the unspoken realities and diversities of these recovery pathways. As the diversity of recovery paths becomes more fully charted and culturally known, we will evolve new terms to depict this diversity at the same time the need for such designation will likely diminish. Once charted and known, what will become increasingly important to the New Recovery Advocacy Movement is that people ARE in recovery, not how that recovery was achieved or is being sustained.

You can read the full essay here:

Recovery DOES Work.
People DO get better.
You can too.
There is Hope.
Never stop trying to stop.

Find what works for you....
if it isn't working..

Change it.

Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.-- Author: Unknown

Friday, December 28, 2007


1. A feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger, trouble, or controversy.
2. An instance of contented self-satisfaction.

I’m not sure why that word bothers me….maybe often, in recovery, it is associated with fear?

As in…‘Whatever I do…I must not get complacent.’

I remember feeling that way myself.’s understandable….I mean….if I return to gambling – geez…everything just falls apart…I LOSE MYSELF when I am in the cycle…I LOSE WHO I AM…the ESSENCE of me is suppressed…

And when that happens…I am in danger of losing everything that is precious to me….so…yes…fear is very understandable.

But it’s not the way that I want to live.

So….how would one go about this…this…not living in fear…yet not falling into ‘complacency’ and returning to the cycle?

I imagine that becoming complacent can happen in many different ways.

For me…the further away I was from the pain…from the desperation…the less real..the less INTENSE it felt.

Sort of like child-birth.

I remember that it hurt..but as time goes by…it seems that it didn’t hurt all THAT bad (ha!) so you decide to have another baby.

Also…as my consequences diminished…that..coupled with hearing others…whose consequences were far more dire than mine had ever been…I began thinking ‘maybe I wasn’t THAT bad’ and ‘perhaps I exaggerated how big a problem I had’….again…time was my enemy.

And….I stopped attending g.a. meetings (because I was fine..I had no desire to gamble)…and I had no other resources at the time…g.a. meetings provided me with the means to re-connect to that pain..whenever a ‘new’ person came in …sobbing …desperate …hopeless …I would recall how I must’ve looked when I first entered…how I felt…what was going on in my life…it would come back to me….it would remind me where I had been…and where I could be again…if I don’t do what is necessary.

So….those things allowed me to become complacent….but those things are all FEAR based.

I was missing something.

I was missing having real RELATIONSHIPS with people in recovery…. And..the relationships that I now have provide me with many things…many opportunities for growth..but insofar as complacency is concerned…. Having people who care about me...and can recognize…and call me out on ‘old’ behavior…or ‘old’ thinking…is invaluable.

Today…I believe that…even if I forget how painful gambling was….even if I decide that I have exaggerated the seriousness of my problem….even if I don’t attend meetings…. If I am engaged in a fellowship (defined: an association of people who share common beliefs or activities) where I am developing new ways of thinking and living….and ridding myself of the old, harmful ones….then….gambling just does not fit into that life.

If I knew for a fact…if I KNEW..that I could gamble ‘normally’ – if I KNEW that I would not get caught up in a ‘cycle’ and that no harm would come to me if I decided to gamble today….I would choose not to.

So…changing…growing…and remaining committed to relationships that will discourage reverting to ‘addictive’ thoughts and behaviors…will keep me free…..regardless of whether or not I’m feeling ‘satisfied, content, or…complacent’.

Gambling…is not compatible with who I am today…


Imagine the person you would like to be...then become that person. -- I've no idea where I read or heard applies. :)

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I am free now.

I have broken free from the cycle.

I have done this before….and gone back.

How could I have lived that misery…then broken free…and been happy…and returned? Why??? I am a smart woman…it doesn’t make sense.

Well…it doesn’t make sense if this is simply a BEHAVIOR problem….which it isn’t (see the science of the brain problem)….and in THAT context…it sort of DOES make sense.

I gambled to escape my life.

Now that might be a strange thing for me to say…considering…my life was pretty d*mn good…some people would look at my life and say…escape from WHAT???

I didn’t suffer any sort of neglect or abuse as a child… I mean…my parents weren’t perfect…but whose are? I didn’t endure some event so traumatic as to ‘damage’ me emotionally….until the death of my mother.

Many compulsive gamblers will trace the beginning of their gambling problem back to the death of a loved one.

Surely it’s not that simple…and there were many other factors involved for me (feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities, being compulsive by nature)…but Grief…that was my ‘tipping point’…that was my ‘single traumatic event’.

Once I broke free, I did not gamble for 20 months….at which time I had just lost a baby…and I was helping my father in law to die.

I gave myself ‘permission’.
Who could blame me?

I could go off in so many directions right now…talking about the fact that…this line of thinking shows that I still felt like I was being DEPRIVED of something that I enjoyed ….that…I stopped gambling back then so that I wouldn’t get in ‘trouble’ (I wanted to keep my family)…. But what was really going on at that moment was…I was hurting.

I was hurting…and I wanted it to stop.

I found myself back in the cycle….and it was nearly two years before I broke free again.

My THINKING needed to change…if I want my life…and I do…I need to understand that gambling is NOT going to ever make me happy…and it will only lead to my destruction.

Today I have to understand that people that I love are going to die.

People that I love are going to die.

Unless I die before them…..I am going to have to experience that…that many people that I love..are going to die.

It is part of life.
Everyone experiences this….grief.

And…when that happens in my life again…it is ok for me to gamble.

It is ok. I give myself permission.

It is a legal activity….it is wrong that I gamble according to WHOM?

As a matter of fact….why wait for an ‘excuse’? If this is something that I enjoy….something I am depriving myself of….why not just go now?

Indeed. Why not.

It is ok for me to go….


There will be consequences.

If I just go on a whim….because it sounds like fun…or if I wait for some ‘event’ that seems painful enough to justify it.

There will still be consequences.

Gambling does not…gambling can NEVER…GIVE me enough…to justify those consequences.

No matter the reason.

If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Counting Days

I remember when I was in single digits…those people with years of clean time..or even MONTHS..seemed so far from seemed unlikely that I would ever get there..and…while each individual day was a HUGE accomplishment for me…at the same time…the length of my ‘clean time’ (compared to others) seemed so insignificant.

It was important to me to count days back then….I had an ‘accountability partner’ that I would call at the end of each day to proclaim that I had made it one more day without having gambled…that helped me a lot. She is my sister in law and is not a compulsive…while she doesn’t really ‘get’ this….in some ways..that HELPED me…I mean…if I did gamble…how could I explain this to her? I couldn’t…soooo….my options, if I were to gamble, would be…to admit this to her (which I was not prepared to do) or to lie (which…I was determined not to do any longer).

That gave me strength.

Also….there were days when I would REALLY REALLY struggle….I REALLY wanted to gamble…and I didn’t…so….the NEXT time I would feel that way…I would reason ‘well…if I was going to gamble…I should have just done it last week when I wanted to….if I gamble now..then I went through all of that hell last week for no reason!!’

That helped me too.

I’ve heard people say that counting days wasn’t a good thing because it makes one feel shame if they slip.

I disagree.

Counting days or not counting days has nothing to do with shame…if one gambled then he gambled…he will feel shame or not, regardless of whether or not he counts days.

I’ve heard people, saddened by the fact that they are ‘back at day one’.

Well…it IS day one…but…is one ‘back’ there? Is your SECOND day one the same as your FIRST day one?

Mine wasn’t.

I saw someone post their number of clean days…it looked something like this:

83 days -1

I thought that was cool. It obviously worked for HER.

Find whatever works for YOU.

This is not a contest….or…if it is…it shouldn’t be.

This is about CLAIMING each and every day for yourself…it’s about BEING PRESENT in your life.

I know people that, on any given day, can tell you how many consecutive days have passed that they haven’t gambled…and that number is in the thousands!

That works for them.

I didn’t count days at all this time. I didn’t need to.

I acknowledge milestones…my last date gambled is an important date to me…in the same way that my wedding anniversary is…it marks a turning point…a day in my life when something happened…and everything changed.

You may also want to read I can NEVER get there.
If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin. --Ivan Turgenev.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hi, I'm Peg and I'm a Compulsive Gambler.

I remember when I first attended gambler’s anonymous meetings…anytime someone spoke, they opened with that line…hi, I’m _________ and I’m a compulsive gambler.

I didn’t wanna say that.

I DIDN’t say that.

I say it now :)

I’ve heard some people question the wisdom in people saying that…they argue that…we should think POSITIVE…not focus on the negative.


A compulsive gambler.

How bad is that?

I mean…I know it’s not good…it caused me pain…it hurt people I love…it turned me into someone I didn’t know and didn’t like…so…it’s not good…but….

There was a time when I could easily have said ‘I am a gambler’ and not been ashamed or embarrassed…it wasn’t a ‘bad’ thing…it was entertainment…I was a gambler, so what?

So….it’s the compulsive thing that’s a problem…but….that’s not a NOUN…it’s not WHO I am… is an ADJECTIVE….it describes HOW I GAMBLE.

Well…for *ME*…compulsive is an adjective that applies to more than gambling.

Actually…being compulsive has been an advantage to me in many ways….when I become interested in something I really throw myself into it…my career, parenting, even recovery…so…being compulsive isn’t necessarily a BAD thing.

I’ve also had some things that I’m compulsive about that haven’t been advantageous but haven’t been a (real) problem either…maybe just a bother….like….how many times have I come back home after locking up and driving away…to make sure that I unplugged the iron….or locked the front door…or walked back to my car to make sure I locked IT….well…is that compulsive or is it related to attention deficit? Or both?

The point is….that being compulsive, in itself, is not all THAT awful…it’s when we engage in compulsive behavior to the point where it CONSUMES us…

In fact…the compulsion itself wasn’t all THAT much of a problem for me…I mean….the first time I recall gambling I was out of control…but I didn’t gamble again for years….and then when I did…I was out of control and gambled til my last penny was gone….but then…I didn’t gamble again for years…

So…it wasn’t necessarily GOOD when I gambled..but it didn’t really cause a problem in my life.

The OBSESSION was the killer for me….the OBSESSION coupled with the COMPULSION….meant that….when I WASN’t gambling…I could think of nothing else..and all of my thoughts were around gambling…fixing a financial crisis or planning an outing..thinking of some lie or excuse that would get me out of the house…it was all I could THINK about it…so I was gambling as often as I possibly could….and I would gamble as long as I possibly could once I started.

So yeah, I’m a compulsive gambler…but…that’s not the way I think about myself when I think of who I am.

I am so much more than that.

I am a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a co-worker, an aunt, etc. etc. etc.

I am a compulsive gambler…but that is what I *DID*

it is not who I *AM*.


~ Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final.
--- Source Unknown


One (really really bad) day, I had an appointment with my ‘addiction doctor’. I told him about my day…all that I was enduring…he kind of chuckled and said…I have a friend in recovery, who, when she has days like that says (with a very sarcastic tone) “oh GOODY…another f**king recovery opportunity!”

Honestly…if I compare my world today with April of 2002….

Life is good....and I sure do have plenty to be thankful for..
of course…there are always things that I could complain about….and THAT is the difference in me now…learning that…the difficulties in life are opportunities for growth….even…well…ESPECIALLY the really difficult…painful times…that…when I look BACK on them…I can see that …well I can see that..those experiences have benefited me in some way…they have promoted growth.

I know, I know…when I am going thru really difficult things…if someone were to say to me…’yes…but…you will grow from this’ I’d likely kick them in the knee…who needs to grow, right? And…even if I DO wish to grow…’s not worth this gut-wrenching, excrutiating pain….ok…so I’m not going to try to pretend that I could EVER go thru that sh*t, and embrace the pain…no way, not me….I fight it, kicking and screaming….



Once I have a bit of relief

When I am not so raw

Sometimes it takes a while….but…eventually…I can see…that I am better for it

Often now…when I am experiencing pain…I can hold onto that…that there is a reason…that there is a lesson…and that I will get through it…and that I will grow.

But not always.

The thing about gratitude is….I can almost always find something to be grateful for….even little things…ESPECIALLY little things that I take for granted…I am clothed…I am fed…I have clean water to bathe and to cook with…I have a roof over my head…I have power…I have a job….I have air conditioning and heat in my home…I have a family…

Sometimes, some of those things do not feel like blessings - and there may be times that I don’t always have all of those things…but….no matter what I don’t have….I always…ALWAYS have something to be grateful for.

Being grateful…changes me.

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.--Buddha

Monday, December 24, 2007

I remember

I remember wanting to quit gambling so badly

but not wanting to quit.

I remember thinking that the mess I had made could never be was too bad, too big.

I remember thinking...what the hell? may as well gamble's already THIS bad....what's it gonna hurt...just a little more?

I remember thinking one else could ever have done one else could ever have been this bad.

I remember how ashamed I felt...who was I? what had become of me? how did this happen?

so many lies...

I remember feeling like I could not be forgiven...I didn't DESERVE to be forgiven.

I remember doing whatever I had to do to get home that my husband wouldn't get the mail.

I remember...I rarely ever LOOKED at the mail...I didn't open bank statements for months and months at a time.....I just piled up the mail...until one day...when late notices were rolling in and the utilities were about to be disconnected, I would sit down and frantically write checks....heart racing....freaking out about what I'd been doing...and the state of our finances.....I'd open credit card bills then...but only to see what the minimum amount due was...I never ever looked at the transactions....

I never really had a clue how much I was blowing...I didn't want to know....I couldn't bear thinking about it.....

I remember...on those days....committing AGAIN to stopping...I HAD to was so bad...

I remember...that resolve never lasted very long.

I remember sometimes thinking that...the thought of picking up...disappearing...starting over somewhere else...alone....with no one to answer responsibilities but mself.....I remember thinking that that sounded appealing.

I remember thinking that the only way out of this mess...for my family...was for me to die.

I remember thinking of ways that I could do wouldn't be as traumatic for my loved ones if it LOOKED like an could I do this without traumatizing my children too badly?


I remember how my husband looked at my the day that he found out...he was shocked, confused....hurt....I'm sure he thought "who the hell are you and what did you do with the girl that I married?"

He was angry.

He was very angry.

I remember thinking that things could never be good between us again...that we would never be ok.

Life is good today.

Life is not about finding yourself life is about creating yourself :)

Searching for my Higher Power - I

As a young girl I believed in God. I was raised Catholic.

Somewhere along the way I lost Him.

For a long time I didn’t believe, but I couldn’t say that…just in case :)

Then….I met a woman…we made friends…one day, the subject of religion came up and she said “There is no God.”


She could say that?

She wasn’t struck down…..and it empowered me.

From that day forward, I could say “There is no God.”

Years later, I worked with a guy who decided it was his mission to save my soul. We talked often about God….and based on our discussions…I changed my stance from “There is no God.” To “I don’t believe in God…and if there IS a God, I don’t like him very much.”

Most of the people that I knew that had ‘found’ God were pretty obnoxious and pushy, I thought.

Sometimes i would be afraid..what if there is a God...and I didn't have faith...what will happen to me? so i have explored different avenues...have attended a few bible studies, etc...searching for ? i dunno, searching for the possibility of God.

My logic always kicked in and told me this.....there is no God. Man created God in HIS own image in an effort to control society and comfort himself. A belief in God certainly does appear to bring peace to those who believe...but then...if i believed in an imaginary friend who loved me unconditionally and who would take on all of my problems..all of the WORLDS problems...that would comfort me too...a doubt..the folks who believed were somewhat happier than the folks that did not...even if they were delusional...didn't seem like such a bad place to be...oh...except for that obnoxious, pushy stuff...

Still, I did not…I COULD not believe.

Then, in 2002…I found the Gambler’s Anonymous Program. I needed to stop. I DESPERATELY needed to stop gambling…and ‘old timer’ brought the Big Book of AA to a meeting. He gave it to me and said “Everywhere that it says alcohol, mentally substitute gambling.”

It was me.

That book…was me.

But I don’t have a problem with alcohol??

I decided…that….while I DO have a gambling problem….my REAL problem is ADDICTION.

Based on that book…and on the 12 steps of Gamblers Anonymous, if I was going to get better, I had to have a ‘Higher Power’….a power that is greater than myself.

In meetings, I discussed openly the fact that I did not believe in God…I was told that ANYTHING could be my higher power…it could be a doorknob or a park bench or the group.

Excuse me?

A doorknob is more powerful than me? A park bench?

And..yeah…ok…maybe I could stop with the help of this group…in which case, this group could be my higher power…except…Step 3 is “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this power of our own understanding”.

Ummm…I don’t think I’m gonna turn my will and my life over to the care of a bunch of addicts (or a doorknob or a park bench for that matter).

Besides…the folks in the big book of AA and the ones that I’d talked to in GA all called their Higher Power ‘God’.


This was gonna be harder than I thought.

Before I had even 90 days of abstinence, I had a conference to attend…in Reno.

I couldn’t tell my boss. I was so ashamed.

I had to go.

My husband came with me.

We stayed in a hotel/casino.

I had to walk through the casino…down the escalator….more walking through the casino…another escalator….more casino walking…down the stairs…to get to my conference.

Leave and return for lunch break….and back out at the end of the day.
For three days.

Most of the conference was educational, but there was one motivational speaker.

He was awesome.

We took a break during his presentation and I spoke with him for a bit.

In conversation, he mentioned a book he had written…I asked him for the name of it so that I might purchase a copy…he asked for my business card and said he’d send me one…..which he did.

His name is Kelly Talamo and his book was ‘Ambushed by God’.

It contained a series of short stories..true stories from Kelly’s life…synchronistic events that he attributed to God.

I couldn’t put it down.

The final short story in the book was a very personal one…it was about his Mother…in his telling of the story, he began naming family members and

Oh my god….he has a twin.
I know her.
I have known and loved her since I was a child.


I am looking for God.
I live in New Orleans.
I am in Reno when I meet a guy who lives in Georgia.
I end up reading his book…which is about strange ‘coincidences’ that would lead one to believe that there truly are no accidents…
And…he is from my home town and I grew up with his sister!!

Here I am searching for God….he was obviously speaking to me….

But I didn’t listen.

I was afraid.

Everyone that I knew that ‘had’ God…did that obnoxious pushy thing… I didn’t want to be that way….and there didn’t seem to be an in-between.

Ultimately I decided that the solution to this gambling thing was my character defects…..I stopped my search for God….I stopped attending g.a. meetings…and I did fine….life was great…

Until it wasn’t.

Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. ~Author Unknown

Pushy People in Recovery

I’ve seen it many times…and I’ve heard many people complain about it…some people in recovery think that if YOU are not doing what THEY are doing…then.. you don’t GET it and you’re not DOING it....hmmmm....I'm sure that I've done this from time to time myself :(

Only now am I able to see that they mean well…I mean…YOU know how hard it is to break free!

So….here is this person who tried and tried unsuccessfully and they finally found a way (in their mind…THE way…because it was the ONLY way that they could)… so…if this person sees another in pain….that desperation that they can soooo relate to….it sort of makes sense that they would want to help….and…the only way they know to stop…to feel better…is the way that THEY did it.

Many people strongly ‘encourage’ others to attend gamblers anonymous meetings….
many of us (including yours truly) thought that we could do it without meetings and failed...
...i am an overachiever...when i came into g.a. i decided that i would be the BEST person to ever have worked the program....people would tell me i couldn't do it my way...i'd show THEM...i was determined. I was going to get an A+ in Recovery!

After awhile, I became involved with my life again…I became busy…I was happy and healthy and didn’t want to gamble….i thought i was fine and I stopped going to meetings….I wasn’t doing ANYTHING ‘recovery’ related….that didn't work for me.

‘working recovery’ doesn’t mean attending meetings….that is called ‘attending meetings’.

To *me* ‘working recovery’ is about powerlessness, control, righting wrongs, forgiveness (of one's self and others), self-discovery, and acceptance (again...of one's self and others) becoming aware….learning about (and learning how to deal with) feelings and emotions…being honest with myself and with others….remaining openminded..with regards to recovery and life in general….thoughts on that continue to evolve….ask me tomorrow and my answer will have grown J

Attending meetings aren’t working recovery (IMHO)…they are a part of my learning experience….a big part…and they may be completely necessary to some people throughout their recoveries…..and THAT is why some people are ‘pushy’ about them……forgive them that J

Know that…even though it may not appear so…they are trying to be helpful.

Do what you must do.

For yourself.

I have learned, though….when I hear about something that is of no use to me in my recovery….to acknowledge that is may not be useful to me remain open minded…….things do change.

I have also seen people who have had bad experiences attempt to discourage others from 'making the same mistake'.

This is YOUR life....if you can just stop, then stop.
If you CAN't just open to everything......don't let anyone tell you what you MUST do or you MUSTN'T do....check things out for yourself.

This is too important.
This is your life.


Would I be proud to tell someone what I did today?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

If there is no change

If you always think the way you have always thought
you will always feel how you always felt
And if you always feel how you always felt
Then you will always do what you have always done
If you always do what you have always done
Then you will always get what you have always gotten
If you always get what you always got
Then you will always think how you always thought.
If there is no change
There is no change.

--Author Unknown

Gambling to get Money

It’s nearly Christmas.
Depending upon where one is in the addiction, a compulsive gambler is likely to be broke this time of year…without having bought food and gifts.
It’s desperation time.
When one is broke.....Where can one get money?

That little voice tells us…we know where.

The Gamblers Anonymous combo book says:

This is another common characteristic of compulsive gamblers. A lot of time is spent creating images of the great and wonderful things they are going to do as soon as they make the big win.

Strange that we reason that if we WRITE a check…that somehow our bank balance will INCREASE???

Yes….we will write a (bad) check (that, of course, we will cover with our winnings)…and this time….THIS time…we will quit when we are ahead…we will because we MUST…

We HAVE left when we were ahead in the past…we can remember that feeling…we can recall how good it felt….how FULL we felt…that is what we must do today…we need money. .

Almost always…this line of thinking leads to even more desperation…more hopelessness…more helplessness.

We have to accept that gambling is NOT a way for US to get money.

Yes, people win.
But *I* cannot.

I cannot win because…even on the rare occasion that I am able to leave when I am ahead….I cannot wait to get back…I want more…I need more…I will return…and will continue to return until every thing that I have won is gone…and then I will begin chasing it….with every penny that I have available to me.

I cannot win because I cannot stop.

Every day that I do not gamble…I am a winner.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

How Big is it?

Many common ‘traits’ of compulsive gamblers (or addicts, in general) are well documented…some of them, though…I’m only aware of because of my contact with so many.

Blowing things out of proportion.

Getting into an argument…and not letting it ‘go’…long after the other person has ‘moved on’ many of us tend to ‘stew’ over the event.

Being late, a conflict or sudden change in plans, anything unexpected or undesirable can easily become a CRISIS for me.

Some things ARE big…and…when they are big, and deserve the energy that I am giving it…fine…be angry…cry…whatever..but so so so often..the things that I freak out about are not worthy.

In this too…in being upset…I have to learn balance…I mean…it’s ok to get upset, to get angry…it’s ok..but sometimes..I do those things WAY out of proportion to the situation…so I am learning to ask myself…


Is this thing so big that…I will still be upset about it next week?
How about next month..or next year?

Is this so bad that this date will be forever etched in my mind (like the death of a loved one?)….is this so bad that…next year on this date I will say…ohhhhhh….this was such a miserable day for me last year?

Is this something that I will be able to look back upon…and not cry?

If I am freaking out because I am stuck in traffic…or over some disagreement with a co-worker…or because my kid’s bedroom is a wreck AGAIN…I am probably investing too much feeling into the incident…

I have a friend in recovery…who says “Is someone dead? Is there blood on the floor? Are the police there?....if not…can’t be that bad.”

I like that. :)

When I feel this way..when I get upset....

What is different..does it ‘help’?...does it ‘fix’ anything?

If I get upset…or if I learn to sigh and just get thru it…or even chuckle about the way that I ‘used to’ (not) deal with situations like this….

If I freak out, or if a am ok with it….what is different?

The only thing that is different is the way *I* FEEL.

If I am stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire…and I remain calm until help arrives…or if I allow myself to get all worked up about it…what is different? Can the way that I *FEEL* change it?

It can’t.

The only things that my feelings can do…is alter my mood.

So….serenity prayer time…

Can I change it?
If not….then…give it the amount of energy that it is due…cry if it is warranted…scream if it is justified..but…if it’s not worth it…realize that…and…smile…because I am learning…and I am growing.

*Related post: Relax

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. ~ Nathaniel Branden

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I read somewhere that addicts have a ‘highly developed capacity for self-deception’.

I think that have a highly developed capacity for deception, period.

I managed to hide what was going on with me for years…from family and friends…strange…as lying is really against my nature….they knew I gambled…but…I only told them about my winnings…and if I DID admit to losing…I minimized the loss….

but the truth is..I really was deceiving myself as well.

Before I acknowledge that I HAD a problem…I thought I COULDN’T possibly DEVELOP one… yeah…I saw those ‘if you have a gambling problem call 1-800” signs…

but…that didn’t or couldn’t ever apply to ME…that was for…..?bums?


Then….For a long time…I KNEW I had a problem…but

I believed that I could quit on my own…even though all evidence suggested otherwise (I had quit a thousand times….only to return to gambling).

When I first attended a gamblers anonymous meeting, I didn’t return for several years…for quite a few reasons…including…I wasn’t like ‘them’.

I refused to see my behavior…..I am certain that if one of my days…while I was in the cycle were on ‘candid camera’ and the parts of the day where I was gambling was edited out (it would be a very short video then)…one could easily tell that I was some sort of ‘junkie’…I was in a hurry to get my family out of the door..then…I would frantically ready myself…drive to some establishment…geez…just thinking about it makes me cringe…several restaurants in the area have video poker…I knew the employees (because I frequented them so much) and would often show up prior to them unlocking the doors to open for business…..yes….’junkie’ is not too harsh a word.

I can even recall..I am ashamed to admit this…thinking that…I would probably lose my family when this all came out…but…in a way…that’d be ok..because I would be free (to gamble) then…with no one to answer to, etc. – how sad. How twisted my thinking was.

I even imagined moving away…starting a new life…of course…any life that I had would include gambling…it was my lover.

Then…I became abstinent for a while…20 months…and there was a different sort of denial…I was better…I had no desire to gamble…EVER again…and I believed that I was safe…again…that I was capable of doing this on my own.

In addictions, one tends to isolate….and…the ‘addict’ in my head prevents me from thinking like ‘normal’ people…I now believe that THAT is why it is important to ‘stay connected’ with other recovering compulsive gamblers….because….even tho I’m fine…even tho I KNOW I’m fine….one day I may NOT be fine…and…if I haven’t cultivated relationships with people who understand this…with people I feel comfortable with and am in contact with….I can easily find myself ..well…you know…’out there’.

For me… AWARENESS is mandatory…AWARENESS is the opposite of denial…and…only if I remain aware and honest...can I be sure..that I can keep my life.

And I intend to do that.

I am entitled to it…and I will gift myself that…my life.


The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we're afraid.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Change Your Life

I read somewhere 'If you want to change your life, the first thing you have to do is change your life.'


How many times have I pondered things...WANTED things to be different...HOPED things would be different...yet did nothing?

Change is hard.

I've heard people say that all of my life...and I didn't really understand it...I mean...change is certainly DIFFERENT...but...I find many changes are exciting...not so hard.

I guess...what I THOUGHT it meant was...

ADJUSTING to change is hard.....

but now....NOW....I think that it means

AFFECTING change is what is difficult...

TAKING ACTION in order to make changes occur.

Hard...because of...fear??

Afraid of failure, afraid that things won't turn out as we'd planned, afraid of the 'work' that lies ahead...afraid of unforseen consequences of the changes we envision.

I guess if my life was all roses and sunshine...I'd have some justifiaction to fear change...maybe things would get worse?

and ya know....even now...things COULD get worse for me....


they are NOT going to get better UNLESS I MAKE CHANGES.

This is MY life.
No one is going to do this for me.
No one is going to 'fix' things.
Sure...people love me...and support me...but, ultimately,
this is MY responsibility....MY LIFE!

A friend asked me the other day..."what do you think your children will say about you when they are our age?"


the more I think about it
the more I realize
I can CHOOSE what they will say...

I have a ROLE in that...a BIG one...

What I HOPE that my children will say about me....many years from something like "There was a time when my mom was pretty messed up....but that was so long ago...I almost don't remember.....because now, she.........."

But that will only come to pass if I make changes.

I'm better now.
I'm a LOT better now.

But I hope to always learn and change and grow.... one small thing at a time.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Carpe Ominous! (sieze everything)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Balance in all things…that’s what I need.

I’ve been thinking about this recently.


I think….I USED to believe that balance meant…dividing my time equally between things.

But that’s not going to work for me….and my thoughts keep going back to an exercise that I learned of years ago in some self-help book (and used successfully at the time)…it was a little different….but…I think it can be modified for this purpose.

See….I’m thinking that…for me..balance needs to be dividing my time between things PROPORTIONATE to their importance to me.

So….this exercise….(which I will complete for myself as soon as I post this entry) would require me to list the things that I spend my time (or SHOULD spend my time) doing on two pieces of paper.

Then…on one of those sheets…I will grade myself, on a scale of 1 to 10….based on the amount of time (and my performance) I actually spend doing that…

Geez..when I was gambling….that list might’ve looked something like this:

Gambling ...................8
>>>Recovery work... 0
>>>Meditation.......... 0
>>>Prayer ..................1 (God…if you’re there..please let me win a jackpot….and then I will leave.)
>>>Wife..................... 3
>>>Mother................ 3
>>>Friend ..................2
Work ...........................1
Chores .........................1
Leisure........................ 2
Doing for others........ 1


Then…put that paper aside….and take out the second sheet. On this sheet…prioritize the items…the most important thing being #1, next most important thing #2 etc. etc.

Then compare the two pages.

My list of priorities doesn’t coincide with how I’m living my life.

So what to DO about that?

The thing is…when I 'grade' myself on how good a wife I am, for instance….there isn’t one event that I could look at (nor should I) and say…oh yes…I did that…so here is my score.

I have to look at the over all picture….see….
my role as a wife includes many many SMALL gestures and responses and responsibilities….

so…in order to score myself…I have to look at the ‘big picture’…think of many many little things that I have said and done…some good..some not so good…CUMULATIVELY…those things determine how good (or poorly) I am doing.

What that means is…the way for me to be a better mother…there is no BIG thing that I can (or should) go out and do right now….what is necessary is…
the next time I have to choose…between doing something for my children or doing my chores…I need to think about my priorities…and make the decision on which to do..based on THAT.


There are going to be exceptions.
For instance…my list of priorities will rate my children far above my work.

So…if…everytime I have to make a choice between working late or getting home to my kids…I make the choice that coincides with my priorities (my kiddos)..THEN…when it is important…when my job needs me….when it would be a really big deal for me to do otherwise…I can easily justify choosing work….and I wouldn’t feel like I was any ‘less’ a mother.

These things aren’t easy for me…I want the quick fix..I want the magic pill…I just want everything to be be the way that I want it to NOW.

In some ways, though…it makes it easier..that I am not required to do anything BIG or LARGE to make things right….all I have to do is

The next ‘right’ thing… I just need to keep doing the next right thing….


"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."-- Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, December 17, 2007


The entire time I lived in my addiction (and even BEFORE I began gambling) I was high-strung....I didn't know how to relax....or to 'calm myself down' for that matter.

I went from one crisis to the next...and...any 'issue' that arose...I managed to turn into a full-blown tragedy (even if only in my mind).

Many times, the 'issues' were of my own making....yet I would repeat the behavior over and over and over again (being LATE for example)...stressing myself if it were a life and death it's not cool to be late..but...if it was THAT important to me....if it upset me so much....why would i be late (for whatever I had to do) the next day and the next and the next?

The first thing I decided to do after stopping gambling was to become AWARE (to the best of my ability) of what was going on with ME at any given time.

I was so out of touch with who I am and how I feel....

sooooo....many times a day....any time I'd think about it...I'd ask am I feeling?

My list of 'feeling words' was rather consisted of good, bad, angry, sad, happy, tired, hungry, lonely, excited.......that was basically first task was to remove 'good' and 'bad' from my list of available words...and find better descriptors.

Using google, I found all sorts of lists of 'feeling words' that have been helpful to me in this new task :)

Some things in recovery just sound corny...and....this is one of them...but...for some reason....NAMING how I feel makes me feel lol ---- satisfied :) even if what I'm naming isn't such a good feeling...just being able to ACKNOWLEDGE that it's there...somehow changes it? of the things that I discovered ( I can be pretty dense sometimes) is that I was sooooooo uptight...almost ALL OF THE TIME!!!

While driving my car, my hands were often gripping the steering wheel tight enough to give me tense, I was....often clenching my teeth even....I was almost always a bundle of nerves.

Getting to sleep was nearly impossible..there were so many things to worry about...

I just needed to learn how to STOP.



as often as I would think about it...I would take stock of how I felt (I was always uptight) my way down my body.

I find it easier to relax muscles if I first clench them as tightly as I possibly relax my hand, for instance, I will make a tight tight fist...then release it..and relax...I do that with my face, my legs, feet, etc.

so.... i clench...and release...and take deeeeeep breaths.

but then...that's just the PHYSICAL stuff.

what I didn't realize

is how BUSY my MIND is!!!


once I started researching this recovery seemed like EVERYONE was talking about meditating.


I'm not a new age kinda gal...but


openmindedness, right?

H.O.W. Honesty, Openmindedness, Willingness


I decided to give this meditating thing a shot.

It was amazing.

I don't do it daily...although I do not know why? I enjoy it...and it helps me??? perhaps is just one of those things...taking good care of myself...that I must insist i do...that I must COMMIT to...

I didn't know anything about meditating....but....the way I started was...I would sit comfortable..on the back up against the wall...and breathe...and commit to not moving....even if my nose matter what....let the external stuff just slip away.....I would close my eyes...and breathe deep...and do that relaxation thing....clench my face...then relax...two or three times....then my neck...shoulders...all the way down to my toes....


i try to think of NOTHING.

nothing at all.


no thoughts.

it is AMAZING how busy my mind is..and..the NONSENSE that is going on there constantly..

it's hard...thoughts would creep in...and I would sort of get frustrated...even 'reprimand' myself...then focus again..on nothingness.

i would shoot for 15 minutes at first...of course, not having any idea how much time had passed...and sometimes i would do this for an HOUR!!

sometimes i would feel refreshed, but sometimes very tired...but felt...satisfying...SOOTHING.

then...i started googling meditation.

i still like this 'clearing the mind' thing that I do...but...somewhere I read that...when thoughts DO enter the's need to fret....don't be upset with myself....acknowledge the thought...embrace it....let it go....and back to nothingness.


i'd never meditated before...and hmmm I guess I was sort of ?embarrased? about it?? I mean... that's the sort of thing Buddhist MONKS do....not SOCCER MOMS!!!!


well...this soccer mom thinks that the Buddhist Monks might have something she needs....


Find ways to relax...find things that work for you...

Things that YOU can do to relax....without the aid of anyone or anyTHING else....take a walk, jog, listen to music...but....

No food, no drugs, no alcohol, no gambling.

Learning how to self-soothe is an important part of my 'new way of thinking and living'.


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"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." -- Helen Keller

Quick Fix?

As a child, I recall searching my parent's closet at Christmas time...needing to know NOW what my gifts would be.....

I have a hard time waiting to GIVE gifts also...I cannot wait.

While I hope that I was never quite THAT obnoxious....there is a bit of Violet (Willy Wonka) in me "Don't care how, I want it now!"

"Being addicted means relying on immediate gratification and, as the pattern of addiction continues, our ability to delay gratification erodes."
more here

I imagine that has a lot to do with my becoming is ALSO why recovery is so tough.

Recovery takes PATIENCE.

We have to learn how to slow took a long time to make this mess and it isn't going to get better over night.

Repaying debt, regaining trust, rebuilding all takes time..and that's frustrating for me...I'm not accustomed to WAITING for anything.

There is no quick-fix.
There is no magic pill.

Part of the 'getting better' is to learn to WORK for be patient and diligent.... all foreign to me.

There is so much to learn in recovery.

They say it's a 'journey', and is.

If there is a goal...for is to find joy and peace...if I stop gambling and am miserable..what is the point??

Joy and peace.

and Love :)

so....this isn't just about stopping gambling is it? cuz...when I stopped gambling...

FIRST - things were BAD - I had to face reality..something I hadn't done in a very long time....there were consequences and it was painful...but I held onto the fact that the POSSIBILITY of Joy, peace and love were out there and I would find them....I thought that it was a very very SLIGHT possibility..but...well...I had to try.

AFTER a while...things began to improve...but...before anything in my EXTERNAL world got better...I started changing INSIDE.... I was hanging around with people (mostly online) who were in recovery...I was spending many hours a day in a chat room for compulsive gamblers...I was like a sponge...I gravitated toward people that 'had something I wanted'...different things from different people...I learned a lot.

I am still learning :)

I had a real problem with the word PRAYER for a long long time...but...I found so much wisdom in the Serenity Prayer, that I began using it anyway....

There are so many things that I need to work on..I cannot do ALL of it today...I cannot fix EVERYTHING at once...good thing I don't HAVE to...

I am not where I want to be in my recovery...but...I am better than I was last year...last month...and even last week...and...I will be better NEXT week....and....even when I get to where I want to be in recovery....I won't be I grow...what I want..what I NEED..keep changing....

so the not to 'get there' continue growing....the goal IS the journey....

now that I'm figuring these things out...I'm GLAD there is no quick-fix....if i could have just taken a pill...and gambling would no longer have been a problem....who would I be today?

not the me that I am.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I have heard many people talk about their sponsor as a good friend, a confidant, a teacher....but that's not what I've actually experienced or seen for myself, in the g.a. program in my area...the sponsors that I have actually encountered seem to make 'demands' on their directives and ultimatums...I have often heard people speaking of 'submitting' or 'surrendering' to a sponsor.

In 2002 I asked someone to sponsor me on a temporary basis...and basically, she would tell me 'do this' or 'don't do that' .... I didn't feel like she would ever be my friend or confidant...and I didn't really feel like she WANTED to be those things...

I really want recovery.

When I became active in online communities, I found someone to be my online sponsor....that didn't really work for me either...

To be honest, the word 'sponsor' sort of makes me cringe....maybe this is why??

In the Gambers Anonymous 'Sharing Recovery Through Gamblers Anonymous' 67..Chapter IV Recovery and Unity, An Overview...Fourth Paragraph:

Each step is open to individual interpretation. Because the Recovery Program is designed to be adapted to personal needs, many different interpretations of the steps have arisen over the years. The commentary that follows is a basic overview of many different interpretations of the Twelve Steps of Recovery and can be considered as a starting point for more detailed discussion.

Well...that makes sense to me...however...if this is stands to reason that there are many different variations of the program going on out there..depending a great deal up on who your sponsor is???

So then...just picking someone who seems to be successful working the program isn't necessarily a good move.

This is getting more and more complicated :(

That same book also describes the duties of a sponsor in G.A.:

The duties of a sponsor are to do everything possible, within the limits of experience, capacity and prudence, to help other members continue their growth. Sponsors must let them know that they care and understand, that they can be counted on to help with any problems that arise. Sponsors are friends to their charges, and as good friends they are not afraid to tell them the truth, even if it is unpleasant. One of the most important duties of the sponsor is to make sure that the member attends GA meetings and adheres to the program.

The role of the original AA sponsor was defined in a pamphlet written in 1944 by Clarence S.

1) qualify yourself as an alcoholic

2) tell your story

3) inspire confidence in AA

4) talk about “plus” values (happiness, peace of mind, material benefits)

5) show importance of reading the Big Book

6) explain qualities required for success in AA

7) introduce faith

8) listen to the prospect’s story

9) take the prospect to several meetings

10) explain AA to prospect’s family

11) prepare the prospect for the hospital experience

But then...I found this on the web...this was written by an AA member who would like to remain anonymous:

Twelve Qualities of Sponsorship
1. I will not help you to stay and wallow in limbo.

2. I will help you to grow, to become more productive, by your definition.

3. I will help you become more autonomous, more loving of yourself, more excited, less sensitive, more free to become the authority for your own living.

4. I can not give you dreams or "fix you up" simply because I can not.

5. I can not give you growth, or grow for you. You must grow for yourself by facing reality, grim as it may be at times.

6. I can not take away your loneliness or your pain.

7. I can not sense your world for you, evaluate your goals for you, tell you what is best for your world; because you have your own world in which you must live.

8. I can not convince you of the necessity to make the vital decision of choosing the frightening uncertainty of growing over the safe misery of remaining static.

9. I want to be with you and know you as a rich and growing friend; yet I can not get close to you when you choose not to grow.

10. When I begin to care for you out of pity or when I begin to lose faith in you, then I am inhibiting both for you and for me.

11. You must know and understand my help is conditional. I will be with you and "hang in there" with you so long as I continue to get even the slightest hint that you are still trying to grow.

12. If you can accept this, then perhaps we can help each other to become what God meant us to be, mature adults, leaving childishness forever to the little children of the world.

I like that.
I also found information on the web regarding recovery 'coaches'...there are many ideas on what, exactly, that role should be also...but I sure do like that 'title' better.

For now..'friends' in recovery are meeting my needs...

One thing that I do know...I cannot do this alone.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More on Urges

I wrote on urges a few days ago.

Maybe because I haven't had them in a very long time...I kind of made light of them...of how strong they can be...the overwhelming INTENSITY of them.

I think that 'urges' is too soft a word for what they feel like.

urges-defined: an involuntary, natural, or instinctive impulse

I have had 'urges' before. was a SCHOOL mass...about 300 kids all under 10 years old...a very old priest is saying mass...and...for the homily he starts telling a story...says... "there was a couple that was married for thirty years...and then the husband had an affair..."


Everything in me said to stand up and shout "what the hell are you thinking?"

and then...there was that time I had an urge at the casino...I was in line....maybe to cash in coins, maybe to get a cash advance...who knows...but the line was long...the guy at the front of the line was having problems...they wouldn't cash his check, then he couldn't get an advance on his credit could see the desperation (geez...I know that feeling...the NEEDING...)...I felt kinda bad for the guy.
He was black.
The lady in line in front of me turns to me...rolls her eyes and makes a really mean racist comment...linking his race to his financial dilemma....I had the overwhelming urge to look her straight in the eye and reply "Excuse me, but I'm married to an african american." (even though I am not)
I was irritated at myself for days that I didn't act on that urge....I will always be glad that I kept my seat that day in church though.

But in MY mind...THOSE are 'urges'.....that feeling that I get...when I am consumed with thoughts of gambling...that is quite different.

How about...cravings? nahhhhhh...that's not it either.

Being me...I googled...found a few words that..well..maybe there really isn't a good word...but...I found fixated...still doesn't do it justice..but it better describes what's going on with me than does the word 'urge'..when I am having one...or....

tormented...uh uh...that's not it either...


that sort of describes the word I've found so far...

so....instead of "I'm having really bad urges right now." something like
"I am anguished." as in "Thoughts of gambling have me anguished."

it's almost unbearable when they occur. They are so EXTREME.

I was thinking this morning...about...powerlessness and 'moment's of clarity' and it occurred to me that .... in the same way that we have 'moments of clarity' when we are in the cycle......we also tend to have occurances of insanity when we are in recovery....when....everything that we 'know'..all of the hard work that we've done (in abstinence and recovery).... doesn't matter...or at least, doesn't seem to matter as much....when...all of our strength seems to dissipate and our thinking goes sour...a 'muddled moment'.

Funny that....when we are in the cycle...and we have a 'moment of clarity'...when our brain says 'what the hell are you doing?' 'you have to stop this!' 'get help!' we can easily turn that 'voice' off...disregard it and get back to what is our 'normal' state of mind (for one that is in the cycle)...the clarity is fleeting......however

when we are (mentally) healthy....and we have one of those 'muddled moments' we fixate on it....we allow those initial consume anguish us.

I don't have 'urges' any more...but I *DO* sometimes have what I call 'fleeting thoughts'. Ya know...where the voice will say ' could go in there and' and I shut it right down.

is that it?

is that the beginning of an urge? am I just interceding it before it grows to the point of anguish?

I don't know.
For today, though, I will just be grateful....that anguish is not something I have to contend with.

and I'll keep working on me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


There seems to be a lot of controversy amongst the different recovery methods over whether or not we are, indeed, powerless.

GA tells us that we are... here's how...

STEP ONE - We admitted we were powerless over gambling - that our lives had become unmanageable.

It doesn't say that I am powerless over my addiction.
It doesn't say that I am powerless to help myself.
It doesn't say that I am powerless over ANYTHING except GAMBLING. doubt in my mind....when I gamble....I am powerless.

I am powerless to leave...even when I have a pressing engagement.
I am powerless to walk out of the door with money...even if it is important to my (or my family's) welfare that I have that money.
I am powerless to STOP.
Once I start, I just can't freaking STOP!

The thing is.....once I started doing that over and over and over and over entire LIFE became a matter of fact...when I began attending g.a. in 2002..I was pretty much powerless over everything in my life.

My finances were in shambles.
My children (and husband) were neglected.
My house was a wreck.
I was always missing appointments...either because I couldn't leave a machine or because...I was just so messed up...I wasn't even AWARE of the fact that i HAD an appointment.
My moods were unpredictable...(and often explosive).
I had isolated myself from my friends and other loved ones...except for the people that I could borrow money from.....and...I only kept in touch with them when I needed money....nearly all of my relationships were strained.
I was irresponsible at my job.
I was full of anxiety...constantly.
I neglected my health.

Ya know...there wasn't ANYTHING that I didn't neglect when I was gambling.

Today...I have power over most aspects of my life...unfortunately I don't always USE that power to my full potential...but I have power, should I elect to impose it...(working on that).

But on April 15, 2002....I was powerless over gambling. I was powerless over my shaking hands and I was powerless over my tears. I was powerless over my entire life....and....while I have the power to choose to NOT gamble today.....should I decide to gamble....I will once again find myself...powerless.

There is no doubt in my mind.

Internet Based Treatment for Problem Gamblers

Exploring and Understanding Online Assistance for Problem Gamblers: The Pathways Disclosure Model
G. Cooper
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada
Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, Canada
Published online January 28, 2004

a snippet from study found at the link below:

Help for gambling problems can be found via the Internet; many of those who address their problems in this fashion feel that they derive considerable benefit. Such benefits result when affiliation with the website plays one of two roles: (a) a primary/exclusive source of therapy (as was the case for twenty percent of partici-pants in this study); and (b) an adjunct to other meth-ods of recovery (most notably, Gamblers Anonymous). Clearly, computer-mediated communication will not be a solution for everybody. However, the challenge for academe, clinicians, policy makers and consumer advo-cates will be to discover who, and under what circum-stances, is best suited for deriving benefit from online
assistance, and to follow-up the new knowledge with appropriate action.
It is hoped that the Pathways Disclosure Model contributes to this drive for new knowledge by provid-ing a basis for understanding why online assistance may be of special interest to many problem gamblers, particularly those concerned about the effects of stigma.

The author of this study developed a 'model' of cg internet support behavior that he calls the Pathways Disclosure is illustrated and described in his report at the above link.

I found it very interesting..considering the internet has been my primary source of recovery 'support'.

*note - GaWeb is not a support community for compulsive gamblers (at least, it's not now)..but they are out there...use a search engine to locate online support communities.

What is Recovery - Where do I start?

I found some definitions on the web:

continuing abstinence

"a voluntarily maintained lifestyle comprised of sobriety, personal health and citizenship.”

living a life free from addiction and engaged with the family as well as

a voluntarily maintained lifestyle composed characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship

Recovery is, in the easiest of terms, about nothing more or less then the recovery of life itself. It's about getting back something of value (life), not just giving up something that is strongly desired (addiction). In other words, recovery is about expansion, health and growth. It is about freedom and liberating oneself from the constricting demands of addiction. does one DO it?

That was so hard for me.

I need a this then this then that. might say...that is what the steps are...

but the 'steps' are so....? one really talks about the 'steps' least, they didnt' to me.

When I first became active in g.a., I was excited...I was going to be the best g.a. member ever...I was going to get an a+ in recovery....but....what to DO?

I was hungry for information...I had abstained for a short time and it was getting easier, life was getting better...I was FEELING better...I was even starting to feel somewhat HAPPY!! I had to make sure I didn't go back to that dark, sad, lonely place. HOW???

Wellll... I was attending meetings. In the meetings that I attend there is a table where the 'chair' and the 'treasurer' for that particular group sit...they conduct the meeting...there is a circle of chairs where we each take a seat when we enter.

Many people attend the same meeting(s) regularly, so the people get to know one another.

When the meeting starts, we read the 'combo' book (g.a. literature) from beginning to end...we take turns reading a page or so...then we have a short break.

During the break there is usually small talk....often but not always recovery related.

Then we return to the room and each person gives their 'therapy'....they have the floor..they discuss whatever is on their all of the meetings that I have attended, there is no 'cross-talk' (i.e. no one comments or interrupts at all when someone is giving their therapy...except for perhaps the chair(s)).

People talk about all sorts of things...some people reminisce about how much pain they were in when they were in 'action'...some people discuss some aspect of the program or what recovery means to them at that particular time...some people tell all about their day...

then we say the serenity prayer and everyone goes home.

I wasn't gonna learn how to 'do' this by listening to some lady 'I woke up late and then I had to cut the grass and then I took a bath and then I fixed my lunch...'

A group of 'regulars' often went for coffee after the was called 'the meeting after the meeting'....I started going with them....and I'd ask questions...and I'd LISTEN.

'Attend 90 meetings in the first 90 days'

'Get a sponsor and work the steps'

Some people do attend meetings daily...some people do that after many years of sobriety...some don't appear to need as many meetings. I don't.

The sponsor thing....that is a toughie....on soooooo many levels...but OK...I WANT MY LIFE..... but who to choose?

There really wasn't anyone in my meeting that I could 'relate' to or that 'had something that I want' :(

One Saturday morning I attended a meeting that I'd never been to before.

I told them, when I shared, that, usually, when I attended a meeting, it would 'lift' me...and I would feel GOOD and STRONG for at least a week or so..but that particular day...I did not feel good...I did not feel strong...and as soon as I left there I was going to gamble.

My husband was out of town...I had some cash that I was going to use to take my children to see a movie..but I had gambled it.

Before I left my house to attend that meeting...I went through my jewelry...for the first (only) time...and I brought a ring that was a gift from an old boyfriend with me to that meeting....I HAD to get money...I HAD to take my kids to the show....I was going to pawn that ring right after the meeting...

BUT...I was going to get more money for that ring than I needed (to go to the movies) I was going to gamble just a little before I went home.

After the meeting, several of the women approached me to discuss 'roadblocks' that I could put into place....never leave the house without a written list of exactly where I was going to go and STICK TO IT...blah blah blah...oh yeah..and 'get a sponsor'...WHO? I asked.. who should I ask?

One of the ladies suggested another who happened to be there...said I should ask her to be my 'temporary' sponsor until I found a 'permanent' I did.

I did pawn that ring.

I did take my children to the movies.

I did not gamble that day...or for the following 20 months.

She was a very nice lady. She didn't really 'teach' me anything...she just sort of 'told' me what to do....I dunno...maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance? maybe it would've evolved into something? but...I needed to know what to DO......She would call me (or tell me to call her) daily and when I got urges to gamble I was supposed to call day, I got a coupon from a casino for cash.

I needed cash.

I was on my way to get the money when she called. I told her what I was doing...she threw a fit..told me to turn around, tear it up.. blah blah blah...

I had already discussed this with my therapist, and I was going to go and I was NOT going to gamble.

I had borrowed some money from a friend that I was not going to be able to pay back for a very long time..and this coupon would provide me with some cash to at least START the process.

So...I had a plan.

The day prior, I bought a card..for my friend...I wrote in the my friend...from my heart...and I was excited about sending it to her...with some money.

I brought that card with me..into the casino.

My therapist said to call her as I entered and she would stay on the phone with me while I got my money...the process is several steps...and one has to walk ALL the way through the casino...then stand in line for a while...surrounded by people playing machines.

I didn't call her.

I didn't need to.

I had that card in my purse and I was going to mail it. WITH the money.

and I did.

I did that at several casinos...about a dozen times (until they stopped sending them to me).

I'm not recommending this to anyone..many people relapse trying to do this...MANY do.

But I had DECIDED....I want my life.

Anyway.....the sponsor....I didn't really do what she said.

I didn't call her daily (I was busy)...and I wouldn't stop going to get my money (I wanted it..and I was fine)....and I didn't regularly attend drifted apart.

It was my fault really...but....the "do this....don't do that" really did not appeal to me...I didn't need a BOSS...I needed a TEACHER.

to be continued......

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


This is such a lonely disease.

I avoided people who care about me...not wanting to face them, not wanting to lie (any more than I already was), and CERTAINLY not wanting to spend any of my time (that I could've been gambling) to talk to or do things with anyone else!

That's one of the things that make it so hard to stop...we are alone...

even when there are PHYSICALLY people in our lives...spouses, parents, children, whomEVER...we have, more often than not, isolated from them emotionally...they have no idea what is going on with us...or what we are feeling inside.

We are alone.

Finding places to share our hear others' stories...discovering that there are others like us...who 'get' us... geez...that felt so good to me...I was *not* alone..

I mean...i WAS...

but...I wasn't really....

I was not the only one experiencing these things...there were others like me...RELIEF!!!

alone is too lonely.

you don't have to be alone.

There are several online support groups...find one that appeals to you....
Post your story.
Email someone
Call a hotline
Get to a gamblers anonymous meeting
Attend online meetings
Go to a chat room for cg's
ANY of it...
You deserve your life.

Back to the person I was before?

I often hear people who are wanting to stop gambling say things like 'I just want to go back to the person I was BEFORE.'

Not me.

The peg that I was before I gambled...ENDED UP GAMBLING!!!

I want a new and improved version..

I Need a different way of thinking and living.

I mean...I was ok...I was probably like most people that I know...always busy..rushing around, trying to get everything done that I needed to do... tons of responsibilities...barely keeping it together.

I was so easily upset...
by traffic, by my children, by people I work with, by family, by'm not saying that I was p***** off at people all the time...I wasn't.

But...a lot of the time, when i was...I really SHOULDN'T have been.

One year ago, the words God, prayer, made me cringe...I didn't believe...I am not sure WHAT I believed...but...I knew I didn't want to pray, for certain.

But I needed a new way of thinking and living....


I started out...just kind of trying to ignore that aspect of what I was hearing (prayer/God)..and take the of the things that I learned...that has helped me so so so so much, is the Serenity Prayer...whether or not one actually 'prays' it to God is their own LIVE this...there is peace here.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

These days...when I begin to get upset...the first question I ask myself is 'Can I do anything about this?'

I have learned that I do not have control over any people, places or things (except myself...and sometimes..I cannot control myself very well either!).....

so.....can i do anything about it? in traffic for instance...that question alone makes me what the a***hole cut me off...does this affect my life?
who cares?
and I'm done with it.

when my kids upset me...can i do anything about this?
well...the kid thing is a tricky one for me..cuz i DO have a measure of control over them....
sort of...
lol but not REALLY.

my husband...ANYONE... anyTHING!

If I start to get angry or anxious or worried....the question is...'can I change this?'

If I cannot--- accept the things I cannot change.
Now THAT, for the toughie...
Learning that...the only person that I can change is me...deciding that...THAT is what I need to focus on... ME :)

I'm not saying I don't get angry..or that i TRY not to get angry....I just try to decide whether or not i can DO anything....and if I can...then I try to DO it...and if I cannot...I have to try to be ok with the fact that things are the way they are.

The thing is...even when we are RIGHT...even when we are JUSTIFIED in being only hurts us.

we have hurt enough.

we truly can choose not to hurt (sometimes)...if we learn much of how we FEEL is because of how we THINK.

We have to learn to take care of nurture ourselves.

It's part of a different way of thinking and living.