Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gambling - Hereditary Study

More interesting stuff-

"Something is being passed along in these families that increases the persons' likelihood of engaging in impulsive and ultimately self-destructive behavior. In some persons, it manifests as substance abuse, in others as antisocial behavior, and in others gambling, and often the three are combined," said Black, who has studied pathological gambling for the past eight years.

Pasted from:

Back on 9-4.
Be well.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gambling - drug study

in case you're bored while I'm away :)

Note: glutamate is a neurotransmitter involved in many brain functions.

Meanwhile, in an eight week trial, 27 compulsive gamblers were given N-acetyl cysteine, an amino acid impacting glutamate, a chemical associated with reward circuitry in the brain. Sixty percent of these participants reported decreased gambling urges during this time. Those who responded positively went on to do a second, double-blind experiment in which half of the participants received a placebo while others continued with the amino acid treatment. Eight-three percent of those who took the amino acid continued to report fewer gambling urges, while 72 percent of participants on the placebo went back to gambling.

pasted from

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Away again.

I keep thinking that things are gonna slow down 'as soon as' this or that.

I'm sure they will...but not anytime real soon, I think.

I am tired....have been so busy...but I really can't complain too much. A big part of the reason I've been so busy is that I've gone on two trips recently....and in a few hours, I will board a plane to London.


How did this happen?
How did I go from a desperate woman who thought that life was empty....and that if there HAD BEEN any happiness to be found...I'd destroyed any hope of did I go from that me?

How is it that I thought that I could never be happy if I were unable to gamble....when, in fact....the most UNHAPPY time of my life....was due to gambling. HAS happened.

This really IS my life....
it's not perfect....

but it's good-
and it's mine-

and today...I want it.

I want to live.

Who woulda thunk it?

* * * * *
Back next week.
Recovery does work.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Trusting the Universe to Provide

That's a good way to put it.....

I had an 'aha' moment recently-

I'm not ordinarily one to refer to a bible story.....but...bear with me for a minute...

I was raised Catholic...Catholics didn't read the bible back least...none that *I* knew did... but I went to Catholic schools...and I attended there are a handful of bible stories that I've heard over and over again...

one of where Jesus is telling people...(something like)...look at the birds ....and the flowers....if our Father takes care of them...then surely...he will take care of you...his children.

It never made sense to me...I's pretty clear that we've gotta take care of ourselves.

If I decide that 'God will provide' and quit my job...I'm gonna be homeless soon....

People starve to God providing what they need??

anyway-- I'm not sure when or why or how it happened...but a few months suddenly made sense...

it's about fretting.

the birds.....if a mother bird goes out to get food for her you think that, even as she is feeding them...she is thinking 'I hope I'm able to find food for them tomorrow'

I'm no expert on birds....but my gut tells me that....a bird probably doesn't start thinking about it's next meal until it gets hungry.

and the flowers....they just....BE.
they do what flowers do...and they are gonna be OK...or they are NOT gonna be ok (flood or drought may kill them)...but....if a flower COULD wouldn't change whether or not it would be OK or not.

So yeah....I have to take care of myself...provide for myself....but not worry that I won't 'get what I need'.

The fact is....often...what I THINK I need and what I get are two different things.

Part of trusting the universe to accepting that...if I didn't get probably WASN'T what I needed after all.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What is addiction?

From the book "Questions and answers on Addiction" by Howard Wetsman MD:

If you don't have enough dopamine signal, you will not be able to concentrate; you will feel restles, irritable, and discontented. You may have low self-esteem and feel as if you don't fit into the world. Because you'll enjoy few regular activities, not much will motivate you and you'll have problems with procrastination nd motivation. When you use the reward that works for you, your level will be high enough to feel normal and you'll stop using for a bit. When the level falls, the signal will actually go lower than it was when it started so that you'll feel compelled to use agin. This is the basis of not being able to stop once started.

For *me*...learning that there was something biological to this was GOOD news.

something is 'broken' -- how do we fix it?

and there ARE ways to fix it....

according to Dr. Wetsman....we need to do things to raise our dopamine level....and things that can do that are actions that minimize feelings of aloneness and being less-than.
(p. 82)

He maintains that....the 'difference' in our brain has prevented us from learning some of the things that 'normal' people do about life...relationships, honesty and trusting that the universe will provide.
(p. 79)

In recovery....I have run across many people who 'tell my story'....

when I hear the story of what I've been makes me feel that I am not alone....when I can see that many of these same people...are better now...that gives me hope....

I recently heard that one of our problems is that we tend to compare OTHER people's 'outsides' to OUR 'insides'.

and my 'insides' are generally 'not ok' (anxiety, restlessness, angst, etc.)....

but they can be.

and it's getting better :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More on 'extra money'

There was a time when that was an oxymoron for me....

anything 'extra' was gone. whole life?

when I wasn't gambling it away....I was spending it.

anyway.....I have a friend in recovery who did not have the luxury (and it IS a luxury...even tho it may not FEEL like it)... of having someone to handle their money for a while...

so this friend says...that one of the things that helped her in early recovery was 'staying broke'.....after the bills were paid...if there was any 'extra money'...she would make an EXTRA car payment...or house payment..or WHATEVER... another 'roadblock'

but having money.....especially 'extra' money.... can be a trigger. just feels good to have ENOUGH for a change.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Having Extra Money

I've been working more than I ordinarily do.

That means two things...

first...I am doing less in other areas

second...I have more money available.

My husband and I keep our money separate now (smart man!)....I am responsible for buying groceries, cleaning products, etc....and basically anything that *I* want or need....cell phones for the boys and me....books, makeup, clothes.

We've tweaked it over time....and have gotten to the point where we found what works for's working TODAY.

It's just recently that I've begun to spend any money on myself tho...other than the necessities.


I'd deprived my family of so much....anytime there was 'extra' money (extra? money? is there such a thing???) I'd spend it on the boys....or gamble it away...depending on whether or not I was gambling at the time.

Funny that.

Buying myself things....seemed so selfish..when I was in OR out of the cycle (retribution)...but when I was gambling....I could easily justify sitting for hours....and inserting whatever money I had with me into a machine...and get more money...even money that WASN'T 'extra' do it some more.

I'm getting to the point where I don't feel so guilty about buying myself things.

I imagine the 'extra' helps alleviate the guilt.

Actually...I've even been sort of SPLURGING lately....but it's different.

In the 'old days'...if I saw something I wanted...I'd buy it.

It is very rare that I do that now.

My friend has a '24 hour rule' that works for me too....if I see something that I want...I wait 24 hours...if I STILL want it...go get it.

amazingly....more often than not...I'm sort of glad I didn't make the purchase!

now....I try to limit myself to buying only what I came for....if I'm at the mall to buy new shoes....I try not to look at other things....

so there have been a few things that I've been pining over for a while.....a new set of's extravagant...this set that I've been wanting.....the 'old Peg' would've had it in the closet long ago....the day I found it....

to be honest...I thought I'd NEVER own this particular luggage....too much money.


a few months ago...I started a list...a CHRISTMAS list...I hadn't done that since I was a girl....

so....just in case my husband asked 'what do you want for Christmas'....I would have an answer :)

anyway...I've been working a I have this 'extra' just before I flew off to see Kimber...I mentioned to my husband...about this luggage....should I wait for Christmas? or buy it...since I have the means.

He said to get it.
The next day, I did.

No guilt at is extravagant...but....I've been working hard...and I've been WANTING's not a whim....

anyway, I deserve it.

I digress......back to the finances.......

last night...I was paying my bills.

Since I've stopped gambling it doesn't happen quite as often...but....still..sometimes I fall short of what I need....and I 'borrow' from my husband....for a while I was in perpetual debt to him....I'd pay off what I borrowed last month...then borrow some more.

I haven't done that in a while.

He is responsible for purchasing the kids' school supplies but THIS year...I was actually able to spend MY money...and get reimbursed later.

I will get paid today....and I still have a bit of money in my bank account.

It feels good.
Security. needs are met.
and I'm taking care of letting the 'extra'....just BE.

Monday, August 18, 2008


defined - a German word for anxiety that is used to refer to the nagging, worrying sensation that something is wrong.

what is that about?

you know....sometimes there are THINGS that we worry world is is is good...home is alright...pretty smooth going....but then...out of the blue...I just feel...
like I'm not ok.

not sad or depressed....just....fragmented....anxious...


So I had a bit of that this weekend.

It's maybe easier for me to be sad or depressed...or to be fretting about some particular THING...because I can evaluate it...ponder it...whatever...


when I feel like I'm not ok....yet....I really *AM* ok.

is that just me?
does everyone experience that to some degree or another?
is it a part of being human?
is it a part of 'this' thing?
this obsessive/compulsive/all or nothing/attention deficit/stressed to the max/addicted ummmm 'condition'?


usually, when I get's very disturbing.
It bothers me because I know it's not rational...and I need to try to stop shake the feeling.

but this weekend....
as umcomfortable as it felt..
this angst that has no cause--

I just feel angst.

you know?
in a strange way...not FIGHTING it...made it ease up just a little....

maybe sometimes I get more anxious trying to decide why I feel that way...and trying to make it go away.

maybe sometimes...there really IS no EXTERNAL reason that we can put a finger on.

in the past....I've labelled feelings...
'good' or 'bad'

but I have a friend in recovery who has said to me...that 'feelings are not good...not bad....they just are'.

so....maybe some feelings are more fun than others :)
if I am gonna live...I imagine I will experience a range of emotions from time to time.

I'm gonna try to just...let it be.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

What do we need to change?

It's all about our quality of life, isn't it?

I my opinion...there really isn't anything inherently WRONG with gambling....gambling is not an option for ME because when *I* gamble it takes over my world and my quality of life turns to sh*t....and so do the lives of others around me.

So, first and foremost....for Peg to have a better quality of life...gambling is not an option.

What then?

Well....THAT is where the 'what we can change and what we must accept' comes in...

There are often negative consequences to be faced...once we break free --Doesn't that stink??? seems like....if we are doing 'good' there should be some kind of a...get out of trouble free card or something...but alas...there is not....

the consequences that we face vary....most of us have debt....bill collectors hounding us....

that's something that we can change...but it's usually not something that we can turn around QUICKLY.... so we must make this particular change what we can about this particular issue today.....

decide what our options are....and evaluate them....and do the best that we can...

same thing with relationships....I couldn't just twitch my nose and make everything better....all I could do was little things...the next right thing....over and over again...and relationships began to improve as well.

Those are the things we usually focus on....the OUTSIDE things that we 'need' in order to be happy...

and those things DO need to be addressed...

but more importantly.....once our mind starts to clear....there are the changes that we want to make in ourselves....

they don't just happen's not easy to change our thought and behavior patterns....we have to be vigilant in our efforts...but...we must also be patient...

it all takes time.

the things we can't change?
those things....we have to learn to 'accept'....

I mean...if we truly cannot change something....then our options are...

to be upset about this thing...
or to feel ok.

either way...the 'thing' doesn't change.....the only difference is the way we feel....the difference is only what is inside of us.

It always comes down to that, doesn't it?

The difference is inside of me.

That's the key to the quality of life thing....

It's not about 'stuff'.....or a successful career....people WITH stuff are often just as empty as people without.

Much of what is 'outside'....I must learn to accept...

the difference...the quality of life...the happiness....those changes....

are gonna have to take place inside.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Accept, Change, Know

The trip was wonderful.

The bride was beautiful....inside and out :)

The groom...their daughters....I felt like family...they sure treated me that way.

I'm so grateful that I was able to go.

It's think that this is my life!!!

I was thinking, on the flight a few short years ago....considering what Kimber's life was like...and what MY life was completely unlikely this weekend really was....that the two of us would meet online....that she would marry....that I would be able to go (to AFFORD to go, for one)...but not just the money....getting past the shame and MENTION to my husband that I wanted to go...well...on so so many was amazing that I was able to be there....I will never forget it...neither will she :)

So I read on the plane. Something else I do compulsively, I am a 'buyer of books'....I love books....I love knowledge...wish I had more time...

anyway...I brought three books with me, not sure what my mood would be...but I ended up sticking with the first one I had a look at...

"What You Can Change... and What You Can't"- *learning to accept who you are, by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D.

fascinating stuff.

The author has been studying helplessness, depression and pessimism for over thirty years.

The book addresses depression, anxiety, stupidity, meanness, traumatic stress, alcoholism, fatness and sexual "perversion".

He cites animal experiments to illustrate points...but mostly twin show which traits have a biological influence in humans.

He talks about, for different 'conditions'...the overall effectiveness of different approaches...medication, cognitive behavioral therapy (basically changing the way one thinks...and acts), other types of therapy (interpersonal, behavioral, etc.) and even electric shock!

I haven't finished the book...and the author seems biased against using drugs, stating that side effects can be terrible and the effects are temporary (stop using the drug and the condition reoccurs)....but it is very interesting...

I mean...if this is a process (and for me it is) of evaluating ones' self....and attempting to make order that I might improve my quality of life......
and also....
of learning to accept people, places and things that I have no control over....

I have maintained that the only person, place or thing that I can really control is me....but

are there things about me that I really CAN'T change? I'm sure there are.
so....I don't want to waste my precious time and energy there....something else to feel depressed about (I am such a failure).... best to identify and ACCEPT those things that I cannot change (easier to do, maybe, if I believe I have little or no control over it)...

I'm keeping in mind, though...that there are ALWAYS people who accomplish what generally 'can not be done'.... so I won't rule anything out....but....maybe I can be kinder to myself about not being successful in those areas....IF...I am not successful :)

So I haven't finished the book...I'm curious about the chapter on Alcoholism (since my belief is that..'addiction' is, in fact, one illness)....but I figure...if I wait til I FINISH the book before I mention may be quite a while...

I hope not.


the rat race is back, final preparations before the boys return to school, blah blah blah

ok -- time for me to make my list....what I will accomplish today...hmmmm
I can add 'reading a few pages' to that list...

what's one more thing?

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

Attributed to Friedrich Oetinger (1702-1782), and to Reinhold Niebuhr, "The Serenity Prayer" (1934)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kimber's wedding

On 10-30-06 I 'wandered' into safe harbor chat room and there were four people in the room.

I am very fond of each one of them.

Not necessarily because they were there and participated in a pivotal moment in my life...although, that is ONE reason :)

They are each unique, special people who have contributed to my the quality of my life.

One of those people, I became particularly close to.
In those early months, I barely slept...I was always in that was a way back to the REAL world.

She and I were night owls...we'd chat for hours.

anyway....I'm not there so much any more...and neither is she...but she is getting married this weekend, and I will be attending the wedding :)

she lives in Canada.
I board a plane at 6 am tomorrow morning and arrive in Halifax about 13 hours later...just in time to make the rehearsal.

it's surreal...that I am going.
I told my sixteen year old and he said "you're going to a wedding for someone you have never met???? that's reTARDED!" LOL

someone that i've never met.

we've spoken on the phone.
we've chatted online for countless hours.

no....i've never 'seen' her face-to-face...but we most certainly HAVE met.

we met on 10 30 06.

Back late Sunday night --
take care of you,


I've been working long days (and nights) since we came back from our trip.

work has been pretty stressful.

and there are still groceries to get, meals to cook and clothes to wash....and preparations for returning to school.

home has been pretty stressful too.

My family took in foster children when I was growing up.

Tons of kids came and went.
Some stayed for a day or two...some stayed for years.

Some of them were disabled.

One baby boy came to live with us when he was only 18 months old.....long story short...we are the only family he has ever known...he is in his 30's now...and I am his 'sister'.

He has lived in an institution, about six hours away, for many years...but when Mom was alive, he would go 'home' for holidays and summer breaks.

When Mom died...he started calling me.

Off and on throughout the years I've had him come to stay with us.
It was for a few days....and only once in a while...

but he just moved here....he is local.

he calls me several times a day.

I've lost my patience with him a few times recently :(

another big BIG source of stress.

I know that I need to slow down.

Years ago, I was seeing a therapist who used to ask "what makes Peg run?"

I am like a hamster on a wheel.

It *FEELS* like these are things that I must *FEELS* like I don't CHOOSE to run....

I *THINK* that I would like to have some 'down-time'.

maybe I'll add that to my list too :)


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

finding things that work for me

So I'm making lists.

I don't accomplish everything on the past two days....I have marked things off of my list that I have no doubt...would not have been done otherwise.

For months I've known I needed to start doing this....the lists....but I didn't do it anyway.

I do that a lot.

I know what I SHOULD do...but I just don't.

There are other things that I should be doing.....

I haven't been practicing 'awareness'.

that is obvious when I can't find my car keys or I leave the house and wonder if I unplugged the iron or if I locked the front door.

If I was PRESENT and AWARE when I set down the keys or locked the door....if I was paying ATTENTION to what I was doing...then, later....there would have been no question as to whether or not it was done...

and sounds so new age...that word....but....just sitting still...being quiet....and quieting my mind for a few minutes every morning was making a big difference in my level of peace.

I stopped doing that when the boys got out of's not QUIET here any more!!!

they'll be back in school in less than two weeks.....and I'll add those things to my lists :)

Monday, August 4, 2008


This weekend I threw away the plant that's been on my front porch for a while.

I should've thrown it away before now.

And it got me thinking....

Most addicts do not have healthy relationships.

Maybe most HUMANS do not?

In recovery, they suggest (for those that are single)...

in the first year, get a plant.

if after a year, the plant is still alive,

get a pet,

if after a year, the pet is still alive, might consider a relationship.

I'm glad I'm already married.

I've thrown away three dead plants in the past few weeks.

Come to think of it, I don't OWN a living (indoor) plant.

I kill them all.

It occurs to me that....while my relationships in my IMMEDIATE family have flourished....just about every other relationship that I have is neglected to some degree or another.

I know, I steps...I can't fix everything at once.

I know.

But...if I just sit around saying...I need to do this and I need to do that...and I don't DO any of it....what good is that?

And I know....that I don't do things unless:

-I am under a great deal of pressure to do them
-I have made a list...and that 'thing' is on it.

Goal setting.
short term, long term....written down....

k- I'll start tomorrow :)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Choosing to stop gambling

I belong to several online be honest..they have provided me with the opportunity for recovery....I'm sure I wouldn't be blogging without them....sadly....I would be gambling instead.

I couldn't stop on my own.
I couldn't.

It's not easy to say that.

I'm strong, independent.
I always thought that I could do ANYTHING.

this thing...kicked my *ss.

Often, when people post in forums about not being able to stop....I see people sort of 'reprimand' them....saying things like 'of course you can stop, YOU WANT TO's a choice...when I was gambling I CHOSE to do it...and then I CHOSE to stop...and NOW...I CHOOSE not to just stop'

just stop.


did they forget what it was like?

or...maybe they weren't like ME....


ON MY OWN....I could not choose to stop.

I couldn't

and it didn't have anything to do with what I WANTED...

my RATIONAL THINKING brain WANTED to stop a LOOOOONG time before I was actually able to do it....

there was a part of me that wanted to stop.....but the part of me that wanted to continue....I had to overcome it....because *IT* was the part that had control of matter HOW much I WANTED to stop....

I was unable to choose.


I had a PHYSICAL response to not gambling....

Gaining the ability to choose was a didn't happen overnight.

yes, when I stopped....I CHOSE to stop....and now...I CHOOSE not to go....but there was a time when there was no CHOICE...

how did I get from a place where I had no a place where I DID have a choice????

Talking, learning, believing that I could do it....listening to others who had done it.....who didn't JUDGE me or berate me...but who 'held my hand' so to speak....

having people care about me....NO MATTER if I gambled or not....but doing everything in their empower not.

I couldn't do it alone.

Glad I didn't have to.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

When they don't understand this....

When I told him....he was....

ya know...I can't even name my OWN feelings...guess I shouldn't try to name anyone elses.

but it was pretty bad between us for a while.

at first, I was like a puppy dog ...who knew they had done wrong....walking around with my tail between my legs...

shortly after I told him, I found a dr. so I could get anti depressants (no doubt I needed them)...and he set me up with a therapist.

i saw her once a week.

she suggested that I not give up my power.

she said.....that if I marrige would no longer be a partnership....and that once one gave up their power it was very very difficult to get it back. was not easy then....
I was full of shame and regret....and I was embarrassed.....but I was at a g.a. meeting...and there was this old- timer said something that made a light bulb go off for me....

so I decided...

I have no control over how he feels.
I cannot make him understand this.
there's no point in trying.

I don't even NEED him to get this ( one time, I thought it was important).

the only thing I needed to concern myself with....was taking care of ME...and doing what *I* was supposed to do.

so sometimes...he would say mean things to me...out of anger....and a part of me would want to fight back...and a part of me would want to cower with shame....but instead...I would think about what I was doing RIGHT...and matter WHAT he said...or WHAT he thought...I WAS NOT GAMBLING :)

and *HE* might not think that was a big deal (it should be easy! just don't do it!!!)...but *I KNEW THAT IT WAS*....

i knew that it was.
every day that i didn't gamble....i felt better...stronger....

well...not every day.....some days I had those mood swings that I talk moods were extremely volitile...but....generally speaking, things got better and better....

and when *HE* was having a bad day....

I would let him.

and when *HE* would say something mean or hurtful...

I would let it go.

no need to get angry with him.
what good would that do?

*I* knew the truth.

*I* knew how good I was doing.

HOw could I expect him to care? or even BELIEVE me?

it didn't matter.

I knew.

so as long as I held on to that...and kept doing the next right thing....



things changed.

I didn't do anything BIG or SPECIAL or was very small, unnoticable things...

and suddenly...I realized....everything was different.

Friday, August 1, 2008

When your spouse doesn't know...

Some of the people that I talk to gamble WITH their spouse...I mean....they BOTH gamble compulsively.

That seems to have it's own set of (additional) problems.

Most of us.....if we're part of a couple.....have partners who are completely unaware.

Ohhhhhh...usually, the spouse knows that we GAMBLE...they just don't know to what extent.

Often...the spouse trusts us unconditionally and doesn't even bother to look at bank or credit card need...we are taking good care of the finances.

in 2001....when the debt was mounting and I KNEW that it was gonna come out sooner or later.....(although...I sort of pushed it in the back of my mind...I KNEW it would happen, yet I PRETENDED it wouldn't?)....and I knew, beyong the shadow of a doubt, that he would leave me once he knew (or....he would ask ME to leave).

I knew he would.

there was no doubt in my mind.....I could not have fathomed a scenario where he would stay.

When I attended that very first g.a. meeting..whenever that was...?1999?...I sobbed the entire time....they told me to TELL HIM....that pissed me off...AS IF I would do that!!!

as soon as he found was all over.

They told me that he would understand.

what did they know?

they didn't know HIM....that's for d*mn sure.

Now....I'm not saying that people don't leave...because I *DO* know people who have lost their families over this....and I'm sure that there are exceptions (I would have my betting days.....that *I* was gonna be the exception)...but....because of the amount of SHAME that we is difficult for us to imagine that someone could forgive us.

Time and time again, I have seen people underestimate their loved ones.

Myself included.

Oh.....don't get me wrong...he was p*ssed off (and with good reason!)....and things weren't good between us for quite a while (and with good reason!!!!)


the change in unmistakable....

not long ago I got a phone call from a friend who was suffering....I excused myself to another room and had my conversation....when I came back, I apologized to my husband, explaining that my friend needed me...and he said  "I understand.  If I were ever in a situation where I needed to talk to someone, I would want it to be you on the other end of the line."

that *HE* would say that to me.
after all that I've done *TO HIM*....

and I was so certain...that he would leave.

when we were just away on this was a working vacation for him....he had some he comes back to the room one afternoon....had spent the better part of the day with this acquaintance that he is fond of.....and he tells me that he told the guy....about me (ie I have a gambling problem)...and I just LOOKED at him....surprised that he would do that....

and he said to me  "I'm not embarrassed about it....and neither should you be."

and he's right.

It took time for him to get took time for *ME* to get here.

Ya know...even AFTER I told him what I'd done....and we were still together...working it out....I sort of thought that....we would stay married...but things between us could never ever ever be alright again.

no way.

He was angry ...for a long time he was angry....but I just decided that the only thing that I could do the NEXT RIGHT THING....

I couldn't undo all that I'd done..but I can do the NEXT RIGHT THING right now...

and when you do that

over and over and over again (ummm to the best of my ability)....

you change.

and when YOU change....eventually.....everybody around you notices....and they change too.

There is hope.

Even when you're sure there isn't.....there is.