Friday, September 19, 2008

Overcoming Problem Gambling

A friend of mine emailed me the other day suggesting that I post the Caught off Guard entry at Gamcare Forum.

So I the "Overcoming Problem Gambling" section.

One of the staff members replied: "Posts like these are so important. They highlight the reality of living the "overcoming". The actual individual experience, that I'm sure many here will relate to. It would be great to see more of this in the "overcoming problem gambling" area."

so I've been thinking about that....and responded there this morning...thought I would put that entry here as well:

Living the "overcoming"

no kidding.

You're right Michelle - most of us tend to use this forum (or other support systems, like G.A.) when we are desperate -- we are in trouble - we can't stop - we need help.

Usually, I think, we are able to manage SOME amount of 'clean time' once we find a group or a method that suits us.

We don't really understand what the problem is.

For some period of time we thought the problem was that we were LOSING so much money....'if I could only win, then everything would be OK'.
or maybe...'if I could only PAUSE for a while...catch up on some bills...take a break...get this under control, then everything would be OK'.

and maybe those things happen for some people, and they are OK.

maybe for some people "Overcoming Problem Gambling" is about "How do I break free of the cycle"

and then they're OK.

I wasn't.

Using G.A. I managed to break free...then...being free...I stopped going.

that was fine.

*I* was fine.

until I wasn't.

when life became difficult (and it always does)...after nearly two years of abstinence...I was gambling again.

I gambled for nearly two more years.

Then...with the help of safe harbor and gamcare and gambler's anonymous....I broke free again.

Breaking free really ISN'T easy.

but once we do...there is ANOTHER aspect to "Overcoming Problem Gambling".

that is....

Is abstinence required in order for me to live my best life?

and if it do I maintain abstinence?

Once we have some time away from our last's likely that we are feeling pretty good...we may even feel unstoppable.

Maybe some people are.

Maybe some people come here...and post "Please Help!" and "How do I do this?" or any of those pleas that we post in the New members forums when we are desperate....

maybe they come here for a and chat and QUIT...then go away and live happily ever after (at least as far as gambling is concerned).

I imagine some do.

But most of us don't.

Many of us come back after some period of time and post something like "I'm back" or "I did it again" or "I am so stupid" or something like that...

some of us come and go over and over and over again...stopping gambling...then we stop showing up...then we come back....and repeat the cycle.

that's ok....if it's ok with them.

I hate that hurt.

Life is painful enough without inflicting it on myself.

I know that if I gamble...I will fall into the cycle...and I will end up in pain again.

don't want that.

and I am free...for nearly two years now...I haven't gambled...

so for *ME* overcoming problem gambling is no longer about "How do I stop?"....

it is about "How do I LIVE?"and"How do I STAY stopped?"

so far...for me...that answer changes, with time.

as *I* change...what is necessary for me to continue abstinence seems to change.

but for is clear...that I cannot just 'walk away' from it all...from recovery...from the friendship and support of others like me.

I don't wanna DWELL on what I've done.
as a matter of fact, I think it's imperative that we learn to get past that.

I don't wanna SUFFER forever...feeling deprived because I CAN'T gamble.

I don't think we have to.

I don't.

I don't really feel 'punished' that I have to remain 'active' somehow (in recovery) a matter of fact..I have made some wonderful friendhsips...
I am learning more about myself than most people ever do.
I like me more today than maybe I ever have.

there's still a lot of work to be done tho :)

but yes....there is so much more to "Overcoming Problem Gambling" than just learning how to stop.

at least....there is for me.

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