Friday, November 28, 2008

resentment...planned response

I was talking to a friend the other night about how sometimes...if I am feeling nervous or insecure...that PRETENDING that I am confident can often lead to actually FEELING that way.

I learned that in high school.

In speech class.

Those kids would get up there...practically shaking...stuttering....and I understood.

But i didn't want to look that way.

I *FELT* it...but I PRETENDED I didn' I LOOKED confident...which GAVE me confidence.

so my friend sort of used this technique in an uncomfortable situation....and it helped.

My friend also had a 'prepared response' the event someone said something that might've been awkward.

Having a 'planned response' helps me too.

not just when I'm uncomfortable or nervous.

It helps me with resentments.

I have this situation.

this person who often makes comments to me that really p*ss me off.

so a few months ago...I thought about a response....not a mean, ugly, hateful response....not even something to 'put her in her place' say "I understand that you feel this way but I prefer not to hear about it any more. It upsets me when you say these things."

so I even sort of practiced in my that it wouldn't come out sounding 'ugly'.

and then


I didn't even 'get' to say it!...this person hasn't DONE it since I planned my response.... ok.

great even.

I mean....the whole point is....I didn't want to hear it any more.


while being able to actually SAY my 'planned response' would've been ok.

it's really sort of better that I haven't had to.

Just HAVING one made me feel better. made the resentment go away even.

and now that the resentment is gone.....if I ever DO need to say will not SOUND ugly...because I don't FEEL any anger over it.

it worked even better than a step four actually :)

take care of you,

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thanksgiving day, 2006 was one of the happiest days I remember.


Not for any particular reason....maybe the 'pink cloud' of recovery? it was just an amazing day.

I had been gamble free for just under a month...but I *KNEW* that things were different.

*I* was different.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
I cook.
We have tons of guests. much as I enjoy doing is a stress-filled day for me.

But not that one.

It was maybe the first time I had ever felt


for no particular reason.

I knew that it would pass...and I wanted, so badly, to hang onto the was...almost ecstasy....difficult to explain...I have not felt this way before...or since.

but even the memory of the feeling soothes me.

It strikes me that..the peace I felt that day was not something that I FOUND or due to anything that i was something that HAPPENED to FOUND ME.

I imagine I will not spend another Thanksgiving...that I won't think about that I felt.....that wonderful, ordinary Thanksgiving day.

I don't 'count days'...but I just went to this 'clean time calculator'

and today...I am especially thankful for the past 758 days...where....I have actually experienced whatever it is that has happened in my life....the good...the bad and the ugly.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Life goes on

So I've come to believe that everything happens for a reason.

there are no accidents.

I see how we make 'ripple's in one another's lives.

I'm sure that I have met people that I do not even remember meeting, that I have made an impact I know that many people have affected me in major ways...and will never know.

I wonder if this gambling thing....if all of this happened to that I could learn some of the lessons I have...or maybe..that was just a nice 'side-effect'....the possibility exists, I suppose, that I had to go thru this so that I would end up meeting some of the friends I now have...that I would not otherwise have known....or simply so that I could understand that I would write this blog...or maybe the future things will happen in my life...and this experience will have prepared me.

who knows.

I know that....I have shared some of my 'stuff' with people in my 'real' life...sometimes...on a whim...for no 'good' reason...sometimes with people I barely know....and some remarkable things have happened because of it....some of those people have then shared thier own 'stuff' with me...feeling 'safe' because of what I'd told them....and sometimes 'relief' at finally having someone to talk to.


these things that are happening in my life right now......

as much pain as I'm in....already I can see lessons...or 'reasons'.....

I used to think that if I were a great mother (which I am) that I would end up with the children I wanted...or 'deserved'.....which also means...if YOUR kids were not so great..or were 'troubled'.....I assumed you could've done something better....or that *I* could've done better.


how about the fact that I come here....being the cheerleader....'you can do this'...'life can be good'....'you can be happy'......
maybe I'd forgotten how far away that can FEEL difficult it is to believe.... I *KNOW* that it's true...but doesn't really help me through the moment very much.


sometimes....things happen...and I DON'T GET TO KNOW the reason.

maybe.....sometimes things happen...and I am AFFECTED...but the lesson or the 'reason' has nothing at all to do with me.

There is no doubt that 'recovery' is much easier when things are going well...when life is easy.

it is when life is hard....when we are in pain...when we want to fall apart when 'recovery' truly GIVES us something.

I don't feel much like myself....I don't want to cheer right now...sometimes I just want to run quit.

but I know.....that this, too, shall pass.

in 100 short years...most of the people on the planet today will not even exist....

as big as this seems right is temporary...

there will be joy again.
and then there will be more pain...for some completely different reason.
then joy
then pain

and life will go on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Looking for the Lessons

This is not easy to say-and if you are still caught up in the destruction...if you are still in a great deal of pain, you will not understand it....and will maybe even think 'obviously....she was not as bad as me' or perhaps 'her consequences were not as severe as mine are'.

well....I don't know about you...but I was pretty bad..and so was the 'wake' that I left.

I was devastated. way out...wanted to die.

and now...i say...with some is painful to say...because it *WAS* that bad...but I can say...that all of that....happened for a reason...or for many reasons maybe? but...(swallowing hard here)....I am thankful it happened.

I am thankful because I am no longer the woman that I was BEFORE I started gambling.

I am finished with drama.
I don't have to make everything a crisis...and when a REAL crisis occurs (and I am being bombarded with them at the moment)....well

I can deal.

It's not because I'm not gambling, mind you.

although...if i were gambling, i would be a wreck right now.

but...the process that i have gone this effort to stop gambling....this....seeking....that's it...

seeking that i have doing.

has changed me.

oh...i still grieve, i still get angry...i still have fear and i still panick at times.


i am ok.

*I* am ok.

and I will get through this.

that thing that was a crisis last month? (and it was a biggie)

and I am ok.

got another catastrophe on my hands (believe me...I am not using these words lightly)...and a part of me just wants to cry...and give up....and not face anything.

but that's not an option.

and i know...that every painful event EVERY one...every SINGLE one....has given me something.

not just 'strength' or 'character'...but...SOMETHING....a new way to see things....a better understanding of other people...a better understanding of myself.

at the moment...i am in turmoil

and at the same time

i am at peace.

i am afraid....and sad...disappointed...'gutted' even.

but I am OK.

accepting the things I cannot change
changing the things I can
taking it one day at a time.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Live Mindfully

I mentioned the Proactive 12 steps in yesterday's post.

Step 10 is: I live mindfully, paying attention to the motives and effects of my actions.

That may be even better than taking a 'dialy inventory'.

or.....I guess...ideally, I need both.

To go about my day be aware of my feelings and thoughts...and EVERYTHING....
but the end of the review my day...what could I have done differently? what might I have done better? and...ALSO....what did I do today that I did really really well...exactly as I should have?

because sometimes....I do that too :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Proactive 12 steps

if you're still looking for what works for you......a down to earth approach to the 12 steps....described here:

Millions of people credit the twelve steps for their recovery from addiction to alcohol and other substances. I do not have personal or professional experience in this area. So, you may wonder, how are these steps relevant to what I do?
The original 12 steps are not a list of instructions specific to substance abuse or addiction. They describe a path toward self-discovery and personal growth. This is what I find very inspiring.
I believe that, as we develop a deeper sense of who we truly are, we increase our ability to lead a more fulfilling life. This, in turn, makes it easier to make difficult changes.
On this site, you will find the traditional wording of the 12 steps together with an original approach: the "proactive 12 steps".
With this new wording, and the accompanying commentary, my goal is to describe the “steps” as a self-directed process—as opposed to a mystical process in which change somehow happens to you. This is about how you can take a proactive role in your growth as a person. This is meant for all people who seek wholeness in their lives, and are not necessarily dealing with alcoholism or addiction.
I originally wrote these steps for people who, like me, were not part of the “twelve steps” culture.
Over time, many people involved in 12 steps recovery have told me that they find inspiration in these “proactive steps”: Not as a replacement for the wording they are so familiar with, but as a way to gain a new perspective on it.
This down-to-earth approach describes a path that is meaningful regardless whether your orientation is humanist, secular (non-religious) or spiritual or religious.
I am inviting you to see the “proactive steps” as an invitation to a dialogue, as opposed to a directive that is carved in stone.
Let yourself explore what comes up for you as you go through the steps. Take the time to digest each step before moving on to the next.

This site has several free, download-able e-books and lots of great information about changing who we are...from the inside out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mental Illness?

The Gambler's Anonymous book says 'Compulsive gambling is an emotional problem.'

I used to find that very offensive.

It sounded to me like they were calling me 'mentally ill'....which I took exception to.

Then....I realized...that I really DO have 'issues' around my EMOTIONS....fear, anger, grief....and I said..."OHHHHHH it's an EMOTIONAL problem!"...NOT a 'mental illness....' ok...I get it.

but then....recently... I was talking to a (non-cg) girlfriend of mine who had just been put on anti-depressants by her primary care physician.

She was adamant about not wanting to take them.

The doctor encouraged her to try it...for four weeks...then they'd re-evaluate...just give it a go.

So she did...and she feels soooooooo much better.

So we were talking about it...she was asking me whether I take them...and how long I thought I'd need to....she is glad to have them now...but is anxious to be off of it asap.

I asked her...'why? do you have any side effects?'



I told her about my own my Mom died in 1996 I have been off and on them....the dr. prescribes them...I take them...I feel better...then I stop taking them.

I slowly begin to fell worse...but it never occurs to me that I should reconsider taking meds.

Eventually I get to the point where I need help....I see a dr., they prescribe anti-depressants...and I do the same thing over again.

and again

and again

and again.

I am finally at the point where I accept that....the chemicals in my brain are obviously out-of-whack...and if I don't take medication...I won't function as nicely as I do when I'm on it.

I don't plan to stop taking them again.


'Really?' she said.

'Doesn't it bother you that you NEED something to feel 'normal'?'

I said

why is it....that....if a dr. says to us...'your heart isn't working properly....or your cholesterol is high, blood pressure, blood sugar, your kidneys have problems'....we are UPSET...because we want to be HEALTHY...but....

those things do not EMBARRASS us.

our a physical organ.

sometimes our organs do not operate exactly as designed.

why is that shameful?

why do we think that we should be able to somehow control a PHYSICAL condition?

Philosophers have struggled for ages about the brain/mind thing....the brain being the physical organ and the mind being....our thoughts...emotions...who we are.

so yeah....if our brain isn't 'ok' then... the essence of who we are changes....and I guess THAT can be embarrassing...seems like we should be in control of who we are..what and how we think.

but sometimes I can't.

anyway....I was reading this morning and come across this statement:

Extreme cases of problem gambling may cross over into the realm of mental disorders. Pathological gambling was recognized as a psychiatric disorder in the DSM-III, but the criteria were significantly reworked based on large-scale studies and statistical methods for the DSM-IV. As defined by American Psychiatric Association, pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder that is a chronic and progressive mental illness.

I would imagine that doesn't apply to all compulsive gamblers.

I imagine....the possibility exists that...many people who had NORMAL brains before they started gambling....have somehow damaged that organ and it's ability to function normally by gambling compulsively for an extended period of time.

maybe....the damage is only temporary? and after some time of abstinence....the organ will again operate normally.

I know that my mind was far from normal when I was stuck in the cycle.

I'm not really sure why that article didn't offend me this morning....the thought of perhaps being 'mentally ill'.

I this point...the label really isn't important to way or the other...whether or not it's an emotional illness or a mental illness or a disease or an impulse control ME isn't really relevant....because....

I now know...what I must do to be OK....and I am doing it.

and THAT is what is important to me today.

Take care of you,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Not complacent in not 'smug'....I don't walk around thinking I'm ok so I don't need to 'work recovery' anymore...

but I haven't really been doing it.

In talking to a friend...I was reflecting on how, in my early days of recovery I was HUNGRY...for information...for growth....

but recently....'one day at a time' hasn't just been a matter of 'staying in this moment''s been just sort of taking things as they come....going with the flow...and that's's GOOD really isn't good enough.'s not good enough for ME.

I deal with crisis much better when I am learning and growing...REALLY 'working recovery'...

and the fact is

i am gonna have to deal with crisis' again and again and again....and if you continue to breathe for a while, so will you.

it's not just about not gambling...i don't want life to BE this hard. a large difficult it based on how I look at things....and when I'm growing...'recovering'....i look at things in a much better way.

besides...I have much more interesting things to talk about here when I'm growing and changing :)

but it's bigger than's bigger than living a life without gambling and learning to accept whatever life throws at me...and having something interesting to share.

it's....about living the best possible life that I can.

and i really haven't been doing that.

I haven't been 'complacent'...but I've been 'content' growth has been stagnant....and that's not's just not what I want...THIS is not what I want...who I AM is not who I want to keep being.

There is more to life than this...

and I want it.

I deserve to live my best possible life ....each one of us does.

The only way that I am going to live the life that I want to live...

is if I do it.

starting now.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

I'm reading again...

changing things.

Monday, November 10, 2008

one day at a time

I met another of my online friends Friday night. We went to was great. ((((1 week today! good for youuuu))))

I've been doing really well...lots going on in my life...mostly good...but got the wind knocked out of my sails this morning.

these boys {sigh}


i'm just sort of...i dunno...melancholy today...laid down for a while...feel tired, although i really shouldn't be...don't feel depressed really...just distant....removed.


Anyway, I was saying...up til today, things have been going really well...and USUALLY when that happens...after some period of time....I start to worry...knowing that at some point, sh*t will happen....and I start waiting for it....I avoid thinking about how good things are, thinking I might somehow 'jinx' it --
so THIS time....I made sure not to do that.

I knew that something bad would happen eventually (it always's just a part of being alive)...but I decided that I was NOT gonna 'anticipate the yuck' but would delight in this period of calm and abundance...and so i did.

And now.....Even tho everything isn't going my way...there are still things to be grateful for, and at the moment, I am still able to see them :)

I'll try to stay focused on that.

some days I really don't want to 'stay in' LOL but....I'll just deal with the tasks immediately before me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More on Mood swings

I sort of bounce around here...sometimes talking about the pain that gambling causes and the difficulty in stopping....and sometimes talking about dealing with life afterwards.

i want to talk about something that i've discussed several times before....and that is mood swings.

i still experience them from time to time, although they are very different from my early days of recovery...and occur much less frequently.

but those early days....
i sometimes forget how difficult it bad i sometimes felt...until someone sends me an email that brings it all back....

there was so much misery...i sometimes felt as if i was drowning in it and that i couldn't ever feel better just didn't seem possible.

of course, i did....after some period of time i WOULD feel better...great even...better than great sometimes....then....inevitably...i would find myself in a dark place again.

sometimes, something would happen that would initiate the change in me..sometimes it seemed to happen for no particular reason at all.

it still works that way.

even now
knowing all of this
knowing that it's 'normal'
knowing that it will come...then it will end

isn't helpful when i'm in it.'s difficult to 'know' that THIS time it will really BELIEVE it.

it's so important to not be alone during these times....our tendency is to isolate but that can intensify the darkness.

it's times like this that often we gamble....thinking...what does it matter anyway? or....perhaps...just looking for some relief (escape the feelings of doom)

understanding that gambling had really whacked out the chemicals in my brain was one d*mn good reason for me to choose not to gamble, even during these times...knowing that....gambling may offer some short term relief...but there would be consequences...real ones....not the least of which is the fact that i would be whacking out my brain chemistry even more....which would drag this misery on

they do get better
it takes time
and it isn't easy to get thru them
it's especially difficult to do alone.

we don't have to be alone.
you don't have to be alone.

reach out to someone...create an anonymous email address and post on a forum....

i remember ....years my therapists office..when I was gambling...and in misery...she asked "what can Peg do to help herself?"

I sat there.
and thinking
and then i said

and i couldn't
and i didn't for a long long time.


nothing changes if nothing changes.


You may also be interested in:
Mood Swings
Depression and Anxiety
On Being Needy
Mood Swings...Again
Which Life?
The Blues

Take care of you. xo

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I stepped on the scale yesterday and got sort of excited...I've lost ten pounds.

I don't really have that much to lose....the weight that I put on when I was pregnant...but I haven't had the will to really do it...until now.

anyway....I was thinking about that....about how similar this stopping gambling thing is to dieting.

I mean...if I eat a isn't gonna kill me.
It doesn't even mean that I won't lose any more weight.

so if I can eat a donut....then return to 'controlled' eating....I'll be fine.

Plus....if I DON'T eat a donut...I'm not gonna have some fantastic instant result....and if there is any result at's so miniscule that I'm unaware.

so...if eating a donut isn't gonna be TERRIBLE....and if NOT eating it isn't gonna be wonderful...why not?

and the answer of because....a donut now....and a piece of halloween candy get the picture.

If I rationalize eating a donut....

status quo

that's it...I'll just keep maintaing what 'is'.

and what 'is' (these couple of pounds i still want to lose) just isn't OK with me any more.

to a much greater's just like stopping gambling.

there are no instant results....but....continuously making the right call....doing the next right thing...adds 'step on the scale' and realize just how much you have accomplished.

Monday, November 3, 2008

on Distorted thinking

I subscribed to a website a while back that sends me weekly 'quotes' re. recovery.

I just had to share this one.

November 3, 2008

"I'm glad that what's going on in my head isn't happening in my life."

I don't know why, but my perception of my life is always different - and worse - than the reality of my life. I can be in line at Starbucks, and that's what's happening, but in the storm in my head I'm thinking the line is so slow I'll be there forever; the coffee won't be hot enough; the traffic will be horrible; I'll be late; I'll miss that big deal, and then I'll lose my job and join the rest of the world of the unemployed in the 2nd Great Depression. And this is all just in line at Starbucks!

When I heard today's quote, I began to understand what they mean when they say that alcoholism is a disease of perception. My best thinking used to get me into trouble, and even in recovery the distortion of my thoughts can easily make me restless, irritable and discontented.

more here....

Another secret

Of course it turned out to be nothing like i imagined.

It's been nearly a year since I've been seeing my therapist...but a few weeks ago I contacted her and made an appt. so glad i did.

i saw her for the second time last tuesday.
the day before i left for the services.

i was such a jumble of feelings....but i had no idea what they were...what i was upset about...i just was.

tried to sort it out for a while....then she said "what can you do to take care of YOU?"

"is there anything that could make this ok?"

and there was...and I knew exactly what it was.

I called my husband...right there...didn't even answer her question.

I asked him to go with me.

I heard it in his voice.
He really couldn't afford to go...just coming back from a business trip...many people out of the office...but he said he'd go.

The old Peg wouldn't have asked.

It wasn't easy for the NEW Peg to ask!

I would like to be self-sufficient...the problem is...I'm when I TRY to may APPEAR that I am...but my insides don't match my outward appearance.

It was a hassle all the way around...cancelled my with him on another...paying last minute (high) airfare....making arrangements for the kids.

but that was really the easy was the family dynamics that weighed on me.

i did fine.
but really....i did fine because he was there.

One of my friends sent me an email that said "You are not alone, you don't have to be. Your 'own' family are with you. They love you... and that's all that really matters."

it's true...and so obvious...why do we need to be reminded of the obvious ?

anyway....that kept things in perspective for me...

but then, on the way was such an emotional day....we were in flight...each having a glass of wine.... and I was thinking about....two years....

thinking's nice to be able to book a flight and not worry that the credit card will be declined because it is past due or over the limit....or even....when i planned to make the trip alone....not to have to stress out over what mail might arrive while I was away and whether or not he'd open not have all of these secrets....

but then...

there ARE still secrets.

i was talking to a friend of mine the other day...saying that...i imagine SOMEday my husband and my children will come across this blog...and read it.

my friend asked if that bothered me...because my date last gambled is here....and my husband doesn't know I've gambled that recently.

I said....i hope that...if he does ever read it...that he will see who i am and how i've grown...and that date will be irrelevant.

but remains a secret.

so we are on the plane...and i am thinking...considering....and i just blurt it out..

"Today marks two years since I have placed a bet of any kind."

"huh? When did you gamble last?"

"Two years ago today."

"On what?"

"A machine."

"You didn't tell me."

"I'm telling you now."

that was basically it.
we started talking about something else.
he doesn't 'get' it...he doesn't realize it was a 'big deal'...or...maybe he does and just doesn't know how to respond?
it doesn't really matter....I've said it before....

it really isn't necessary for him to 'get it'....I have you guys for that.

it feels really good not to hide any more tho.

I never realize how painful secrets are...until I let them go.