Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What happens in Vegas....

So I want to tell you a story....

In late August I took a trip with my family, to visit a family member in another state.

We flew into Las Vegas...then had a six hour drive to reach our destination.

After several days, the rest of my family returned home....and I stayed on for a few more days.
It was planned that way....but it wasn't until they were gone that I suddenly realized I was going to be in Las Vegas BY MYSELF.

Now...if you know me, you know that I've been to Vegas a few times in the past few years....

and I will go again in March of next year.

Here's my reasoning....

The reason that I pulled myself out of that horrific cycle...is because I want my life.

Literally..and figuratively.... I mean....in those days I really wanted to stop breathing....so yes...stopping gambling saved my life for REAL....but....
since I AM going to be here for a while....I want to LIVE.

now i once thought that a life without gambling couldn't possibly be worth living (insanity)....

but what I mean by LIVING is....

I want to be able to DO things....especially things that are important to the people that I care about.

that doesn't mean that I don't limit my activities.
If, for instance, my (extended) family decided to do a brunch at the casino one Sunday afternoon (which we used to often do in the 'old' days)...there's no way I'd go. It just isn't worth it ---the risk....of being in/near the casino is too great...and there's no real reason to be THERE.
there are so many other places we could go to eat/be together....I would decline that invitation.

But, next March, for instance, in Las Vegas, my husband will be honored at a ceremony.
I'm going to be at his side.

THAT is what I mean by...I want to LIVE.

I've done it before...the first time, I wrote about it in this blog...preparing (mentally) for the trip.
that's sooooooo important.

My husband and I talked about it a lot....

For those of you who've never been to Vegas...there are machines EVERYWHERE...and the guys who design those casinos are very clever...

you walk in the front door...and you have to walk right smack dab thru the middle of the casino to get to the front desk to check in.
while you are checking in...the lights are flashing....machines are singing their tunes...people are cheering as they hit a jackpot...you are in the midst of it all.
you get your room key....
now...to get to the elevator....it is on yet ANOTHER side of the casino....walk right thru the action....again....
these places are big....could be a four or five minute walk....

every time you enter....every time you leave.

before that first trip...I explained to him how bad that is for me...and that I NEVER wanted to make that walk alone....and that I ALWAYS wanted to make it quickly :)

also....all of my recovery friends knew that I was going....I had my phone loaded with phone numbers and several people who were happy to take my phone call at any time of the day or night...for support.

I also looked up the local g.a. meeting schedule.

I don't normally attend g.a....nor did I then...but.... there have been times when a meeting has been helpful....given me strength....so I got the list of meetings...just in case...and sort of even picked one that I planned to attend (never did...didn't need to).

I was fine.
Husband was very supportive.
I didn't stay in Vegas the whole time he was there...quickly flew in and out to attend the function that I needed to attend.

Also...before that trip...I told my husband..that I felt very strong...and I was sure that I'd be fine in Vegas (especially if he were with me...there was no WAY I could gamble, even if I decided to)...but....I was concerned that being there could awaken something in me....and that when I got HOME I might start scheming/planning/gambling.

It didn't happen...but making him aware of that possibility, in advance, when I was still 'sane', seemed like a good idea.

it was.

So I've been to Vegas a few times since then. Each time, I probably prepared less and less (it wasn't nearly as scary...I'd done it successfully before)...and about nine months ago when I was there...it was disturbing.
the machines did sort of call to me.
just a little.
not that I was going to gamble....not then...not even in the near future...but my thinking started changing from 'I'm never going to gamble again' back to.... I could envision possible circumstances in the future....maybe one day....

But I'm still active in recovery...meaning...I read often recovery related materials AND I stay connected with others in recovery (and also with others who still suffer)....and I guess...even tho I haven't been writing the blog regularly...it is still a very strong part of my recovery too.

So when I got home...I talked about those feelings....and regained my sanity :) and went about the business of living my life.

Again, my recovery was strong and gambling was not an option. Not even something I desired to do....not even a little bit. Ever.

back to my story....

The rest of my family was flying home and I was staying for a few more days....then....all alone, I was going to drive six hours to Vegas and fly home.

I booked that trip without even realizing the implications of that.

But when it occurred to me that day....my brain became 'hijacked'....and that is a very good word to use for it..... it was like something or someone else (not the smart, strong woman who sits here today writing this) was in control.

I emailed a friend....explained what was going on.

So over the next few days my friend and I discussed this...and made a plan....
my friend would call me as I arrived in Las Vegas and we would talk until I boarded the plane.

that was my FRIENDS plan....

meanwhile...I was making other plans....
my thinking went something like this.....

there are many casinos along the route into Vegas...I could stop at one of them...but...what if I was unable to leave (has happened so many times)....and I missed my plane? how would I explain that?
or....in any event....I had to not be RUSHING...so that I could take that phone call from my friend and PRETEND that I was OK and that I was GOING to be OK....
so stopping at a casino was a bad idea.
but that was ok...because the airport is full of slot machines.

I could start the drive to Vegas really early.....and arrive at the airport much earlier than I'd planned...and be able to gamble for a while before my friend called.

so I started the drive early.

and for six hours...my mind was racing...about the possibilities.
It wasn't all pure determination to gamble....the voice of reason was still there...
so it was six hours of back and forth....do this, no do that....no...this would work...yes but...

even though the voice of reason was there....and the battle raged...I knew in my heart that I was going to gamble that day.

although I still planned to gamble at the airport....somehow, the smart voice convinced me so stop for a while at McDonalds to kill some time. I got a coffee.

I texted my husband that I was struggling.

We texted back and forth a few times....I told him I'd be OK....a friend was going to phone me.

But I still planned to gamble.

I TOLD my friend that I'd text when I was arriving at the airport....but that wasn't really practical. I had to turn in my rental car...then get my boarding passes...go through security...can't do all of that on the phone.....so I decided to wait until I got to the gate to text.

and as I walked to the gate..there were some machines (they are everywhere really)....that were one of my favorites...in the 'old' days. maybe twenty machines...a few people were playing....and I came so very very close to sitting down....


I was still pretty far away from my gate....and I KNOW myself well enough to know...that I can get lost in it....forget time....and even tho I'm right here at the airport...I could miss my flight if I stop here....

there will be machines right at my gate...best to play there.

why will i play?
if i win a million dollars that would be bad.... I don't want anyone to know I've played....even for a million dollars...
if i win $1200 I will get a tax form....bad
so I don't want to win.
I just want to play.
so I want to lose.
I want to put my money in....losing it all would be fine...or leaving with what I started with would be fine.
so why would I do this?
because I want to play.
no one will ever know...
and it's a one-time thing...it's not like I'm going to return to the cycle...this is a one time opportunity..I won't ordinarily have these circumstances... I will do it this once..then no more.

I was about two months away from my four year anniversary (clean-time)..... which means....
I would have to come here....and tell the world what I'd done (shame...why shame?)....ORRRR
I could let ALL of the people who are going to send me emails and congratulate me on websites BELIEVE I hadn't gambled....
I couldn't even imagine what THAT shame would feel like.

So I'd have to tell...and I want to lose.

but still...I was going to play.

I arrive at the gate....and decide to talk to my friend...and THEN I will play.

I text.... we talk.

I will tell my friend that it's time to board before it is actually time...then I will play til it's time to board.

My friend's family is sitting down to dinner...."go eat" I say... "I will be fine".

"are you sure?"

"yes, I'm sure"

I am sure I am going to gamble.

we hang up.

I can play.

I am GOING to play.

I want to play so badly.

I have many phone numbers in my cell....friends in recovery.

I call one.

"Are you busy? I need to talk"

and we do....until they call me to board.

I am watching people press the button press the button press the button press the button the whole time we are talking.

and i want to press the button too.

but I talk instead.

and I board the plane.

and I am sad...that I missed the opportunity to gamble.

but I am relieved.
SO SO SO relieved that I made it.....safe and sound...still whole...no shame...no lies.

and it took a few days before my brain REALLY belonged to me again.

and it scares the HELL out of me how that happened...and how powerful it was....... it was the "mental blank spot" that the combo book talks about.....

I'm still going to Vegas in March....but this time....I will be prepared.

Very well prepared.


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Hey your story is full of example of up and downs of mantel condition of any person who is addicted with the habit of gambling.I think your experiences give reason to a people to think about the gambling addiction

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