Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hitting Bottom

A few months ago I wrote a post on Safe Harbor, and someone pointed out that while I listed my date last gambled as 10 30 06 --- in my post, I mentioned that I hit my personal rock bottom on 4-15-02.

Isn't that something....one of the worst days of my life.... one of the SCARIEST days of my life..... and yet.... even after that, I continued to gamble.

Well...it didn't happen exactly that way.....and it's a little complicated..... I did stop gambling (although not until July of 02) for nearly two years.

and then, I went back.

Now some people might say that I started up again because I wasn't attending meetings or working my program....but then....I've seen lots of people who go to meetings all of the time....and have a sponsor and are working the steps....and they relapse.

so it looks to me like....it isn't that uncommon to relapse, regardless of what we are doing.

for ME.... relapse (which implies that there has been a bit of clean time) is a DECISION to return to gambling.

I firmly believe that when I was caught up in the cycle, the ability to DECIDE whether or not to gamble eluded me. I could not choose not to. I was driven to it.

But....

by educating myself about what is wrong with me (and I do believe that my brain is a little different from the folks who can walk into a casino and leave when they want to...and do not crave to return)..... and by finding other people who can understand me (because people who are not like me can NOT understand....it's just not NORMAL to be this way).....

maybe the most helpful thing for me was finding people who seemed 'normal' (free of the cycle) now...but by listening to them... it was clear they understood me...they had been thru it...they had been there...they had suffered as I was suffering....financially, emotionally...yet.....they were free....and ok.

could I be ok again?
some of the stories of the folks who were ok sounded as bad or worse than my own story.

and they were ok.

I clung to those people like a lifeline....
for me, those people were online, but it really doesn't matter where one finds them...in a treatment facility, the rooms of g.a., anywhere....but finding people who 'got me'....who could point out my 'thinking errors'.....or....who would just listen...and understand.....who could share their stories....of what they'd been through...and HOW they'd broken free.

In those days my level of anxiety was extreme.

My whole world was crashing in. My finances were a wreck....my marriage was crumbling.... I didn't even know who I was any more.

I didn't see any way out of the mess I'd created and I seriously thought that taking my life was the only way out.....

but then...I found people who had been there....and were ok.

some of them still had a lot of debt....but they were living their lives.....taking care of things, not running from them....getting second jobs.... they seemed...calm...relaxed....unlike the turmoil that was going on inside of me.

Ya know...I've also met a lot of people who have managed to stop gambling...and I don't want to be anything at all like them LOL.

but that's their business...not mine.

I sought the people that inspired me.....people who made sense when we chatted.....

but I didn't start doing that until 10-30-06.

finding out how to take care of myself.

when I first stopped gambling in 2002.....I always knew...in the back of my mind, that I would gamble again. I didn't know when.....maybe it would be many years from now...maybe not so long...but I know when I had a good enough EXCUSE...that I would return.

and that's what I did.
after nearly two years of not gambling...sometime in 2004.... I was suffering.

I had lost a baby....I was helping to care for my father-in-law who was dying....I was trying to care for my own husband and children, I was physically and emotionally exhausted.....and hurting.

who could blame me?

so one morning..when I had a bit of time...I stopped...I knew I couldn't hurt myself badly...I didn't have much cash, and while I had earned enough trust to have a debit card, my use of it was monitored closely by my husband.

but I was sneaky...and found was around it.....so, I was right...that morning, I didn't hurt myself (financially)...I stopped...I gambled the money in my purse...and left.

and I didn't go back for a few days...or mabye a few weeks....but it had begun again.
I was back in it.

and it grew.

I gambled in secret for nearly two years.
while i did over extend myself (and made payday loans and borrowed money from friends and family) I did not reach the level of insanity that I had in 2002.

Part of that was because I was monitored closely and REALLY did not want to get caught by my husband....part of that was because I had educated myself (somewhat) during my initial clean time.

Now some people will say that it isn't important why we gambled.

And maybe it ISN'T important for some people.

But it was (and remains) MY belief that....knowledge is power....and while UNDERSTANDING addiction/compulsive gambling alone is not going to keep me safe....that knowledge is a big part of why I am still free today.

more later.
xo

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Iam 33 years old and have a gambling prob.... I really need someone to talk to I know i need help its getting out of control and has been for a few years now i know I am hurting my children and husband and I know its time to reach out and get help my email bubbles9310@yahoo.com

whcf99 said...

thanks for this particular share and for taking the time to write the whole blog. it is very helpful...

whcf99@gmail.com

p.s. i probly should not write this next part but when you say that you have "seen many continue to attend meetings AND relapse", it reminds me of someone who says "i know many who still smoke who are into their 80s". i know what you mean but there seems to be an error in that type of thinking if you get my drift. but believe me this is a very minor criticism. overall i loved what you wrote and thanks again for taking the time to help others.