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Sunday, 10 November 2013

Just For Today I will not Gamble.

My name is 'Kimmie' and I am a Compulsive Gambler.                                                                    
I have not gambled (compulsively) for nine years - I'd like to say 'Iv'e not had a bet for nine years' but for reasons (good reasons) that I won't go into right now, I do still buy a lotto ticket.

Considering the severity of my gambling addiction in the past, I'm quite surprised that this is my first gambling related ramble.

Anyway, I need a gambling 'Therapy' and as symptoms of mental illness prevent me from getting to GA (gamblers Anonymous) at the moment, blogger will have to do!
Just for today I will not Gamble... written therapy. Compulsive Gambling. Addiction. via @stuckinscared
Recently gambling has been on my mind more than (at this point in my recovery) it should be, and I'm not comfortable with that.
I'm feeling incredibly vulnerable at the moment - fearful, insecure in my marriage, terrified of 'the powers that be', really struggling with symptoms of mental illness, and not coping as well as my 'mask' would have other people believe I am.

My gambling addiction did more damage (mentally, physically & financially) to me, and to my family, than anything else (until recently) has ever done, and yet at the same time it was (still is to date) the only thing (ever) to bring me any real relief from symptoms of mental illness.

For me gambling was escapism - I knew I was hurting myself and those I loved, but at the same time, all the while I was 'in action' I felt safe!
My gambling was fast & furious - manic - time consuming - mind consuming - ALL CONSUMING! There was no room in my head (whilst in action) for anything else - Intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, relationship issues, debt (I had plenty of debt!) anxiety, fear....all gone!
When I walked into a casino, I left everything else (everything else!) on the other side of the doors, I was safe....I was free!

It's all to easy when life goes tits up (and my God has it gone tits up of late!) to find yourself craving that safety and freedom again, it's easy to remember only the good things related to obsessive/compulsive gambling........
The extreme highs - running around like a lunatic playing four tables at once with a load of pink (£100) chips weighing heavy in your bag - chips piled high when your numbers come in - the buzz - the sweep - the payout - squeals of delight when you look up and realise three of your four tables dropped your way on the last spin - the journey home with £5,000 in your handbag - children's faces when they come home from school the next day to find it's Christmas in July!

It is my friends a head recently full of such (wonderful) memories that have prompted this ramble.

You see I really (really) want to run away at the moment and all the while my head is full of 'Christmas in July', I am in danger of falling back into the world of compulsive gambling!
Of course symptoms of agoraphobia would prevent me from frequenting a casino or bingo hall these days, but I am (Thanks to other GA members) very aware of just how easy it is to access (and get sucked into) on line betting sites.

Am I tempted? - Of course I'm tempted. I'm a compulsive gambler.

I'm here tonight because I need to remind myself of the 'far from wonderful' side of a compulsive gamblers life....

I need to remind myself of the extreme lows that ALWAYS followed the highs.

I need to remember the 'Christmas in December' that saw me begging my parents for money on Christmas Eve, and then flying around 'ASDA' after dark trying (In vain) to fulfil my children's wish lists!

I must never forget the 34 year old woman who sat on a stool at the Mecca bingo one afternoon and wet herself because she'd pumped too much money into the fruit machine she was playing to chance another punter stealing her win while she went to the loo!
I must never forget how once the machine had finally paid out, she shuffled her stool (bum firmly attached so as to hide the wet patch) along to the next machine and pumped best part of her winnings into it.
I must never forget the wet patch she left on the back seat of the cab that carried her an hour or so later (late for the third time that week!) to pick her children up from school.

I need to remember the night I slunk through the casino doors (looking like death warmed up) with (my very last) £40 in my pocket (£4 of which I knew I MUST hold back for the kids bus fair to school the next day).
I needed to win that night! I had no food in, numerous bills were over due, I owed a friend money, and it was my daughters 11th birthday the following day!

I entered the gaming area with a £20 note in my hand which I intended to change up (I had a plan - bet small -win big!) as I passed the first table a croupier to the left of me called "last bets please".
Frantically, and without thinking, I shot forward and slammed the 'twenty' down onto the table yelling "14" as I did so....within seconds my *half of all I had* was swept away and replaced with chips....Too late to change my mind -The bet was on!
With my head full of "Oh god, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God"" and my heart banging so hard in my chest I felt dizzy, I watched as the wheel slowed, I watched (kicking myself for my stupidity) as the ball dropped and kicked around numbers 0 - 36 until after what seemed like an eternity it came to a stop in.........Number 14!!!!
Get in there! And Yes, I did actually shout (scream!) "Get in there".

In less than 5 minutes I had just turned half of my last £40 into £720!

In just one spin of the wheel I had made enough money to put food in the cupboards for a week, pay back my friend, deal with the most urgent of my bills, and ensure that my daughter 'squeak' had a half decent birthday present the next day.
Words cannot describe how wonderful I felt as that £720 was swept across the table toward me.

Luck (It's never judgement) was with me that night, I doubled the last bet (as you do) and 14 came in a second time and then a third (my initial bet now trebled). I was on a roll, I couldn't stop at that point, I'd have been mad to stop; I couldn't stop!

When I (eventually) got home (early hours of next morning) I baked bread for my kids (It would be that or nothing the next morning) and wrote out 'Squeaks' birthday card

'Happy birthday, darling 
*We owe you £40* 
Lots of love 
from Mum & Dad'

Thankfully I'd bought a Birthday cake the week before, and was able (later that day) to borrow just enough money to feed us that day and the next two into pay day.

The kids didn't go to school that day.
I told them they were having a day off as it was 'squeaks' birthday - I told the school they were ill.
The real reason for their day off? - I didn't have their bus fair!

My kids were all smiles that day - They'd bagged a day off of school, and mum (with an Oscar winning performance of 'every little things gonna be alright') played, baked up anything remotely bake-able, and smiled all day! My daughter had (to the best of my knowledge) had a happy birthday.

Years later I would find the *I OWE YOU* card hidden in 'squeaks' bedroom, and I would know (beyond any doubt) that I was 'the mum' who broke an eleven year olds heart on her birthday, and that she was 'the child' who loved her mum too much to let it show!

I love my kids and they love me. I have never set out to hurt them, but when I was gambling, hurt them (more than once) I did! - If I gamble again, I WILL hurt them again.
Just for today I will not gamble!

POSITIVE THOUGHT
Just for today I will try to live through this day only and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for 12 hours that would appal me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

PRAYER
Serenity Prayer. via @stuckinscared ... Written Gambling Therapy.

Thank you for allowing me to share                                                                       

God bless those and all those you love 

Kimmie x

21 comments :

  1. Kimmie, the tears were running down my face reading this. You've been through so much heartache. At least you now recognise the trigger points, stress and anxiety, debt and low self esteem and many others. Don't beat yourself up too much over the past, we've all made mistakes Kimmie....

    You're so brave to share your story and when you're thinking of all those 'never forgets' you must never ever forget just how far you have come.

    I am so proud that you're my friend..... xxxxx

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    1. Michelle, your comment bought tears to my own eye's! Thank you so much for your love and support, it means so much to me. I'm so lucky to have you in my life! X

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  2. Hi Kimmie you are so brave to talk about this. Thru you doing it if you just stop one person going out today it's all been worth it. Everyone makes mistakes, hindsight is a wonderful thing!! At the time we all do what we think is best for us or our loved ones out of love. That what we are doing will be helping ourselves or our family not something that may be damaging or detrimental.
    We must measure our failures by this rule ~ Did anyone die?!!
    No? Then we all pass the test & we are all doing fine! Life is irreplaceable money not so important. So head up walk tall & forgive yourself!! Judith!!

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    1. Thank you Judith, I really did need reminding so this therapy was necessary on a personal level but yes you're right - if other people take something from my bad memories of gambling and are reminded of there own reasons for needing to abstain I'm happy :)

      God bless you and yours hun

      Kimmie x

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  3. Thank you so much for this brave, insightful post. Yes, you. Brave & insightful & a loving mum. I wonder if a day is a bit long? You got through the last few breaths worth of time. You can get through the next. Hang on in there as nd allow your self esteem to rise a bit. Good luck, phil

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    1. Phil, thank you for stopping by and for your lovely, encouraging comment.
      I wrote this post on 10th November 2013 and at the time (as you say) some days it was just one moment at a time.
      I'm having less 'gambling thoughts' at the moment than I was when I wrote this piece - writing about and reading back therapies helps a lot.
      I continue to share this piece in the hope that others might find something in it that helps them.
      Urges to gamble come and go, some days I don't think about gambling at all - others I'm consumed with an urge to escape and feel the need to remind myself of all the reasons I must not!

      Thanks again, your comments lifted me today

      God bless you and yours

      Kimmie x

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  4. Wow. Blog posts don't often make me cry but this one did. It must have taken a lot of courage to publish this and share your story with the world but I'm glad you did. x

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    1. Thank you Vicky, This was a cathartic piece to write but you're quite right - it did take some courage to hit publish!
      I've had such positive/supportive feedback though so I'm glad I did - I'll continue to throw this one out there every now and again in the hope that something in my ramble will help other addicts)

      Thanks again for your support

      God bless you and yours

      Kimmie x

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  5. This post is open, honest and so very brave. Without judgement on you, a gambling addiction must be electrifying and devastating in equal measures. I am glad you found the courage to post this, and I hope you contine to post about this to get it off your chest and feel better x

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    1. Kerrie, Thank you so much for reading and for your sympathetic response to this post.
      I will write more about this in the future, it helps me when the urge to gamble is rears it's ugly head and may (I hope) help others too.

      "Electrifying and devastating in equal measures" - Sums it up nicely!

      God bless you and yours

      Kimmie x

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  6. Just came across this. As a former compulsive gambler with clinical depression, this truly resonated with me. I don't see very many blog posts about the horrors of gambling addiction. As you know, it's an awful disease that consumes every single good thing in your life. Thank you for sharing, I needed to read this. I hope life finds you well.

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    1. Hi Anon, I'm glad the post resonated, and that you happened across it at a time when you needed the reminders.

      Yes, it is an awful disease, and one that (even during recovery) can catch us unaware.

      I'm glad you're managing to stay on the program .... 'Just for today' :)

      Best wishes to you and yours, Kimmie x

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  7. That was an amazing post, an insight into the mind of a gambler, thanks for sharing it x

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read/comment - and for sharing the post on Twitter. I really appreciate this one being shared....you never know, it might reach the right person..just when they need it the most :)

      Take care hun, Kimmie x

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  8. You're very welcome, and I hope so x

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  9. Very honest and heartfelt. Addiction is hard to understand unless you have lived it. Thanks for your honesty and good luck x

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  10. Kimmie, you have an amazing way with words. Thank you so much for sharing. I know that can't have been easy. Visiting from My Life As A Mummy, Weekend Blog Hop.

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    1. Thank you for hopping over Deborah, and for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment. This post was actually written some time ago, you're right, it wasn't an easy one to share, but I'm glad I did, it helped me at the time and (according to some of the feed back I've had) has been helpful to others too.

      All the best to you and yours, Kimmie x

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  11. Kimmie, my dear bean. You're wonderful, and I'm so sorry you're struggling with this. Take it hour by hour if you have to, but I have confidence in you. Truly. I know this was written a while ago but DANG, woman, you can write. And if these feelings return, I will still have confidence in you that you can resist. You've set your stakes high to keep away from gambling, and I think you're gonna win :)

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    1. Oh, Lizzi...honestly...you have no idea how much I want to be lost in a spin (or 10) right now... but, for all of the reasons outlined in this post...Just for today I WILL NOT gamble. I hope to never go back to the place gambling took me to...despite missing the escapism terribly at times...and if I'm ever too close for comfort...there's YOU, dear bean (and others I could mention) who will drag me (albeit virtually) back...and there lies the difference between then and now!

      Bless you for reading, and for your friendship.

      Kimmie x

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