I would just like to tell you the second half of my story of my gambling addiction. I already spoke at length about how I got started, how my state of mind was at the peak of addiction but now I would like to share my story of how I got over my addiction, or should I say how I was “helped” to get over my addiction. Let’s begin.
So after minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days and days turned into weeks, before I knew it Christmas rolled around. Panic set it. I haven’t looked at my bank account for weeks fearing that what I would find would shake me to the core. I needed to buy presents and needed money for the festive season. It was time. It was time to check my account and see what damage I have caused. Now for me to survive comfortably for the remainder of the year (until May) I “should” have had roughly €3,000 in my account. This would cover my accommodation, food, entertainment, bills etc. for the second semester after Christmas. Therefore, I “should” have only spent about €2,000 in the first semester, prior to Christmas as my parents gave me €5,000 at the start of the college year. As I enter my details into Online Banking and watch that swirling “Loading” logo spin for what felt like eternity, the balance appeared – €42. (or something along those lines)
“Shiiiiiiiiiiiiit!!!! OH I AM IN TROUBLE”
Panic set in. I was shaking. I was scared. I was worried. I didn’t know what to do. I was all alone in the apartment. No support, no company. Just me and my thoughts. Panic thoughts. Ashamed thoughts. Embarrassed thoughts. I needed to do something. I needed to somehow get out of this massive hole I dug for myself into. First idea – go for shower, clear your head, focus. So I did. However, to make matters worse just before I hopped into the shower I dropped my phone on the hard tiled floor and that was the phone broken. Now I had no money, no phone and its 11 days away from Christmas. Nobody knew about my addiction and that was the problem. I needed help and I needed it fast.
I spent every waking minute over the next few days screaming on the inside and blaming myself for the shit I got myself into. Oh this was bad. Oh how stupid I was. (you be surprised but I haven’t hit rick bottom of my stupidity just yet – read on). After days of being stressed to the max and worried so much that I was getting grey hairs, I finally decided to tell someone – my father. He was very reasonable by nature and I thought I would speak to him man to man. I called him into my room. I gathered all the courage, stuttering and shaking I told him the whole story. He listened to everything I had to say. I knew he was disappointed. I could see it in his face. However, he didn’t raise his voice, he didn’t give me a hard kick up to arse like I deserved. He wasn’t even angry. He simply said:
“You are an idiot”.
I have never felt such sign of relief and joy after someone called me an idiot. A wave of warm feeling spread through my body and suddenly I stopped shaking and I stopped stressing. I was glad I told him. Although he didn’t seem to be mad I knew he was very disappointed. However, I felt a lot better after I told him. Somebody knew. I was not alone. Problem shared is problem halved, right? We spent about an hour over cup of tea talking in detail about my addiction and the severity of it. He made it clear to me that there were no funds to bail me out financially and that I needed to find my own way to getting back on track. He promised that he will provide all the support, he will help in anyway he could but not financially. He couldn’t. I accepted that. I had to. It was not up to him to get me out of this mess. It was my fault and my fault only. We ended up making jokes about the whole thing after our chat. Before long I explained myself to my mother. She was disappointed but supportive at the same time. I was ashamed, embarrassed but hopeful. Hopeful that things will get resolved and that I could somehow talk to my landlord of my college house and maybe pay off my rent in dribs and drabs using the small income I earned from working in the local bar. My mind was racing 100 miles per hour thinking of ways I could get myself out of this financial trouble. Perhaps I can get another job to pay the bills, maybe I could ask for more hours at the local bar etc.. I had new breath of life after I told my parents of my addiction. Although my worries and money worries didn’t go away it was great to get it off my chest and tell someone.
Christmas came and went and before I knew it I was back in college. Back to reality. Back to my college flat, with my best buddy Conor. Now what do you think the first thing I did when I got back to college? Lived cheaply to ensure I can get myself out of the financial mess? Speak to landlord and explain my situation and hopefully he had pity on me? Asked to borrow money from someone close? Went to Gamblers Anonymous? Nup. All wrong. Here’s what I did – I went back to gambling. In my head I thought that if I pick my best wisely and bet on a regular basis that within few weeks I would be back on track. Logic, right? I was in my comfort zone when I am betting. I knew my way around a betting website and I thought I could “this” time have a good run and get myself out of trouble. Before long (4 days) I lost every penny I had. I couldn’t even afford food. My friend Conor cooked for me and bought the essentials for the house. I was still working at the local pub, but that money was going from my pocket and straight into bookies hands. Looking back on it I was living like a total idiot. I was foolish beyond believe. Writing this blog makes me feel ashamed of my own actions. However, I feel I must tell this story as there people out there a lot worse off than I ever was. I was wrapped up in gambling. Although I did tell my parents about the addiction. Although I did promise not to gamble again by looking straight into their eyes. Although I did say all the right things for them to hear. Although I did promise myself I won’t gamble again – I did. It didn’t feel like me that was gambling. It was as if someone was controlling my actions. It was a surreal feeling and very scary not being able to say “no” to my urges and addiction.
Anyway about one and a half weeks later after Christmas I get a phone call from my dad right in the middle as I am helping my friend Conor cook up a storm (I was broke so had to help somehow in order to get fed). This was weird. He never usually calls me. I nervously answered my “new” phone and the conversation went something like this:
Dad: “Hi Vadim, how are you? How are you getting on in college?”
Me: “Ah I am tipping away, tough to get back into college with missing so many lectures last semester. But I guess I be fine, I just keep working hard.
Dad: Very good. How are you doing money wise?
Me: “Not great but I am trying to get some extra hours at the pub and trying to live cheaply”
Dad: “Good to hear. Have you went back to gambling since our chat”
Me: “Oh no no no no. No way dad. That life is behind me. I am not going near the bookies again. I have deleted my betting account and I am over my addiction. I hate the sight of bookies. Gambling is the last thing on my mind” (Lying through my teeth I was)
Dad: “Oh really? That’s good to hear. Now tell me this, why am I holding a bank statement from your bank stating that you have took out €110 in the past two weeks since our chat and lodged into Bet365 betting account?”
Me: “eh…….” *panicking*
I was in trouble. My body went into shock. I was just got caught on the spot lying through my teeth. What’s going to happen next? Conor was right in the room, he heard everything. Am I about to lose respect of my parents AND my best friend. However, before I could get too hung up on my dark thoughts he continued:
The anger, disappointment and betrayal in his voice will haunt me forever. I have never felt so ashamed in my life. I was sad, angry, embarrassed, rebellious and egotistic all at the same time. As I hang up the phone, I turned to Conor and went off on a big rant how this is not fair, this is my life, these are my actions, I am big boy now, how dare he etc. etc. Conor listened to me rant for like 20 minutes without saying a word, after I calmed down and slumped down on the couch, he calmly said (the most honest and appropriate words anyone has ever said to me):
“You are not mad because your parents are making you move home. You are angry because your ego is hurt”
Ooooooooh those words were like a dagger to my heart. A dagger to my ego.
Thank you very much for reading and I have more of the story to follow next week. Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. Even writing it myself I can hardly believe my behavior and actions. I was a fool and I just refused to accept it. I betrayed my loved once and myself. Oh it was a hard road to redemption after that phone call, but more on that next week. As always feel free to comment, like, follow or just say “hi” via the comments section and if you think of anyone that might benefit from my story please spread the word. As always I am available through Twitter (@McevoyVadim) and via email.
Thanks so much again and see you all on the next one.