Last time we spoke about my experience with gambling, I shared with you my story of how I revealed my gambling addiction with my parents. Full blog can be seen here. So, let’s talk about the aftermath of me revealing my addiction then lying to my parents about my recovery and then coming to terms with living with my parents for my second college semester.
As I lay in bet that night after that phone call, I was feeling roller coaster of emotions – guilt, anger, shame, sadness, regret etc. I couldn’t sleep. I was anxious. A lot of thoughts were swirling in my head about what has happened and what is yet to happen. However, one thought was at the forefront of my mind:
“You are not angry because your parents are making you move back home. You are angry because your ego is hurt”
That sentence was playing on repeat in my head. The more I thought about it the more I began to focus on myself and my actions. He was right. It was no-one’s fault but my own. I had only myself to blame. I got myself into such mess. The only reason why I couldn’t stop it sooner was because of my ego. Inside I knew I had a problem weeks (if not months) prior to revealing it to my parents. However, I refused to accept it. I couldn’t accept it. Accepting that you had addiction seemed like a sign of weakness. I was too embarrassed to admit it to anyone even to myself. My ego was driving me down the wrong path until I hit a dead end and had no choice but tell my father of my horrible decision making. The more I thought about it the more I realised, telling my father about my addiction only seemed to stall it, not quench it. I wasn’t done yet. I still had the crave inside me. I still needed the bookies and maybe, just maybe I could try and salvage all I could from my previous shortcoming by going back to the bookies. I did it ore for me. I did it to get this huge secret of my addiction off my chest. I wasn’t done with gambling. I was just buying some time and pretended that all was well. That led me to getting back to gambling, pissing away the pennies I had and then lying point blank to my parents and now as a result of it all I was now lying in bed feeling sorry for myself. I was lying in bed, broken. I was a broken shell of a man that has hit rock bottom. As I lay on that uncomfortable bed I was on the verge of tears. All my mixed emotions have all morphed into regret and shame. I lost all my money. I lost respect and trust of my parents. I lost respect for myself and perhaps I was on the verge of losing respect of my close friend Conor. I never felt so helpless in my life. I didn’t know where to turn or who to turn to. I was backed into a corner and there was only one way out. I needed to swallow my pride, take the punishment on the chin and start rebuilding my life one day at the time moving forward.
Few days after the phone call I moved back home. It was horrible. I haven’t lived at home for over 3 years prior to that. Every minute in the house reminded me of the reason why I was there “I gambled my college fund away. I lied to my parents. I lost their respect and trust. I lost myself”. These words were just screaming at me with every “Good morning”, with every mouthful of my mothers cooking, with every lift to college in the morning and every lift from college in the evening. We all knew why I was there but we never discussed it. I felt like everyone was judging me, everyone was talking behind my back, everyone was against me, everyone was watching me, everyone I met knew I was a gambling addict. We lived in a small village, so it seemed like I was the talk of the town. (Of course, only handful of people in the village actually knew about it all, but I felt like I was walking around with bit target on my back displaying words “GAMBLING ADDICT”. I was just going through the motions of it all. Each day flowed into the next and I just kept my head down. I decided to focus on college and try to ignore all the negative thoughts that were creeping into my head every minute of every day. I was mentally broken and needed a hard reset. I felt weak. I didn’t know what to think or how to get myself out of such mess. I was living at home now and I didn’t have a penny. My father took full control of my finances. I couldn’t buy a cup of coffee without asking my father for some change. It was horrible. It was embarrassing. It was challenging. But it was EXACTLY what I needed. I knew that if I had access to a lump sum of money again I would bet it away on some bullshit bookies odds. Having no money to spend helped a lot. I needed somebody to take control of my money and my father happily did so.
I would advise anyone who is trying to get over their gambling addiction is to nominate someone (a partner, parent, close friend etc.) as your money keeper. Once you have limited money in your possession you be less inclined to bet it away. Well, it worked for me anyway. I was frustrated and angry with having no money but I knew that it was the right thing to do.
The first few days/weeks were the worst. That’s understandable. I honestly felt that there was no escaping the feeling of regret and shame. I didn’t where to turn, who to turn to or what to do with myself. Each day was harder than the last. My change of lifestyle was a constant reminder of my gambling addiction. I honestly thought that I would never escape that dreaded feeling. I wouldn’t wish it on my worse enemy. It was hell. It was torture. It was the reality. I was no longer living in the fantasy world where money grew on trees. I needed a reality check and by god I got it.
However, I tell you this much, no matter how ashamed, embarrassed, regretful, angry, sad etc, you feel after getting yourself into any addiction, once you put measures in place and put one foot in front of the other to correct your course in life you will come out much better on the other side. You will ALWAYS come out better on the other side if you are true to yourself. I had to have an honest conversation with myself. I had to admit I had an addiction. I had to admit I was mentally weak. I had to bring myself to the vulnerable state of mind and accept my actions and my wrongs. Once you do that then you are on the road to recovery. No matter what you do in life good, bad or other, some people will always judge you, ridicule you, talk bad about you. That’s just life. I was beginning to be aware of this more and more as the days went by. I let go of everything and just accepted my mistakes. It happened. It was done. I couldn’t change the past. I couldn’t forget it. I blurred out the rest of the world and solely concentrated on myself. I was now fighting for MY future and MY future only. There were no more blame games, excuses or feeling sorry for myself. I had to take it a day at the time and prove to myself more than anyone that I can do this. It was me against me.
It took me weeks to reach that level of self reflection and determination. It was not easy. If battling addiction was easy then nobody would struggle with addiction. We would all just snap out of our addiction when things get tough and that’s that. However, if one wants it badly enough to cure their addiction then it can be done. Its all about “how badly do you want it”. We as human being are incredible beings. We can achieve more things in life than we ever think is possible. However, we give in to temptation too easily. We all do. Me included. However, it’s the fight against that temptation that makes us who we are. Everyone single one of us can get into gambling/alcohol/drugs/etc. addiction. It is easier than you can ever imagine. However, ALL of us can also cure our addiction too. We all have capacity to do it. Trust me.
There is more to my story of my redemption but more on that later. I just want to give some words of encouragement to those who feel they are trapped by their addiction. It may feel like there is no way out and you have no options but trust me, there is ALWAYS a way out. There are 1001 ways to fight your addiction. You just have to find yourself. As I said previously, it all comes down to:
“How badly do you want it”
Thanks again everyone for reading this blog and as always I welcome any feedback of what you liked, of what can be improved etc. Please feel free to recommend this blog to anyone you know who is struggling with addiction that may find my experience useful in any way. Thanks again for your support and there is a lot more on the topic to come. I just want to discuss my experience of coming out of addiction one blog at the time. I don’t want to rush it. Stay patient and stay tuned for more. I hope you all enjoying these blogs.
Thanks again for reading and talk to you all on the next one.