My Gambling Therapy - Part 2
My Gambling Therapy - Part 2
By Steve Anonymous
I can’t honestly remember the exact day or time I went back to gambling but over a period of time I just started to do the wrong things again. By this time (approx. 2010) I had moved jobs again and was doing a lot of travelling / nights away with work. I had got myself a credit card again for work expenses and I started to put my loose change in pub quiz/bingo machines, then sometimes the occasional fruit machine whilst away on business. Not massive amounts but just loose change. Sometimes when I had had a stressful day at work and I was in the hotel bar having a few pints, then 10 mins on the machine allowed me to relax a bit.
As the money I was losing could be easily masked and I was no longer going to GA so I didn't have to declare I'd had a bet so it never dawned on me I should tell my wife as I thought I was able to control it this time. This in hindsight was a massive mistake.
Fast forward to 2013 and now I also had a son (James) who was born in 2011 and I had changed jobs again this time moving to my dream job at a top UK company. A guy who I sat next to at work was constantly talking about horses and gambling and would always give me tips but I never followed through on any of them.
Some of my friends had also started doing the Sky Sports Soccer 6 competition and I thought I would give it a go as it was free to enter (so wasn’t gambling….). The problem was everytime you chose your score selections you would get a sky bet advert saying if you put a £5 bet on these 6 results (but just the Home/Draw/Away) you could win £xxxx. After the first time it came in one of my mates said why don’t you put a bet on it and if you win again you’ll be laughing and a £5 wouldn’t hurt. I resisted but after the 2nd and 3rd time in came in over the next couple of months I could feel the pull of gambling getting stronger as I could have been thousands of pounds up – but what would my wife had said if I took her my gambling winnings???.
My first proper bet again was on the Grand National horse race in April 2014, when I finally gave in and had £2 on the sweep stake at work and my colleague said he would put me a bet on if I wanted to back my horse at the bookies to, so I gave him a £5 but I didn’t win.
I was then looking into ways to gamble secretly again and I realised a lot of the online sites now took PayPal which was ideal as I managed the PayPal account as I bought and sold a lot of things on eBay. I started opening different accounts on my phone and taking advantage of the free bets and initially had some success again with my gambling but told myself this time I was in control. I needed to fund my gambling so I started selling more things on eBay – my things, the kids toys/clothes just so I could get some money in my PayPal account. Soon I was running out of things to sell plus it was taking too long to get money through selling things on eBay so I had to take a bit of a gamble and start using my credit card too as this gave me instant gambling tokens! We only used to get online statements for the credit card and I managed paying the bill so I was able to keep this hidden from my wife.
This also coincided with the 2014 world cup and I think I had missed betting on a major tournament as the last one I did quite well out of back in 2002. My £5 a week controlled gamble was soon out of the window and the world cup schedule meant I was now gambling every day again. Back into the old routine by trying to steal £10/20 on the online casino before putting several football bets on. I was not losing massive amounts of money but I was being dishonest to my wife again and stealing time away from my young children as I was more interested in betting than interacting with them. I was trying to put some other purchases on my credit card to try and mask my gambling expenditure and managed to go around 6 months without my wife getting wind of my betting relapse.
Again my gambling habits had become totally illogical as what was I betting for? A big win? What would I do with the money I won as I couldn’t tell my wife I’d won it gambling could i? The addiction had taken over and I was just going through the motions again not caring if I won or lost. I tried to stop it a couple of times and managed for a couple of weeks at a time but a stressful day at work would trigger me off again.
Lucky for me, my wife was starting to become suspicious of my actions and one Sunday asked to see the online credit card statement and straight away my heart sank, I knew I was about to be found out. I tried to fob her off but that made her even more suspicious and she checked the statement and saw all the withdrawals to Ladbrokes / Sky Bet / William Hill etc. It's funny now as I can't actually remember what my last bet was (like I do for 26th Feb 2003), as I didn't realise it was going to be my last bet. I just remember the date 18th October 2014.
I was back to square one, just like back in 2003 but this time it felt different, this time I had responsibilities and a lot more to lose. That day was horrible and I was unsure again if we were going to stay together which made me feel numb at the thought of losing her and the kids. How stupid could I have been to be sucked back into gambling again after all those years of not gambling? My wife was asking me some searching questions that night and I’m afraid I didn’t have the answers at that point. We were both in shock and struggled to come to terms with the enormity of the situation. The next day I started a new role at work and it was horrible not knowing if my family would still be there when I got back from work.
The week went slow and some further difficult conversations occurred and my wife decided to give me my last chance. It was clear the trust I had build up over the previous 11 years was gone and it wasn’t the fact that I had been gambling it was more because I had been lying to her for months that hurt. She said if I had told her after that first bet and been honest then her reaction would have been very different. Unfortunately the addiction had taken over me and my recovery was out the window.
It took me a few weeks to get my head around things again and that’s when I decided I needed to get back to GA as it worked for me before. I felt a little embarrassed going back to the Nottingham meeting and telling them I’d had a slip so I noticed a new meeting had opened at Chesterfield which was a little closer to me.
So I went to my first meeting for the second time which was hard again but as soon as I walked in and the secretary Mick came and shook my hand and introduced himself I knew I was back in the right place.
The rest is history shall we say but I have had to do things differently this time around and one of the first things I did was tell my best mate that I had been keeping a secret from him for the last 11 years. That was a big help and he has been a great support to me and he has been to several open meetings which have been a real eye opener for him.
I have thrown myself back into my recovery and put all my barriers in place to protect me and my family and I now attend Nottingham and Chesterfield meetings and try to do 2 meetings a week. It's the best 4hrs free therapy I can get!
I have also started looking at and working the 12 step recovery programme as I paid lip service to it was I first came to GA in 2003.
I now have my self respect back and peace of mind that just for today I haven't gambled and I'm being honest with my family. I am not cured by any means but my recovery is going well and I'm arresting the gambling addiction one day at a time.
I also now use Twitter and this blog to tell my recovery story and raise awareness of the dangers of gambling. I get a lot out of trying to help other gamblers who are struggling and try to spread the word about gamblers anonymous. I have met some good people who share the common goal of recovery and there is a lot of mutual support and unity through Twitter which is a massive positive for any problem gambler to know they are not alone.
My name is Steve and I’m a compulsive gambler, date of last bet 18th October 2014.
I hope there is not a part 3 to this therapy as this time it’s for life!!!