Editor's Note: As our faithful audience knows, Drunkless is about being "sober" from whatever addiction ails us. It is also about what is going on in our lives, right now. What's happening in our lives that others can recognize and connect with?
But we also fully recognize those on The Other Side of the Fence. What are they going through? What are they struggling with and how are they trying to be "Drunkless"?
This is such a story.
I met my husband in 2004 and knew immediately that he was a gambler. He is a very charismatic man and we soon became very good friends and subsequently started dating. I thought he wasn’t gambling anymore, because he was always with me. I really thought this was the end of any gambling issues.
Around the time our daughter was born in 2009, I started to notice that he would always have an excuse for why he would take so long to do the simplest of tasks. He would go to work for five minutes and there was always an emergency that meant that he was gone for hours. There would be a traffic jam on every road that he ever went on, shops had run out of everything that he ever had to get so that he had to trail around three shops on opposite sides of the city to get it. This always happened where he had no phone signal, or he had run out of battery so that he could not be contacted.
When my husband had been gone for three hours to collect a pint of milk, he would tell me that I was mentally ill and that he really had not been gone long. This was so hurtful and genuinely made me question my own sanity; had he really only been gone for five minutes?
My waters broke in November 2009 and my husband was with me. However, he first had to pop out to the shop. After he had been gone for about two hours, the hospital told me that I must attend immediately, but my husband was not answering his phone. Looking back now, it is clear that he was gambling.
I had decided to take six months’ maternity leave, however he was in significant debt and I needed to return to work after three months. Looking back, he had gambled the money despite knowing that I was going to be on maternity leave. This happened again in 2012 when I had our second child. Nothing had changed, he was still disappearing into phone signal abys.
Throughout this time, I continued to question myself and made excuses for him, which helped to facilitate his ongoing gambling. His behaviour was manipulative and unacceptable, but I loved him and so accepted his lies.
In 2015 we received the heart-breaking news that one of our friends had committed suicide. His funeral had a lasting impact upon my husband and a few weeks later, on 3rd November 2015 (the day of his last bet), he asked to speak to me. He explained that he had an issue with gambling and that he had thought about suicide as a way out. I cannot put into words how much this hurt. The difference is that now I have opened my eyes to his manipulation, I question whether this was genuine or said to make me stay when telling me that he is a compulsive gambler. I guess I will never know, but nonetheless I supported him. I love him and whilst he is trying to change I will help him. I found the local Gamblers Anonymous group for him and he has attended ever since. I took over control of all of the finances and gave him a minimal weekly allowance to prevent him having access to money.
I attended his year anniversary at GA and told everyone how proud I was that he was doing so well. I cried when I told everyone how difficult it had been whilst he was gambling and lying, how the debt had been crippling for us, how we nearly lost our house, how I struggled to feed the family or buy Christmas presents for our children. He told everyone that he was pleased that we were able talk about his issues and be honest with each other.
This complacency and pride was short lived, as a few weeks later I discovered that he had been lying for a year and had been buying in app purchases for a game on his phone. He had told me on numerous occasions that he only played the free version. When I found out about two purchases, he told me that these were the only ones and that he immediately felt ashamed. However, I then discovered this was not true and he admitted that he had been doing this for a year and spent around £10,000. He had two credit cards that I did not know about and had been using these. I was furious, devastated, confused and hurt beyond belief. I didn’t know which way to turn and whether to stay or leave. Eventually I decided to give him one more chance. I set down rules and made it clear that if he did not comply then I would leave.
Following on from this argument, I took a day off work ill, which I have never done, as I felt so stressed by all of this. Having realised that this was making me ill, I started to look into myself a lot more and realised that we had a co-dependant relationship and that I had helped to enable his continued gambling, as I constantly made excuses for him and that I needed to seek help for me. I didn’t know where to start, but searched the internet and found GamCare and their website helped me to understand that I was not alone. I read their family and friends forums and engaged with a number of gamblers and their families on social media for support. I have recently started my counselling and my husband is soon to start his own. There is an organisation called GamAnon, which is designed to assist, but there is not one in my local area. I hope to change this in 2017, as I know that others in my area need help also.
Despite the issues of the past, my husband is now 14 months gambling free. and continues to seek self improvement. I continue to support him, but this is based on honesty and a continued effort to improve. A lot of what I have written is the negatives of living with a compulsive gambler, but I want to end on positives. We have just looked at our finances and have cleared a large proportion of our debt and have a realistic plan for the rest. We talk a lot more than we have ever done before about important issues from our past and feel like I know him so much more than I ever did. Only time will tell what the future will bring, but I want to focus on 2017 being a year where I find inner peace and have hope for the future.
Guest Bio: I am a 36 year old, highly successful professional woman, wife and mother. I have always been strong and fearless in life, but my husband's gambling addiction has pushed that strength to its limits. @gamblerswife