A Superbowl that changed my life

It’s Superbowl Sunday!!!  Even if you aren’t a football fan it is likely that you are aware that it is Superbowl Sunday.  Except for two other Superbowl games  I have no recollection of anything about any professional football game I’ve ever seen.  The one other was in 2006 when the Seattle Seahawks were playing and lost due to some terrible calls.  That is my opinion anyhow.  I am not a big football fan yet I could tell that the ref’s in that game were doing some serious picking on the Hawks.  I couldn’t watch the last 5 minutes of the game.  It was disgusting.  I am certainly glad they won today’s game.  The 48th Superbowl played in New York was one they deserved to win.

The other Superbowl Sunday I recall is one that changed my life.  It was 20 years ago.  Superbowl XXVIII.  The Cowboys and the Bills.  I don’t recall where they played the game.  I know who played because I googled it.  I do remember where I was and who I was with and what I did to change the course of my life forever.

I was at the Newport Hilton on the Oregon Coast with my then husband, Mr. B.  We had decided to go over to the coast to enjoy our weekend and have a place to watch the game.  We had only been married for about 3 months so of course we were still very snuggly and cuddly and romantic. Mr. B. was a huge sports fan.  In fact, I sometimes think he would die if he didn’t have access to watch sports and keep up on his favorites.  So, a weekend at the coast at a nice hotel was a compromise of what I enjoyed and what he enjoyed.  And we both loved the beach which is why we decided to watch the Superbowl from there.

The bar had a few huge TV’s.  That was back when big screens were just starting to be made.  Technology has come a long way since then.  There was a lovely view of the beach.  They were packed and there was lots of food and everyone was having a good time.

Every so often my husband would go over to some machines and put some money in them.  I didn’t know what they were except I had seen them before and knew he sometimes put money in them and played a game.  I was feeling a big ignored, with both sports and now this machine and so I went over to ask him what it was about.   He then gave me $5 and said put it in and I’ll show you.

That was the first bet I made in a video poker machine.  I had never really gambled before that.  Maybe some penny ante poker, but nothing worth recalling and never on a machine or at a casino or anything like that. This was a whole new experience for me.  I can’t tell you if I won or lost.  I can’t tell you what game I played.  I can’t even tell you how it made me feel.  I just remember that is the first place I ever made a bet.

We enjoyed our weekend.  Like I said, I don’t remember much about the game because I was mostly there to spend time with my husband.  I know we stayed over another night and probably took our time driving home, stopping for lunch at one of our favorite places along the way.  But I can’t tell you for certain.

While I didn’t play a machine again for a few months, that one bet was the start of the change of my life.  You see, I became a compulsive gambler.  In less than a year from that Superbowl game my family was doing an intervention to get me into treatment.  I was lying and stealing money.  I was not being the person I used to be.  I was not there for my family.  I was not performing well at my job.  That was just the first year of my gambling.  I ended up battling my addiction for 16 years.

I am proud to say I am nearing my 4th year without making a bet.  But it being Superbowl Sunday and the year 2014, it hit me hard the memory of that game 20 years ago an how my life changed course.  I can’t help but wonder what would have been different if I had never made that first bet.  I had no idea at that time that anyone could get addicted to gambling.  I was very careful about addictions.  I was raised in a home with addiction.  Had I known…I may have done a few things different.  But I didn’t.  The price was very costly.

Not only did I lose thousands of dollars over the course of all those years, but I lost friends and family.  I lost respect of my peers.  I lost opportunities.  I lost moments that can never be made up.  I lost a part of me.  I lost more than can ever be imagined.

I can’t change what was done.  I can only go forward from here and hope that the lessons I’ve learned are directing me along the path God has set forth for me.  I took control of the reigns of my life that day that changed my life.  Today, I let God be in charge and I trust He will find a way to use all  those years for some good.  Maybe good for me, or maybe good for someone else.

Knowing what I know about compulsive gambling today, would I make the same decision?  NO WAY.  Gambling can ruin lives.  It is the addiction with the highest rate of suicide of any addictions.  It eats at your mind faster than your wallet.  No, if I knew then what I know now, I would not mindlessly put my money in a machine a place a bet.  Or, would I?  There is no way to tell now.  I just have to live in today.  And today was good, because I watched the big game (well, only the second half because I have the flu and slept through the first half) and I didn’t make a bet and I didn’t make any big decisions that were life changing.  I just watched the game.  And I will remember who played and who won!  I was present.  Thank you God…for the Present of today!

Honor diversity. Equal rights. Special rights. No rights.

One of the fun things about having a blog is I get to share my musings with all of you and open dialogue to learn more about people.  This is a bit out of the usual for me, but something in this situation struck a chord of thoughtfulness and inspection.

Honor diversity.  Equal rights.  Special rights.  No rights.

I saw this link Student Denied Diploma on Facebook.  A comment I read related to the video said they hope NBC does a follow-up to see if anyone was wearing any religious symbols.  That got me thinking.

How have we arrived to this place?  We did it ourselves.  We opened up all the doors and said all is acceptable and all is well.  We want each individual to be themselves and everyone to be respectful of all the differences. Which is the way I believe it should be by the way.  Yet, a young girl can’t wear something because a PERSON in a place of POWER said so.  Friends, I don’t think that is ever going to change.  There are always going to be people who are in places of power that will have the ability to define what is acceptable or not in that particular setting and they can re-define those rules at will.

I would like to have seen a video of the entire class of students walking in to the graduation at Escambia Academy High School.  I would have been interested to see if there were any students or staff wearing jewelry. Maybe some bore a religious symbol at their neck such as a cross or a pentagram or a star of David.  Or maybe they had their religious symbols of protection or honor or remembrance under their caps and gown, such as garments or a kippa.

Were there any pony tail holders or bow ties.  How about makeup? Who is deciding what “extraneous items” are?  What about tattoos with various meanings for the wearer as well as the beholder?  Essentially, one person, or an entity that one person spoke for, decided a feather was the one thing not allowed.

We can’t change others.  We have to find what is acceptable and tolerable within ourselves and know it so we can act appropriately in situations like this young woman faced.  This wise girl made a decision, a choice.  She knew that there was potential for some type of fall-out if she wore the feather.  She had asked permission and been denied.  She had seen the dress code contract and did not sign it.  She made the choice of what was acceptable to her.  It was NOT acceptable to go without her feather.  Wearing the symbolic feather was more important than the potential consequences that could come from doing something she had been told was not acceptable in that environment.

I know if I float the river I will get wet, I may end up in the river and there is a possibility I could die.  I make my decision to float the river accepting of all the possibilities of the power the river has over my life if I go there.

I know if I float the river I will get wet, I may end up in the river and there is a possibility I could die. I make my decision to float the river accepting of all the possibilities of the power the river has over my life if I go there.

Chelsey Ramer actually showed more maturity and thoughtful decision-making than the Headmaster.  To me it sounded like the Headmaster was coming at it from a stand of power, not of personal honor. I’m sorry the student is having to deal with some fall-out, yet it sounds like she is taking appropriate recourse and maybe it will be handled differently in the future.  It all depends on who is in the position of power.

The one thing I can do consistently when up against that type of power is make my decision based on what I can live with.  Having a strong understanding of what is acceptable to me will make my decisions easier as life unfolds.  Stand true to yourself always, even amidst the fallout of life!