The moon tonight. I wanted to share it with you.
Last Sunday marked the 3rd anniversary of the last bet I made. 3 years. Okay. Move on.
Then I got home and tallied the days. 1095 days. WOW!!!!! Now THAT is wild. So today is ONE THOUSAND and ONE HUNDRED DAYS, one day at a time. It truly is a miracle. For me. Not making a single bet for all those days in a row is almost incomprehensible. There is no way I could write my entire story here. But I will tell you this…..for many years I pissed off, worried, frustrated, and hurt many people that I loved. Some of them to the point of saying “Sianara baby!”. They were disgusted by watching me throw my life away, spending day after day, hour after hour, dollar after dollar sitting in front of a poker machine. They got tired of the lies, manipulating, stealing and nastiness I had become.
Time after time spending yet another ENTIRE paycheck in one evening. I would shake my head, just as every one else shook their head utter in amazement. How could I do that???? How could I spend that paycheck leaving myself unable to pay rent, buy groceries, put gas in the car? How could I forget all those responsibilites I used to work so hard to do? If I could have said goodbye to me, I might have. I considered it a couple times. More than a couple of times.
Before I was initiated to the intriguing and mesmerizing lure of the Oregon lottery video poker machines, I was an upstanding hardworking community minded God loving honest person. Yes, I had my issues. I was extremely co-dependant. If I could just do everything right, then everyone would be happy…you know? I overworked, overcleaned, overstressed, overanalyzed. But man…I got things DONE!!!! I was very type A in energy and perserverance. Going all the time. A fount of energy. Always saying yes if anyone had a need.
My first time really paying any attention to those machines in the bar, was on Superbowl Sunday in 1994. I was at the Agate Beach Motel on the Oregon Coast with my husband (second marriage for us both) of 2 months. We had finally gotten married after dating 4 years. He had gambled for years. I didn’t know how much until just a couple days before we got married. I chalked it up to pre-marital jitters…the hundreds he had spent in the few weeks preceding our marriage. If I had known then what I know now. But I didn’t, and so I asked him about the machine he was playing on and how it worked, and he showed me.
I didn’t play again until about 3 months later. I won! Enough to buy a couple rounds of drinks for all my friends (about $30.00). For someone like me, who had been raising 3 kids all alone without benefit of child support or active father or other financial help, that was something. I never had much extra to spend. Even after marrying again, I still was the one supporting my kids. There were very few times I had much extra to put out for others financially for a treat.
Then, in June, I was on an out of town work trip and decided to go out to play those machines and relax after work. I deserved it I told myself. Well, I won a big jackpot. My $10.00 had netted me $300.00! Holy mackarole!!! Now THAT was quite a few gallons of milk and a couple pair of shoes per kid! Back in those days that was how I computed money. I had never had that much money that was FREE before.
That, was the first time I lied to my husband about where I was and what I was doing. That was the beginning of the horrors to follow over a period of 16 years.
NO, I did not gamble throughout that entire time. I did have a couple periods of time where I was able to abstain from making a bet for almost a year. And one time I actuallly attained a period of 4 1/2 years without gambling. Yessirreeee…that is more than 3 years. That is more than 1100 days. Be patient and I’ll share with you what the difference is in why THIS time is so much better.
I did gamble horribly from that early part of 1994 until April 1997. I gambled myself out of a marriage (there were addiction issues for both of us), out of my business and also into the loss of my children for a period of time. Then I stopped for the longest period of time I’ve managed to date. For those first couple years, I was diligent about attending to my problem of gambling. I had been through outpatient treatment. I attended a group with others who shared my problem. I shared openly about my problem. I stayed away from avenues where gambling occurred. I had a therapist. I did the things I knew helped.
After about 3 years, I got busy with life. I was returning to to school. I was working towards a nursing degree. My kids were getting older. One of them had gone to live with his dad and so I only had two with me full time. I was getting things back on track. I was in a new relationship. Life was GRAND! But, I wasn’t going to my meetings, I wasn’t hanging out with friends in recovery, I wasn’t acknowledging my special challenge in life on a daily basis. I wasn’t asking God to show me the way daily. Out of nowhere, without thinking it through, I gambled.
That run lasted nearly 9 years. Through my schooling. Through yet another marriage. Through a move to another state and back home. Through more schooling. Through serious struggles with my then teenage children. Through family deaths. Through the birth of my grandson.
After gambling away the money I had borrowed from my daughter, the struggling young single mother of my 2 1/2 month old grandson, I could no longer face myself. I knew I had to do something significantly different. More different than I had ever done before.
I surrendered. I reached out for help and I didn’t orchestrate that help. I just said I needed help. I called friends (amazingly I still had a few) in recovery and asked for help. Within a day, I was being admitted to inpatient treatment. My daughter, as angry as she was, had come and seen to it that I was getting help. She then packed up my home and put it in storage. I was honest with my immediate boss and told her where I was and what was going on. At that point, if I lost my job and my license to practice my trade, I was willing to give that up. I had to get better. I had to find a way to live.
That was February 17, 2010. That was the last bet I made at 2:29am at the Shari’s at Exit 10 on I-205. I still get a chill up my spine when I drive that way to go visit my family.
Life has not been easy since then. It is not a land of lollipops and balloons. I have had many challenging life issues to deal with in the last 3 years. I had been in a long term relationship when I went into treatment. After my celebration of a year of abstinence…that relationship ended. I had an injury at work that was a precursor to a significant health change and have been unable to work for the last 2 years. I watched my last living grandmother die. I have had yet another very involved year long relationship start and end, which was the precursor to my moving here to S. Oregon.
Today, at day one thousand one hundred, I am singing my praises to God, for always being there for me. I am grateful to be out of the spiritual desert I lived in for so long. I have a wonderful supportive group of friends who know where I’ve been and their only concern is what am I doing and am I ok today. 🙂 I LOVE THAT!!!!
I continue to have struggles with my physical health. My program allows me to be much more accepting of this. It is a process, but it isn’t something I feel a need to escape, via the insanity of gambling.
I still have issues. I still have things to atone for. Sometimes I still feel the guilt for all the troubles I brought onto others. And yet, I have been mindful of others today. I have thanked God for His numerous blessings today. I have been honest today. I have done my best today. And by golly….One thousand one hundred ONE DAY AT A TIMEs is pretty impressive when there was a time that going another minute without placing a bet felt like I was going to die.
If you suffer or know someone who suffers from a compulsion to gamble, there is help. Contact me via my email and I will do all I can to send you in the right direction to someone in your area. Gambling is a serious life threatening addiction. As powerful and deadly as any other addiction. Even tho there is no consumption of any drugs or mind altering substances….the mind is being altered. Chemical changes are occurring that make this addiction very difficult to overcome. But it can be done. 🙂 And life can be wonderful. Thanks for letting me share folks. Peace and love to each of you.