After writing my previous entry I must have convinced myself I had control over my gambling habit so I gave myself permission to gamble again even though it has not been a month since I last went. I should have known if I broke one of my new rules about gambling, to go no more than once a month, I would be at risk of breaking all of them and so it turned out.
I thought I would be safe since I wasn’t being emotionally triggered and I was not giving in to an impulse. I had the idea but found something else to do a couple of times rather than go but, in the end, it seemed to be a reasonable choice to make.
I wasn’t expecting to win, nor even hoping to win, I was just wanting to kill some time and get some dinner so I went.
I stuck to my rule about only playing five lines but the machines were in the mood to take so I didn’t get any little wins or free games to make my money last longer. The money I had set as my limit was gone in no time flat and I was still wanting to kill some time!
I played another round and that money went just as fast so I put another lot in. Then I won most of it back but I wanted it all back so I chased the other 40 dollars and lost the whole lot again.
By that stage I was getting frustrated and wanting to play more lines. I had missed out on the minor jackpot because I wasn’t playing the line it came up on but I added up how much I would have lost before it came up. If I was playing a dollar instead of 25 cents it would have cost me, as it always used to, more money to win than the jackpot was worth. I would have been down over 150 dollars even after winning it!
Crunch time came. I had eaten which was the main reason I went there. I had lost just over twice the amount I had set as my original limit and it was time to surrender control totally or go home! I had only lost half what I used to lose on a regular basis. I knew, from past experience, if I did not leave I would probably lose twice what I had already lost and maybe more.
I left. It was hard to do it but I did it. Only reminding myself of the sign on the back of my front door made it possible. “According to your bank account you have NEVER won!” I believe that. I knew all that was ahead was more losses so I walked away.
Every lapse teaches me something or reinforces the knowledge I already have but I can’t help wondering how many times, and how much money, is it going to take before I accept that there is just no way I can play safely!
The previous two times I went I seemed to be in control. I left without losing anything more than five dollars but I wasn’t in control. The machines were! Both of those times they let me win small amounts almost as soon as I began playing so I was able to play for a couple of hours and get it out of my system before I started losing.
This time the machines gave me nothing, literally nothing, not even five dollars to keep me going. They just took and took and took. I lost my money almost before I had even started playing or that was how it felt. I wasn’t finished, I hadn’t had any fun, just a few more dollars and then I would quit.
The problem is, once I cross the line and put more money in than I intended to, my control is weakened. Every line I cross takes me further and further out of control.
This time I didn’t cross all the usual lines. I didn’t withdraw a hundred dollars at a time and I didn’t play more than 25 cents a spin no matter how tempted I was. I didn’t go back to the ATM for a fourth time either.
I did control how much damage I did to myself but not as well as I needed to.
The problem seems to be that I really do not want to give the machines up forever and never play them again. I keep trying to find a way to be able to play safely and I always find I can’t do it.
Back on the wagon I go. My destination really has to be complete abstinence because I just do not seem to be able to reach total self-control.