It seems I was wrong about nothing changing after my week long prayer-fest. I had a complete relapse into gambling!
At first I didn’t think anything was different. I decided there really isn’t much fun in my life and I am entitled to some so why not gamble? I decided all I needed to do was change my perception of the pokies.
So, on the first day, I went there thinking: “These machines are just games – like a pinball machine or one of those simulated car racing, golf, or hunting games. You pay your money, you get a game, end of story. They just cost more that’s all and it is up to me to decide how much I want to pay to play.”
I set myself a limit of fifty dollars. I went there, spent 49.00, and came home thinking it sucked that I lost but I was in control. I chose to pay that amount for my games and I came home when it was gone.
The next day I wanted some more fun so I decided to do it again – no more than 50.00 and no expectation of winning. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to anyone with a gambling problem that I lost way more than I intended to.
It was then the change in me came to my attention.
As I watched my money dwindle there was no little voice in my head telling me what a loser I am or how worthless and stupid I am. There was anger but it was focused on the machines and the people who programme them. As I left the venue and came home I was annoyed that they are allowed to give so little in return for so much.
I climbed into bed thinking I really need to stop. I can’t afford such losses!
That was when it hit me.
Losing control like that ALWAYS leaves me gutted! I spend hours and hours savaging myself about my weaknesses, my stupidity, my worthlessness. Why was I not punishing myself? How will I get free of the addiction if I do not punish myself when I give in to temptation?
I lay there feeling quite stunned and concerned. I did an internal scan looking for some self-hate, some guilt, something to show I had a chance of not losing control for good. There was nothing – not a scrap!
I worried about that for a while then went to sleep. Next day I went to have dinner at a pokie venue. My kids were there and my daughter did her best to help me stay in control but she had an uphill battle. I didn’t really want to control it. I let her reign me in to avoid a fight. At the end of the evening I went to their place to watch a video. When I left – I went to another pokie place and lost another 50 dollars! I came home feeling the same annoyance with the venues, the machines, the owners and programmers – it’s not fair that they are allowed to take so much and give so little in return. I felt ripped off and cheated but my negative thoughts and feelings were all about the slot machine industry itself not me.
Once again I got into bed thinking I really must stop because I really can’t afford to keep losing so much money. Once again it struck me how calm I was, how really unconcerned I was, how little anxiety I was feeling. I wondered what was wrong with me. Had I lost the plot completely? Was I lost forever to my gambling addiction?
All I could find inside me was the calm conviction that this is MY life, MY money, MY choice. I am entitled to some fun – even this kind of fun if that’s my choice. If I am prepared to pay the price for this “fun” I am fully entitled to do it and there is nothing to rip myself apart about. I lost far more than I wanted to but what’s done is done. Ripping myself to shreds will not get one cent back and it will not stop me from doing it again – it never has before.
I pulled out my ATM receipts to see exactly how much I had lost. Too much. Way too much. My annoyance increased.
Those machines are no different to any other computer type games. I remember when pinball machines first came out. Young kids got addicted to those too. I know at least one kid who used to steal money to play them! For up to ten dollars I can go pretend hunting in America, play golf, or drive a racing car and so on. What gives these people the right to take so much money for such boring games?
The lure of the win of course. You would want half an hour of play with heaps and heaps of free game features for ten dollars if there was no chance of winning lots of money!
I did some mental sums and realised, if I give up my “fun”, I can save about 500 dollars or more a month! If someone came to me and said they would pay me 500 bucks a month to give up playing any other computer game I would give up like a shot. The idea settled into the back of my mind and I felt no urge to go and have any “fun” today.
I decided to do a long overdue chore instead. Check my bank statements against my receipts. I keep every receipt I am ever given except, I discovered today, ones from McDonalds restaurants hehehe. I have been throwing them all into a pile and not checking them off to be sure no bank errors have occurred for a while now.
Today I dug them all out, eleven months worth of them plus bank statements, and I began the tedious job of crossing each receipt off the relevant statement so the receipts can be thrown out.
Over and over and over again I would come to a little pile – three, four, five or more – of cash withdrawals made within a few hours of each other. Fifty, a hundred, a hundred, a hundred the tally rose month by month to a frightening figure.
A slot machine is nothing but a computer game and a fairly boring one at that! None of them are worth this kind of money! I am entitled to play them if I want to but do I really want to be ripped off as much as I have been ripped off since I began to play them?
It’s my choice. I feel cheated. I feel angry but not with me – with the industry.
I’m not going to say I will never play them again. I don’t PLAN to but it really is MY CHOICE and, if I stuff up, it doesn’t mean I have to add to my misery. Losing all that money is punishment enough!
Somehow I feel stronger which is really quite bizarre. I like me whether I lose way too much money or not. I just really do NOT like my taste in “fun” any more!
I sincerely hope, and pray, this change in attitude will help me give up not make it harder. I’m on a roller coaster ride called life. All I can do is hang on and hope for the best right now.