There’s no way to hide it from myself any more. I am completely in the grip of the gambling addiction once again. My savings have taken a real beating over the past fortnight and things are looking grim.
I’m not telling myself I will win. I actually do know I won’t but I am accepting the high cost of buying that slender chance of winning now. I’m even giving myself stupid excuses. Last night I told myself I have arranged to get counseling for gambling and, once that starts, I will have to give it up for good so I should go while I still can.
How did I get to this point again?
I was utterly helpless in the grip of this compulsion until I started to view the gambling industry as a greedy, life-destroying, baby-killing monster who should not be allowed to exist at all let alone be supported by my money. When I looked at those slot machines I saw them covered in the blood of all the children who died in locked cars and all the people who have suicided because of them and I didn’t want to go near them.
I stopped! Cold turkey and for MONTHS! I just stopped and didn’t even WANT to go any more. Then I put three dollars in. Just three dollars and the monster didn’t bite me. I got away with the lapse. Next two times it was ten dollars and, once again, I got away with it or so I thought but the next time it was 30 dollars then fifty and now it’s hundreds – again.
I’m not even trying to fight it any more. It’s like calling that agency to arrange counseling has taken away my motivation to fight. They said they have to take my case to their team meeting to allocate me to a counselor. That meeting is a whole week away and then the counselor will have to call me to arrange an appointment.
It’s as if I have set that appointment as my deadline. Once I begin counseling I will have to stop gambling and, like a fool, I’m trying to get as many last hits in before the deadline as I can!
At this rate I will have lost every penny I own before the appointment is even set!
It doesn’t make sense. I hate losing! Last night I really wanted to smash those machines. I got so incredibly frustrated with the way they just would not pay out.
I even tried to make a deal with God. I told him if he would let me have a serious win, a big jackpot, over a thousand dollars then I would stop forever right there and then. Nice try I suppose but God was not interested. I’m fairly sure I would have kept the bargain but God doesn’t buy obedience and self-restraint is a thing one must learn.
I’m not very good at self-restraint. I have never been very good at controlling my impulses. I have never really needed to control them because they have never been this destructive before.
I had an anger problem, for instance, but lashing out in anger didn’t have these sorts of consequences. My anger outbursts didn’t usually cost me money for a start and I was always able to undo some of the damage by apologising or whatever. Over the years I learned to actually BE less angry so I never had to learn much control.
I’ve always been a bit of a spendthrift but, again, it has not been a huge problem as I don’t tend to spend big. I may want a three thousand dollar dining set but I won’t buy it. I will buy a bag or skirt or shoes on impulse if I like them but not designer ones – not hugely expensive ones. My spendthrift ways keep me poor but they don’t bankrupt me so I have never really had to learn to control the impulse to buy things I don’t need.
Gambling is an impulse of a very different nature! Giving in to an impulse to go and gamble can cost me hundreds of dollars in just a couple of hours! That’s bad enough but it gets worse because impulses to gamble can strike more than once per day so I can lose a couple of hundred dollars two or three times per DAY!
There is no way to undo the damage a gambling impulse causes either. Sorry does not replace that money in my bank account or, it seems, stop me from losing more!
The impulse to gamble has incredibly instant, savagely destructive, long-term and very negative consequences and it is the first impulse I have ever been vulnerable to that can destroy my life so completely and so swiftly!
What I do know is that, when I quit cold turkey, I still had the impulses but I was angry enough with the industry to resist them. Every time I resisted the impulse to put money in the machines it made it easier to resist the next impulse.
That first lapse, the three dollar one, didn’t make much of an impact on my ability to resist the impulses but it must have weakened me. Every time I gave in to the impulse after that I got weaker and weaker and found it harder and harder to resist the next impulse.
Now here I am – back to square one! All the money I saved during those months of not gambling is almost gone and I am no better at controlling the impulse to gamble than I was before I quit.
Cognitive therapy cannot help me. I already KNOW the facts. I already KNOW that I cannot win. I know gambling is not really fun. I know I cannot trust myself to have any control once I start. When I head off to a venue I am under no illusions that I will come home a winner. I know I am going to lose and I do it anyway.
Once upon a time I would put one dollar in a pokie machine and play one line. When I lost my dollar I would be furious with the machine for stealing it if it did not give me free spins before taking it. I would walk away feeling angry and disgusted with the machine. I most certainly never gave it a chance to steal ANOTHER dollar from me!
Now I am feeding them HUNDREDS of dollars KNOWING they are going to steal the money from me and feeling every bit as angry and disgusted as I used to feel. The only real difference is I am now putting extra dollars in to try and FORCE the machine to give me free spins – to make it give me SOMETHING for my lost money.
How stupid of me. Sigh.
I can’t afford to wait for the appointment with the gambling counselor before I try to give up again. I have to do something NOW. The only thing I can think of that might help is to set a new goal.
This time the goal is not to give up gambling so much as to give my self-control a work-out and try to build up some muscles in it. Next time the impulse to gamble strikes me I am going to tell myself to resist it for one reason and one reason only – so my ability to resist the next one will be stronger.
The human mind can be a strange little creature. It tends to be more attracted to positive goals than negative ones. It likes to achieve things rather than cease to achieve. It likes to be active, to DO rather than stop doing, to go forward rather than go backwards. Maybe, if I switch my view and stop aiming to cease doing this thing and aim to start doing a different thing, I might have better results. If the fight is not about stopping my gambling activity but starting a muscle building work-out regime for my impulse control I might be more successful in my attempts.
I know, for a fact, that every time I give in to the gambling impulse it is harder to resist the next one and I also know, for a fact, that every time I do resist the impulse it does make it easier to resist the next one. I will take it one impulse at a time and see how I go.
I wonder if they make work-out gear for impulse control? Where can I get some sexy leotards for it and a headband, ooh, and some weights hehehe