The other night I went gambling again. I have spent most of my time playing in the online game world of Syrnia but the other night I wanted to do something different.
I’ve gambled a couple of times lately and, so far, I have been able to stop without losing much. I have lost more than I intended to once or twice but didn’t lose more than I could afford. Most times I have stopped before losing much, if anything, at all.
I feel in control of my gambling again and I think it is because I have dealt with some of the underlying reasons for the addiction.
Ever since I regained all the memories of a gang rape I endured at age 15 and realised I am not, and never was, the cowardly weakling I thought myself after that experience I have felt different. I have felt whole again and stronger.
Perhaps that was what made it possible for me to stop before losing the usual amount during my last gambling lapse. That experience taught me I can’t control myself if the machines take all the money I have set as my limit straight away.
The same thing happened the last time I went. The machines took the 40 dollars cash I had in my purse in no time flat. I went to the ATM once for 50 dollars. I had allowed myself a total of 50 dollars to lose and I wanted the extra 10 dollars but I lost 40 dollars more than the 50 I had allowed myself because the losing streak just went on and on. Once I lost that extra 40 I stopped. I had coins in my purse and money in the bank but I stopped. I wasn’t willing to lose another cent so I left.
As I drove home I worried. Was I back on the slippery slope? I examined myself, looking for signs I might be losing control again, and asked myself if I was fooling myself to think I was in control. Suddenly something inside me lost patience with me.
Why does everything have to be such a big deal for me, I wondered irritably, why do I have to question and examine everything I do, think or say? Why do I have to be so uptight about everything?
I realised the answer was I have a strong need to understand. I can’t just accept things – I have to understand them. I question everything, take nothing at face value and always try to read between the lines. Now I asked myself why I do that.
Then it hit me. Understanding is the only form of control I have ever had over my life. If I understand why or how something happens then I guess I feel like maybe I can make it happen again or stop it from happening again. If I understand people maybe I can prevent them from harming me or those I love.
For me, to understand is to feel in control and I need to feel in control.
I wondered why and I realised it’s because I feel responsible. I feel responsible for everything and everyone. If I laugh at a politically incorrect joke I am approving of the underlying wrong contained in it for instance. If I behave badly I am making the world a worse place for everyone else to live in.
When I left the pokies that day my purse was empty but not as empty as it used to be. I still had some coins. Once I’d have lost those too but not any more. I chose to lose and I chose to stop losing.
As I drove home with the crisp morning air nipping at my skin and the sun beginning to rise something else dawned for me too.
In the whole fifty years I have been alive I have never really been able to control my life. Things happen. No matter how well I plan or prepare – things happen.
The only thing I can be certain of is that I can’t be certain of anything! Trying to attain certainty creates anxiety and distress so why do I strive for it?
Because I haven’t let go of the world of my childhood. The world where little things had a massive impact on me and on my life. That world where I was small and helpless and terrible things could be done to me without warning. The world where I had no power. The world where changes were never good and tomorrow was a thing to be afraid of. The world where I could not even trust myself to BE who I thought I was!
I’ve always been afraid of tomorrow. I’ve always expected the worst and feared the future. I’ve always been certain tomorrow would have nothing to offer me but more misery. No matter how hard I tried to control myself and my world I always felt out of control and afraid.
Now I feel like tomorrow has already come. It IS tomorrow right now and many of the things I used to be afraid of have come and gone. I have been through a lot. Terrible things have happened but one thing has always been the same and that is me.
I’m a survivor and I always have been. I’m a fighter and I always have been. I have survived! I survived it all! No matter what life threw at me I survived. I never gave up, I never gave in, I never stayed down no matter how hard life trod on me! I’m OK and, in fact, I’m better than OK.
I’ve done well. I have protected myself and my loved ones many times from many things. Sometimes things happened anyway but that was not my fault.
Not every change was a bad one. Not every catastrophe happened. I had good times along with the bad and today I’m OK. Better than OK.
Suddenly the future looks like mystery package filled with a whole range of possibilities.
I can’t control everything and understanding won’t change anything so I don’t have to understand it all to be OK. I haven’t always understood everything and I have certainly never had full control over everything but, in the long run, it hasn’t mattered.
I feel like I have control over my gambling and according to the evidence that might be true. I am no longer obsessed with the pokies. I don’t have to go any more. There are other things I would rather do most times. When I do go I feel no compulsion to keep playing the way I used to and I don’t make more than one trip to the ATM. Not because I won’t let myself – because I don’t WANT to! I don’t WANT to lose it so I don’t get more money out.
Shyte will happen in the future. I have no doubt about that. Life contains a lot of shyte. But good things will happen too because good things just happen the same as bad things do.
The future is a mystery. Anything could happen. Maybe I will get into more trouble with my gambling but I have a feeling I won’t. I have a feeling and it’s one of freedom.
For the first time in my life I am not afraid of tomorrow! I’m even looking forward to it and whatever it may bring because, whatever it brings, I will survive! I will survive because I won’t let myself be beaten. If you don’t give up you can’t be beaten.
I’m 50 years old and now, thanks to those recovered memories, I know who I really am. I am, and I have always been, a strong person who doesn’t give up without a fight!
The most exciting thing is, however, I am absolutely certain some of my tomorrows, like some of my yesterdays, are going to be wonderful.