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Thank you GA and Gam Anon
Once you fall in love you can’t help yourself, the feeling it gives you deep inside you makes you lose yourself and you can’t seem to find the right words to say like me. I have been with my loving boyfriend for 2 years now and I couldn’t be happier. Our trust is amazing: that’s how to keep a relationship going: it is based on trust and honesty. When I first met my boyfriend I knew he was the one. He loved me for who I am not for my looks or my weight. He loved my personality and me in general and I him. He was amazing: smart, good looking and his personality was to die for.
I always knew he was a gambler but I didn’t realize it was that bad. A few months into the relationship I noticed his gambling got quite bad. He would stay with me but there was a William Hill just round the corner from me right next to the shops. He would always say “I’m going to the shops be back in a minute”, give me a kiss and walk out the house but I wouldn’t see him for an hour. When he came home and asked him where he had been, he would always say “Oh I was in the bookies just putting on some bets” but would just come home with a bottle of juice which got me suspicious. In time it got worse but I was there for him: he needed help and I stood by him. The days went past and I caught him in the bookies a few times. I didn’t want him gambling but I couldn’t get mad I was upset with his lying. He went to casinos with his best mate and I just didn’t know what to do. Then one night we were both in bed in his house and out the blue he said he needed help with his gambling problem. He soon realized he had no money to get by or to give to his parents what he owed to them, so he took a deep breath and went down to tell them about his gambling problems. After that I wished he hadn’t, they didn’t take it that well which made matters worse. I lost all trust for him but I stuck by his side because I loved him. My partner’s parents told him to live with me. He found out about Gamblers Anonymous that night and went to his first ever meeting in Coatbridge. It really helped him a lot. He soon realized what it was doing to him and to our relationship.
I am really glad for Gamblers Anonymous for helping my boyfriend: it has made him a better man today than he was before when I first met him. I had also found my way to helping him become this better man. Gam-Anon had really helped me figure out what to do to help him to get better with his illness. Today he can say “Hi, my name is Stephen and I am compulsive gambler and I haven’t bet for a year now”. Stephen got his head together, got his debt sorted out and got his head into work. He is now an assistant store manager. He is planning to do his own business modifying xbox controllers. He is there for me when I am feeling blue and I will always be by his side because there is no point in leaving someone who has an illness. Stick by them no matter what because you love them and they will always love you for being there for them. They will soon realize in life what they have and they will appreciate you for what you have done to help them.
Now 2 years has gone by for us and he hasn’t gambled and our relationship is stronger than ever. My love for him is unbreakable. If he has a slip up he can always start again and I will always be there for him and he will know that Gamblers Anonymous meetings will be there for him. He goes to 2 meetings a week to remind him that he is a better man. I would love to thank everyone in Gamblers Anonymous for helping my boyfriend out so much! And I would love to thank Gam-Anon for helping me come to terms with his illness and understanding it more. You have helped me out a lot: I am no longer depressed and a happier woman than ever before. I would love to help Compulsive Gamblers wives, husbands, sons, daughters, mothers or even fathers and boyfriends or even girlfriends. I would recommend Gam-Anon but I will always be here if you are too scared to go to Gam-Anon
I am hoping that my partner someday realizes that he will always have me no matter what he has done to me. He has now got my trust back and I will always love him. Thank you GA and Gam-Anon!
One night in July 2006 I practically bounced through the door filled with excitement as my husband had promised to take me to a restaurant I had wanted to go to for ages. I came down to earth with a bump when I found him in the lounge in floods of tears telling me that I was going to leave him because of what he had done. And so it was that I found out that my husband who I had been with for over 10 years had a gambling problem, that we had considerable debts and that he had been lying to me for years.
It was such a shock, but he was in such a state, talking about how he wanted to end it all, that I felt I had to comfort him, tell him that we could sort everything out and that I wasn’t going to leave. In desperation we found ourselves at our first GA and Gam-Anon meetings – both nervous and unsure what to expect. The truth is I only attended my first meeting because I wanted to make sure he went into the GA meeting, but actually I found that I needed a meeting as much as he did. You see I was completely full of resentment: for the money he had lost and what we could have done with it, for my time which was being taken up sorting out the mess, for the distraction from my work (I could barely think straight but I had to pretend everything was normal), for the lies I had to tell other people to cover up the situation, but mostly for the lies I had been told. When we started going to the meetings I was paranoid and neurotic, wondering where he was every minute he was out of my sight, phoning all the time and interrogating him when he got back.
Going to Gam-Anon meetings gave me the opportunity to talk things through with other people that truly understood what I had been through (everyone in the meeting has a compulsive gambler in their lives). The meetings help me to get things in perspective, to work out when the things I am worrying about are not important and when they are things that we genuinely need to sort out. After our meetings we are able to have rational discussions about issues which we otherwise might have skirted around or shouted about.
These days we both look forward to our meetings, after all the rooms we go to are filled with friends and however emotional the meetings are they are always good for us. There are still days where I feel a bit resentful over what he put us through, but mostly I feel lucky because GA is working for my husband. He is still, and will always be, a compulsive gambler, but our meetings have given us a normal life back and I am extremely grateful for that. (by a member of Bristol Gam-Anon)
Things came to a head in June 2006. My daughter was due to go to Turkey on her first foreign holiday. She had given her mum her passport application and her fee some months before. She had also given my wife all of her spending money which had all been gambled away. My wife was at rock bottom and she had no option but to be honest with me.
The next day she attended her first G.A meeting and our journey began. Seven months went by and I could not deal with the feelings of resentment, anger and paranoia. Every minute, all I could think about was where she was and what she was doing and it was starting to destroy our marriage.
The G.A meeting she attended did not have a Gam-Anon meeting but then one Saturday night in January a couple of G.A friends took us out for a meal and the subject of attending Gam-Anon was brought up and a week later I attended my first meeting in Doncaster. I walked into that meeting not really wanting to be there and expecting a room full of "old women". I was only going because my gambler had been gamble-free for seven months and I had to do something to support her.
HOW WRONG could I have been? For the first time in years I sat in a room with people of all ages: wives, mothers, partners from all walks of life, who had all been through the same problems and feelings, and I did not feel ALONE or ASHAMED. I finally realised all the years I had spent struggling to sort my wife’s gambling problem had been pointless. I realised I could do nothing and I finally let go.
Then my journey began and I started to sort my life out, dealing with all the feelings that I had bottled up for far too long. I learned that I could only move forward by taking one day at a time and sharing week by week with the group, sorting out all the issues in my life that came up, and moving forward.
Five years on and life is good. YES my wife is still a compulsive gambler one day away from her next bet but together we are stronger and now we have a future. We still take one day at a time but Gam-Anon and G.A. have given each of us our life back and for that we are thankful but always watchful lest we go back to where we once were.
ONE DAY AT A TIME
My first experience of Gamblers Anonymous and GamAnon
My first experience of Gamblers Anonymous and GamAnon was in June 2004 when my partner and I had been together for nearly 2 years. I took him to that first meeting, just like many others have taken a loved one to a meeting, desperately looking for help for a problem that they know they cannot deal with alone.
What brought us to that meeting was that he had finally admitted to me the extent of his gambling problem. Before this, I knew he liked to play fruit machines but I saw this as part of the ‘one of the lads’ lifestyle he had when we first met. Our finances were separate at the time so the financial impact of his gambling was not obvious to me. From the early stages of our relationship, I had suspected that he spent a lot compared to what he earned but I was not too concerned about what the money was being spent on. I believed this was something he could control and that it would change when our relationship became serious and he moved in with me after 12 months together. There were also things that happened that seemed strange, like the odd lost wallet incident (something that will probably be all too familiar to many reading this), but at the time I never suspected the truth.
In the end it was the emotional impact of his gambling that made me realise there was something very wrong. Making arrangements and promises and not keeping them. Going ‘AWOL’ and turning up drunk with stories that did not seem to ring true. Then one day, when I expected him to be at home when I returned and he wasn’t, I decided to go off myself. ‘See how he likes it’ I thought. I drove around for a while until I realised it was not going to help either of us and that I needed to confront things so I returned home. As I drove through our village, the thought occurred to me to stop at one of his usual haunts, the local pub, guessing I would find him there. But I wanted to be wrong and was too embarrassed to face him if I was right so I just carried on home. I still did not know that gambling was the root of his behaviour at the time. I had started to wonder if he was seeing someone else; whether another woman was the reason for how he was behaving. I decided whatever was wrong, I could not go on any longer with things as they were and decided to confront him when he came home. Finally, much later, when he returned, drunk again, with a story of a lost wallet yet again, I handed him a letter I had written while I was waiting for his return.
In it I described all my emotions; anger, frustration, hurt, fear, sadness, shame, and my concerns that there was something he was not telling me. I wrote that I loved him and really wanted us to have a long and happy future together but that there was something standing in the way of this.
This sobered him up pretty quickly! I think he might have been expecting a shouting match so to be faced with a letter from someone telling him they loved him just knocked him sideways. He broke down and told me how much gambling had taken over his life and that he wanted to find help. We went out together and found the wallet he had thrown into a waste bin and the bank card he had tossed into some bushes; his attempts to cover up his gambling by disposing of the evidence of an empty wallet and a bank card that had been used to withdraw all the money in his account. The fact that there was nothing left in the wallet except 2 photographs, one of me and one of his daughter, made me feel like he was throwing away the people that he loved and that loved him and that broke my heart. However, I believed that he had realised what he stood to lose if he did not try to change, and that he was willing to find help to do this and that is how we ended up at GA.
His recovery since then has had its ups and downs but GA and GamAnon has been a constant in our lives and without it we would not have got married and had a daughter together. I am very proud of his achievement in not having placed a bet since 2008 but I believe it is wholly because of our meetings. Since first being ‘brought to’ that first meeting, my husband gradually started to work very hard at his own recovery, attending meetings all over the North East and North West. In fact I have sometimes worried that he was in danger of becoming a compulsive meeting- attender! His attendance at his original meeting group has not been so regular because of work commitments but he attends meetings elsewhere and he still keeps in touch with many other GA members by phone, and we are both so very grateful for the friendship and unity he has experienced from GA members everywhere.
Until I first attended a GamAnon meeting, I was unsure of how best to help my husband. Since then I have been on my own journey of recovery from the gambling problem, starting from the point of establishing a new local GamAnon group.
GamAnon has helped me to work through and resolve the anger and resentment resulting from hurtful experiences due to compulsive gambling and all that comes with it, as well as provided solutions to the practical financial issues. Jointly seeking help through the GA and GamAnon programmes has helped the recovery process for both my husband and myself. I am very grateful to everyone I have met in GamAnon rooms over the years who have helped me to do this, and I look forward to all the future meetings which will allow our recoveries to continue.
Why I attend the group
The other week at our meeting a recent member asked the question, why do people attend the group meetings? I thought fast and then responded.
Over six years ago our family was hit with the absolute bombshell of compulsive gambling. Never had we felt so alone and powerless and lacking any understanding of what had just happened. Luckily we were able to search the Internet and find the details of the local group. We turned up on a freezing cold February night, the place was in darkness and we stood with the cold and the despair for an hour before we gave up and went back home. Back home we called a number and were told that there was a mistake and the meeting was the next night.....
So back we came and at least the place was open - we went into the room we were directed to and stood around feeling very awkward and waited for people to arrive. It seemed like ages - in reality around 10 minutes and another person arrived. He sat down with us and began to help us make sense of what we were going through....
As I say that was over six years ago, and aside from when I have been away from home due to work commitments, or a holiday I have only missed one meeting.
Had that one other person not been there that night we’d have been left in our own personal despair and who knows what the result would have been.
So my answer was I always want to be sure there will be someone there when a newcomer arrives needing help, advice, sympathy. The memory of that first night, shivering outside a dark building is burned in my consciousness. I want to be there to offer support and to keep a bargain agreement that just as someone was there for us that first night I will be there for others, and to know that others will be there for me whenever I need help and support again.
Over the years I have seen many people at meetings, at present our group is very strong - I hope it continues that way. Many people attend a meeting, get the information and are not seen again - we never know what has happened to them.
Its a small price to pay of a couple of hours once a week to feel you are part of a support group that can make such a difference to your own life and that of others. The strength of the support offered by Gam-Anon is the group, its not an add on or an optional extra.......(by a member of Newcastle Gam-Anon)
You are not alone
I have only been going to Gam-Anon for a few weeks and it is already my life line. Feeling scared, lonely, afraid, ashamed and not knowing where to turn. I was advised to go to a Gam-anon meeting and don't know what I would have done if I hadn't have gone. I did have to build the courage to go and I'm not going to lie I was petrified. But being in a room with people who understand what you are going through, who don't judge you and can help you with their experience is so reasurring. They help you see light at the end of the tunnel. They are there to give you a shoulder to cry on (which is what I have done every week so far) and to listen to you and help you try to build yourself back up again. They offer sound advice and help you deal with the situation in a positive light. You exchange numbers and they support you through the week. It is so nice not to feel alone even if it is just for one night a week. To feel you can be yourself and not have to put a front on for the world. I think I would go insane if I didn't have Gam-Anon. If you are reading this now and are unsure what to do or where to turn the find your nearest Gam-Anon meeting and you will find help, support and friendship waiting for you there. You are not alone (however funny that sounds, its true!).