Friday, June 26, 2009

Only the Good Friday, June 26, 2009

It's been hot and humid here, and a lot of thunderstorms too. Thought maybe I'd cool you off a bit with this reminder of a cold winter scene.

Only the Good Friday is a brainstorm of Shelly, a great storyteller by the way, over at This Eclectic Life. Her idea to think and write about only good things on Frdays has caught hold with a few folks. Visit the blogs listed and consider participating yourself on Fridays. Only the Good Friday is explained here.

Today, I need to tell you something about myself. Kind of a confession, but I’m far enough along in recovery to admit openly that I am a compulsive gambler and I attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings. Like other addictions, this one was causing me problems and amplified the struggle of every day existence. I hit my bottom and sought help. This recovery started over four years ago.

Yesterday, a friend called me and asked me if I could run the meeting. I said I would and showed up with the briefcase of materials. Before the height of summer, we had eight people pretty regular at this meeting, but since the warm weather hit and outside activities were the norm for the season, attendance dwindled. Yet there were five of us at the meeting last night.

Two of these people were new. A couple, husband and wife. The woman had left the husband for now, but wanted him to get help and was supporting him. They have a small child. They seem to want to understand this addiction and get the problems over with so they can get back together and live like a normal family. They are separated because of his gambling addiction.

Without divulging details of their life story as it pertains to problem gambling, suffice it to say that he was away from the family and their home often and spent all the money. This caused undue hardship and she demanded he get help. She is courageous enough to stand at his side and support him in his endeavor to solve the problem. I applaud them for this attempt.

The woman admitted she didn’t understand any of it. She said, “Why can’t he just stop doing it?”

Many people have this idea about gambling. Unlike other addictions, like alcohol, you don’t put anything into your system. An alcoholic wouldn’t be one if they didn’t drink alcohol. But the gambler is just going gambling. People don’t understand why compulsive gamblers just don’t stop gambling.

I don’t either, understand that is. I can’t tell you why I did it. I guess after over four years of recovery I can tell you why I need to stay away from it, but I couldn’t explain why I fell into this insidious addiction in the first place. I have some ideas, but I won’t dwell there as the mission now is to stay sober from gambling. I’ve managed eight months now. The longest I’ve gone without in the four plus years that I have been trying to corral this behavior.

Just last week, while on the Crow Creek Motorcycle ride, I stayed in casino hotels in Fort Randall, SD and in Fort Thompson, SD. I did this without even one small desire to go into the casino and place a bet. I wasn’t tempted, and I even had to walk through the gaming room to get to the restaurant for the breakfast buffet on Saturday morning.

This is all I’ll say about it. This divulging of the truth about myself. That brings me to the idea of Only the Good Friday. Since I’ve been away motorcycling across the west, I haven’t been writing. I’m home for a couple of weeks before I go again. It’s Friday, and I am still looking for the good.

The good today is that I am sober and feeling strong about it. As far as gambling goes, and really as far as many things in my life go in these days of recovery, I feel good about it and it has been a very good thing for my family, my friends and me. I also see such good in the idea of that young couple seeking help for their problem with gambling. It’s good that they started something positive. Good that they see the need and want to solve this riddle. Good that they had help available and good that they are starting while they are still young.

I know people from GA that have 20 plus years of sobriety from gambling. I’ll be lucky to live 20 more years. I’ll probably be gone from this world before then. My medallions won’t be great in number. I won’t have as many years as some.

I’ll also go on with my usual theme of saying that looking for the good in life is a key to finding good. On Fridays, and everyday. Hard to see it and experience it if you are a curmudgeon. For me, I have to open my eyes and make myself think about what’s good and make it a conscious effort. That’s okay. It’s working.

Oh, before I forget, one last really good thing. Since I’m home for a while, my daughter brought Zeke over. Remember me talking about Zeke? He’s the three legged dog she has that I am thinking about adopting? Well, Zeke spent the night. A doggy sleepover. I let him out this morning into the fenced in yard. I cried a little thinking about him living his life with three legs. That pity was lost when he licked my hand and snuggled close to me as I sat on the couch. He let me scratch his neck. That was a good feeling. I think it was for Zeke, too!

Peace, and Good.


dawn said...

Hello my friend ,
Its been awhile, I glad you are going to GA. I don't understand it but I can see how people get addicted . I have a very good friend who is a really "normal person" who probably lost close to a million gambling. He has been I don't know what you call it sober for 8 years. Won't even flip a coin for a little league game. It was a struggle and probably will be his whole life but he and his are wonderful people like you and yours and I wish you the best in all you do. It's been acrazy summer ,we'll catch up soon
all my love

Mel said...

Well, I'm proud for you! And I'm proud of you! Geeze, that made me happy to hear--and I'm not even sure why......'cept it makes my heart glad to know you're doing the deal and were around to help that new couple start their journey...

I don't know how it happens either--but I'm pretty convinced gambling is a dangerous place for me to wander. Bless my sister for knowing 'that look'...she took my hand and led me outta that place in Reno when I won the jackpot on nickle slots. The bells sounded, the lights flashed--and apparently I drooled. LOL Over nickle slots, noless! LOL
Back to the hotel she dragged me.

I'm very familiar with that 'rush' that washed over me when the lights and bells when off--BOY was I grateful she was with me!
NO gambling for Mel!!!! ;-)

How many medallions we have when the Big Guy calls us home... irrelevant.
Sober TODAY, matters to me.
Thinkin' it matters to you and those who love you, too.

Be safe, stay well.....

D.K. Raed said...

Even though I grew up in vegas (maybe even BECAUSE I grew up in vegas), I really don't know anything about gambling. As a kid, all I thought was, that's what the tourists do. I guess thinking of it as a business or industry kind of took the glamour away. But I am glad to hear you are conquering it, slaying another dragon!

I can tell you something about 3-legged dogs though. Once they figure out how to manage the physical logistics, they do not miss their leg. They are so into the present moment, just lying on your couch and being with you is enough. Zeke is good name!

Thorne said...

Wow! That is so cool that you are a 12 stepper, too! I celebrated 21 years clean & sober on Feb 22. You know, we addicts understand that addiction is addiction. For me it's "one drink or drug is too many and a thousand is never enough", for you it's "one dollar is too many and a thousand is never enough". It's all about one's drug of choice. With some folks, people and relationships are their drug of choice. I really feel for OA peeps. They have it really hard. With us, if we don't "pick up" (or in gambling perhaps I should say "lay it down"?), we don't wake up that sleeping dragon. But when food is your addiction that's not possible. OA's have to eat and use "control". I'm really glad I don't have to practice "controlled" drinking or drugging. LOL. Peace, my friend!