It seemed like Deja’ vu all over again.
Let’s start with history. My spouse suffers from a gambling addiction. This isn’t news nor even timely.
He’s been actively working on his recovery for more than five years now and he has inspired many with his success. He’s helped countless other people as a peer-to-peer counselor. He’s a devoted husband and father and our entire family has benefitted from his sobriety. We put the past behind us, rebounded financially and emotionally and even convinced my sister to trust him again. When our youngest child experienced problems at school, my husband jumped in as a tutor, mentor and advocate. When I walked to the edge and decided to start my own company, he encouraged and supported me through a very scary transition.
So, why would anyone who is enjoying life this much mess it up? That’s a great question. I struggle to answer it because I truly don’t understand. Maybe he sought more excitement, because we certainly ended up with a lot more drama.
One of the many challenges for people living around gambling addiction generally and online betting specifically is that it’s nearly undetectable. Unlike alcoholism or drug addiction, you can’t pick up on physical signs such as red eyes, a telltale breath odor or tracks on his arm. You won’t hear him talking to a bookie and you won’t be up late waiting for him to return from a casino. He’s at home and even if he’s on-line a lot, who isn’t? How do you know he’s not reading an e-book or watching YouTube videos or emailing his brother in Alabama?
You don’t know. Until that awful day when he tearfully tells you that he’s lost hundreds of thousands of dollars that he quietly plundered from our savings and that worse, he even squandered our children’s special nest egg. (I can hear my sister now). I can’t remember ever experiencing such overwhelming rage and disappointment. I made him leave before I said or did something I would regret.
I struggle to forgive and I have blocked him from moving back in at this time. Why should I volunteer for another roller coaster ride? How can my kids ever believe in him again? I found myself in this never-ending circle of anger, regret, disbelief and then anger again. I started making mistakes with my clients, nagging at my children, worrying myself into a frenzy.
I decided to go to Maryhaven too. I had to find some way to push past all this negativity and pain for myself and for our family. I will not allow the destructiveness of addiction to ruin one more minute of our lives.
I could have just ended our marriage and moved on. And I haven’t ruled that out completely. What I’m learning though is that I can be ok no matter what he does or doesn’t do. I’m remembering that addiction is a brain disorder, not just a bad choice. I’m realizing that my children need love and help to get through this – and so do I.
I can’t talk with my family. They simply judge and call my husband a loser. I wish they would understand that nothing about their attitude helps and a lot about it hurts. But maybe their lack of support gave me the incentive to reach out for the guidance of non-judging experts who know what living with addiction is all about.
And that’s what I’ve found in Maria and Bruce at Maryhaven. I don’t know where everything will end up but I know that I’m feeling safer, stronger and calmer, that my kids and I have forgiven if not forgotten, that my husband is back in recovery and is diligently working to pay back what he lost. That’s enough for right now.
I try to enjoy every day and not re-live the past all over again.