Hope is a powerful thing and for those battling addiction it is often in short supply. Gordon Moody wants to spread that message of hope to anyone who is battling with a gambling addiction.
Our blog this week has kindly been written by Neil, a Gordon Moody resident who shares his experience of gambling, treatment and recovery.
“There’s no rush for you to leave here”
Hearing my therapist offer those eight words at our first one-to-one session had a profound impact. I had spent the last 20 years living life at breakneck speed, very rarely drawing breath to enjoy or appreciate life – sprinting through life like Linford Christie on a travellator.
As my gambling addiction spiralled out of control, life’s pace increased – as did my ability to self-destruct with disastrous consequences.
When I arrived at the doors of The Gordon Moody Association in Dudley on 10 August 2020, everything I owned was packed in my suitcase. That was all I had to show for 46 years of (often) reckless living and decision-making. And the suitcase was half-empty.
Yes, I have had very good jobs, several properties and a successful sport career. But over the years as I continually fed my addiction, this crazy cycle of self-destruction meant that whatever I built up I would either sell (to fund my gambling) or simply walk away from. I was always living on credit, often well beyond my means, and searching for something else, very seldom content with what I had (whether things were going well or not)
In the six months prior to getting a place at Gordon Moody, I either found myself sleeping rough or living in absolute squalid conditions. I had no food in the cupboard, was unemployed, and had no money in the bank. All savings, shares and stocks had been squandered and most close relationships severely affected.
That’s not normal. But having an addiction isn’t normal.
“I feel like you’ve just taken the weight of the world off my shoulders”, I replied to my therapist at that first session. I realised for the first time, that if I worked the programme, I had the time here to both understand myself and rebuild my life. I felt I could take a breath, and press the pause button, for the first time in a long time.
I didn’t quite know what to expect in the first 12 to 14 weeks of treatment, but I was adamant I was going to give it a full go. I was blown away.
The beauty of the initial therapy was in its subtlety. It allowed me to think, to talk, to dig deep, to laugh, to cry, to share. And to tell the truth. I didn’t want to ‘leave anything on the table’, so I told my whole unvarnished story. I was exhausted of lying, pretending and hiding things.
Here’s what changed my life: The more I shared, including all the elements of my life that I had been ashamed, remorseful or embarrassed of, the more care and compassion I received. Wow!
It blew my mind for me, to be accepted and be cared for unconditionally, once I had shared my hopes, fears, embarrassing and uncomfortable experiences. There was no judgement. Wow! Just Wow!
In fact, the more I shared, the more the staff cared. Not a bad trade-off is it?
But there has been an avalanche of sound, practical advice. I made a decision early on to follow the advice. I didn’t want to fudge this opportunity. After all, doing it my way didn’t work out so great prior to my admittance to rehab did it?
They say that we will forget what people say, and we will forget what people do but we rarely forget how people make us feel.
The Gordon Moody staff at Dudley made me feel worthy again. They have made me feel like I still have a lot to offer. They have made me feel like I can cope. They have made me feel good about myself again. They have made me feel like I can tell the truth. They have made me feel like I can start again. They have made me feel valued. They have made me feel loved. They have made me feel humble again. They have made me feel confident. And they have made me feel optimistic.
My therapist recently asked: ”What has been your biggest gain since being at GMA?”.
Now even though I’m in my ninth month in treatment, having transitioned into the Recovery House, I had to give it some real thought. I can recall at the drop of a hat all the things I’ve lost due to gambling, but what have been the gains over the last nine months?
The reality is that there have been many positives/miracles. I’ve mended relationships I thought would never be fixed and making sense of and sorting out debt management plans; paying all of my bills on time and always having food on the table.
I have also made new friends, started college, begun volunteering, gone back to gym, been rowing (no not arguing, the type you do with oars), started a new hobby (painting) and much more.
I told my therapist: ”Without doubt, understanding myself“. That’s my biggest gain. I can now get my head around why I did what I did through digging deep to be acutely aware of myself, the frustrations, the anger, the disappointments, the triggers, the loss of work ethic, the lack of coping skills, taking the easy way out, quitting good jobs. Self-awareness is a real gift. It took me 46 years to unwrap it but I now ‘get it’.
It doesn’t make some of the things I’ve done right, but I can understand now what drove me to do them. It was baffling behaviour that I have now made sense of. It’s been liberating. Like the blinkers have been taken off.
But I’m realistic enough to know that it’s early days. In treatment I’ve often referred to my gambling addiction as a dark shadow, or dark cloud, that would hover over me wherever I went and whatever I did. But if the addiction was the dark cloud, then The Gordon Moody Association is the silver lining.
I don’t think the staff fully realise the impact they had on me. To provide the level of care they do in these abnormal and uncertain times, can’t be easy. But they are wonderful. I can’t think of a better place to be if you really want to stop gambling. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
So, for the first time in a long, long time – I am looking forward not back. I don’t have to worry about the knock on the door or the mail in the post. I know what I’m having for dinner tonight and my beautiful children know that I am trying to be a better dad. They know that despite what I have done that I’m thinking about them always.