My Story, Marcia

Hi everybody. I saw somebody ask about stories from veterans. Here is a copy of my testimony that I'm going to give next week at one of my support meetings. I'm warning you up front that it's kind of long.

When I think back to the beginning of my gambling, I think I was bound to become addicted from the very beginning. I was really looking forward to being able to go to the casino and play Blackjack. The week before I turned 21 I would go to Silver Lanes and watch the people at the $10-$100 table play Blackjack so I could pick up the strategy. It must have worked because when I started to play I was able to walk out a winner almost every time I went.

When I started going it would only be maybe once every couple of weeks. That would escalate, though, to almost every day. I worked across the parking lot from the casino and it got to the point where I would go play on my lunches and not come back for a couple of hours. I'm convinced that the reason I wasn't fired before I was is that my manager was also a compulsive gambler.

After playing Blackjack for so long, I got tired of it and saw Let it Ride. The first night I played, I had a lucky night but it was nothing compared to the next time I played. I walked in with $50 and walked out with over $1000. My parents tried to tell me to quit when I was so far ahead and never go back. I should have listened to them but the gambling bug had already bitten.

At this time I was still spending money that I already had but it didn't stay that way for long. I'd write checks not caring how much was left in the bank because I thought my luck had to turn around eventually and i'd get another big win. After I had spent all the money that I had in my bank account, I started getting cash advances from my credit cards until they were both maxed out. I then went to the Money Tree and would get a payday loan thinking that I'd win and be able to pay back the loan. It rarely worked though and I ended up owing on loans with no way to pay them off. I started pawning my things because I thought that by this time I had to be due for a big with to get out of all the debt I had. I even remember getting so desperate that I prayed and told God that if He let me win, I'd give half of it to the church.

It didn't work, and I really shouldn't be surprised it didn't. After all everything is His anyway so I wasn't doing Him any favors and also I wasn't really walking with HIm at the time anyway. I wasn't reading the Bible because I was too busy using all my free time either gambling or figuring out ways to get more money so that I could go gambling. Many times I would skip going to church and go to the casino instead. My parents thought I was at church so I never had to worry about them walking in on me becasue anytime they didn't know where I was one of them would check the casino. I think that might explain why I was so late coming back from breaks. It was another time my parents wouldn't suspect anything.

I was starting to get really desperate by this time and ended up stealing money from my parents all the while telling myself that I was just borrowing it because I ws going to win and that actually I was doing them a favor because when I won, I was going to put some more money back instead of just what I had stolen. That didn't happen and Mom discovered the missing money and wanted to call the police and have me arrested. Dad said no because I was sick and needed help not jail. At the time, I was relieved but as I look back, maybe it would have saved me from a few more months of insanity.

My bottom would come a few months later when I had again spent my entire paycheck and this time had no way to replace the money so that I could hide it from my parents. You see, all this time my Dad had been trying to help me out by having me give him my bank receipts so that he knew exaclty how much money was in the account. Earlier, I had just used cash advances, bad checks, payday loans, etc. to get the mony back in the account and cover it up. This time however, I had none of those options because I had exhausted every possible avenue to get money. I decided that I would tell my parents that I didn't get my check that day and then the next day take some stuff to work with me in a backpack and stay away from home for a few days so that when I came home they would be so worried about me, they wouldn't care as much when I told them that I had spent my entire paycheck at the casino the day I had gotten it. This kind of shows what my attitude towards other people was at the time. All I could think about was what would help me and I didn't even think twice about hurting someone else. It's not that I wanted to hurt them but the only thing I could think about was protecting myself.

The next day, I packed my backpack and then hung out downtown for a little while after work before going to Sacred Heart to sleep in one of their waiting rooms. I was crazy at the time but not crazy enough to sleep on the streets of downtown. My backpack was packed with enough supplies for three days and I figured that by that time the would be worried enough about me that the wouldn't care when I told them. I never found out if it would work though because Mom found me that first night around 11:30 and asked if I was ready to go home. I was like no and then she gave me a big hug and said they knew what had happened and they weren't mad because they knew I was sick and needed help.

The next Monday, I went to my first meeting of Gamblers Anonymous. The butterflies in my stomach were so bad, I didn't want to take a chance of having anything in my stomach. Once the meeting finally got started, I calmed down a little because since I was a newcomer, we went around the room and they all told their stories. This helped a lot because I heard so much of my story in each of their's that it made me feel at home and I knew that they wouldn't judge me because they had done a lot of the same things and that was why they were there.

That Thursday I went to my second meeting of GA and there was nobody there who had been there on Monday so that made me a little nervous but there was a lot of stuff said that really helped including a couple of stories from a guy who would later become my sponsor until he moved to Vancouver. The thing that struck me most is when he was talking about an analogy of our lives. He said that when an artist paints something that they don't like, they reuse the canvas and with one stroke at a time, pain overthat ugly picture and create a beautiful work of art. That is what we are doing in recovery. We're taking the old life and stroke by stroke covering it up with a new life. After the meeting, they were going out to get something to eat and they invited me to come along with them. That was when I first began to realize that this was going to become a second family to me. They had only known me about an hour and a half and were already asking me to hang out with them.

A couple days later, I was taking the trash out at work. I looked over and saw the reader board flashing information about the jackpots. When thoughts of going over there and gambling came into my head it scared me and I left work and took the bus downtown to go call the person who had talked about the painting because I don't know why but I had just felt that I could relate the most to him. Unfortunately, thihs was the same time that the districe manager was visiting the store. My manager tried to explain to her what was going on since she understood it but my district manager said it didn't matter because I left in the middle of a shift so she had to fire me. It turned out to be a blessing though, because I was making minimum wage and then found a job that paid $7.15 an hour.

I was doing really good for about nine months until I went to one Thursday night meeting and met this cute guy that had started coming to the group. He was the same age as me and a couple of weeks later he asked me out. I didn't think that there would be any problem because we were both trying to quit gambling so I though that we could keep each other away from the casino. It was more like we gave each other excuses to go. I eventually realized that we weren't doing each other any good and even though it was really hard because I still cared about him and didn't want to hurt his feelings, I broke up with him. In the meantime, I had gone around with another member of the group and banned myself from the casinos so that I couldn't go anymore. This worked for about three months until one of the bans expired and I had to have some way to cover up the fact that I had spent some money from my checking account.

Luckily, the relapse was only one day and I picked myeslf back up and started again instead of just telling myself that I had failed and what's the point of trying. I started chairing one of the meetings and that helped because I didn't want to have to go back to the meeting and say that I had gambled. At the time I thought that as a chair I was supposed to set the example and it would look bad if I had a relapse. Again, the guy that I had met at my second meeting and become pretty good friends with encouraged me by letting me know that if I were to relapse it didn't make me anymore of a chairperson.

This brings us up to almost three years ago when I started going to church again, which really helped. It seemed like no matter what trouble I was going through, there would be a message within the next couple of weeks that would encourage me. I won't lie and say that I never had any temptations to gamble but it always seemed like God did something to help me get through the temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no diffent from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give into it.) I had never seen anything like it before but God was sure giving me support in ways that seemed nothing short of a miracle.

Here are just a couple examples. I had been thinking about gambling and knew that I needed something to happen fast or els I was going to be headed right to the casino. I prayed with three simple words "God please help!" At that moment, a woman from one of my support groups was walking across the street. I asked her that Friday if she had really been at that place at that time because I wanted to make sure that I hadn't just been imagining things. She then told me that she parks in the parking garage that is right there all the time and is usually there earlier but for some reason nothing had gone right that morning and she was running late. I told her what had happened and that she had been running late for a reason and she just smiled and gave me a big hug. There was another time when I was thinkng of gambling again and right at that moment, I saw a car with a personalizes license plate on it. The license plate said GA and I was like okay God I get your message.

Even the time that I relapsed two years ago, God was doing things to try to get me not to go. Before I got to the casino, I had called another one that I had banned myself at to see if the ban had expired yet so that I could come gamble and they informed me that the ban is a lifetime ban and will never expire. Then I drove by another casino that I knew about and when I did, they had gone out of business. I went back to the hotel and looked under casinos to find another one. It was hard to find the place and I was about to give up when I drove right by a sign pointing down a road but when I got there, I found out that the casino didn't open for another hour so I ended up driving out to Airway Heights instead. He had given me so may chances to change my mind and not go. After I had left the casino, I was so disgusted with myself for slipping after over a year and a half that all I could think about was how badly I wanted to just drive off the road. The only thing that stopped me from doing it was that I was in a rental car.

God has changed many things in my life since I decided to give my gambling addiction to Him and let Him help me with it. He has made my desires to go gambling few and far between and most of the time I'm able to make it through them. The only time I slip is when I decide to try and do it my way instead of God's way. He has restored my relationship with my family and they have forgiven me for the money that I stole and all the lies I told when I was gambling. God has given me friends through my church family to hang out with so that I don't have to be alone and can have fun without gambling. He has also given me a second family in my GA group and given me the tools to help the younger member who come to GA.

My pastor is always saying something that I think is so powerful. He always says that "God never wastes a hurt." I have been hurt through this addiction and more importantly, many of my family and friends have been hurt by the actions that I took when I was in the midst of my gambling addiction. However, perhaps by sharing my story tonight, at least one of you has come away with more hope for the future.


great story, thank you for sharing! you have great passion in your words.

Every day ends how we choose it to.

be strong

Im glad to hear that your overcoming your addiction and finding new things in life. I hope im able to be as strong as you and overcome my addiction