After a 10 year stint of heavy pokies abuse I entered a Gamblers Anonymous (GA) room and remember a visitor sharing that the chairs in this meeting are the most expensive seats you’ll ever sit in; some of us have literally paid hundreds of thousands for these cheap plastic chairs circling the chapel of a Salvation Army halfway house at the Monday night GA meeting.
Walking in and facing up to a 3 month full throttle binge after a year and a half 'clean'. Facing the music, confess to the circle, back to ground zero. It all starts here, the archetypal story of redemption requires the protagonist to face the truth, to be honest, at least with themselves and the courage to be honest with others. Gambling, the great remover, strips you back to nothing, leaves you all alone with your lies.
So what could I have bought with my conservative estimate of $200,000 down the tube? Well let’s see, for $200,000, you can book a reservation with Virgin Galactic on the world's first commercial passenger spaceship. So I could have swapped this plastic chair for a trip into space, I could have bought my own helicopter, possibly bought my own small islands somewhere, funded a feature film, funded a kick arse album with all professional musicians, surf every luxury break in the world with friends, set my future children up with world class education. And the list would go on.
I need to find some grace and humour in that lost decade and jettison the anger into deep space. The money is gone and I’m still here. Wasn’t that keen, I’m going into space anyway.
I’ve judged myself brutally for a decade and it does wear you down and changes you, I just want to learn forgiveness and to be whole again instead of the compartmentalising that you create to allow this madness to continue and ultimately be free of the affliction that has come to define me. It’s up to me.
Admitting to someone else isn’t easy but it’s the starting point towards honesty. You become a pathological liar and your promises to yourself ring hollow. Trusting yourself again is the starting point.
Entering the GA room is like a punch of reality to the face, brings the ego back down to ground level, it’s not all about talking it’s listening, engaging in empathy and in time learn to hopefully allow yourself that same gift of understanding and ultimately forgiveness.
I set a 30 day challenge for myself 10 years ago and every month failed to get past the first 30, time wasn’t really moving forward it was actually a ground hog day scenario, rather than 10 years it was 1 month over and over repeated 120 times.
All I’m saying is that getting into a room is about taking that first step and whatever it takes.