“Hi, my name is Aaron and I am a compulsive gambler.”
I’ve never said those words out loud and I’m not sure I ever will. This is due in part to my reluctance to attend a gamblers anonymous meeting. Now, I have nothing against groups like GA, I think they are wonderful. I am just against getting help in general. I’ve never told a counselor, doctor, or even my accountant about my gambling problems.
And since I am being honest, my name is not Aaron. Truth is, I can’t say my real name due to my position in the community. I am a closet compulsive gambler, hiding in the shadows. My commitment to staying in the shadows is only one barrier to getting help. Truth is, getting help is hard for a whole bunch of reasons….
In an odd way, I’ve grown to care for my addiction. People who are not addicts will probably think I am crazy…. But if you listen with an open mind, maybe this will make sense… I’ve lied, cheated, stolen, and done countless other things I am not proud of just to protect my addiction. I’ve stolen thousands of dollars from my wife and I’s retirement account. I’ve lied to my friends and family about my whereabouts. Last summer, I told my wife I had to travel for work. I told work I was taking a family vacation. Neither were true; both fibs were instead a part of the same scheme in which I lost over seven grand playing poker in Vegas.
I’ve begged, borrowed, lied, and cheated to ensure the survival of my addiction. I protect my addiction the same way a parent protects their child, I’ll do anything for it.
The crazy part is… I know I am an addict…. My bank account never fails to remind me that gambling is a problem. At this point in my life, my checking, savings, and retirement account should be littered with thousands of dollars….
The key phrase is should be.
What should be and what is are two different things…
Over the course of the last two years the people closest to me have urged me to get help… and I know I should… but I am scared…
What will everyone else think of me?
Will I never see my gambling friends again? There are so many people I’ve formed relationships with at the various poker rooms…
And my wife… I can only think how this will crush her… if she ever knew all the crummy things I have done, she’d surely leave me…
“Hi my name is Aaron, and I am an addict.”
Just saying the words gives me chills.