I left some money under the seat in my truck thinking I was somehow hiding it from myself. Really? I was just afraid to take it all with me. Not sure how much, maybe a grand or more. A small stack compared to what I separated into two pockets. Most of the wad came with me. Left pocket was for when the right pocket was empty and I had a moment to consider my options before replenishing the empty pocket. All hundreds except for the one I broke to fill up with gas on the way. The lesson learned, words of advice taken long ago...Never go to the Casino without a full tank to get home. I briefly wondered how this tidbit of common sense was available. As if setting myself up? Is this a sign post? Plain old denial? What? Obviously I wasn't stupid? It made me feel secure like I was thinking or, using my head maybe, doing the right thing. But that's where the self reliance stopped. The blurry line somewhere between making sure you could get home or proactive? And gambling with my life.
I had previously won big "for my league" and got out of town with most of it...The scenic ride over Donner Summit up $6800. and headed for the coast dreaming of all I could buy.. See ya later Nevada! Thanks! I got new tires on the way home and a much needed washer dryer set with plenty of cash to spare. Plus putting back in the bank the money I brought with me, every penny. I was truly winning. I couldn't wait to go back Jack, and... do it again.
Then the rain came down. Don't gamble when you're broke. Rational thinking I guess? Probably works for the stiffs. My last trip to Reno was a total loss from the start.. It was bad. Somehow I believed this time would be different. I would win big and stop just like before. Like there was such a thing as a blinding winning streak. Keep it coming. Quit my day job. Take my winnings and go home once a week that's all, just once a week and the rest of the time enjoy my time not working. Maybe enter toe emotional world of sports betting. Now, I only lost about $2800, but I needed that $2800. That wasn't from some savings account or shoebox, that money was accounted for already. It was for my current bills. I had been living barely week to week. I was actually broke and had just enough to pay what was basically due or over due. So really? I had stolen the money from myself and creditors to begin with and the pressure was on to double or triple it. As I drove home this time with the hole in my soul? Feeling like I had laid myself down on a drill press and just tore a hole in my chest, I told myself.. self I said? I will never do that again. I had surely learned the gambling lesson. Alcoholic? Gambler? Compulsive? Delusional? Well, yeah. Even who I was became a crap shoot. My entire life was a gamble.
I get lucky and catch a break. Time heals all pretty much sort of. Right? At least when it's out of sight it's kind of out of mind. So I decide to paint my life of financial insecurity and fear a nice periwinkle blue.
Back on the arrogant northeast coast. Beautiful Cape Cod where the beaches are beautiful if you can afford the seasonal parking fee. I felt rejuvenated, fresh. As if 10 years on the California coast was a vacation. I stepped back into some good work with money connections and was doing ok really. Moved back with my old girlfriend and her kids. Daddy's home, sure thing.. but really? Daddy isn't happy reliving his past. Daddy left for a reason and Daddy has done nothing to change that. I was there because it was easy really. Same as it ever was. It was all I knew. You like me? Great now I like me. Just move in and "poof" instant security blanket. She was loaded.. What's missing? I'm doing meetings. Hanging with sober friends and still feel something is not right.. It's as if the selfishness is circling at the mile marker afraid to land. I want to run or get some relief. I talk to AA newcomers and see only myself in them yet I've been around for years. I want to be like them, brand new. I don't want to have to actually live sober, that's why I drank!
I need a thrill I guess. Something to steal.. just for me. Maybe cheat on my girlfriend? It dawns on me just how much I am settling for less with my dishonesty but I ignore it and keep on with the stage presentation, everybody's happy. Then it hits me. There's an east coast Casino. Foxwoods. A fine upscale empire nestled a short drive down 95 through Providence and into the Connecticut woods. I'd seen pictures. Read the brochure. A massive castle. I tell myself I would love to check out the buffet and get a tee shirt. Play a few slots, have some good family fun. Yeah. Or maybe an expensive satin jacket that screams "winner" to the rest of the world. "FOXWOODS WINNER". A successful gambler, a thinker who knows when to quit. I spin it around for about a week and then? The obsession creeps in to stay. I'm now obsessed, showered up, and while everyone is ready for bed? I'm on my way out the door telling my girlfriend I am only bringing 2 hundred bucks and assuring her I find it ridiculous to spend more than that anyway. Then a brief insanity scenario that describes others lives and certainly not mine. What Joe did, what Bob lost etc..She falls for it, I think. And wishes me luck. She was warm and comforting standing there and I felt the last bit of emotional security leave me. I was on my own.
The long walk from the outer parkinglot to the main entrance was a true feeling of welcome arrival. I half expected a draw bridge over a mote. Closer and closer to the bright lights my heart began to pump, I could feel it. My mouth was dry, I was a 3 thousand dollar bundle of nerves. Every dollar I could find to justify this expedition was with me. All of me. The bells! The bells! Ding Ding Ding Ding winners! Yes! As I entered I walked past the stone faces on their way out. Empty shells, bleached out faces. They don't concern me, losers.. Like there's dignity when approaching deaths door. Stiff upper lip chaps! You lose you win, deal with it.
I had myself convinced I could pick winning slots by the sounds of the main floor. After all, I had won before? Stick to the machines that are on the end of isles where the most exposer is. Marketing 101. This brilliant act of self deception proved to be my demise. Quickly dropping maybe 5 or 6 hundred? Feeding the dollar slots and then the 5 dollar slots, then 10's.. I was feeling the desperation now. Was I going to keep losing? The chaos, foggy confusion as if I was drunk. I had arrived at the Casino as if it was a bar room and was trapped inside. I couldn't leave. Same as it ever was. I didn't just want to be here no. I needed to be here.
If only I could stop. Quit when I was ahead. That whole drink like a gentleman or quit thing from the Big Book. No, I could not stop. I tried to leave a few times. Headed for the door only to turn around at the thought of proving myself a loser and the fear that came with it. That impending doom. I may as well have been dope sick and powerless over those damn opiates. It felt the same. I could not leave. I would do anything to be a winner.
I was up? Then way up? Then down and well? Way down. This seemed to happen a few times maybe more. When I'm up I want just a little more. When I'm down I want something, anything. The main problem is it's all about me and what I want. That alcoholic selfishness or just extreme selfishness, whatever.. I see it yet I can't change it. I sit staring at a 5 dollar slot face. I am almost broke. There are people behind me waiting for the machine. I am extremely self centered now with the pressure of the people on me. I decide nothing matters anyway and throw what I have left at it. I win! Then I stay for more and the pressure is off and again...I lose. I get up and walk away showing no emotion. Now I myself am the stone face loser. I'm stunned really. Blank. Shut down. Over dosed on selfishness and fear. I become afraid of what all the people who don't even know me think of me. Maybe I need a drink? No. Don't drink. Shoot yourself in the head sure but don't drink. Got it. I'm alcoholic sure but compulsive gambler? Not sure.
It's me, the problem is me. I obviously need a manager and well? I'm completely out of control.. I head for the exit to get the remaining cash from under my seat. I know I'm doing something wrong. I'm down 2k. I sit for a minute in my truck. It is an empty place as if I'm not even there. I'm invisible.. I know I shouldn't go back in but I have to. I get a fleeting thought of going home and taking my girlfriend out to dinner as if I won. Can I fix this whole thing with a lie? Another lie? No. I hate myself now, it's all or nothing. Left on my own I have such low self esteem I will do just about anything to feel better about myself. I lie, cheat, and gamble everything I got in hopes of that instant gratification. Make me somebody that people like. Make me feel happy. Good enough.. Equal even. Show me the emotional security boost where I'm valid, I'm somebody and proving them wrong. Who ever them happens to be. The common trains of circumstance that haunt me. I am beating myself now with memories.The cops or probation? Old girlfriends and wives, Daddy. Childhood horrors. Whoever I'm fighting in my head. Whatever's keeping me down man. Let me win so I can make it all go away. No. It won't go away. My nothing is reflected in the silence of the outer parking lot. My mind races nowhere. Nowhere good anyway, it's bad, all bad. My only hope is to go back in with the rest of the money and go for it. Go for broke? I think why would I want to go for broke anyway I want to go for a win don't I? I have to win. I won't beg. I won't beg God to save me. God...Right. I'll be a man and die like a man. Rope, bullet, cliff..you can't hurt me! I stand up straight and create my courage and strength. I'm going back in.
I left some hours later with a twenty dollar bill I had mistakenly stuffed in a back pocket earlier in the day. I felt grateful I had it for a pack of smokes and a coffee for the ride. My 20 dollar gold bar. I thought hey, I only need ten of it and could maybe be the guy you hear about who puts his last dollar in the slot and wins big? No. I was beaten. I had lost everything. I will cut my losses now. 3k down to 20 bucks and that's it for me. I had this absurd feeling as if I knew when to quit. So absurd really that I couldn't even fool myself with it. It was quiet outside. About 4ish in the morning. Quiet, fog. My funeral. There was no marker. No epitaph. I had proven myself a nothing..
I started the truck and thought, I wouldn't be fixing my muffler today. I wouldn't be fixing anything today. I had spent the rent the electric, the car payment? everything. I spent it all. I wanted a safe place to go where I could cry. I wanted to be home right now as if this never happened. I was completely lost and alone trying to follow the simple exit signs in the parking lot.. I could hardly drive. The impending doom was pretty strong, it had now become straight raw fear. Me, alone, heading up the coast with the early risers starting to gather on the hiway. The working crowd with all their job security. I hated them all. I could hit a bridge. I could. Just floor it and yank the wheel to the left. Boom! All done, all over. Maybe it's for the best. I see all the people driving by now, it's getting light out.. They don't know me! They don't know what I'm about. They're all going to their jobs to make their money and me? I'm dead inside. I wasn't much to begin with and then threw what was left away just like garbage. I can't take care of myself. I don't care enough about myself to care for myself. How do I live? I'm a good for nothing. Wasted alcoholic junkie loser. Junk mail. He was right. I'll never amount to anything.
Gambling. I could not understand the politics of it all, the desperation, severity. How I could set out so convincingly positive and fill myself with such delusion only to devastate myself. As I thought back? I was just as high on winning as losing. Winning I would shake, physically shake. Fight for control as if even as a winner I didn't know how to act as I bounced on my fear.. I had no coping skills either way and was dominated by self centered fear.
I pull into the driveway. The sun is up now. The neighborhood is quiet still. The house is quiet. Nobody's up yet.. I walk through the kitchen past the empty jar where the money was. I look in the refrigerator and notice we need milk.
People places and things. There is wisdom in the halls. Certain facts really and no longer up for debate. I drank over my addiction to people. I could not stop the selfish need.. Many times I tried to out run my self centered fear only to find myself waiting at another geographical cure. The false hope generated. The things I would do to arrange, control my self worth. Anybody? Anything that can fix me, save me, make me happy. Validate me so I can accept myself. Anything goes as I jockey for self esteem. Let me steal you to create my reflection. Just a nudge or wink, just enough for a little emotional security boost please.
Sure I'm a drunk who found themselves beyond human aid. But there's more. It's been maybe 25 years since I entered a Casino ready to gamble my life away. I had enough. I had seen what to me was my bitter end. The ghost of Christmas future. Somehow I learned my lesson to date. Not even sure how it happened really? I just stopped. It became a God thing apparently. I was ready for new management and God was there and well? It was pretty much over from that point on.. I just can't treat myself like that anymore. Sure I've bought a few scratch tickets here and there but honestly? I don't remember the last time. The abuse had to stop. The self abuse, the abuse of others, the tolerance of others abuse toward me. My entire life was settling for less hoping to have more. It all had to go. All of it wrapped up in a big box of dishonesty.
The whole lying cheating stealing thing has gone too. I'm not perfect, I'm not pure, but I have a bit of myself and really? I really don't want to throw it away. I'm in recovery. I have undergone a psychic change sufficient to overcome my defective character and you know what? I like it. I want to keep it going today.. I brought my life to AA, then brought AA to my life..