“Me And My Valentine Have Been Through Hell…..But Were Still Together!

*HAPPY VALENTINES DAY EVERYONE*

yeah write weekly writing challenge #148 weekend moonshine grid
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AND TO MY WONDERFUL LOVING HUSBAND TOM,…..”You have been there for me at my “BEST” and my “WORST,” Thank You will never be enough to express all the “LOVE” I have in my *HEART* for you. We have been through good times and bad,….well… really bad, but we have been able to endure for 26 years. That my love is an “Amazing” accomplishment in itself. As much as I love my life now in recovery, I know I’d have never made it 7 years without you loving me all they way!  Thank You for so much for that! Words will never be enough to explain our deep & abiding love….*Catherine*~ XoXo.

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I remember my last bet. It was on Jan 28th, 2007, the day before my court sentencing for crimes I had committed in August 2006.
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“ALL FOR THE LOVE OF MY GAMBLING ADDICTION”
My name is Catherine, and I’m a “recovering” addicted compulsive gambler, 7 years now. I wanted to tell a bit of my story of my gambling addiction, experiences, strength, and share my message of Hope…
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See, I really don’t know just “When” I crossed over into “uncontrolled gambling” as it started out as a slow, building, progression. I used to only gamble a couple of times a year. What I do remember clearly is that I quickly became addicted. At the time, the state I used to lived in, (So. Oregon) had a state lottery. They offered scratch tickets, lotto drawings, then added, and then in 1996, added Video Poker machines. These machines became available everywhere! If a place served food & beverages, they could have up to six machines in their place of business…..
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These video lottery machines were in all the bars, taverns, and most eating places. Around 1999 I noticed all these mini-lottery retail shops opening in our little community. If they sold smokes, beer, wine, and soda’s, they also could have 6 video poker machines in the stores. That’s when I started gambling more often. This went on for a while, until one day a man showed me this one video poker machine game called, “Flush Fever Poker.” and I was hooked! I thought to myself, “this is fun”! It seemed like I won all the time! What I didn’t know was HOW MUCH it cost me to win what I was winning. That is when the lies started on how much I was spending, the amount of time I was gone gambling. With addicted gambling, both winning & losing can keep you in the cycle of this baffling, progressive disease.
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Ironic that my career life was in the fields of Banking and Lending for 20+ years. I could help my clients learn and advise to invest their money, but I lost all worth and “Value” of money when I gambled. This cunning disease began to progress to where I’d stop to gamble after work, then before work, then on my lunch hour too! This went on for a few more years. I started to pawn or sell things, like my jewelry to get money to gamble. It was starting to interfere with my work. My husband and I started to argue, as I began to spin out of control, a “Perfect Storm” was brewing…
In Nov 2002, I got so out of control, lost thousands, coupled with undiagnosed Bipolar disorder, that I tried to commit “Suicide” for the 1st time.
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I ended up in the hospital with cuts all over my arms and wrists, then was sent to a Mental/Addictions Crisis center for a bit over 2 weeks, with the first 4 days in a hold on suicide watch. I couldn’t stop gambling! There was so much more that came with this, which I wrote and shared in my book. Because there is SO much more to what happened to me with my gambling addiction. Lost our house, a car, money, time I’ll never get back, lost friends and family, and almost my LIFE twice! I attempted suicide again after my arrest from stealing and forgery.
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I share insights as to how things can shape our “Choice’s and Paths” we make when “Old scars and painful feelings” come back to haunt you. NO, not excuses, just insights as to the Why’s & How’s. I’ve worked hard these past 7 years to stay in recovery. Now my life mission is to be of recovery service to others who still suffer and are just “stuck” on the never-ending “cycle” of the addicted gambling.
See, until we learn to break down that cycle piece by piece, will we then begin to understand, become aware of things like “triggers, urges, stress, feelings of pain,” and many other things we try to mask, hide from, or numb and zone out, behind a slot machine, card table, video poker machine, or what your demon is.Through my “Book and my Recovery & Writers blogs,” I share *HOPE* to let those afflicted know YOU CAN RECOVER from this destructive illness. When we learn in Gamblers Anonymous and treatment to “Believe in a Power Greater Then Ourselves” we can begin to heal and recover.
Recovery also gave me back my “Passion” as a writer and now 1st time published author. I enjoyed journaling as part of my recovery plan, and I incorporated many of them in my book. Back to my arrest and court date though.
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My recovery Birthday is Jan 29th 2007. On this day, I was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 18 months probation, many hours of community service, and money restitution to my victim I stole from. I took accountability and ownership for my actions, and I don’t let my past define who I am today. Was it hard work to get to this point in recovery?  OH Yes!
But it is worth every treatment group meeting, every Gamblers Anonymous meeting I attend, every 12 step I have worked on, and continue to rework them as I grow in my recovery, and the best part?
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My 24 year marriage is still in tact, and my husband is so proud of the woman and wife I am today. Earning trust  is hard to do, but you can do it! I’m an example of that. It’s why I help encourage others in recovery, and why I write and share all I learn in recovery. Part of the “secret” in recovery is when we help those who still suffer from this cunning addiction, it makes us stronger in our own. If you look at “being of recovery service to others,” kind of like how Bill Gates & Warren Buffet, who are caring financial “philanthropists,” well, so are people in recovery. We just don’t do it with money!…LOL, we do it by being supportive with others in recovery, or with those who seek recovery.
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So today, I live life in recovery from addicted gambling, as I also live with mental & emotional illness, as my gambling addiction brought out my undiagnosed Bipolar with manic depression & anxiety illness to the fore front. But I’m also an author, writer, and blogger and work from home. Yes it is financially challenging at times, but that’s OK. There are sometimes things more important in life than earning money,….It’s helping others and Advocacy.
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YES,… Life in Recovery today is Beautiful!

Catherine

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