Spouses and Partners Need Protecting If You Live With a Problem Gambler. And Never ‘ENABLE’…Learn How Not To.

Spouses and Partners Need Protecting If You Live With a Problem Gambler. And Never ‘ENABLE’…Learn How Not To.

I recently came across an amazing article that helps explain WHAT NOT TO DO if you live with a problem gambler. I had shared a little of it for my next month’s article for a recovery publication I write a column for. I shared what happened to me and my husband when I was within my own gambling addiction, of course, we had done all three ‘classic areas’ of “Enabling” you should never do!

If you have a spouse or partner that is either a problem gambler or they are fully addicted, I hope you read and share with others as I wanted to share some with all of you in hopes it gives some insights to those spouses and partners that need this information on how not to enable the gambler and how to protect themselves and your finances.

“The Cruelest Lies Are Always Told In SILENCE” ~Robert L. Stevenson 

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Gambling Addiction and The Spouse ~ WARNING:
If you are early in recovery or still an active gambler, this article could be a trigger.

I always feel a unique responsibility to be open, transparent, and honest when it comes to sharing what gambling addiction has taken from me. Almost took my husband and devastated our finances. On July 29th I will make the eleven and a half year mark maintaining recovery from this cunning and devastating disease. But there is another side to this addiction many don’t know. The effects it had on my husband of 29 years and how it almost destroyed our marriage and made financial future much harder to accomplish.

In the thick of my gambling addiction, I can not count the times my husband would come looking for me, knowing I was out somewhere gambling all our money away. When I crossed the line into addicted gambling, it may have been our mortgage payment, our household money for food, power, or gas bill. I could have pawned something of value, again, to get money to gamble. It could have been my whole paycheck, Poooof, gone in a few hours of gambling! I know how ‘Crazy and Ludacris’ this may sound to those reading this, but this is how “sick” I became within my addiction.

Even to this day, I don’t have a wedding ring as a reminder of all that I lost from my poor choices and twisted, diseased, sick thinking while deep within my addiction. We become a whole different person our spouses may not even know anymore. Countless times my husband would tell me, “you love those damn slot and video poker machines more than you love me!” All I can say is an addiction is the worst form of selfishness and betrayal to the spouse. Why? They have no idea how to help the addict.

Many times when they do try to stop us, intervene or even threaten they will leave us, it can turn out to be a form of “controlling” the situation like the loss of money, forbidding the addict to gamble or end up “enabling” the addict. That is what happened to my husband and me. No, he never left, but looking back, he sure had enough evidence!

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I continued to gamble by ‘manipulation’ and letting my husband think he had the control over when I would gamble. I had talked him into going with me when I felt the urge to gamble, making him believe he could lessen the loss if he were with me, but it ended up and began a whole new, different cycle to my addiction. That, in turn, prolonged my gambling habit another few years. So how can a spouse or partner avoid enabling?

As you will read below, my addiction and my husband was the “classic enabler.” So, here is essential education both my husband and I learned when I came out of treatment the second time due to another failed suicide because my addiction got so bad. I began to work with a gambling specialist and coach for a year as my husband worked with a treatment counselor.

First, what is enabling? “It is any action that makes it easier for the addict to pursue the addiction. There are three basic components of enablement.”
(Below is courtesy of Focus on The Family Full Gambling Article.

ONE: Covering up and covering for the gambler.
Addictions of all kinds are progressive in nature, especially gambling. A person with gambling problems will eventually fray from relationships at work, with close friends, or in the extended family. Your spouses’ addiction may cause them to miss time on the job or alienate relatives by reneging on family responsibilities.

When this happens, you may be tempted to intervene by calling their boss to excuse their absence or by taking their side when a family member criticizes the behavior. Cover-ups can also take the form of bail-outs, such as assuming their family duties and responsibilities or fronting them money to pay a gambling debt. If you cover up for your spouse in these and other ways, you’ll only be putting off the natural consequences of their gambling and indirectly green-lighting further destructive behavior.

TWO: Attempting to control the gambler’s behavior.
A significant area of addiction treatment is that the addicted gambler must hit bottom and feel some consequences before they can begin the grueling journey upward. Once the player reaches the addiction stage, they are no longer in control of their actions. At that point, this means they have to decide they want to stop and says that if you try to step in and control his or hers gambling, your efforts will probably prove ineffective and possibly even counterproductive. Spouses of gamblers have been known to work every trick in the book – everything from hiding the car keys to filling up the calendar with social obligations to withholding sex.

There’s only one thing to say about such schemes and ploys: they don’t work. They may even provide the addict with an opportunity to blame you for their behavior or to become angry for meddling, in which case that is another excuse for them to go off and medicate their pain with a fresh round of gambling. Even the threat to leave, though is usually employed as a last resort and is likely to have the same effect. A gambler in the throes of gambling addiction would probably be relieved to see the spouse walk out the door.

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THREE: Cooperating with the gambler.
The last way a spouse can enable gambling is by becoming a direct or indirect participant in the problem. It’s not uncommon for the spouse of a gambler to develop a taste for gambling themselves. When this happens, the spouse is usually quick to play into this enthusiasm and use it in ways that compromise the spouse and justify the gamblers own behavior.

After all, if the spouse is willing to join them at the casino, how can the spouse blame the addict for working the slot machines or playing a little blackjack? On the secondary side, it’s also possible to enable your partners’ addiction by merely taking gambling-related phone messages or otherwise facilitating their gaming activities. Spouses also have no control over the addicts gambling and most times ends in an argument or worse.

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So it seems my husband was an enabler as I had turned my husband into a willing participant, so again, he worked with a counselor after I came out of treatment. We had sessions together and apart. And after reading the above, we both had the experiences of “what not to do” when your spouse (me) is addicted to gambling. Lastly. If you know that your spouse has a serious problem with gambling, as my husband did, the spouse needs to confront the issue head-on.

Those who are with a spouse with a severe gambling addiction are unwilling to listen, you can enlist the help of an objective third party – a pastor, a relative, or a close friend who agrees with your assessment of your situation and who would be willing to come alongside you in order to strengthen your case when you approach the topic with your spouse.

If all else fails, try to pull together a group of friends and supporters who can help you stage a formal intervention. You may want to include a licensed counselor or therapist who specializes in this kind of activity. It will give the addict the best way to begin a clear recovery path to freedom from Gambling Addiction.

~Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

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Welcome, John Tracy and His New CD Release Titled “Quintessential.”

Welcome, John Tracy and His New CD Release Titled “Quintessential.”

Those of us who maintain recovery are Music Lovers too! So I am sharing my post from my book, authors, and writing blog as I have a SPECIAL Guest Interview with Musician, John Tracy today I think you will enjoy!
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"Cat Lyon's Reading & Writing Den"

I am so thrilled and honored to once again have my dear friend and a fantastic musician and recording artist, John Tracyback with us. Now, your most likely wondering why Cat is spotlighting a musician since most of my spotlights are with authors and about books. Well, musicians are writers too!

Writing music I am sure can have a whole different set of challenges and be very rewarding when a new CD is finished like John’s new one titled “Quintessential.” So this time I am including a little interview with John on just how this new CD came about. Besides, Cat loves listening to music and I enjoy John’s sound of a little it soft rock with a dash of country twang … He makes a difference in the lives of the people who listen to and love his music on our “Journey of Life!” ~Catherine Lyon

My Interview…

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Special Guest Article and Blog Share Celebrating July 4th Weekend. By Tony Roberts Who Gives Us Something to Think About.

My Weekend Recovery and 4th of July Blog Pick is my dear friend Tony Roberts ad his blog “Delight in Disorder.” A very special blog post share … Be Blessed! Catherine Lyon

"Cat Lyon's Reading & Writing Den"

The Cost of Freedom ~ By Tony Roberts Blog ~ Delight in Disorder

I went to a fast food restaurant for dinner the other night. The guy ahead of me had just come home from Afghanistan. He was buying dinner for his son and himself. The total came to over $20.00.  He didn’t have enough. They said they would give him a 10% military discount. Still not enough. He started deducting his order until he could afford it.

Sad.

Then I saw a man who had heard this haggling hand him $100 bill and say, “Thanks for your service.”

The soldier teared up and said, “You don’t know how much this means to me.”

The man smiled and said, “You don’t know how much what you do means to me.”
I posted this story on Facebook and it has gotten nearly 100 likes and 10 shares. It shows that people…

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A Sneak Peek of a Working Memoir. Take a Walk With Us. A Former NFL Pro and His Legacy In The Making …

A Sneak Peek of a Working Memoir. Take a Walk With Us. A Former NFL Pro and His Legacy In The Making …

I hope you are enjoying the 4th of July week recovery friends! here is a special Sneak Peek to celebrate freedom from addiction as I share excerpts of Vance’s Memoir we are almost done with. Next step is to the Editor! We would love your thoughts and comments … Catherine

"Cat Lyon's Reading & Writing Den"

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have seen this opportunity coming into my life.” ~Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon


WHY? Because, many years ago if anyone would have told me I would have gotten entangled in a gambling addiction, begin recovery, let alone become a published author twice, and begin a writing and book marketing career? I’d have laughed at them and say; “not in my lifetime!” But here I am! I contribute these wonderful abilities and blessings from both maintaining recovery and beautiful “Gifts from GOD.”

It truly is the only way I can really describe where these opportunities have come from. When we let Christ take over in our lives, you never know what blessings and surprises are right around the corner. Nor do we know where his path he has laid out for us is going to take us. However, I am sure enjoying the literary ride with…

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Why Does A Gambling Addiction or Binge Have to Turn to Suicide? This Needs to STOP …

Courtesy of The Sunday Morning Herald By  Nick O’Malley – 

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“His body was found by a search and rescue team six days later. Gary was only 45.”

When Gary Van Duinen’s mother learned her son hadn’t come home one night, she went straight to search for him among the poker machines at Dee Why RSL casino club.

Joy recalls being angry, demanding to speak with “someone in authority” and begging them to ban him when he next turned up because he’d blown hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past few years.

But by then, it was too late.

Police believe Gary had commenced a 13-hour pokie-bender before midday the previous day, taking himself through the Collaroy Services Club and Manly Leagues Club before he twice visited Dee Why RSL. He left the club for the last time shortly before 2am.
The last person to see him alive was a cab driver who dropped him near a patch of suburban bushland near Narrabeen Lakes sometime after 5am on Friday, June 1. His body was found by a search and rescue team six days later. He was 45.

Joy was not the only member of Gary’s family to have begged the Dee Why RSL to intervene to curb his gambling. His wife Sonia says she had twice appealed to a manager at Dee Why to step in, once last December and again in January or February.

“I’m not the carrying on and sobbing type, but I was then,” Sonia recalls.

She received the same response as Joy: under the NSW self-exclusion regime, Gary would have to ban himself. In essence, Sonia would have to convince Gary to have himself excluded.

The Dee Why RSL has been a focal point for the Van Duinens, as it is for so many other locals. They ate and drank and met friends there. They saw bands and danced and celebrated family occasions there. They played the slots (pokies) there.

Looking back now, Sonia says Gary’s habit exploded two years ago when he had two big wins totaling around $60,000 in the space of a one night. He soon lost the money and then set about winning it back. One more big one, he used to think, and he would be able to stop.

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A year ago he asked his mom for another substantial loan, which she agreed to on the condition he went to Gamblers Anonymous. She took him to the first meeting herself and then quietly followed him in her car to the second. He did not make the third.

“I’m not like those other hobos,” he told Joy. “You’re exactly like them,” she told him. “You just haven’t lost everything yet.”

By early May this year, Gary’s whole life revolved around the slots (pokies). He even stopped seeing friends who did not gamble. Sonia left him, saying she’d be back when he gave her control of the family’s finances.

“I just thought I could shock him into it, the thought of losing his family,” she explains.

He tearfully confided to sister Tracey on May 13 that his marriage had collapsed, he had no money for fuel or groceries, and because he couldn’t pay for materials or wages, he couldn’t work. Friends rallied and Joy paid enough of Gary’s bills for him to get back to work.

He seemed to be getting his life together, and when he agreed to hand over the family’s finances to Sonia, she said she’d move back home. She arranged to do that on Friday, June 1. Going through his bank statements, his family discovered that in the lead-up to his death, Gary had spent the deposits paid to him for three jobs on a series of gambling benders. On Thursday the 24th he hit Dee Why RSL, the Star casino, and three other venues. Around $60,000 went through his bank accounts in May.

He took his son Jack to dinner with his parents on Monday the 28th, seemingly in fine spirits. The following night he won $6500 at the Parkway Hotel, but according to Jack, he gave $2500 away to a stranger playing the machines nearby.

“By the time he died, there were only debts left.”

Joy is left in anger as much as she is in grief. She is angry that the Dee Why RSL club did nothing to help her son stop gambling, but also that it appeared to encourage and enable his habit.

It made him a member of its “Ambassador” program for big spenders, allowing him access to a special car park and red carpet entrance, sidestepping the sign-in process at the front door. He accumulated loyalty points for his heavy gambling expenditures, which he spent on drinks that staff brought to him at the machines.

When he wanted cigarettes a staff member would leave the club to buy him his preferred brand at a nearby shop and deliver them to him at the machine.

He was invited to bring friends to an annual slap-up seafood “thank you” dinner for heavy gamblers.

In the wake of her son’s death, Joy spoke with club’s chief executive, Grant Easterby, who has again explained that the only intervention mechanism that exists is self-exclusion. The “perks”, Mr. Easterby explained, were just benefits extended to members. But Joy maintains that while the club may not have a legal responsibility to curb Gary’s gambling it could have done so anyway.

“If someone is sitting at the same machine for 16 hours do you go over to them and say ‘mate are you OK’, or do you go and get him another drink?”

Mr. Easterby said it was not possible for the club to know how much individuals could afford to lose in its machines.  Joy asked Mr. Easterby if the club could help pay for Gary’s funeral, given his family was left in debt. He declined, instead suggesting local community groups that might be able to help.

“I said no and I hung up. I wanted the club to do it. He had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars there … I suppose I wanted them to say ‘Sorry, maybe we did the wrong thing.’ I wanted them to take some responsibility. But I got nothing. Nothing at all.”

In a statement to the Herald, Mr. Easterby said that it was not lawful for the club to ”intervene with or ask gaming patrons to curtail their activity at the request of third parties, even family members. ClubsNSW has in the past advocated for the self-exclusion regime to be extended to include third parties and Dee Why RSL would support that change.” He did not address questions about the claims that staff fetched drinks and cigarettes for gamblers.

A spokesman for ClubsNSW said in a statement that research shows that self-exclusion has proven to be an effective measure for those people who sign up for it, with 74 percent of problem gamblers included in a University of Sydney study reporting they had reduced their gambling and improved their financial situation.
He said ClubsNSW agrees that third parties such as family members should also be able to make an application to have a person banned from a gambling room.

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“Families are better placed than just about anyone else when it comes to determining whether or not someone has a problem with gambling. They notice the mood changes and erratic behavior.

They should be encouraged to intervene when they think it’s appropriate to do so. While there will inevitably be some vexatious complaints, most family members are well-meaning and would act with the best of intentions,” he said.

A spokesman for Liquor and Gaming NSW said the regulator had launched an investigation into this matter following a formal complaint. “Our investigators attended the club this week to conduct inquiries including interviewing managers and obtaining gaming machine player activity statements,” he said.

“The circumstances in this matter are tragic and these are serious allegations that will be thoroughly investigated.”

The Van Duinens were left so angry by the circumstances of Gary’s death that they approached Andrew Wilkie, the Tasmanian MP who has campaigned against the poker machine industry because they wanted to draw public attention to it.

Mr. Wilkie says clubs should be required to do more for gambling addicts, and he agrees that third-party exclusion should be introduced.

“I appreciate that there are privacy issues, that adults should not be interfered with by other people. But surely there could some sort of temporary ban that clubs could introduce while they checked into the welfare of people like this if family members come forward,” he said.

“This is a terrible story but it is not an unusual one. As people are reading this they should remember that there are hundreds of Gary’s out there in Sydney this week and some will be dead next week, and the industry will not care.”

According to its annual report last year, the Dee Why RSL took in $13.2 million from catering and drinks and gave away $1.9 million in community support. It took $43 million from its poker machines.

 

“And Now a Message From Our Recovery Sponsor”… Dr. Rev. Kevin T. Coughlin, of The Professional Institute of Higher Learning.

“And Now a Message From Our Recovery Sponsor”… Dr. Rev. Kevin T. Coughlin, of  The Professional Institute of Higher Learning.

Are Your Teens Playing Games with Their Lives?


We all know that gambling, and now internet gaming has been around for a long while.

What we didn’t know was about to happen with the internet and tech offerings and expansion that began in the late 80′ and early 90’s –that gaming and gambling options would be so accessible and continue to grow at a rapid pace as it has. No person better besides myself knows this than my dear friend and The Addiction Expert of Rev Kev’s Recovery World and now the new amazing coach, teacher, and trainer behind the new “The Professional’s International Institute of Higher Learning Online” .

So, I welcome and am honored to have Kevin Coughlin back to share some interesting facts about gaming and why parents need to be very privy to the time your kids are spending on their computers and what are they DOING on the internet …
Take it away Rev. Kev!   ~ Advocate Catherine Lyon 

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“A good coach asks great questions to help you remove the obstacles in your mind and to get you back on track in life.”  – Farshad Asl 

Recently, The World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to the International Classification of Diseases. This newly identified gaming disorder causes “impaired control over gaming,” according to The World Health Organization. The decision to include internet gaming as a mental health disorder has not come without controversy; professionals from the American Psychiatric Association and other professional’s in the industry have made clear that they believe that internet gaming disorder is a condition that needs further study. Some mental health professionals don’t agree with the “gaming disorder” diagnosis, they think the label is premature. Many clinicians voiced that they believe that young people are actually using video gaming as a coping mechanism for anxiety and depression, which are on the rise in teens, according to the latest national research.

This new process of addiction should not be determined based on a short period of behavior. The World Health Organization stated that a diagnosis of having a gaming disorder should be determined based on behavior over a period of at least twelve months. If an individual’s personal life, social life, family life, work environment, or if they’re a student, their school environment is impaired by excessive internet gaming, these should be considered warning signs of addiction. Comparable with other addictions, despite negative consequences, there is a loss of control and escalation.

Experts believe that the causes of gaming disorder are quite rare and that only approximately three-percent of gamers may suffer from this addiction. There is hope for the three percent; however, more help is needed. A former gaming disorder addict, Cam Adair, was quoted as saying, “First just more prevention, there needs to be more awareness in schools. Parents need to be educated, there is a need for better resources and a need for more professionally trained interventionists,  recovery coaches and support services available.”

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Many parents have referred to internet gaming as “digital heroin!” Don is twenty-five-years-old, who just had his second child thirteen months ago, he lives with his girlfriend and the children at her parent’s house. Don works part-time and spends more than ten hours per day playing video games online. He spends every dollar he makes buying online video games and counts on State assistance to feed his children.

Some nights, Don doesn’t even sleep, he plays video games all night and then goes straight to work in the morning. He doesn’t spend any time with his children or his girlfriend. He doesn’t give his family any financial or emotional support. His girlfriend is on the verge of leaving Don and taking the children with her. His life is totally out of control because of online gaming addiction.

Dr. Vladimir Poznyak from The World Health Organization’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, which proposed the new diagnosis to The World Health Organization’s decision-making body, said, that there are three major diagnostic characteristics of gaming disorder: “One is that the gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities to the extent that other activities are taken to the periphery.

The second feature is impaired control of these behaviors, even when the negative consequences occur, this behavior continues or escalates. A third feature is that the condition leads to significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational functioning. The impact is real and may include disturbed sleep patterns, like diet problems, like a deficiency in the physical activity.”

The main features of gaming disorder are very similar to the diagnostic features of pathological gambling disorder and substance use and abuse disorders. Gaming disorder is a clinical condition and must only be diagnosed by professionals who are properly trained in this mental health disorder. The majority of treatment and interventions for gaming disorder are based on the methods and principals of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and other added sources of support.

Co-founder of Restart (One of the first US inpatient treatment programs for gaming disorder), Hilarie Cash was quoted as saying, “It’s time to recognize gaming disorder as a legitimate medical and mental health condition.”

Dr. Vladimir Poznyak (from The World Health Organization’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse) was quoted as saying, “Whatever the therapy, it should be based on understanding the nature of the behavior and what can be done in order to improve the situation. Prevention interventions may also be needed.” A licensed psychologist, executive director at The Telos Project, Anthony Bean was quoted as saying,

“The ICD diagnosis is not “appropriately informed since most clinicians — and the mental health field as a whole — do not understand the gaming population. And even most clinicians would probably agree that they don’t understand the concept for video games because they’re not immersed in that world or experience.”

Bean recommends that parents and other loved ones concerned about a much-too-avid gamer, ask questions to become as informed as possible. What games are they playing? Why do they find them interesting? Bean is the author of a guidebook for clinicians wishing to work with gamers; however, he has made it clear that he is not on team Poznyak when it comes to the latest thinking on gaming disorder. I believe that Dr. Poznyak is right on target!

Witnessing Don’s gaming addiction firsthand, there is no doubt in my mind that online gaming becomes a disorder when despite negative consequences, there is a loss of control and escalation and the person’s choices are even affecting his family in a negative way because of online gaming.

Anything that is out of balance in a person’s life that has negative consequences that are ignored is a potential problem. I think the writing was on the wall a long time ago when it came to gaming addiction. I’m surprised it wasn’t diagnosed sooner!

Some of the warning signs that parents can look for to help determine if there is a problem with gaming and their teen:

Long hours of playing video games.
 
On the computer or other online devices.

Poor personal hygiene.

Lack of self-care.

Not sleeping, playing video games all night.

Poor grades in school or skipping school.

Lack of interest in everything except video gaming.

Isolation and spending much time in their room.

Irritability and anger problems when not playing video games.

Compulsively buying video games and add-ons.

Not eating regular meals at regular times.

Unhealthy diet, impulsivity,  and irresponsibility.

Life out of balance, obsessed with video gaming.

Depression, anxiety, or mood swings.

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Remember, if you think that your loved one is suffering from a gaming disorder, this should be diagnosed and treated by professional clinicians. You should also remember that approximately three-percent of gamers suffer from this addiction and that behavior should be considered over at least a twelve-month period.

The last thing that anyone wants is a parent thinking that their teen has a problem because they played video games one afternoon for several hours and skipped lunch. It’s important to look at the big picture and not to ignore the facts. Should you have any questions, consult a professional who works in this field. Let’s all be informed and aware!

Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D.
www.theaddiction.expert
Visit:  “The Professional’s International Institute of Higher Learning Online” .
Learn More: About Coaching-LinkedIn Article

Recovery Thoughts About a Little of Everything …Family, Support, and Of Course, Gambling Addiction.

Recovery Thoughts About a Little of Everything …Family, Support, and Of Course, Gambling Addiction.

 Hello Recovery Friends, Seekers, and Visitors Happy 4th of July Week!

First I want to start by saying it has been too damn HOT here. It is the worst time of year to be living in Arizona lol. And why it’s called “The Valley of The Sun.”

We will be hitting 110 today. That is even too frigging hot to sit by the pool unless you want to get a Burn Up Suntan …Lol. Maybe I would like it more if I was 25 again but at 55 and taking meds, I just can’t tolerate the the heat like I used to.

It’s why I can not wait to move back to Oregon next year on the coast. 

So, I have been having some “happy times” flashbacks lately as we get closer to the 4th of July. Have no idea why or where it’s coming from. The Fourth was always an interesting day and evening around the “Townsend Family” home as we would always have a BBQ and light fireworks. This is when I still lived at or near home in So. Cal. We would do fireworks for my nephews as they were young at the time, and the adults would act a little cray-cray right along with them! Their dad, Mike, (my brother-in-law who we lost in 1992 to cancer) was a hoot! He was crazy about fireworks! Those were the “good old days.”

But as the dysfunctional family that we were many times, alcohol abuse seemed to ramp up closer to the evening after dinner. Waiting for it to get dark, we’d let the little ones do sparklers and Mike would dazzle my mom with some spinning flower bloom fireworks. My mom got a kick at of those! One time Mike put the flowering blooms and lit a couple in my parents’ mailbox so they would fly out, spin, and they hit the ground. LOL! That didn’t work out well as it blew up the mailbox so Mike had to buy my dad a new one and help dad put up. Lol.

Yes, there were many fun times to be had through the years. Now, remember, this was way before addiction had ever touched my life. But as we had fun, the alcohol consumed by Mike, Dad, my sisters and brother, the end always seemed to end up in some sort of argument and fight as my mom didn’t drink, but she loved to chime in and piss them off by verbally making fun or yelling at them that they were a bunch of Fu_  ing idiots! Then my dad and brother would get mad at her and we’d be off RUNNING!!

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It seemed almost all our family gatherings would end up this way. Day trips, camping trips. Sad really. No one in my family who drank alcohol had NO Control over it or when knowing when to stop drinking. This went on for many years. Today, my two sisters I feel are alcoholics, but they would say different. My oldest sister after Mike passed even racked up some DUI’S from drinking alcohol and driving. Which brings me to family, support, and fast forward to today. When my mom passed in 2003, my brother decided to open his new home and have relatives and friends come over to celebrate my mom’s life after the funeral.

And, again, early afternoon the alcohol began to flow. He had a pool, so many of us went swimming, and in the evening we hung out in the hot tub into the late evening they were still drinking. We were down to myself, my husband, my dad, brother and his wife, one sister and her hubby, and my older sister (single) and her boys now grown. Well, my sisters began to get a little rude and lippy and my brother chimed in. I and my hubby knew it was time to go, and we took my dad with us. Not till the next morning, we found out there were a few words spewed, pushing and things got a bit physical and the police were called.

Long story short, my brother and his wife divorced a few weeks later. My dad stopped talking to my brother. We just buried my mother and again our family is torn apart. This was a habit and behavior my mother carried on for years. If you didn’t do what she said or what she wanted, she would cut you out and stop talking to you. Life is to short for this and I would tell her so.

But she would just come at me verbally with things like “why do you think you are better than we are? or what makes you so special, I’m still your mother and can say whatever I want and like it.” Yes, my mom did NOT Like It when I set my boundaries. I guess I should back up a little. She knew how to get under my skin when I first began recovery.

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When I was a little girl born in New Jersey and lived until 6 1/2 then we moved to So. CA. My mom was a heavy-handed disciplinarian when my dad was gone overseas in Vietnam while stilling living in Jersey. Now, this is hindsight and connecting the dots and learning from the years of therapy and counseling in treatment that brought many old hurtful memories of my childhood back in order to process it, let go and forgive myself.

Growing up through the years, my mom and dad said many hurtful things to me and for some reason they lingered and just stuck inside me. When I got to my teens, I never could understand why she was like this to me. As I look back, since I was the baby of the family at the time, my daddy used called me his “little monster.” A nickname that later in adulthood hit me like a brick when my mom told me about these outbursts I’d have when I was little.

She was never like this or treated my older brother or older sister like she did me. She would say I told lies, I was an ugly tomboy, I didn’t love her or our family, I can’t be their kid and must have been switched at birth in the hospital and I can go on. I can remember times I would through tantrums I would not remember afterwards, she’d lock me in my room and I’d go crazy pulling out my drawers, clothes, pull the curtains down and then? …when it was over I would lay on the floor watching their feet walk back and forth between the space of the door and floor as they passed my locked door.

I think my mom just didn’t know what was wrong or how to control me when these came on. AND? It’s why I had agreed in 2002 with my Primary Doctor and Psychiatrist when first diagnosed with severe depression, mild bipolar and mania, anxiety after my first suicide attempt. I went undiagnosed for years until adulthood! And why I feel the way my parents raised us seemed to seep down into me so deeply.

I know this because as I grew into adulthood and finally disclosed all of what happened to me as a child when we first moved to So. Cal. I was sexually abused by not one, but two men from 8 to 11 years old. At age 30, in 1992 I was having a break down about all of it right after Mike died of cancer. That was before gambling addiction, but my first of many attempts at therapy for help. In order to begin the process of healing, as my therapist told me, “I had to disclose all to my parents, it’s time.” I told my parents and I felt abused all over again as they denied it, my mom very defensively said “I was making it up. My mom said she would have known if that was happening to me or happening in her house.”

My point in sharing all this? The good memories and the BAD? Since at this point I never got to finish my therapy with the therapist because I was embarrassed and ashamed of how my family took all of what I shared about, not only the sex abuse but also how those memories of the verbal and physical abuse by my parents hurt me as well.  It was then that more something changed with relationships with my dad, two sisters and brother became strained.

I think they all thought I was nuts or something. My mothers’ answer was, and her comments to me stayed with me and ended up giving me my “entitlement feelings” and added fuel to my gambling addiction when I later got entangled, abused alcohol, and crossed the line into addicted gambling. She told me:

“I don’t know why these things are bothering you when they don’t seem to bother my kids?”

I was speechless and kept hearing that in my head for many more years to come. Now, of course, here we are today and my all my siblings have had problems with broken marriages (my brother) drugs, alcohol, anger problems and nothing bothered her other children as I had become an addicted gambler. Today I now know most of my underlying issues and roots to why I turned to gambling addiction. Most of the above shared because I walked away from my first attempt of therapy racked with guilt and shame, I used gambling to ‘cope, numb out, hide, not feel, and get my anger out as I was enraged and destroying my life in the process.

“I wasn’t “getting back” or hurting them, I was sabotaging and hurting myself and my husband.”

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20171208_171651(My nephew Mark Lake and his beautiful family)

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I am happy to share that a few weeks before my mother passed away in August of 2003, I was able to call her twice a day every day until my dad moved her into nursing and rehabilitation after she became ill and off life support as she began to recoup. The family said there was no phone in her room so I could not call her anymore.

My mother and I talked about so many things before she passed. We made amends, she had apologized that she wasn’t there for me when all that was happening to me and for all of it, even my feelings around the verbal and physical abuse. She said “we were not born with a book or guide to how to raise kids.” She and my dad did their best, as she also spoke of how she was raised and learned some of it from her father.
I sure understand this still today …

Again, some points to as to why I am sharing these memories:

Many of us do have underlying pain and old haunting or issues that come from many different areas that need to be addressed. They need to be processed so we don’t use Addiction to try to cope or just try to not feel and forget. We stuff it down deep. It will at some point come back. As many are raised to know seeking out help is OK. There is nothing wrong with sharing how you feel, be it in therapy, counseling, and even in treatment, they know learning those roots and unprocessed events can help addicts be more successful maintaining recovery.

PARENTS: Be wise about how you discipline your kids. Children just want to be and need to be heard. They do want to communicate with parents without fear. I felt this way about always about the thought of talking to my own dad! You may still tell no, but please listen and talk with your kids, teens, and young adults. I feel if you don’t, if a child is being bullied, teens experimenting with drugs or alcohol, this also opens the door to what we are seeing now with too many SUICIDES.

As a trauma and child sex abuse survivor,  we have to learn it was NOT OUR FAULT that these terrible things happened to us. We need to process this and learn to forgive ourselves and begin the process of healing. We lose so much self-worth as a human being when we don’t. It could lead us to addiction, to self-medicate, and again, contemplate suicide.

For The Public: We need to come together and have more compassion and empathy for others who struggle with addictions, mental illness, and recovery. We never know one’s story. It is time to come together and learn how you can help shatter STIGMA around all the topics I shared about. Did the past pains hurt more because I had undiagnosed mental health issues which made my feelings more heightened?  Most likely. We need to help teach the public how to stop making us feel like victims filled with guilt, shame, or made to feel embarrassed or different when we disclose our feelings. Just because some are not as normal or as emotionally strong as other people, doesn’t make us different.

Well any of this sharing help stop addiction? Maybe or maybe not. But I can sure try by sharing my memories, truths, and my life story as I did in my memoir.  It is one of the ways for me to advocate and help raise awareness, help educate and hopefully to begin to shatter stigma. Thanks for taking time to read my journey and memories!

Catherine 

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