I am a gambling addict.
Not just any gambling addict but a long standing problem addict of some 30 years. An addict whose addiction encompasses many forms of gambling with losses into six figures. An addict whose gambling started playing fruit machines when as a kid my dad and his mates would say "here's some change, go play the fruit machine". A Barcrest Special Series being one of the first machines i recall. I can recall all too well the lights and the sounds and the wonder of it all. £100? That looked like all the money in the world back then and to be honest it still does now.
i probably like many others on here have at times gotten a real buzz out of "playing the fruities" and have also gotten hours of enjoyment playing the emulators which allowed me to travel back in time to a more innocent time in a much less costly way. At the risk of contradicting everything else i'm going to type i recognise that the fruit machines gave me fun, escapism, entertainment and deep mental challenges of self awareness, tolerance and the soundness of thought.
I acknowledge all of those things.
I am grateful to Chris Wren and "the scene" though i didn't know him or anyone within it personally.
But it is now time to absolutely cut the crap and tell it like it is. Gambling is evil and gambling addiction a complete total and utter evil cancer that in its worst and most deadliest form, takes over your mind, then you, then your finances and then absolutely everything else that you worked for and held dear. As i remember someone else posting on here many years ago there wasn't a scene There were no good machines. There were no cheats or secrets or "playing methods". There is nothing to be celebratory of whatsoever here. Fruit machines were and are god awful contraptions designed to separate the foolish from their money and they by design are exceptionally successful at doing just that.
Let me clear. i am not here to preach because I am not fit to be my own let alone anyone else's judge and i believe we all make and are responsible for our decisions in life. A life we get one good shot at.
I could post in detail about what gambling has done to me. The life changing amounts of money squandered feeding my addiction. The years of denial. The disastrous impact on me, my mental health and my own feelings of low self esteem or low self worth. I could detail the thoughts of suicide and the self harm or the mood swings. The disastrous effect gambling has had on relationships, the friends I've cut adrift and the family ties lost. I could pot about my first wife's suicide and what it was like to actually see someone choose death in slow time right front of me. I could confess that at the time of her own battle with depression a battle she was to lose, that i was in the grip of gambling and at the very time when she needed me and when i was studying for my dream job i was as much interested in downloading the latest DX as i was in her needs and in saving my marriage.
I could post about what it was like to lose a mum as young as a kid visiting the hospital on the way home from school. Seeing her lying in a hospital bed chained up to machines with pipes sticking out of everywhere and remembering having a nurse, a kind nurse saying "do you want to hold her hand"? Or i could post about the 15 years of abuse i suffered at the hands of a stepmother where i was so miserable that escape method of choice was going down the club to play the fruity.
On and on and on all this crap goes right into middle age.
I could post about the feelings of shame. Of being totally consumed by guilt, by anger, confusion, sadness, regret and yes relief if honest that finally i have admitted to having a problem. I can not put into words the shame i feel at what i have done to my current wife in terms of money lost but also in terms of lack of trust and respect. If instead of gambling away that money, i could have made her and me much more comfortable now and in later life. I could have given her once in a lifetime experiences and now the moneys gone and i cant, i'm gonna have to live with that.
I cant change the past but i own my crap and i will be owning this and its not going to define me, certainly not the ret of life and i intend to be as honest as i can and get whatever treatment i can going forward.
Why do i post this? There's some selfish reasons of course there are. But, i have absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever that there are others who log into this and similar forums who are addicts and if just even one word of anything i have said above helps even one person be brave and honest to recognise and take the appropriate steps to admit and change their own life and addiction problems going forward then so be it.
There were no good machines. There was no "scene". What there was sadly was a whole prime of life squandered on the spin of the reel or the run of a horse.
If you got this far, thanks for reading. I hope my post helps some of you.