I started gambling on poker machines in 1995 when my youngest child started kindergarten and I found I had time on my hands. At that time I was gambling on social occasions, mostly with family members. Sometimes I would win and that gave me confidence to go back again. Over time I started going more often by myself. At that time my husband was giving me $200.00 a week to put in a separate account as he was saving up for a Harley Davidson motorbike. After about a year he went to take the money out of the account to buy the motorbike and found that it wasn't there because I had gambled it. We separated after that happened.
I stopped gambling and we reconciled after about eighteen months apart. Things went well for a while and then I started gambling again in 1999. At that time I think I was just gambling out of boredom. I was working part-time and sometimes afternoon shift and so I was gambling in the mornings before work. Finally my husband found out that I had not been paying the mortgage or the car payments and we separated again. I went for counselling for five months and I did not gamble in that time. Then I became too confident and thought I didn't need counselling any more and so I stopped going. Eventually I found myself back at the poker machines.
Although we were apart, I was still helping my husband out by paying bills for him, as his work took him interstate sometimes. In the middle of 2002, my husband found out that I had been gambling with the money he had given me to pay his bills. I decided to go back to counselling, but this time to stay longer until I was sure I had beaten the problem. I started counselling again in September 2002 and I am still seeing my counsellor. I have not gambled since my first visit with her but I don't want to make the mistake I made the last time and stop the counselling too early. One thing that did help me was that I was able to find something to do in the time that I used to gamble. My daughter started work and I was looking after my granddaughter.
This kept me busy and helped me to stay away from the poker machines. I don't have her every day now, but I have no inclination to go back to gambling. Now I can see such a difference in my life. I always have money in my purse. I don't have to worry about anyone coming to see me about bills not being paid. I feel more relaxed; I don't have headaches any more. I'm more at peace with myself and less stressed, which means that I don't shout at my daughter any more the way I used to.
Now I cannot only plan for the future, but I'm also able to do things on the spur of the moment. I could never do that when I was gambling. There was never any money left over for outings or treats. I've been able to buy myself some new clothes, new furniture and new clothes for my daughter. I could never do any of these things when I was gambling, as I put all of my spare money into the poker machines.
When I first came to my counsellor, I didn't know if it would help or not, but I am so grateful that since my first appointment eighteen months ago in September 2002, I have not gambled once. It takes determination, but I knew I had support. My counsellor has been really helpful and I'm very glad I made the decision to get help.
* Real story kindly obtained from the Salvation Army booklet Anthology of Gambling Tales