Monday, 14 November 2011

Gambling it all for love

I married my husband nearly 10 years ago.  It was total love at first sight.  I thought he was way out of my league and then he started to notice me.  The first night I met him all cards were laid on the table and by 2am the following morning there were no skeletons lurking in any closets.  Among the things we discussed was his heroine addiction.   He had been clean for a number of years and I truly marvelled this amazing person for being so in touch with himself and was sure it was thanks to the intensive counselling from the drug treatment programme.  Before too long we were inseparable.  We married a year and a half after we met.

Two months later I discovered, totally accidentally, that he was using cocaine.  And quite a lot of it.  I will not go into it too much as this is all in the past but after trying to come to arrangements with banks and creditors to cover his debts, we moved counties.  It was a fresh, wonderful start.  Two years later our first child was born.  My husband was such a proud daddy and really supportive of my home birth and breastfeeding.  I think it was about 5 months later that he told me he had gambled a whole week's wages in the bookies.  Needless to say, I was devastated.  BUT it would be OK.  It was a one-off.  We were OK.

Over the next 3 years 3 more children came along, the recession hit and he lost his job.  During this time there had been 'issues' with his gambling and I had always tried to approach it in a supportive - lets work together on this, sort of a way.  Occasionally I got very angry but neither approach seemed to have any long term effect.  Then 15 months ago, again, purely by accident, I discovered he had gambled 7 months of our mortgage money.  I discovered this the day before we were due to go on holiday with my parents and the children were so so excited and were constantly talking about what they were going to do with daddy at the sea side.  I decided we would all still go and I would make a decision about our marriage when we got home.

I should have left him but I find that time heals (or maybe pastes over the cracks a little) and it was easier to just keep going.  He promised me he would go to gamblers anonymous, which he did a couple of times (well often enough to get the book and the DVD) and then, accidentally (again) I found he had lied and was just driving around the town.  I used to sit in my car feeding the kids sweets to keep them quiet whilst I watched the door of the betting shop as I just knew, I always knew, but for some reason needed the evidence.

Then we made a dramatic decision to move countries.  We packed up, shipped out and posted the house keys back to bank with no forwarding address.  At the time I felt we were drowning in so much debt that we could never swim out of it.  I was also drowning in fear, stress, depression and weakness.  I have always been the one that has jumped in and tried to fix things, made money available, compromised on emotions, budgets, the welfare of the children, just to try and bail us out.

So ten months ago we got the amazing opportunity to move.  We invested in ourselves, our children and planned a future in our new country.  My husband got a job with good prospects and one he loves and is extremely good at.  I have been so proud of him.  I have been so caught up in helping the children settle and admiring their resilience, in being so grateful for the chance to have a marriage at last, a nice house in a wonderful location and making new friends, that I took my eye off the ball.

I knew something was up in September and my instincts were right, as they always have been, that he had been gambling again.  I knew he had hidden some money from his salary and I knew he had spent the remaining money after paying the rent etc, way too quickly.  His mood was very volatile and most of his anxiety came out in aggression towards the children.  He didn't hit them or anything like that but he shouted and swore at them nearly all day, everyday.  He spent most of his time on the sofa watching TV and didn't get involved in family life like he normally does when not a work.  He didn't touch me once in the three weeks he was home before going away again for work.

I sent him an email to discuss finances.  He received the email well, didn't get cross and didn't deny or admit that he had been gambling again.  I knew he had, he knew he had and now he knew I knew he had...

It seemed everything was going to be OK AGAIN.  We can get through this AGAIN.  It was just a slip up AGAIN.  And really, all was going to be just fine.

Today I discovered, totally accidentally (well OK, not totally accidentally, I was snooping), the extent of the financial situation he has created over the last 4 months whilst I have been basking in the glory of our new lives together.

I am tired, I have no more resources or cards up my sleeve to fix things, he is threatening our security again, and all of a sudden I am drowning.

Tonight I shouted at the children whilst they were brushing their teeth.  They all went to bed in tears.  I tried to hug them and tell them that mummy had just had a tough day but they are too young to understand.  He doesn't see how his 'illness' (and I hate it when people call addiction an illness) effects me and then how that effects the children.  He doesn't see the damage being done to their self esteem when he is home and shouting all of the time.  He doesn't see how I can not sleep, relax, laugh, breath.  He doesn't see that I am ready to wrap my 4 babies in a blanket and run and hide. 

As I write this, he doesn't know that I know the extent of his gambling.
My close friend has told me in the past that I am so strong to stay and try and work it out over all these years.  But the truth is you have to be stronger to leave than to stay.  I don't know where to get that strength from.  I don't know how to start the ball rolling.  He has no idea this is on the cards.  By the time he gets home next week, will time have pasted over the cracks again and will I be feeling this way in years to come?  I am so fearful that it will not be amicable.

I wish I could wave a magic wand and be two years down the line, on my own with my children safely nestled under my wings.


  1. You have been so strong, so focused on the positive and getting through all the hurdles in your life with your husband. I think you should continue to be strong, for the sake of yourself and your children- and find a better life. Leaving him may not be amicable, but I think deep down, you may have known that this would happen for some time. When they are all grown up and ask about it, you will be able to look your kids in the eye and say "I tried... I tried so very hard". You are a strong person, powerful and determined. Harness that strength and go out there and find the happiness you and your kids deserve. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  2. I feel your pain and I am so sorry for you that this relationship is not giving you what you need and deserve. You have been a saint to try so so hard with this man whom you have deeply loved.

    I think if your relationship is to survive, your husband needs to understand precisely what he would be missing if you left. And the only way to do this is to leave him - physically distancing you and your children from him, making a clean break would force him into having to really think about his life in a way that staying with him will not allow. He needs a shock, a jolt. He needs to lose it all if he wants to gain you back. He may or may not be able to rise to such a challenge. If he cannot, this would be a decision you both made with a clear head, with eyes wide open. If he decides he really wants to save your marriage, he must equally choose path for himself. Either way, what you both lack right now is a sense of empowerment, self respect, respect for each other. You need to present him with this choice - but I think you need to separate first and he needs to earn his right to come back by meeting a very specific set of criteria. If you give him an ultimatum whilst still living in the same house you are not showing him the strength of your conviction, nor your resolve to really turn everything around.

    There is a chance you could find love again with a very sweet man, who will treat you nicely. Maybe this won't happen straight away, maybe not for a few years, but you can give yourself some love, and you can draw on the love of others in your life.

    You will need lots of strength and support from friends, and if you don't have too many girlfriends right now you can gain enormous support online. There are many many friendship circles of various kinds online and if you need to offload, I would personally help and be a pen friend if you need someone to talk to who is impartial and not involved in the situation emotionally.

    Spend extra time investing in friendships with other women and if you can, get involved in good causes. It will give you a positive focus and source of strength and inspiration in the absence of your man. If you need to get a job to pay the bills on your own, then if at all possible, find some work that brings you joy over big wages, that is socially positive, where you can heal in a nice environment of kind positive people. Nurture the children's friendships so they can get support from outside the family too, and if you can call in favours in the form of sleepovers and so on, then encourage this as much as you can.

    You are strong enough to do this. You always were. You just never knew it till now. Don't settle for this bullshit. You deserve better and so do your kids.

    Much much much love dear brave beautiful soul.


  3. You're not alone - I just wanted you to know that. I have the same thing going on, but with drugs. Not street stuff - prescriptions that doctors have written - he's managed to figure out what symptoms he needs to show them to get the pills he wants. I was two days away from moving myself and the kids to a homeless shelter. I just couldn't stand the selfishness that he is exhibiting. He's not mean to us, but treating us like we don't matter to him is just as bad, IMO.

    Anyway, I told him we were leaving. The next day he swore to get rid of the pills. As he had done a zillion times over the past few years. He's been better, but I am afraid to relax and trust that things are really OK. I've trusted him so many times that there just isn't any left in me.

    But, as the "cracks are pasted over" right now, it's easier to stay...

  4. Firstly to Mona and Mother Funker..... Thank you.... I really have gained strength from writing this and reading your replies. I have not let the cracks be pasted over. I have told him to go. Just getting him out is going to be the hard bit so I have decided to look for somewhere else to live. I am determined, I am feeling strong.

    To Anonymous... no i am not alone, and neither are you. It wouldn't have mattered if the whole world had shouted at me to leave him a few years ago. I wasn't ready and it feel easier to stay. But actually now I am in the thick of it, I think that the hard bit is breaking their heart when we say we are leaving and then sorting out the money. But I am holding on to the long term picture and realising that if my daughter married a man like him I would be devastated. If it is not good enough for her then why is it good enough for me. Big hugs and lots of lots of strength coming your way. x

  5. Glad you are finding clarity, dearest one, and glad that putting your thoughts into words has helped move you towards clarity and action.

    I am here for you x


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