How I overcame my addiction to gambling, spending and food.
I would often play high stakes games throughout my life because I felt empty inside.
It’s sad but it was up until I was 35 the only way I knew how to be.
If only I had had some dignity and self respect before then I would have learnt that I can love myself more than I felt the need to please or rescue others (even when they didn’t want or need my help)
Through caring for myself I have been able to take pleasure in the small things in life. Unfortunately this seems to frustrate others around me as they seem to want to label me a low achiever. This is not the case I have dreams and ambitions they are just not primarily rooted in material success and addictive behaviour any more regardless of how socially normalised, subtle and pervasive those behaviours are.
One of the challenges now is to keep deeply ingrained old anxiety at bay and ensure I don’t give up what is working for me but a second is to ensure that this is done from desire not duty.
Desire not duty
I’m not a hedonistic person but I recognise that overcoming social masochism which includes toxic behaviour patterns I have used and now see all around me like subservience, delay, victimising myself, a death instinct and a suppression of pleasure is very difficult.
I thought I could get past it by having a duty to something or someone else like the nation state or my wife.
I can’t it just simply doesn’t work!
I have to enjoy what I’m doing. Which means for me much more than I ever have done I have to prepare and act with commitment and follow through.
This is often really hard if I am experiencing strong social anxiety and heavy resistance to what I want to do in my life. On one hand I want to and need to accommodate the needs of others and on the other if they are just being obstructive of my needs and won’t engage with me to resolve our differences or work through things together then there is not much I can do any more to help them. I have to move on positively because I now know I have a right to pleasure in my life not because it’s self indulgent but because it’s healthy.
Yet I do have responsibilities and duties too and I want eventually to try and orientate my life so I can take pleasure doing my duties I can think of no better way to prove to myself I am largely free of my addictive response.
All the while I feel really lucky I have my faith in God and it makes me feel full now whatever life throws at me. Before I was afraid God didn’t want me to feel full but now I know empty I am of no use to others and simply in pain. The fact I enjoyed or accepted that for so long is mainly because I never learned that living well is the best revenge. Now I know my life is my responsibility I can’t ever blame others. I try to understand them but I always remember they are probably struggling with things I don’t understand.
Now I want to learn to bring joy into the lives of others as well and I trust as I improve my ability to do that I will share in the fruits of my effort.
With this effort and work as well as the consistent progress I’m making that is relentless and while respecting others doesn’t always seek to please them and ask their permission if the don’t respect me back I know now that I can and I will stay away from binge eating, take pleasure from nice meals, stay away from gambling to avoid that empty feeling I once had all the time and work as best I can to budget my spending and give it the importance it deserves in my life instead of expecting it to be my wife’s responsibility!
I am not an addict any more I choose pleasure and autonomy instead.