“Roger – you’ve left me in the shit again!!!” That was my ex-wife speaking on the phone after I’d finally summoned up the courage to speak to her after my latest disappearing act.
Two weeks ago I had an insurance payment through for £1500. I owed it all to my current landlord who had been so good to me and I was nigh on £2k in arrears with him. The money hit my account, I hit the bookies and surprise surprise I’d blown it all in a matter of hours.
So, did I react like a man and try put things right and make sure I could see my boys again this Friday somehow? Did I face the music begging yet again for forgiveness for my latest trail of destruction I’d caused? Of course not…., I did what any selfish, weak, self-pitying addict would do. I ran.
Look myself in the mirror? I hated being in my own skin. I thumped my head with my hands trying to inflict as much pain as possible. I hated what a complete twat I’d been once again. I had a fantastic weekend to look forward to. Friday and Saturday – seeing my boys. Saturday night – Rock the Moor VIP tickets with my girlfriend and friends to go too. Sunday – My eldest sons first Holy Communion and celebratory meal after. I knew all this but I still couldn’t hold back the irresistible urge to get that hit, to try and win my way out of trouble again.
I went to ground, turned my phone off, took my laptop and slept rough in Slough, I wanted to punish myself. I grew up in the affluent and riverside town of Marlow where I’d spent most of my life. The last 2 years I spent in various places but the latest was Maidenhead. But to really punish myself – I thought I’d go to Slough. No-one will find me there.
I was reported missing by my ex-wife and girlfriend (now ex) and I’ve since learnt the police were looking for me everywhere. They even went to CNWL in London 5 times (the UKs only clinic dedicated to problem blackjack gamblers which I’d been referred to).
“Refreshingly diligent” said the Head Psychologist referring to the police when I met him last night for a one to one, begging to be let back on my course of treatment. One of the golden no-no’s is missing two consecutive weeks and not informing them. I’d missed quite a few now and I needed it desperately. It’s the best treatment I’ve had thus far.
“Do you actually want to see your children again?” my ex-wife asked.
I have two boys, 5 and 8 years old, who I love with all my heart and would die for and I’d sworn to myself I’d always be there for them unlike my father who I’d never met.
“Callum asked me the other day if he could cut up the Man Utd shirt you’d bought him”.
“Why?” I tentatively replied dreading the answer.
“He wanted to make something out of it and said “Daddy won’t care – he doesn’t want to see me anyway'”.
My addiction has had many low points and I’ve seen rock bottom a few times. Trust me, I know what it looks like.
But this topped the lot. My 8 year old son actually thinks his Dad doesn’t want to see him. I had just earnt back a little trust from my ex-wife since my 4 week stay in the Psychiatric Ward at Heatherwood Hospital last September for depression, and both boys were now regularly staying with me every Friday night and Saturday day again. They, to a degree, had their Dad back again.
And now nothing. I had succumbed to my addiction, gambled every penny that I had and was too much of a coward to face the world.
Hello, my name’s Roger and I’m a Gambling Addict.
My treatment has taught me that the seeds of my addiction may have been planted in my childhood, something I will explore with you over the next 365 days. But it truly sucked me in and tossed me around like a hurricane for the last 3 years.