One night in July 2006 I practically bounced through the door filled with excitement as my husband had promised to take me to a restaurant I had wanted to go to for ages. I came down to earth with a bump when I found him in the lounge in floods of tears telling me that I was going to leave him because of what he had done. And so it was that I found out that my husband who I had been with for over 10 years had a gambling problem, that we had considerable debts and that he had been lying to me for years.
It was such a shock, but he was in such a state, talking about how he wanted to end it all, that I felt I had to comfort him, tell him that we could sort everything out and that I wasn’t going to leave. In desperation we found ourselves at our first GA and Gam-Anon meetings – both nervous and unsure what to expect. The truth is I only attended my first meeting because I wanted to make sure he went into the GA meeting, but actually I found that I needed a meeting as much as he did. You see I was completely full of resentment: for the money he had lost and what we could have done with it, for my time which was being taken up sorting out the mess, for the distraction from my work (I could barely think straight but I had to pretend everything was normal), for the lies I had to tell other people to cover up the situation, but mostly for the lies I had been told. When we started going to the meetings I was paranoid and neurotic, wondering where he was every minute he was out of my sight, phoning all the time and interrogating him when he got back.
Going to Gam-Anon meetings gave me the opportunity to talk things through with other people that truly understood what I had been through (everyone in the meeting has a compulsive gambler in their lives). The meetings help me to get things in perspective, to work out when the things I am worrying about are not important and when they are things that we genuinely need to sort out. After our meetings we are able to have rational discussions about issues which we otherwise might have skirted around or shouted about.
These days we both look forward to our meetings, after all the rooms we go to are filled with friends and however emotional the meetings are they are always good for us. There are still days where I feel a bit resentful over what he put us through, but mostly I feel lucky because GA is working for my husband. He is still, and will always be, a compulsive gambler, but our meetings have given us a normal life back and I am extremely grateful for that. (by a member of Bristol Gam-Anon)