In the first part of this series Mary talked about what it was like to be married to a person with a gambling problem. In part two she focuses on the types of services that were available for help back then, how there was very little support and how she wishes that there had been more support groups like the Southern family support group** when she needed help.
*Mary is not her real name.
I had a couple of friends who were very good, they let me talk, but they didn’t understand, … and I didn’t understand, how could they understand it. They didn’t know about addiction, no one in my family had any addictions. And it wasn’t till we went to this...I found a place that said they would do counselling, but it was…"
Diane: “Presbyterian Support."
"Yeah, it was Presbyterian Support. It was kind of like I didn’t even know what that was. So I went along and he agreed to come with me which was really very surprising, and he came along with me and I said, we told them, well, I told them my story.
Actually we went out of there and what the guy does, he said to me that it was my fault because I didn’t have any fun as a child. That just blew me out of the water, and then of course I got from ‘Oh well, I’m normal, that guy said it was your fault, you didn’t have any fun.’
So you know, all this, you start to doubt your confidence and as you all know, you all know that, and it’s the worst thing in the whole world, and one of you was saying how… anxiety and all that, for me it was the sleepless nights.
And you know even now I don’t, he lives in Australia and I don’t want to say over it, because it’s had a huge impact on our lives, but it doesn’t affect me that much, I’m OK. But I will always, always, be angry with him for robbing me of precious time I could have spent with my children when they were little, because I was so bothered about what he was up to and what he was doing and it was just, I really could.... if he was stood in front of me now at this moment I could strangle him. But I’ve forgiven him for what he did, because he did have an addiction.
Anyway to move, [inaudible] eventually and of course not having anyone to support me that’s where I think this is just amazing. When Diane told me about it at the [Positive Ageing Expo] I thought, wow, if only something like that had been around for me. It just would have been so... I didn’t have anyone to talk to.
I drank a lot myself, when I had any money to drink. I know Cathy you said, you kicked him out, told him to leave, came back. Eventually after about six times I had just had it and it was getting to the stage that my eldest daughter was really affected. She was 13 at the time, and I just thought I can’t do this to her any longer.
She was very much loyal to her Dad as well. He was just her everything, and she used to say things to me like, ‘Don’t say anything to him then there won’t be any arguments’, in other words just put up with whatever he throws at you Mum. But she has said to me, she’s in her 40's now, ‘I’m so sorry I said that way back when I was young, Mum, because I don’t know how you did it to be honest, yeah.'
And interestingly enough, before I forget this, I’ve got a 40-year-old daughter, that’s my youngest daughter, she actually told me when she was in her 20's that she had to make a conscious decision to stay away from access to pokie machines because she could tell that she had that tendency to want to gamble. Which I found really interesting, because I found out after that my husband actually, it wasn’t inherited, he had a step-father and he was brought up with it from the age of 10 and that’s where it came from. So his own father, who’s still alive, 93 today, doesn’t gamble, so it didn’t come from there.
It was interesting that my daughter felt… she’s now become a Christian, and there’s no way she would anyway… but I thought that was really quite, you know, and I thought, gosh I’m so glad they… could have been a different story, you know, could have been quite different.
Anyway, as I say I didn’t have any support and would have loved somewhere to go for help or whatever, so I decided I had had enough and he was going, and the only way...the only way was to get him to, I sold the house. Basically under him, but he had to sign something and he did that quite willingly. But all the money he got from that house, wasn’t a lot, but what he did get, just went on gambling. It was gone.”
To listen to part one of this series click here.
For part three of this series click here.
Free group counselling is also available for both the person with the gambling problem and anyone else who is concerned about the gambling. The Southern family group** is held on Wednesday nights in the PGF Christchurch office. It has been running for five years and attendees offer each other support and understanding. It has been very popular and group members are encouraged to stay in contact with each other in between meetings. If you are interested in finding out what type of support groups are available in your area, please contact PGF on 0800 664 262.