Almost four months since I posted on my blog… I return feeling a little ashamed, guilty at having let down myself by breaking my commitment to writing and letting down those to whom I have made the commitment to write and even my very kind friend who built this site for me, for that purpose. The reason I have not written in such a very long time is that I have been preoccupied with writing ( it really will all make sense in a moment) I have been working on my second book commission ‘Working with Women’s Groups for Problem Gambling: treating gambling addiction through relationship’ and so as my deadline moved ever nearer I moved further away from my blog. I had available neither, time, energy or, to be honest, inclination to write anything else other than the odd email here and there. Then of course once manuscript was handed over, for my overworked fingers, mind, and near fractured relationships with my ever patient family and friends, some recovery time…
Recovery has been very much to the forefront of my mind as my second book is predominantly about how to remain in lifelong recovery from gambling addiction. The process I now catch myself in here, of feeling bad for letting down others through absence and preoccupation is a strong theme in which I have been immersed as I wrote my second book which follows a Women’s Group for Problem Gambling over its year of life. This book is not a work of fiction; this was a real group, of very real, very courageous and inspiring women, who kindly gave permission for their story to be told for the purpose of this book being written, in order that others might read between the lines of the tabloid stories that describe the shock horror of the woman for whom gambling has lost control. That others might understand that for many women gambling to excess is an attempt to get out of thoughts and feelings that are terrifyingly out of control, frequently triggered by a life where she feels controlled by others, her circumstances, crippled finances. The identities have of course been hidden, but the process lived through and the themes which arise again and again in that group and in all others which I have had had the honour to work with since 2006 are revealed and remain true. Themes of shame, guilt, fear of judgement for having ‘failed’ to please others because of the preoccupation and absence caused by addiction to gambling.
Women’s Groups for Problem Gambling help to develop the skills needed to live life long recovery from gambling addiction. For any of us, in order to live a full, healthy and rich life do we not need all kinds of relationships? For so many of the women with whom I work in Women’s Group their ability to relate has been damaged by inadequate and/or at worst abusive relationship or by careers so demanding there has been no time left for family and friends. Their relationship with themselves has been damaged through living by the expectations of others to work hard, be strong, be perfect. The result of living life rigidly by these rules; gambling has been their attempt to manage feeling stressed, depressed and anxious, leading eventually to total preoccupation and absence from commitments. Becoming a member of Women’s Group for problem gambling is about learning again how to access the benefits of relationship, such as support, a means of self expression, the satisfaction of closeness and community. It is a place to identify and learn to manage the feelings we experience when we imagine we have let ourselves and others down, such as guilt and shame, self blame and to gather the strength to say “okay, I messed up. But now I understand why, I forgive myself” and to get up and have another go at really living.
So, albeit in a comparatively very small way, right now the experience of messing up, understanding why and self forgiveness resonates with me. I messed up with my commitment to my blog, but I understand why, and here I am back to have another go and I will do my best to do what I have said I will. Inspired by what I have seen in Women’s Group for Problem Gambling, I believe it is possible for any of us to start again.