Part Two: My Partner is a Gambler

Written by my fiancé

My fiancé agreed to write about how finding out about my addiction was for her. I think this is the only proper and honest way my readers can have the full picture on how a life of a family gets ruined by a gambling addiction. This is her side of our story, the second part:

Part Two:

I have two Master Degrees in design and up until now I have considered myself well educated. Yet I knew nothing about addictions and gambling. No one from my family had that problem. I felt so angry that all the schools that I finished didn’t teach me anything about dealing with mental illnesses and “earthquakes” in life that shake and ruin all we thought we knew so well.

Giving Uri two weeks to move out put additional pressure on me. I had no idea how to deal with problems I was facing. The love of my life, my fiancé, the future dad of my kids, was so terribly ill and I was kicking him out, cause I didn’t know what to do. I was absolutely sure he didn’t love me and that I failed as a partner, cause he chose to hide his problems from me.

Is gambling really an illness or just a sign of weak character? If he broke the leg, would I cancel the IVF and tell him to move out? What is compulsive gambling? Is it curable? Why was the doctor from IVF clinic telling me that gambling is not a big deal? Why was she telling me that I should support him in his recovery? Why didn’t she see his illness as a big deal? I was so confused.

I told my sister about Uri’s secret. She got so mad and upset, saying he should be happy we didn’t live in the same city. She hated him from the bottom of her heart.

I felt so ashamed. All my life I was living respecting everyone and everything, following all the rules. Getting drunk was still something I have never experienced, because I just never liked the taste of alcohol and dizziness I would feel. I have never broken any rule and have never taken any risky move, especially not financially. Now being with Uri felt as if he is doing all I never wanted to experience.

The first week, after I found out, was extremely hard for me. I felt unbearable anxiety because I told him to move out, yet I didn’t know a thing about a gambling addiction. I decided to contact 3 psychologists an hear what they have to say. The first one screamed, saying that I should leave him immediately and consider getting back in touch after a year, when he potentially solved his issues. She said that the gambling addiction is one of the hardest, cause addicts don’t feel any consequences on their body, as they would with alcohol or narcotics, so that their bodies cannot benefit from getting rid of toxins. The doctor said it will be extremely hard for me to live with him because of all the mood changes and that I don’t need that in my life. I am young and can find someone who will be better for me. I cried so much after meeting that doctor and have decided I will never contact her again, cause her approach was too radical and not something I wanted to hear.

The second and third psychologists had the same view on the matter. They said it’s a disease and should be treated as such. It’s not something you can see, feel or touch, but is something that can be worked on with proper therapy. They said no one knows if it will be cured and to what extend, but everything is possible. They have also said that it is amazing he admitted it and is willing to go to therapies, cause that’s a huge step that many gamblers don’t take. They told me to take one step at a time and that he doesn’t need to move out until I make up my mind and make decisions about how I want to proceed.

I told Uri I don’t want him to move out yet and that I need more time to think. That immediately lowered my anxiety and gave me piece. Now I “just” needed to figure out how I wanted to proceed which became one of the hardest tasks in my life..

Unfortunately, right after that shocking event, COVID 19 pandemic started, over which Uri lost his job, since the restaurants closed down. Even if I decided I didn’t want to continue the relationship with him (which I didn’t), we couldn’t separate, cause our families lived in other countries, borders were closed and people stopped seeing each other because of the lockdowns. We decided to keep on living together until we feel more stable and back to some kind of normal.

Fast forward to 6 months from when I found out about his illness… I learned so much about the addictions, because that was the only way I could help both me and him. To this day it’s not clear for me if we will have future together and if we are good for each other. I still didn’t make decision if I wanted a relationship with him. It seems impossible because of all the fears and questions I have, but that I don’t have an answer to. We are still living together, but as roommates. For some reason, he is so angry at me, because he thinks I didn’t support him enough. I gave my best, but all the expectations I had regarding his recovery both mental and financial made it so hard for both of us. He constantly felt as if he is not good enough for me and I felt completely neglected and alone. I couldn’t understand why he stopped kissing and hugging me. Psychologist, that I kept on seeing all these moths told me that I have to initiate close contact, because he must feel as if he completely lost his identity by revealing his secrets and that he is absolutely insecure. However, I thought that our relationship became one sided as he didn’t put any effort and didn’t care about my feelings at all. He didn’t make any financial recovery plan that would give me some understanding on how our future might look like and how much he would be able to provide monthly. E.g. what if we decided to proceed with IVF treatment, who would be paying for it, how would he be able to support our potential baby? To this day all those questions remained unanswered and are making me feel very uncertain about his abilities to take care of me, his family and of his love for me. If he loved me and if he cared for me, wouldn’t he first make sure I am feeling safe and not this much in dark about his plans and future?

I am trying to understand him, to help and support him as much as I can, but at the same time I shifted my focus from him to me. All that I tried to do, all the numbers I called, all the information I gathered feels to me was waisted. I am sure he will do all that is necessary, but in his own pace, not mine. We are not the same and it was wrong from me to expect he will fix his problem as I would.

All I can do now is to hope and pray he will manage to fight his demons and will come out of it stronger than he ever was. In the meantime I will focus on myself and take necessary steps that will improve my life.

Advice for gamblers:
I know you are going through so much, I really do. There are so many new things that you have to do, like group therapies, talking to psychologists, dealing with all new emotions that come with facing with addiction… However, try to make some room for your loved ones. They are going through equally hard times. Their lives have changed dramatically too. Maybe you’re not good conversationist, but that shouldn’t stop you trying to talk to your family. Tell them how you feel every day, so that they would be able to understand you better. Don’t let them make assumptions about anything, but talk, talk, talk and I promise you, the more you try the better you will become. It’s not about the perfection, it’s about the progress. Your loved ones deserve to know everything, because they too have just one life that they are trying to live as best as they can. We all should respect time we are all spending together and dreams the others are having. Be open and honest, so that your family can fight this together with you, with the right information. You’re in this together!

I wish you all the strength to fight this disease. Never doubt your worth or intelligence! You are amazing and can do this for sure!

Advice for affected family:
Two most important things I learned:

1. Gambling addiction is not your fault!
2. You need to focus on yourself!
3. Fins a good therapist that will help you go though rough times

All you can really do for your partner/loved one is to help him/her find the therapy s/he deserves to have, give advices what you think should be done and try to understand that addiction is a disease. Unfortunately, all the hard work addicts need to do, not you. Maybe it will be so clear from the beginning that you won’t leave your partner no matter what and that is great. I wish it was clear for me from the beginning, but it really wasn’t. If you feel similar to how I felt – absoluthy lost and not sure how to continue living with the addict, here is what I have to say:

You will probably feel ashamed for what is happening to you, you will probably loose some friends because they won’t meet your expectations, or they won’t know how to approach you, as it always happens when we need fiends the most. You will also learn who your true friends are (many friendships will become stronger) and all of this is ok. This experience will teach you so much about life. You will realize what really matters, what your priorities are and how you want to live your life. You will probably spend a lot of time crying, thinking, wondering why it had to happened to you, maybe you will start taking things personally and as if Universe has something against you, but that phase won’t last too long. You just need to give yourself time to heal and to really listen to your hart and what it wants. Only when you follow what you really feel and desire, only then you’ll be able to find piece within yourself. You’re not obligated to stay with the addict and you should never fell like you abandoned her/him if you decide to leave. You have just one life that you need to live to the fullest. You should never think of things that don’t go according to your plans as mistakes, but as valuable lessons. Take time to make decisions as I am doing right now. I will still wait until I know exactly what I want to do.

I wish you all the best!

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