Compulsive Gambling Leaves a Trail of Destruction

This was In addition to fudging bank statements so that she didn’t know he was siphoning off their other savings account. Gamblers do not think any further ahead than the next bet. I’ve been talking to a disease for most of my life, not a real father. His weird relationship with money was passed on to his kids. By that time, the damage is done and it is usually irreversible.

© by Macteacher 2013

Forgiveness Comes…Eventually

My father’s inability to own up to his destructive behavior is a big reason for my current unwillingness to speak to him. Money enables the gambler to “stay in the action,” a gambling term for active betting.

It’s Not Just The Betting

A gambler’s true addiction is money. He had money for expensive vacations, expensive jewelry and nice cars, but paying for his kids college education was out of his reach. I also resent all the money that my grandparents left being swallowed up by his disease. Any financial relief is out of reach because no matter how much money a gambler can get their hands on, it is never enough to satisfy their insatiable craving for betting.

Almost as Bad as the Gambling…the Lying

When we uncovered my father’s gambling addiction, the devastation to my family unit was irreparable. As an adult child I also am suddenly worried about having to support my parents at some point. This makes gambling a very tough addiction to break, because like food addictions, the gambler is addicted to something they have to use in everyday life – money.

Gam-Anon and other organizations preach forgiveness above all else. Their low self esteem compels them to live like high rollers – and spend on luxuries when they can’t even pay the mortgage. The sum total of my father’s income is now a meager Social Security check.

This is another symptom of the compulsive gambler: Their skewed relationship with money. In order to keep their secret they will lie to anyone, spouses, children, parents, coworkers and friends. We figured it out because my father had tripped himself up by trying to cover his tracks. If it had not been for my quick thinking, they would have lost everything. He was never generous with money, even though he always had a wad of bills in his pocket. My sister and I have struggled for most of our adult lives to build a healthy respect for money. I know that I will eventually have to forgive, right now I’m just trying to figure out how to sit in the same room with a parent that I never actually liked or trusted.

The other part of me resents his obsession with money and being the hot shot while I was growing up. How does someone live with themselves?

It’s Never Enough

A man who has spent a lifetime telling other people how to invest for emergencies has ended up penniless. Part of me wonders how he sat down over breakfast every morning with a woman who has taken care of him for 50 years, while he was robbing her blind. He has no assets. They spend their lives trying to cover their tracks. He was a fairly successful insurance man with 50 years in the business, yet when the true extent of his addiction came to light last year, we were dumbfounded. Money is what they need to fuel their habit of placing bets, whether it be lotto cards, horse racing or blackjack. Gamblers will function quite well as long as they have a ready source of cash, such as a family member or income from a business or investments. They make financial decisions based on how much money they can hoard for gambling. In the blink of an eye, more than half was gone. This inability to plan for the future is another symptom of the disease of compulsive gambling. He never saw any reason to purchase any property or make any sound investments. You just get worn out and tired, just really tired..

It’s Exhausting For the Family

Gamblers Can Keep on Going…

The insidious thing about gambling is that a gambler who has access to money can literally support their habit for many years without getting caught. They view money as something to play with, almost like Monopoly money. Gambling is a disease after all, and you can’t blame someone for being sick. Any adult child of a compulsive gambler who thinks they will see any type of inheritance is fooling themselves.

The other insidious thing about problem gamblers or compulsive gamblers is the pathological lying. It was money she was counting on to supplement their income when they reached their eighties. It has been almost a year since the truth was revealed, and I am still angry at the waste and the bleak future my parents face as their fixed income slowly becomes inadequate to meet their needs as they get older. Money is slowly siphoned from the source until there is nothing left. He has no savings, and he is too old to make up for lost time. This is not something I should have to worry about with people who earned a good living during their work lives. Deep down they hate themselves for their habit, but like children, they are unwilling to come clean.

How Do They Live With Themselves?

Even though I know it is a disease and he really can’t help himself, part of me resents him for not being adult enough to seek help sooner. It’s a twisted mindset that allows them to blow everything they have while bills go unpaid. As most adult children of any kind of addict know, it’s not that you actually hate them – that’s too toxic to carry around. They live their lives in a fantasy world where the next big win is right around the corner. As it turned out, my father had helped himself to an annuity my mother had religiously contributed to every month for 25 years during the course of her teaching career. We’ve both finally reached a place of sanity and serenity in our own lives.

They Usually End Up Penniless

My father has reached his seventies without saving a penny. If not for my mother’s pension, they would be out on the street.

Some gamblers do experience big payoffs, but the money is quickly spent on placing more, and bigger bets

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