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01.25.2024: Two years of abstinence and recovery


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So, while I'm not as active here as I once was, I still lurk fairly regularly, and post on occasion.  And wanted to share some good feels on something that I can't celebrate as openly as I'd like out there IRL.


Two years ago today, I walked in to a GA (Gambler's Anonymous) room on the recommendation of my therapist.  For the better part of two years prior, my relationship with a mobile game (Lords Mobile, for any who might be aware of it), which started as a distraction and grew to something much stronger, compulsive, and toxic, had led me to a point where dissociation from family/friends/work, habitual lying, and any number of other maladaptive behaviors had become the norm for me, all while spending ungodly amounts of money on growing and building my account in the game.


Denial was a central tenet of my life - denial that I had a problem, denial of the pain I was causing myself and others, denial of what I was doing to myself, denial that I was "coping" with my problems by (trying to) escape them into the fantasy life of the game and the "social" aspect of the all-too-shallow friendships formed from other players on Discord, Line, Teamspeak, etc.


So, I walked into the first meeting feeling pretty hopeless, lost in despair, and more than a little shame and guilt - not over what I'd done (as I deluded myself into believing at the time), but rather, shame and guilt over having been caught lying, stealing (from our joint savings while amassing staggering amounts of credit card debt), etc.


I spent a lot of time in meetings in my first few months just talking about how badly I felt, but didn't actually start experiencing any sort of recovery until (at the prompting of another member) I starting opening up and talking about what I'd done, the terrible acts I'd committed, the countless lies I'd told, how I'd reached a point where when asked a question, my first inclination wasn't to tell the truth, but rather to run through this sort of twisted calculus in an attempt to come up with the best answer to satisfy whichever need I felt at that moment, which usually amounted to a need to be left the fuck alone so I could resume escaping into the game.


But over time, after 100+ meetings or so, and with continued support from my therapist, my wife, and our couples therapist, I started to recover, to find and regain a sense of normalcy and stability.  I started to understand that although I'd done some awful things, that that didn't mean that I was, or would always be, an awful person.  Having always been a compulsive reader (one quirky benefit of my own compulsive tendencies), I started studying addiction, learning about the disease model of addiction, among other things.


Even more valuable, after regaining a sense of clarity (and empathy, and the capacity for growth), I've been able, between work done in GA and with my therapist, to learn so much more about myself, coming to realize that the seeds of my own compulsion/addiction issues took root long ago, back in my childhood.  Which is not to lay blame on anyone else - while there is plenty of baggage I'm still working on unpacking, these issues are my own, and are no less the fault of others than they are of me.


But it very much feels like a mixed bag at times: gaining these insights and coming to understand more of who I am, and (to some extent) why I am the way I am, is a blessing, although I'd be lying if I said that there aren't times when I wished I could have gained these insights when I was younger, on one of the many occasions when I've experienced some particularly painful personal falls - gaming took me to a rock bottom, but I've headed in that direction on several occasions in my past, and it's entirely possible that but for some minor twist of fate, that I might have ended up in an NA room, or perhaps AA (although my more destructive compulsions seem more inclined to those which stimulate rather than depress).


But regardless, January 25th is now as important a date to me as my wedding date, and in all reality, more personally meaningful to me than my birthday.  Life isn't perfect, nor can it ever be, but as many in program can attest, our worst day in recovery is better than our best day in action.  


It still feels strange for me to say that getting caught by my wife (a truly awful day which I will never forget) might be one of the best things that could ever happen to me.  I was cautious and cunning in my deceit, working hard to maintain the facade of stability, and although she knew that something was wrong with me, she had no idea of what I was doing to myself, and the ways in which I was starting to significantly undermine our financial security.  If not for an email alert indicating a high balance on one of our shared credit cards, I shudder in horror to think of how much damage I could have done before something far more destructive brought my actions to light.  I owe her in more ways than I know how to count, and will never forget the fear and pain in her eyes the night she discovered the depths of what I'd done.


Her recovery continues along a track similar to my own; family and friends of addicts suffer a Hell every bit (or more) as nightmarish as those of the addicted.  Addiction is referred to at times as the great eraser, in how it can erase and erode the feelings of safety, comfort, and ultimately, love, which bind us to family and friends, and rebuilding those things which have been lost is so damn hard.  I'm blessed that my wife has remained by my side, recognizing that the person she was burdened to be around which I was in addiction, is but a diseased fragment of who I truly am (or can be).  It is a (at times painfully slow) process, but we are healing, and remain united in the fierce and unwavering conviction of what we can, and will be, together.


For those who've made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read these thoughts.  I'm incredibly grateful for where I am, what I've regained, and for the opportunities I've been granted in recovery.  If there is anyone who has any questions and would like some input from someone who's embraced the pain of self-destruction and has been able to start the journey towards healing and recovery, feel free to shoot me a message.  Addiction is a terrible disease, and the unfortunate reality is that it can never be truly understood from the outside looking in, but I'm always happy to try to share my own perspective if it can help others find some degree of understanding.

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You put yourself there, but you also took yourself out of it, so I hope you now walk with a renewed quiet confidence that you have the strength to face a difficult stretch and prevail. Its these invisible wars that take the most out of people and they are happening all around us, every day. Way to go man, keep the faith with the patterns & people that keep you above board. 

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Therapy and self-reflection are great exercises in humility; re-starting therapy after my recent ankle injury has tapped into and unlocked many, many other things that I haven't truly processed through to the depth or specificity that they require. Congratulation on all the progress you've made and will continue to make.

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Progress is what I read there which is a beautiful thing. Congratulations in your success from recovery and be proud of yourself. Be kind to yourself and keep working to strive to be the best person you can be. You have a great support system on these boards with many different types of individuals with many different types of knowledge and life experience. 


This place is a phenomenal place to get support so thank you for sharing with us. 

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Great job putting in all the effort that you have. One positive side was that if you had to get stuck with an addiction, at least this one didn’t destroy your body’s health in the long run or lead to death like a drug addiction. You can continue to grow and better yourself.

It’s scary how easily an addiction can creep into your life and take over.  I’ve been alcohol free since April of last year.  Drinking never felt like a problem for me because I always kept it to one or two drinks a night.  But I developed this habit of having a late night drink that would lead to binge eating every night. I wouldn’t be that hungry during the day, wouldnt eat on any schedule, and then just go crazy at night.  Lots of unhealthy food, a drink, pass out, then wake up and feel like shit every morning. Then every night I just craved that experience all over again. Took me a while to realize this a real problem. It’s not a normal way to live.  I made little changes over the months which eventually added up to a real lifestyle change.  I just never thought I would lose control like that.

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