In my early recovery, I picked up new hobbies, new friends and salvaged older ones of both. I made plans about all of my triggers and what I would do instead of gambling. I engaged with my friends, did volunteer work, started walking regularly, used my library more and began journaling and doing art work. (This was my relapse prevention plan to begin with, but it needed to evolve.) I knew from my counselor that this was only the building blocks of getting menatally/emotionally healthy. At about one year of abstinence, I went to and put my heart into two different grief and loss weekend workshops, undertook the work of healing my inner child, wounded from childhood abuse, learned about mindfulness, the steps of how to love myself and started monitoring and redirecting my own thoughts.
While all of the other healthy activities are needed, we also need to have some calm, self-caring relaxing activities, and doing, doing, doing, can be crazy making. I did not want to become, as my counselor said, a human doing instead of a human being, we can miss the really important stuff and run over other people's and our own feelings, dismissing them with the next activity.
Louise Hay, author of How to Love Yourself, wrote that the first step in loving yourself is to stop all criticism, from others and ourself. This was extremely difficult for me, I had been hearing how stupid, dumb, bad behaving, and crazy I was my whole life. After parents were gone and exes divorced I was telling myself all of that bad stuff, especially after losing $$ gambling. Feeling less than human was my usual state. (Yuck.) As I worked to become hyper-aware of my inner-most thoughts and feelings, I began to bannish the ugly thoughts one at a time. Working with affirmations, journaling and being real about my feelings. (Like not saying things are all okay, when they clearly are NOT okay.) This has been the best accomplishment for me to feel better on a daily basis, I am no longer putting myself down and constantly telling myself what a F***-up I was.
Along with this self awareness, I decided to drop all of the gambling metaphors from my every day vocabulary. I no longer say things like; You bet, you betcha, I would bet my life on it, don't bet on it, or say that things are a jackpot, a BINGO or a winner. I don't want to even think in those terms and I don't want to promote gambling to others or to myself. This kind of gambling language applied to non-gambling situations, kind of glorifies gambling and makes gambling out to be almost positive. No! I won't have that! Can't believe that gambling is good, that would be the first step down the road to the casino.
I won't be gambling today, but I will be going to the library, meeting a friend for lunch, be authentic about my feelings with others and myself and I will take time to journal, do something creative and be grateful for my blessings.
I post this in reflection for myself and hopes that it can be helpful to others. I apologize for the length.
Hugs and hope to all - keep recovering!
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