A week or so ago, I had read a post about trauma. I even re-shared it and the link to the post because I found it to be profound. It got me thinking of my childhood and the pain I had to work through when I began my path to recovery from addicted gambling.
For me, the anger from all the resentments I had about what happened to me as a little girl and I was hanging onto was not only causing “Toxic Stress,” but it began to consume my life. Years ago, in therapy, I also learned that you could not leave this unprocessed either as it IS some of my roots as to why I turned to addiction. The post started with, “There are days you may have to revisit that place of trauma as soon as you walk through the front door of your apartment,” said my therapist years ago.
I began to ponder this for a while. I thought it could be some of the causes of my agoraphobia attacks and anger. (An anxiety disorder characterized by anxiety symptoms, as the person perceives their environment as unsafe and can include open spaces, public transit, shopping centers, or simply being outside their home.) And my anger was coming from holding in the unresolved resentment problems as I began treatment for my addicted gambling and no longer stuffing the pain away.
See, I thought I was using my addiction to “get back” at those who had hurt me deeply for many years … Even being in therapy for many years, my therapist informed me that my trauma and pain can still be triggered even though I have processed it and have forgiven. When I first came into recovery, I desired to stop gambling and live a life of freedom again. I had no idea or understanding how much work it was going take and all the areas that needed addressing, including my trauma.
I had been through childhood sexual trauma. Not once but twice as a young girl. Not only does this change you on the inside, but it strips you of trusting others and not just men. You are changed forever in all aspects of your life. You then carry it into your adult life while keeping this deep pain hidden and stuffed away deep down for years. It festers and bubbles with flashbacks and deep depression. You live, but you are not living.
I had worn a happy mask for many years to make me look like I was okay, satisfied, and content. At the same time, I was raging and dying inside. I began bouts of sadness and would isolate in my room, so my parents didn’t see how depressed I really was when I was a teen.
-Around 30 and after my brother-in-law passed, he was like a brother I never had. I began to have nightmares about my sexual trauma. It began haunting me, and I couldn’t stuff the pain away any longer. That was the first time I sought help. It was also the time I began gambling a little more than usual. See, I didn’t know I was using gambling to hide, escape, and just trying to cope in life. That led me to cross the line later and for over 14+yrs on and off in addicted gambling.
Slowly, we started losing most all we worked so hard for when I began addicted gambling over the years.
Why am I sharing this now?
Since the start of the pandemic and uncertain times we find ourselves it has made me reflect and acknowledge the hard work I have accomplished while maintaining my recovery. Especially the early years and those areas that I now know were the underlying roots as to why I had turned to gambling and became addicted. My resentments and anger had me hurting the people I loved the most. Even with relationships with friends and interactions with co-workers!
It was also the most challenging part of my recovery work to accept, work through, and finally let it go. I can not change what happened to me, nor control how my family and others had hurt me, but, in a way, I honor that detour in life because I would not be where I am or WHO I am today. It took the practice of being mindful of my character defects, behaviors, and therapy loads to make those changes.
But most importantly, I feel to be able to maintain a happy, healthy lifestyle while maintaining recovery? You need to dig deep at the start of early recovery and identify, process, forgive, make the changes, and then give it to God. It was all necessary to reach success and maintain long-term recovery and live in freedom happiness and again.