Day 877 - Remembering Day One
I guess I ll chat a bit about the last day I gambled and the first day I entered into recovery.
I placed my last bet on a November 17th, 2002 at the Pechanga Casino in Temecula, CA. By this point I had already exhausted far too many avenues to get money. I was literally homeless, penniless, famililess, friendless, jobless, and hopeless. The only possession I had left to my name was my car (86 BMW 735i) and a few pictures of "A" and the kids and about 2 changes of clothes.
I had a half-tank of gas in my car, and was my modus-operandi at the time, I had to run away from my situation. Where didn't matter, how didn't matter, the only the that did matter was NOW! So, in my sick mind at the time I convinced myself that Las Vegas was a better choice than phoenix. So, off I went.
I arrived late in the afternoon and as was common in those days after a few hours had passed since my last losing gambling session I asked myself "Now what?". The problem this time was I didn't know. I spent that night walking up and down the Strip trying to beg some food here and there. I wasn't very good at it. After all, I had never been in a situation like this before. Finally at about 1 AM I decided to try and find a place to sleep in my car. I was paranoid the police would find me and I barely slept more than an hour at a time and kept moving around so as to not be suspicious. I had a law enforcement background (I ll talk about this another time..) so I kind of knew what to expect.
As the sun rose, I think I finally realized that I had nothing left at all in my life. Of course thoughts of suicide had entered my mind on numerous occasions that night and many before, but I didn't have the courage (or the true desire really) to go through with it. But, I was very hungry at this point, cold and tired, and had nowhere to turn. I had lied and cheated anyone who even remotely knew me so much that they had no interest in helping me.
Just when I was going to freak out even worse than I was, I remembered a brochure I had picked up in one of the casinos the night before. It was from the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling . I literally had just enough gas to det there and I camped out in front as they were not open yet. After what seemed like an eternity someone pulled up. She saw me, but seemed pretty afraid? I guess I probably looked like hell but I thought to myself at the time "surely she has seen gamblers after a long session?". Anyway, I later found out she reacted like that because there had been a recent burglary in the building. Unfortunately I cannot recall this woman's name as I type. It will come to me though. She took me in, and that is when my life began to turn around.
Once inside, she got me a muffin and a juice, let me use a restroom, and got me settled down. I was crying so hard I could barely speak. How did I let this happen?? I mean I once had EVERYTHING in life! Now I had NOTHING! She just listened and waited until her boss came in a few minutes later. She introduced me to Carol O'Hare. What a savior she turned out to be.
Carol O. is also a recovering compulsive gambler ( By the way I am not betraying any anonymity here as she is very public about her past). Once I had calmed somewhat she asked what I planned to do? I really had no idea I told her, but my first thought was to sell my car and try and find a cheap place to live with the money. She stopped me and said "you shouldn't sell your car. Your car represents three things right now. Number One - No matter how much you believe it as you sit here now, once you have the money you will convince yourself the right thing to do is gamble again to try and increase the amount. Number Two - You will need this car to get to GA meetings if you truly have a desire to stop gambling. Number Three - It is the last thing you own. If you keep it you will honestly be able to say you didn't lose EVERYTHING you had to gambling". I didn't really understand this until much later in my abstinence.
From that office Carol O. called a fellow GA member, Bobby B. He was a cab driver and came over to meet me and took me to my first Gamblers Anonymous meeting at the Unity Club in Las Vegas.
I attended three Las Vegas GA (At the time there were over 100 meetings in Las Vegas area) meetings that afternoon, made arrangements to get shelter at the St. Vincent De Paul homeless shelter. Both Bobby B. and Carol O. (no relation) checked in on me later and the next day. I will forever be grateful.
So, that is how I ended my gambling career. Although I find it important today to remember my past, I am much more concentrated on the present in the hopes that will improve my future.
If anyone has any specific questions about my story, please post and ask!! I don't hide too much about this anymore.