from a parent: I am the parent of a compulsive gambler. I came to Gam-Anon because I was lonely, ashamed and frustrated. The meeting provides a warm, safe sanctuary where I can connect with people like myself. I am able to listen to others and be listened to. Together we are able to share both the pain and joy of living. I must keep reminding myself that: I did not cause the gambling I cannot control the gambling I cannot cure the gambling I may not be able to change the gambler's behavior, but I certainly have the power to change my own. I continue to attend Gam-Anon. As we so lovingly say to each other, "Keep coming back. It works."
from a spouse: Gam-Anon changed my life and gave me wonderful new opportunities. My husband was a closet gambler. I had no idea about the gambling. I watched him go from a loving, compassionate husband and father to a shell of a person who couldn't even function enough to go to work each day. He became a habitual sneak and liar. I saw all of this and couldn't undersand why. My children and I had no respect for him. I wasn't sure which one of us would have the nervous breakdown first. I debated issues of divorce, suicide and often wished for his death. But then I was introduced to Gam-Anon, for which I will be forever grateful. My husband joined GA as well. It has been over three years now since he last gambled. I feel so much better about myself. I have graduated from college with an A.A. degree and am going on for a B.A. My oldest son is in his second year of college too. The best part of all this is the new communication in our relationship. We have learned how to talk to each other and even when not to "say our piece." The man I once hated I have learned to love and respect again.
from a spouse: How does one explain the beauty and fellowship that is given to all of us by the Gam-Anon program and the Gamblers Anonymous program? I can only speak for myself, but these two programs have changed by life forever. I have never been in such a calming place in the 24 years of my husband's compulsion. I came into this program not knowing in which direction I was going. My life was an emotional and financial mess, the trust we had was hanging on by a thread and the good times just did not exist any longer. I was so tired of cleaning up the messes and trying to rob Peter to pay Paul. I knew all along that change was looming and boy was it ever! My husband and I came into our programs in 1997 and as God is my witness, we have not looked back since. We have not forgotten the bad times but we do not dwell on the them either. This can only help in our recovery. We are closer and more involved in life in general than we ever were. Our children are also involved in the program and know recovery is for everyone. For the first time in our 24 years I can finally say we are "winners." The program works.
from a spouse: When my wife and I returned to GA and Gam-Anon after a two year absence, I resolved that I would never again turn my back on the program and became entirely committed to it. This commitment served me well, as my wife returned to gambling after six years of abstinence and left the GA program again. But this time, I continued to attend my weekly meeting and started to look at and work on myself, instead of concentrating on her. With the Gam-Anon program and support of my room and faith in my Higher Power, I grew in self-confidence and maturity, living one day at a time, always with the hope that one day my wife would return to GA. After five years of attending Gam-Anon while my wife was gambling, this hope became a reality when she did come back...and without any nagging, begging, or pleading on my part. My wife has admitted that she probably would not have returned if I weren't going to Gam-Anon. Today we share a much closer relationship and are enjoying the serenity we deserve, thanks to GA and Gam-Anon.
from a companion: Years ago I acknowledged my identity and became active in the gay community. Shortly after I met my partner, a compulsive gambler, we went to Lake Tahoe and gambled at several casinos there and in Reno. Gambling became a problem and I attended my first Gam-Anon meeting later that year. After about four meetings I stopped attending as the gambler stopped gambling and it didn't seem to be a problem anymore. Within a year my partner started gambling again and the situation became unmanageable for me, so I resumed attendance in Gam-Anon and have been attending on a regular basis since that time. Gam-Anon has become an important part of my life. When gambling became a problem, I felt like I was drowning. I already knew something about 12 step programs, having had an alcoholic friend. I started coming to Gam-Anon because there was nowhere else to turn to, but, I had deep reservations and a sense of insecurity in turning to a group of unknown people. From that first meeting the atmosphere was of trust and honesty. I was accepted without question by the group and was able to unburden myself at the initial meeting. By the end ofthe meeting, I knew I was in the right place with the right people. My partner came back to GA when I started attending Gam-Anon again. Life is good for us.
from a child: I grew up in a dysfunctional family: my father a compulsive gambler and my mother an enabler having hang-ups of her own. There was never much room for caring, sharing, or a lot of "I love you." If I wanted to give or receive a simple thing like a hug, the response was, "What do you want now?" After being in that environment for 18 years I married. I found that I was the same person, but in a new home with another person, unable to give of myself both physically or emotionally. When I discovered after ten years of marriage that my husband was also a compulsive gambler, I realized I was an enabler like my mother and that I had no feelings left at all. Coming into Gam-Anon was very painful for me. It made me realize that though I was used to being the way I was, I did not like myself and wanted to be different. The first time a Gam-Anon member put her arms around me to comfort me, I cringed, not knowing how to accept this love. Gam-Anon and GA became the warm, caring, sharing family I never had. The friendships I developed helped me to build better relationships with family, but at the same time, accept the things I could not change. After being in program for several years and working on myself all the time, I have learned how to let down the wall I had erected around myself. This barrier of pain and distrust came down very slowly and I truly believe that not only can I be a very warm and caring wife, mother and friend, but I can also receive love. Today, even though there are problems, I honestly feel great about myself and my situation. I finally know how to love and be loved in return.