New to this forum, or any forum for that matter.
Even though it seems obvious to me and has been for a long time I'm only now realizing the extent of my pathological gambling issue. I'm attempting to look at the timeline of where this all started and adding up the costs of my gambling in both monetary loss and the loss of my quality of life.
I started betting harmless sums of money very infrequently on sports online about twelve years ago. It was a fun hobby to bet a few bucks on a game while watching with friends. The events that preceded over the years are startling to me. It's been an incredible ride full of the best and worst moments of my life. Everything else has just been "in between details."
I have an analytical mind and a lifelong love for sports and realized quickly that there is nothing else in life that I enjoy and that motivates and invigorates me more than handicapping sporting events. Everything else in life has faded into the background over the course of the last decade. I've completely shaped my entire existence to accommodate the ability to pursue my obsession. It's the only thing I've ever been 100% committed to and passionate about since the day I was born and for that has been sacred to me despite the overwhelming costs.
After a few years and a deeper involvement in pouring over the numbers and dedicating myself to research sports handicapping I unfortunately had a great amount of success. I consistently found myself with the expendable income that allowed me to live slightly outside the means of the income I was able to generate at work. Unconsciously this inevitably led to increased bet sizes and the dedication of more of my time to my passion.
I've always despised toiling away at a common job, but done it anyway like anyone else. At a defining point a couple of years ago I had stockpiled what I thought was enough money and eliminated all expenses to the bare necessities that I figured I'd take a shot at sports betting as my sole income. I had more success early on than I ever dreamed possible and soon had people investing in my success, which only added to my overinflated ego. It seemed so easy at the time and people involved in the sports betting scene respected my analytical abilities. I dedicated almost every waking hour and every spare dollar into my goal.
As happens with all gamblers regardless of ability I hit a rough patch and realized that I have close to zero self-control. I'm extremely competitive and in some twisted manner took the losses almost personal, motivating me to hit it harder. I never imagined in my wildest dreams how bad the losing could get and what a downward cycle I would get stuck in. As the losing streaks piled up and I watched my bankroll evaporate into nothing I still didn't believe the losing could last forever after so many successful years.
Something about losing takes a toll on a person's mind causing unbelievably poor decision making. Despite putting in more effort in than ever before I made irrational decisions and chased losses with a vengeance. The cloud of losing and not wanting to give up eroded my handicapping skills. A long series of "bad breaks" where I felt like I had made the right bets, but lost on bad luck only motivated me to keep pushing harder. My pride and past success wouldn't let me walk away for good and accept the life of a normal person.
The events that followed were very predictable to anyone who understands one iota about compulsive gambling. Not only did I lose all my money, 401K, and incur tens of thousands of additional debt over a one year period, but had to take a traditional job which I despised to pay the rent and eventually succumbed to bankruptcy. I have the ability to make money working when I'm motivated and have formed my life to include very little expense. Even so I've perpetually been down to my last dollar on a continual basis. There is no reason in the world that I should be penniless considering my positive cash flow other than that I could never shake the losing and refused to quit.
Eventually I had exhausted every monetary resource and was buried in debt beyond my ability to pay. Besides the monetary loss many a good relationship had been lost. No one knows the extent of my gambling failures, but when you are so obsessed with something in your mind you are never really present. That is not an attractive quality in any relationship and the people in your life fade into the back of your mind as well. I was good at hiding the monetary loss, but could not allocate the attention that people required and thus subconsciously did not participate in the relationships the way I should have. In all the overall cost was into the six figure range and being completely alone.
Once I found myself significantly in the red I experienced what many gamblers refer to as going on "Tilt". It was a feeling like no other where I just didn't care anymore. A $1,000 loss minus well have been $20,000. Money wasn't real anymore and I didn't feel whether I was $5,000 or $35,000 in debt that it made any difference. Screwed was screwed any way I looked at it and it was almost like living in some insane version of reality. I now believe the "Tilt" mentality is the true definition of desperation and insanity. It was an avalanche that didn't slow down until everything was gone. If it was going to rain, then let's really make it rain and go for broke.
At some point being completely out of resources forces you to stop gambling and during that time I've been able to reflect on what I've lost. Not only am I crippled financially, but have lost years of my time and the quality of my relationships with other people. I've only now been able to forgive myself and move forward on rebuilding my life. The only way I've been able to forgive is to look back on it as an adventure and be thankful for the experiences of the highs and lows.
I'd like to say it's all in the rearview mirror now, but that would be a lie. You would think after an experience like mine I'd never even think about betting another game, but it is still my obsession. While being broke forces me to abstain, I feel life right now is worse than it ever was when I was in the cycle of gambler's hell. I constantly think about betting sports. I dream about it at night. I feel empty without it because I don't care about anything else. Maybe it's some sort of horrible withdrawal symptom as I feel irritable all the time and can barely bring myself to watch sports anymore.
I guess this is kind of a cross roads for me because I know with my current mentality I'll be right back at it as soon as I compile the resources to do so again. I now realize I need to abstain from it because I have serious self control issues. The fact that I would even consider doing it again sickens me, but I have to face the reality that given the opportunity I probably would go back. I'm beginning to accept the reality though that no matter how good I think I am at handicapping games I'll always lose in the end due to these self control issues. You would think I have all the evidence in the world that I'm not cut out for gambling, but I struggle to accept that. People who know me consider me a rational person, but when it comes to betting sports I'm anything but. The struggle will be finding something else that fulfills me in the same way. It's something I need to find though because I'm all out of chips so to speak.