I have a confession to make. I'm addicted to poker. And it has cost me my family.
I never meant for poker to take over my life the way it did. It just kinda snuck up on me and I didn't even know it was happening. I didn't want to know it was happening. I was in total denial.
Whether it was playing poker, reading poker, visiting poker forums, or even thinking about poker, I was always doing something poker related. I'd come home from work and go straight to the computer. I would stop to eat only because I was told I needed to eat. Then I'd be doing something poker while my wife did housework and took care of the kids. I would be doing something poker when my kids went to bed. They wouldn't even kiss me goodnight.
I would look for any excuse to get on the computer. If I was happy, I'd play because we all know that we play our best with a positive attitude. If I did something for the family (usually very small), I'd play. As a reward to myself. If I was upset, I'd play. To escape from reality and go into this fantasy world.
Escaping from reality is one of the several reasons I played. Money was the smallest of the reasons. Another reason was that it felt good to be recognized. That's why I never moved up levels. I was king of the micro stakes limit hold'em. KING!! It felt good. It felt great. I would sit down and players I never knew would say things like "hey how's it going." Or "Oh ****!" My personal favorite was when players would say, "**** this" and leave when I sat down. I was king. But it cost me my queen.
I saw this coming too and I never did anything about it. I didn't want to. I didn't want to accept the fact that I had a problem. I couldn't stop. Yet all the signs were there. As I said earlier, I would look for any reason to play. If I didn't have one, I would nitpick at my wife until she got pissed at me. That way I can shut down and play out of "anger."
My kids would ask me to stop playing. They would ask me to spend time with them. I would say "in a minute" or "soon" or "in a few minutes." But a few minutes turned into an hour. And by the time I was "done" it was bedtime. Then I'd get back on because it was too late to spend quality time with them.
My wife had more of a relationship with the back of my head than with my face. I played so much that she even named the computer "Lola." I put poker ahead of her without even knowing it. I made her feel inferior. The few nights we did spend together watching a movie or whatever, I would be sitting there thinking, "I wonder when she's going to go to sleep so I can play." And she knew this. What a great feeling that must have been.
Now she wants a divorce. And I don't blame her one bit. I've stopped before, she's fallen back in love with me again, and I proceed to break her heart. I'm some catch huh? She (rightfully so) thinks that I'm only doing this for her. Though partially true, I'm doing this more for me. This is the first time where I've admitted that I had a problem. Before I would just change for her not really believing that I had a problem. Now I know it's me and am willing to do whatever it takes to make myself better. I will be a better person, a better father, and a better husband.
I guess this is why I have nightmares about my kids and wife dying. I'm afraid of losing them. Well, congratulations. You did it Rolando. You've lost them. I only get to see them on weekends now. And I don't even think I deserve that.
A message to everyone out there. Whether it's poker, chess, yahtzee, or basket weaving; never let anything get in the way of the people you love. Don't make the same mistake I did.
My relationship with my daughters will be stronger than ever before. But I may have caused irreparable damage to my relationship with my wife. I lost someone very special to me. I'm sorry. I hope one day you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
I wrote this message last week on the poker forum I visited the most. I recently found this site and wanted to share it here too. I am taking steps to make my life better. To better myself. Not because I have to, but because I want to. I haven't done anything poker related in over a week and a half. I have reached out to God and he has answered me, giving me the strength to overcome this addiction. Last night, I spoke to a preacher. It helped a lot. We both figured out that I played because I didn't feel respected. She didn't respect me. So I filled that void with the respect of other poker players. It felt great. But why didn't my wife respect me? Because I wasn't showing her the love that she deserves. Why should she respect me when I don't show her enough attention? It was one giant vicious cycle. Rinse and repeat. But I believe I have changed. I can feel it. I have had no desire to play. NONE!! And people have noticed a difference in me. I just hope one day my wife can do the same. I love her so much. I miss my family dearly.
Next step: gambler's anonymous.