The Heart Of The Matter
First of all I want to thank you for taking the time to read my story. Honestly, I’ve never thought I’d write a story like this, and was contemplating whether to share or not, and even how to put it into words. Everything I’m writing is my opinion, and what I believe to be true through personal experience. After countless hours of preparing this, I hope you are encouraged, and get something out of reading it.
My name is Ryan. I was born and live in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I am 34 years old. I’m married to the most beautiful woman in the world, and have three amazing Children and one on the way.
This story is geared toward those who are ‘Addicted to Gambling’, or feel that they are going down that road. My thoughts on gambling are to help anyone who is on the brink or already has an addiction to playing Slot Machines at the casino.
Gambling is one of the most mind threatening addictions in the world. The problem with gambling is that people who have an addiction, refuse to admit it, or even worse, refuse too talk about it. There are hundreds of self-help books and lots of ways to deter people from gambling. I recommend that people read them and seek the right kind of help needed. People think that, ‘if I lose lots of money’. I’ll win next time! Or I’m bound to win eventually. Right? Wrong! The casino wants you to think that you are going to hit the ‘Jackpot’ and will even offer rewards or some sort of perk if you play at their casino. Slot machines are the casinos biggest money maker, and are designed to trick you into thinking that you are going too win. Period!
I’m not going to tell you how much money I’ve lost in casinos, or gambling, because what happened in the past is history, and we can only look to the future. The biggest problem with gambling isn’t about the money, but rather the thoughts and feelings you get when you are not doing it. Not meaning, physically playing the slots or trying to win right then and there. The problem comes not when you are in the presence of playing the Slots, but rather, when you are not getting your ‘Fix’ or ‘Thrill.’ Recognizing the signs and symptoms of the ‘Daily Struggle’ people have, and addressing ‘The Heart Of The Matter,’ is key.
I’ve given it a lot of thought, and in my opinion the reason gambling has such a stronghold in our everyday lives, is because one can think that if i ‘Win’ then it’s good! Right? Well let’s think about it for a minute. If I ‘Win’ lots money and continue to play, then heck, now I’m playing with their money. Chances are that if I win lots of money right away, you think ‘heck I just got here.’ I don’t want to leave the casino. You want to make a night out of it. So you stay. The longer you spend in the casino, the greater the chances of you putting their money back into the slot machines. Ok, that’s a no brainer! Let’s say you lose all your money you brought with you at the casino. It took maybe 2-3 hours. It’s no different than winning and using their money to try and win again, only to find that in time your odds of ‘winning’ goes way down. My point is, that it’s a lose/lose situation spending lengthy time gambling at the casino even if you win.
So what is the ‘Heart Of The Matter’. Well, I think for everyone it is different. The struggle that most people face is the thoughts that go through your mind all the time. Controlling those thoughts is extremely difficult and a very dangerous state to be in. How do you overcome these thoughts? Well that’s the million dollar question. The logical answer would be, ‘Stop Gambling’. Period! For a lot of people, not gambling all together is really far fetched. I’ve tried everything too stop. Analyzing it too the point where you say, ‘I’m only going to go to the casino once a month’. Or you pick a particular day or plan a special night. So a day or two goes by and you start thinking about the slot machines and have the urge or craving to ‘half to go’. In turn, that focuses your mind on one thing, and one thing only. Until, sadly we cave in and there goes our promise or decision to stop going. The only way too stop gambling, (for me) is to accept what you have lost and ‘LET IT GO’, move on with your life. If you can’t let it go, you will always think that you are owed something, when in reality the casino owes you NOTHING.
Being in and out of casinos for a number of years and seeing the different machines and how they are constantly adding new ones all the time. They are very appealing and exciting to watch and play, I will admit. Observing people while they play the slots is quite interesting to me, but also sad. When I first started going to the casino I got really excited when I got a bonus or even a mini jackpot. Then after a while the ‘Joy’ or ‘Fun’ started to fade. I realized, the only fun I had was when I was winning or ‘hanging in there’ so to speak. We feel that we are owed something when it’s taken from us. But really, think who’s the one feeding the machine. They are meant for ‘amusement ‘ only, not to make money. Empty pockets meant another shameful and regretful day, again. So why is it that we keep going back for more punishment? Instant money right! Go buy a lotto ticket. But wait! Why spend 5 or 10 dollars on trying too win 10 million dollars when I can stare at a screen, throw in a couple hundred bucks or more, to maybe win a couple thousand dollars give or take. Doesn’t make sense. But apparently it does.
I am a firm believer in Jesus Christ, and have been a Christian for many years. There are so many people from all faiths and religions that struggle with gambling. My concern and focus is that we are all human beings, and our uniqueness and complexity is truly amazing when it comes to ‘Free Will’ or ‘Personal Choices’. The decisions we make in life have consequences. No doubt! ‘You play with fire, eventually you will get burned’. Going back too, ‘What are you thinking about right now’ keeps popping in my head, and I want to focus on our thoughts regarding gambling, and how it literally controls how we live. For me, I can be totally normal one minute, and the next completely lose it. With my kids, wife, and my job. It’s kind of like having a split personality. But thinking about what just happened, is like a switch that goes off in my head and suddenly I’m letting my thoughts of being anxious and wanting that ‘Casino High’ that is coming soon but not soon enough, too take over who I am, and ‘Trump’ everything in my life.
Excessive gambling in my opinion, is the most selfish thing one can do in his or her life. I see and hear it all the time, ‘It’s never enough money’. Or the jealously of someone else winning when they just sat down at the slot machine beside you. Meanwhile you’ve been playing for hours and got nothing. Unfortunately, that is life, and it is what it is. Accountability while your there is huge and I highly recommend it. Never go to the casino alone. Even if you don’t want to hear your friend say ‘lets go’ or ‘cash out’. They’ve been there as well and know the urge to keep going until the big jackpot, or at least win my money back. Until you understand that the slot machine owes you ‘Nothing’, regardless of how much money you’ve lost. You will never stop chasing your losses.
Walking into a casino your already gambling. Watch people and ask yourself, ‘Is this really where I want to be’. You might even stall yourself or find someone to chat with, that will take your desires or thoughts away from ‘Winning money’ or ‘Selfish thinking’ Where is a better place too meet people just like you, other than the place where he or she is having the very same struggles as you. These people are not driven and focused. Most can’t be bothered. Not that you are going to open up and pour out your emotions to the person sitting next to you. But at least you will have an idea, or opportunity of how somebody else is fighting their battle with their addiction, and sometimes people just want to talk. Who knows, talking or listening might be what they need at that particular time in their life. It seems unrealistic, but honestly, how much talking have you done outside of the casino, let alone inside one. ‘Just saying’. Silence when you are playing the slot machines is a very scary place we go to hide and feel shameful. I’m not saying that you need to hold conversations all the time with everyone who sits beside you. No, no. But those thoughts and feelings going through your head, and your one purpose, that, am I going too hit the big one feeling, is mentally exhausting and we somehow transform into a not so nice person to be around. It’s contagious too, as you walk around and see the distraught look on people’s faces. When you try and give a half smile, they are thinking exactly what your thinking, and it’s impossible to be real and true when you put on that facade of ‘What’, I’m fine really’ when really, they are dying on the inside, and refuse to admit they have a gambling problem. Nobody likes losing, but believe me, when you decide not to go to the casino, your winning and choosing to keep your money. In my opinion, that’s better than winning a jackpot. The safest bet is to not go altogether.
Imagine if someone random walked up to you and offered to cover all the money you ever spent on gambling in cash with the stipulation that you are never to walk into a casino or gamble ever again. Tough decision! You might think, ‘That’s a lot of money’. What would you do? There’s something about winning money at a casino, the excitement and addiction that might sway your decision. But sadly, all that money you’ve lost is gone, and there is a way to get it back. Maybe hundreds, thousands of dollars. Chances are you will not accept the offer. Why, because gambling has never been about the money and never will be. It’s about ‘How’ you win it. What would happen if you walked into a casino and right away and someone offered you $500. Then right after told you if you want the money, you have to leave. You would probably be kind of disappointed. Not because of the money being given to you. I mean $500 is a nice chunk of change. But having that person intervene and take away your ‘Free Will’ to gamble has just set you off. Even though it cost you nothing that day and you were $500 richer, it still doesn’t fill the hole or need, because the addiction to gamble on the slot machines, overrides even money given to you for ‘Free’.
Regrets every time you go to the casino and lose are one of our biggest struggles. People that have ‘No regrets’ after they’ve gone and lost, clearly don’t care much about anything in life. That feeling you get when you’ve lost all your money is an assurance that you are in fact having this tug on your heart or conscious saying, ‘When or Why’. When does it end? Or, Why am I choosing this lifestyle? What do you want? Do you want to change? You decide. Analyzing how often or how much you spend at the casino is the biggest lie. It doesn’t matter if you go once a week and say, I’m ‘only’ going to spend $50. Or if you say, I’m going to go once a month, and spend $200. The more you go, and the longer you stay, the more you will lose. Also, the temptation of going to the ATM so I can win back my losses tends to sneak in.
In 2014, my family, and my in-laws decided to move to abroad to run a hotel. I was living in Edmonton Alberta, had a house, good job, it was a comfortable life but felt a tug in my heart to leave Canada. So in November 2014, we basically sold everything and moved to Belize. At that time, I felt that this would potentially solve the issue with gambling and be able to start a new life. We were living in Belize, the hotel deal fell through and eventually we ended up buying a restaurant with my in laws and was running it within a couple of months. I’ll tell you, being away from slot machines and gambling was a good thing. It made me truly think how much we are blessed and spoiled to live in Canada and have the accessibility. Long story short, my in-laws stayed in Belize with the restaurant, we ended up moving back to Canada ten months later due to the lack of the education system for our children.
So, do you think that the addiction to gambling might make you want to move where there is no chance to play slot machines? How do you completely phase casinos out of your life? There is an answer for you! There is no better feeling in life, but when we recognize and admit we need help, and truly want to seek it. I hope that this short story encourages you and challenges you to really think about ‘What do you want in life’. Do I want to keep feeling this way? Or, isn’t my life more important to finally do something about it? All or nothing? Win or lose. It doesn’t matter. It has to stop now!
Remember, the addiction to gambling isn’t about the MONEY. But rather, the thoughts and feelings you have when you are ‘NOT DOING IT.’ Money is nice to have and we need it to survive. But the ‘Love of money’ and chasing your losses is what gamblers crave, and ultimately need it to support their addiction. Going to the casino to win all the money back you have lost, is very far fetched and near impossible. Let it go. Yesterday is the past, live for today, we were not promised tomorrow.
November 27, 2015 I deleted all of my casino slot apps from my phone. It was consuming my life and taking me away from family time. I have since limited my going to the casino and I’m working to phase it out completely. I encourage anyone who is struggling with any type of gambling addiction to ‘make a decision’ and talk or share whatever it is your going through with someone. Whether it’s through a story, experience, anything. Don’t let it consume you. You can change your life. But it all starts with YOU. NOW. Don’t wait.
Now that I’ve wrote my story and I’ve shared it with everyone, my hope is that In time, I never gamble in a casino again and start living a life of joy and peace. For God, myself, and my family. Hopefully one day I’ll know what it truly means to be released of my addiction, so I can break the chains of addiction, be selfless, and live a life with no more ‘regrets’. It’s been a month and I don’t really miss the casino/slot apps I had on my phone, and I’ve noticed my attitude towards my family has changed.
January 10, 2016. I stopped gambling at the casino. Every time I think about going and how much I would spend, I will remind myself of my precious children, and all the money I’m saving. No longer will I have the regrets of saying I wish I could go back to ‘this day’ at ‘this time’ and how I would have changed it. Instead, I will look towards the future and know that I will never feel that emptiness and think, if I could only go back and change what I have lost.