From AA to Gam-Anon

(This member, after spending years in another 12 Step program found himself in a situation that he could not manage.  He found a new perspective on the 12 steps through the Gam-Anon program.)

(to listen to an audio recording by the same author - click here)

Through the program of Gam-Anon sponsorship and the grace of god I have found a new way of life. I have been a member of Gam-Anon in good standing since January 2007.

I was the youngest of 4 children. In school I did not feel like I fit in. The little acceptance I did get was in sports. I was co-captain of the wrestling team and lettered in football. I felt like I was not good enough just the way I was. Then I found alcohol. When I drank I became the person I wanted to be. I didn’t let every little thing bother me, I could relax, I laughed, I was funny, and people seemed to like me. But mostly that spinning feeling in my head stopped. I know this is not a meeting of alcoholics anonymous, just bare with me, it is relevant to my gam anon story.

I joined the United States marine corp and got married and had my first child all in a matter of three years – in that order. I grew up in a hurry. I never did drink socially, but, by this time my drinking was very heavy. A few years later I had my second child. Shortly there after a went into an out patient treatment center for alcohol. I stayed sober for around two years, but after a while I stopped going to AA meeting, I had never read the book, and I had a sponsor in name only. I rarely called him. Eventually, I planned my relapse. I had it laid out on how I was going to convince my wife that it would be ok for me to try drinking again. After all I can always go back to AA. 

During the next two years I received 2 DUI’s lost my wife and my 2 kids and was back in treatment. This time a residential program on the states dime due to a lack of funds on my part. I have been an active member of AA ever since then remained sober, attended meetings, read the books several times, did various service work, practice the steps more or less, and still made little use of my new sponsor. Needless to stay by this time I had an understanding of addiction.

2 or 2 ½ years ago my fiancé started to gamble more frequently on her own. I usually did not go with her because I knew that the way I gambled, I could be headed for trouble. We had gone over the years to the casino on occasion, but, if anyone gambled hard and for a lot of money it was me. The sequence of evens is foggy to me, but I can tell you she gambled enough where at some point about half way through we both agreed that it was becoming a problem.

There were many nights where she went gambling with out telling me. I, having a controlling personality, pleaded, begged, and got angry. You would think after 8 years of being involved with a 12 step program that I would realized that I am not responsible for her disease or for her recovery from it, but yet, I persisted.

My fiancé at one point did start going to GA but it was short lived. I also started going to Gam-Anon. But when she stopped going to GA I stopped going to Gam-Anon. I guess I didn’t feel the need. She had stopped gambling and I was in recovery with another program.

Eventually she relapsed. After she got caught she returned to GA and I returned to Gam-Anon. At that time I finally got the message that I had a real need to stay at Gam-Anon whether or not my fiancée went back to gambling. I needed to work on me.

While I was in AA my primary focus was to stop drinking and remain sober. I never got to the point where my primary focus was to live a live a life that would relieve my obsessions (all of them). Gam-Anon did that for me. Now over a year after my first Gam-Anon meeting, my recovery has began a new meaning.

I have a sponsor. I found it necessary to rework the steps. I am in the process of doing that now. I have learned to have a healthy detachment, so that I could separate myself for the negative affects of the gamblers actions, or any other person’s actions. I accept the past as it is and do not wish to change it. I am less selfish. I have more interest in others. My relationship with my fiancée is best it has been in years. My financial situation is manageable, and I am learning how to handle each situation in a more productive way. In a short while I have found great benefits in working the Gam-Anon program. It has enhanced my life, by change the way I think and act to outside circumstances and helping me to focus on myself.

The Gam-Anon Way of Life (one of our Gam-Anon books) it says: Your present situation may not be to your liking. Perhaps you are dissatisfied and discouraged. Put the matter into god’s hands. If he wants you elsewhere he will lead you there, providing you are amenable to his will. But perhaps he wants you where you are. In that case he will help you adjust to the situation. He will make you content even grateful for present opportunities. Learn the great are of doing the best you can with what you have where you are. When you do this you learn how to reach the better condition or how to make your present situation a better one. That reading, speaks to me, and has certainly come true in my life.