Home' Aurora : Aurora February 2012 Contents 16
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
IAM NOT a professional writer. No
letters follow my name. However, it
doesn't take a degree to share a set
I have experienced some of what life has
to offer; awesome highs and crushing
lows. I feel qualified to share my story.
It might offer you hope, since you have
been living a life that isn't real.
Your choices and behaviours have created
and shaped this unreal world, and have
blinded you to what is really happening. I
call it our 'dream state'.
Our dream state? Until not so long ago, it
was my dream state too.
I had been living in this 'state' for some
ten years. My path of least resistance saw
me gamble myself almost to oblivion. But
despite my worsening circumstances, I
couldn't see another path, even though
one was always there.
Before poker machines changed the
landscape of our daily lives, I was happy
living in the real world.
I loved my wife Lucy and we lived each day,
enjoying all it offered. I had a job I loved.
We saved for what we wanted. We took
a holiday when we felt the need. Then
One of our favourite pubs was advertising
a promotional night. Come along,
The poker machines required no skill,
emitted complex musical sounds and
mesmerised with their bright colours and
That night Lucy and I won several prizes;
a CD player, a bottle of champagne. We
continued attending. She was reluctant,
I was eager. Lucy was committing the
same sum for the night while I wanted to
We had stopped winning but I was still
keen, thrusting more money at the
machines in the hope of winning.
Then the promotional period ceased.
I still wanted to try to win. Lucy
was not interested. There was an
This was the beginning of my dream state.
My previous self was slowly disappearing.
All I saw were possibilities for a win here,
a gain there. Reality was fading fast. If I
heard concerned murmurings around me,
I refused to listen.
I began arriving at clubs as they were
about to open. I would eagerly thrust
a $20 note at my favourite machine
in hopes of doubling it. But when this
happened, it wasn't enough. I couldn't
bring myself to accept the winning and
pull out. In my mind there was more to be
made; much more.
And then came the inevitable guilt of
having lost everything, again. I would
trudge, defeated, from the pub or
Once I withdrew $1000 from a savings
account and inserted twenty $50 notes
into my favourite machine, watching as
they disappeared. It was at this point that
I turned to Lucy and confessed.
She was incredibly supportive - more than
I expected or felt I deserved. I was ready
to address my problem.
We decided that I would exclude myself
from entering premises with poker
machines. I was restricted to certain bank
accounts with limited available funds, and
certainly no joint money.
This worked for a while. Occasionally I
would make a counter withdrawal, which
would then be swallowed up by the
I garnered enough trust to have access to
money to buy Lucy a birthday present, but
the shop was only fifty metres from a pub.
That money disappeared also.
You'd think I would have seen what was
happening but I was still very much in my
Lucy and I talked. I attended a meeting
of Gamblers Anonymous (GA), and
then another. But perhaps my denial
of my troubles got the better of me
and I refused to continue, saying that
I didn't like the religious aspect of the
All this time I knew there had to be a
simple solution. Perhaps I was depressed
and was using gambling as a means
I visited a clinic, professing to be clinically
depressed, and was placed on a Prozac-
like drug. Within months I was feeling right.
There was less fog in my head and my
behaviours became more acceptable.
Things went along smoothly for a while,
and I was starting to regain Lucy's trust.
Something in me had always felt a need
to improve my financial position. It was
never enough to be patient and take one
day at a time; I needed money now and
I was searching the internet for ways to
make it - fast.
I joined online pyramid schemes. I
discovered 'auto-surfing', whereby ads
would rotate on your computer screen and
as you clicked on them you earned points
which could be converted into dollars. I
joined online forums to advertise my site
addresses in the hope of sponsoring
people beneath me who would do the
same, and I would earn a percentage of
Months passed and the gap between
what I was spending and earning was
widening. I was on a losing streak.
But then I discovered the magic bullet!
A radio advertisement promoted online
currency trading: legitimate money making
from home, analysing and trading in the
currency market. Lucy agreed that this
was worth investigating, we attended an
information session and I signed up for
It was simple enough -- you just had to
learn how to read currency charts and
recognise patterns of market behaviour.
Past market behaviour was a strong
indicator of what might happen again, so I
opened an account with $15,000.
What I didn't count on was the emotions
I would experience as a result of being
in the market'. I didn't recognise them at
first; I just thought I needed to persevere
until training and intellect won out.
But time was running out as my account
was dwindling quickly. I was increasing
my risk as a way of increasing my
And there is the kicker...I was still firmly
entrenched in my dream state. I was still
utterly hooked on the gambling mentality
which saw me lose thousands of dollars in
But I refused to see this. In one trade I
could make several thousand dollars.
There was my red sports car, overseas
holidays, a large modern home, dining at
the best restaurants and drinking the best
wines...they were all within reach; I could
hear the engine revving...
But it wasn't happening.
As months went by I poured more
resources into trading and devoted more
time to staring at the screen.
My wife was more and more concerned
about my change in behaviour. I was not
'with her', physically or emotionally. I was
at the computer, or thinking about being
at the computer.
I started raiding our accounts for money
to support my dream. Lucy didn't
understand that I was doing this for us
and our future. Any refusal on her part to
accept what I was doing was obstinacy
and lack of understanding.
I invited her to learn the markets with me
so we could do this together, but this idea
was quickly put to bed.
$100 here and there would evaporate
from our joint accounts and arguments
and discussions would follow.
Obviously I would have to use discretion
and secrecy as a way of continuing my
I talked to my mother about my trading
prowess. She agreed to lend me $5000
- without telling Dad. I agreed to pay it
back quickly. The deadline came and went.
Calls from Mum were ignored. I accessed
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