Understanding Destructive Behaviour Part 1: The Fast Pace of Life

Warning: This post could trigger emotions or feelings that you may not expect. If you need to access support please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 to talk to someone.

There are much different destructive behaviour’s in life these days, binge drinking, drugs, excessive eating, under eating, over spending, gambling, sex, smoking and the list goes on.

My question is why are we more addicted and dependant on these behaviours now more than any other time in history?

The destructive behaviour in my life was a 12 year gambling addiction.

I sought help many times during that period and I kept failing and returning to the behaviour. Except for the last time – it was different. I needed to understand why this I was behaving this way and finally I found a place to get those answers as a result  I started to understand the why behind my addiction.

The realisation I had was a combination of three very important factors and I will expand on them in a 3 part series 

It is easy to believe that because we are so technologically advanced and connected to the world, essentially, through a keyboard, that we have it all. But the side effect to technology connection is that we are losing our human connections. The connection that feels real and authentic between people.

I had put up a convincing façade, so much so, that no one knew that I was struggling. All addictions are lonely places, I’m sure, but gambling is particularly lonely as it is virtually invisible to those around you.

If someone struggles with drugs or alcohol for instance, people around them are aware because they will often behave differently, they will look different and drugs and alcohol can be harder to hide. For a gambling addict, people usually have no clue until all the money’s gone or the person is dead.

That is the single biggest reason why I needed to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. I felt the need to go public with my experiences, to try and Help Other People Everyday (HOPE). I wanted my experiences to speak into that secret darkness that exists and the shadows people are hiding in because of the shame and embarrassment they feel. All these destructive behaviours being are actively developed as the Gambling industry rapidly goes from strength to strength.

It is an industry that ruthlessly and deliberately extracts everything you have and then some and simultaneously piles shame on you by labelling you a “Problem Gambler” and an outcast in society. Stop and think about when gambling is in the news- it is usually a person being publicly vilified for stealing or making a bad decision about the care of a child.

During this time I felt profoundly broken and unable to fix myself, so much so that had I not been pregnant with our last child, I fear what may have transpired as I had suicidal thoughts that I wanted to act on.

When the behaviours control and cause isolation and the loss of connection, they also strangle out all ideas of hope and a future. I thought that the people around me, my family and friends deserved better than me. I remember vividly, if anyone would try and pay me a compliment, I would recoil and think -If you really knew me you wouldn’t say that! They did know me; I was the one that had completely lost sight of me. Unable to see all that good things I did, and robbed of all joy from my life as it was completely overshadowed by the negative self-image I had taken on.

I lived in constant fear of my life unravelling and exposure. I even told my husband “if anyone ever finds out about this then I will kill myself!” I meant it, I was petrified. I can’t believe how far I have actually come in over 3 years, I feel so free of the shame that kept me bound for so long in a cycle of low self-worth and destructive behaviour.

I began by just confiding in a few key people and it just grew from there, with each person I told a little piece of me was restored. I began to make meaningful honest and authentic relationships with the people in my life. Through my vulnerability, it encouraged them to be vulnerable with me about their struggles and the deepening of all of my relationships was extremely life giving. I had no idea that so much healing and such extraordinary connections with the people in my life could have come from so much darkness and shame.

I really encourage others to evaluate the connections in your life, determine if you might need to make some new ones? Are you able to be honest with your friends? The point is – if there is no one that you can be open with about the good and bad in your life, and then the real risk is that the hidden issues can grow and take over our lives, our power and our self-image. Issues put out into the open give us back the power as we make the decisions about whom, what, where and when.

Whilst today I acknowledge that I will possibly always have a weakness to gambling, it holds no power or appeal over me, as I am awake and in control of my life. There is nothing brewing and festering in the dark anymore – gambling has gone from consuming me in every way to being nothing more than a freckle on my arm.

Warning: This post could trigger emotions or feelings that you may not expect. If you need to access support please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 to talk to someone.