Gamblers Go Back
Translated by Patrick Tse
"Gambling" shows my potential. I don't remember at what time after listening such cheers and lyrics, it does arouse my impulse, illusion and greed. But the reality lies behind that I have to pay a lot including time, money, feelings, family members, friends and even my life at last.
I lived in an old estate when I was a boy. Therefore I had chances to come across various kinds of gambling such as mahjong, zi hua (clamp down), stud poker, dog racing, horse racing and fish-praw-crab cusses. Since I was very young, I was not addicted at that time and just played at times.
After secondary education, I joined the civil servant team as a policeman. At 80's, the gambling practice was very common within the police circle. Gambling became a widespread social and entertainment activity among the colleagues. You might easily approach mahjong, poker and 15 Wu etc. in the police stations every day.
Unconsciously, I had been troubled by gambling for over 25 years. What I got was just a lot of gambling debts. I started to borrow money from the bank at the age of 20 and then from the finance companies, family members, relatives and friends unceasingly. Borrowing money and then paying the gambling debts seemed to be part of my life.
Our marriage lasted for over 20 years. My wife knew that I had gambling habit and the problem of paying debts. At first, she paid the debts for me. Later, she did not help me to pay the debts and asked me to be responsible for the debts myself. But she also helped me to abstain from gambling such as controlling my finance and time management. Each time she had the hope but vanished at last. I was a good husband in front of my wife's family members and friends. They did not know I was an addicted gambler in deed. She never mentioned my problems to others. I understood that she had burdened many invisible pressures: family and economic difficulties, relationships with husband, the growth of children and marriage problem.
I have lost over two million dollars since I knew gambling. I asked my wife to pardon me many times and said "Give me one more chance". Recently, I made the same mistakes again. Though I did not go to Macau for gambling and engaged no more in horse and soccer gambling, I started to play mahjong in the mahjong school. The stake was very large and I lost ten to twenty thousand each time. I had even lost more than a hundred thousand a month. Finally, I did not keep it as secret because I gambled again and had a lot of debts. To my surprise, my wife did not scold me and told me calmly that she would be responsible for the children's upbringing and advised me to move out so that I might do anything I liked. Then she reminded me to see doctor if I was sick. Hereafter, she stopped talking to me.
Suddenly I found that I was going to lose everything around me, such as family, wife and children. I never thought of those problems. I just took a perfunctory attitude towards what I had done. But now I had to think it over seriously. I asked myself why I had to gamble all the time. Did I go to see doctor or find somebody concerned to help me?
Then I found a hotline of Caritas Addicted Gamblers Counseling Centre which rendered gambling counseling services to the addicted gamblers. I phoned to the Centre and was answered by a female counselor. She marked down all the details and made an appointment to see at the Centre.
During the first interview, I repeated my gambling history and the counselor responded one sentence which I never heard before. She said that while I started gambling, I was destined to lose because no one could win in gambling. I told myself that she was right because I won nothing since I started gambling. Even I won this time, I would lose next time. Winning or losing meant nothing to me. What I cared was the excitement in gambling only.
Hereafter the counselor also arranged the interview for me and my wife together. She said I needed this service and so did my wife. I went home and requested my wife sincerely to receive the service at the Centre. My wife was at last moved by my awakening that I was an addicted gambler and should seek help from the professional. She promised to go to the Centre with me.
We attended the interview for almost one year. My wife had changed her mood from agitated and helpless to outgoing and pleasant. I remembered one day I went to Macau with my wife. When I entered the Casino with the friends, my wife gave me $3000 to play. She said that it was just for social function no matter what the result was. I got the money and toured around the Casino. I found a great contrast between the winners and the losers. That is why some people say that you are bewildered when you are inside the situation and you are clear when you are outside it.
That was the first time I took the outsider role to look at the gamblers whom I belonged to before. At night, I gave back all the money to my wife and she was surprised to ask whether I won the money. I told her I did not play even once. Suddenly I found no interest to gamble anymore. My wife held my hand and said that it was better not to gamble.
Now I will play mahjong with my friends once or twice a month as social intercourse but the stakes are small. Each time I should seek approval from my wife. She says that playing mahjong within our financial capacity is a game otherwise it is a gamble. Now when I play mahjong, it is open and there is no need to keep it secret. Of course I should have self-control. With the assistance of the Centre, I reassure the normal relationship with my wife and it is unnecessary to tell lie which is derived from gambling and paying debts.
As a gambler before, I fully understand that my children should not be exposed to gambling. So I never play mahjong at home and ban my children approach any gambling media. As to the debts, it is advisable not to apply credit card from the bank especially an overdraft account. This may decrease the risk of debt burden. As to individual financial management, I am still a student. In a word, it is better to clear any debt as early as possible.
There are many things as I aware that we can do other than gambling. Just glancing around yourself, they are waiting for your concern and support. Time flies and what's done cannot be undone. We live for pleasure and don't be bothered by gambling in the past.
Here I would like to thank Miss Chan from Caritas Addicted Gamblers Counseling Centre for her assistance to help me back to the shore and abstain from gambling. She helps me to draw back the warm family again and of course I should also thank my enduring wife who is always beside me to support this "gambler". Darling! I won't let you feel "down" anymore.