Donna Rogers felt God brought her together with her husband but when he relapsed back into gambling addiction, she found herself terrified and in huge debt.
When I met Nick beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris he didn’t have compulsive gambler tattooed on his forehead. It was such a romantic meeting I can be forgiven for falling head over heels right there. He was attractive, easy to talk to and we instantly clicked. I confess that as he was telling me some of his story warning bells were going off in my head.
We had a whirlwind relationship. One afternoon he told me that he was an addict. I held my breath. I had had a number of relationships with addicts. When he told me he was addicted to gambling I was relieved! It didn’t sound so bad. I didn’t have a clue about this destructive, relentless addiction that took the gambler down and everyone else with them.
Gambling is becoming endemic in our society. Many view it as harmless fun but for a growing number of people it leads to addiction, poverty, mental illness. For others a loss of home, family jobs and businesses. The rate of suicides related to gambling and debt has risen sharply over the past decade.
An article in the Lancet declared that the relationship between gambling addiction and suicide is now more apparent than ever. It has also been shown to be strongly associated with mental health issues particularly amongst young people who gamble on line.
Sometimes he disappeared for days at a time. He was constantly threatening suicide and I lost count of the times I called the police.
Nick started attending church and made a commitment soon after we met. We had a fairytale Christmas wedding eighteen months later. Nick was well into recovery, we were regular attendees at Gamblers Anonymous. I went to GamAnon meetings too - for the friends and family of those struggling with the addiction. I learned a lot in those groups. It was a real eye opener but I felt confident that Nick had it under control and the meetings kept us both on track.
The first twelve months were fine but Nick missed seeing his children. He was in a new town with new people, further away from his family. He started to become depressed, increasingly erratic, sometimes disappearing for days at a time. He was constantly threatening suicide and I lost count of the times I called the police. He gradually emptied our bank accounts and took out credit cards. He was unable to work and I had to take on cleaning work to keep the roof over our heads. Nick’s behaviour was scary at times. He was paranoid and wanted to know where I was and who with every minute of the day. I was penniless, heartbroken and terrified of the mail coming through the letterbox and the bailiffs who turned up regularly.
I saw a picture of a pool filled with crystal clear water. Jesus told me that they were all the tears I had ever shed and he had collected every one.
I prayed and prayed. I really believed that God had brought us together. It took some time to open up to friends I was so ashamed. One night as I lay there I saw a picture of a pool filled with crystal clear water. Jesus told me that they were all the tears I had ever shed and he had collected every one. He really knew me. Eventually I changed the locks and told Nick we would have to live apart. I couldn’t take any more stress. It was a turning point. A friend of ours gave Nick a job, he got treatment for his depression. We resumed GA meetings and Nick had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which he found helpful. Life started to get better. We had huge debts but we were dealing with them and God was working in our lives.
Read more of Donna’s story in her book The Gambler, His Wife and His God available here.