This is the latest in a series of blog posts by AllSport GPS Ambassador Ben Davis about his recovery path to a healthy, active lifestyle.
On Addiction, Part II: The Lies of Addiction
Read Part I here.
I don’t remember how the hamburger tasted. I’m not even sure I tasted it, now that I think about it. I don’t remember much about the cafe; I just remember the man—a large African-American man with an old trucker hat, probably in his late sixties. His hair was gray; his whiskers were too.
We met eyes for a second, ever-so-fleetingly, but that’s all we needed. Neither of us wanted to be there. We were just there because it was the only place we could be. We both had hotel rooms with beds, but we hurt too much to sleep. Our expressions told the whole story.
It was three in the morning. I was down a thousand dollars. A thousand dollars that wasn’t even mine. Chase Freedom. What a name. A thousand dollars—but at least I got a hamburger out of it.
The clangs of the slot machines echoed through to the cafe. Just hours before, these machines sucked me through the doors as I entered for the night—a personal welcome parade of lights and fancy bells, the sounds of victory.
Right now they just sounded like a death-rattle.
I knew that in a few hours, Tara would wake up; we’d be making our way home to Arkansas and she would ask how the night went.
And, three hours later, she did.
“How’d you do?” she asked. We hadn’t even made it to the car. Her nonchalant inquisition annoyed me; we only like being asked how things are going when they’re going well. But I didn’t show my annoyance.
“I didn’t do so bad,” I replied, naturally. “I actually made up a little ground from when you went to bed. I think I lost two or two-fifty.”
The sincerity with which I replied—with which I lied—caught even me off-guard. I hadn’t even hesitated.
“Oh, not bad. Good job, babe.”
She had no reason to not believe me. I was cool on the outside but on the inside? On the inside I was an emotional train-wreck.
My phone buzzed a little later. Incoming text. It was John. I already knew what it was going to say.
“B went all night? Did you get them good?”
I quick-replied while keeping an eye on the freeway ahead of me.
“Down about five.”
If you added the lies together, the sum still wasn’t close to the grand I actually lost. And I wasn’t just lying to anyone; I was lying to my girlfriend and my best friend.
But that’s how these things work. The lies. The lies of addiction. They come so easily. They flow because we truly want to believe the things we’re saying.
And, for me, it wasn’t just gambling.
I was lying about the things I struggled with on a constant basis. Everything.
“I haven’t actually had much to eat today” translates to: “I’ve eaten a lot more than I should, and I really want to eat more.”
“I’ve got mostly B’s. A few C’s.” — If by “B’s and C’s” I meant “academic probation” and nearly flunking out.
“I played about an hour or two of Mario Kart earlier. I’m starting to get bored with it.”
Lies. I actually played for 10 hours and “bored” would be the last word I’d use to describe it.
When we get sad, it gets bad. And when it gets bad we struggle. And when those struggles become addictions it compounds itself. We deny, we rationalize, and we lie. We lie so much we begin to believe our own lies.
I’ve come to realize a lot about myself and my addictions. And remnants remain. That’s normal. I’ve found, though, that honesty—both to yourself and to those who love you—is the only way to deal with it.
Because we can’t do this on our own. Life sucks sometimes. It sucks a little less, though, when we can share our struggles. We have to. It’s the only way to make it work.
We’re going to struggle. We’re going to mess up. But when we do, it’s a lot easier to figure it out when we have a support system.
So find that. And tell the truth.
And never hit a 16.