I have toyed for a long time about including this page on the website, and it is only now, some four years after the website first went online, that I feel I can include it. My simple reason is that if, by including it, I manage to stop one more person, be it a gambling addict or their loved one, from dying from this addiction, then it is justified.
On the 7th September 2011, I had checked in at London Heathrow Terminal 1 for my Cyprus Airways flight back to Cyprus after 10 long hard weeks work in Sierra Leone. My relief and excitement at flying home, was tinged with concern as my beloved wife Heather had been ill but had checked herself out of hospital. She had convinced the consultant that she would come back for further tests once I was home, as she hated hospitals and needles.
I was browsing the duty free shops and thinking of having a coffee when I received a text from a friend and neighbour simply saying “Phil, call me. URGENT”. My heart sank, and nausea well up in my stomach. I knew immediately that it was Heather and it was bad. Having dialed my friend my worst fears were confirmed. He, and his wife, had tried contacting Heather several times the day before and were concerned at the lack of replies. Knowing Heather was an early riser, they had gone round earlier that morning and entered our house, where they found Heather dead. On hearing the news, I went numb, thanked him and hung up. I then went and ordered a very large Bloody Mary from the nearby bar and sat at the bar and wept uncontrollably.
Heather and I fought like cat and dog but that was because we cared so much about each other and our marriage. We were a dysfunctional team with each of us having our own set of baggage and yet somehow, against the odds, our relationship worked. We laughed a lot and simply made things up as we went along. We were tired of working in Algeria together and living in Cyprus so we moved to Western Australia never having even been on holiday there. It didn’t work so we moved back to Cyprus (with a new addition, Jambo our surfing dog) and I worked in Afghanistan. We hated the long periods apart from each other so I went back to work in Algeria and we tried California (taking Jambo and a newly acquired classic Range Rover). California didn’t work so we thought lets try Sri Lanka where Heather was still touch with a lovely lady who had been nanny to her children 20 years previously in Cairo and they’d stayed in touch. Having tried Sri Lanka we again moved back to Cyprus and I started work in Sierra Leone. In total littleJambo( a dachshund, Jack Russell cross) has now flown over 42,000 kms !!
Through all this, Heather was helping me through my gambling addiction and keeping me clean and yet was turning more and more to the bottle. She simply couldn’t come to terms with all the wasted years we’d had together and what and where we could have been, had it not been for my gambling. She was sick at the total betrayal and absolute destruction of trust between two people who loved each other so much. I’ve already mentioned elsewhere how she related my gambling so closely to me having an affair and I can only imagine the feelings would have been identical, had I actually been having an affair during all that time. Her drinking helped to blot all of that out and I, along with her close family, were powerless to stop her.
So, if you are reading this now, wanting to begin your recovery but wondering if you really need to, please just try and imagine how it feels to watch someone you love with every fibre in your body, destroy themselves over a period of years, and know that it was your fault.
Does that gamble now really look so tempting?