Filling the Void

Day 184: I’m a big fan of Horse Racing but I have always associated gambling with my passion for the Sport. I’ve never had a problem with gambling as such but I do spend a fair chunk of money on it annually. I consider gambling a hobby and something I like spending my pennies on. I have always kept a tracker of my profit/loss so I can keep a view of my overall net spend. In the past few years I have always turned a small annual profit or loss which underlines to me that betting will not make me rich but the enjoyment I get from it doesn’t cost my bank balance either.

For example, in 2020 I made a profit of £334 overall. That was money I withdrew / banked from my betting account. In 2019 I ended the year -£92 but over the course of 12 months that is less than £10 loss per month. Small price to pay for the enjoyment I had surely?!

Oh, there’s more. In 2018 I finished +£129 whilst in 2017 I made a small overall loss of £28. You want more? OK, in 2016 I was +£152.

My point is that my gambling has always been affordable. I have seen so many others become addicted to the lure of betting on horses, football or even bloody tennis. It’s as dangerous as alcohol and drug abuse.

Since I went sober and throughout the pandemic I have consciously been betting a lot more though. I think the void left from boozing has been ever more filled with the adrenaline of putting a bet on. My general betting pattern is a few football accumulators during the week and then I gamble on the horse racing on a Saturday when it’s on TV. I’ve found myself deviating away from my traditional pattern and betting more on horses during the week and subsequently dipping into the bank balance more.

I’d say at a rough guesstimate that my horse racing betting profit/loss so far this calendar year is sitting at about -£700. Compare that with my before-mentioned annual figures and you can see a worrying picture developing. I’ve knocked betting on the horses on the head for the time being whilst still following the Sport I love. I’m putting a few fiver bets on the footy across the week but that is my limit.

As somebody who considers themselves to have an addictive personality (evident not only from my troubled relationship with alcohol) but also with so many other day to day traits I need to be vigilant towards my gambling more than most. Alcohol is no longer part of my life and I am reaping the rewards of that but filling the void with another dangerous ‘friend’ is not going to happen. I’d prefer my addictive personality to focus more on some of my other increased ‘obsessions’ at the moment such as writing, reading and running!

Photo by Mikou0142aj Kou0142odziejczyk on Pexels.com

I will continue to gamble. I enjoy it. But as the gambling industry slogan states ‘When the fun stops. Stop’. Whilst on the subject of Horse Racing though, I look forward to returning to a Racecourse in the not so distant future. In the past a day at the races was largely centered around boozing but when I make my next visit it will be great to solely focus on the sport itself and enjoy the environment for what it is.

I bought shares in a racehorse called CHESTER-LE-STREAK last year for me and my Dad. My brother then bought into it too. The 2 year old yearling is still unraced but is now in training and should be making his debut soon. It is something to get excited about and follow with my family. I’ll no doubt share more about ‘Chester’ in the weeks and months to come!

The Stag Weekend

Day 181: Another milestone reached on my recovery journey. The rest of my life journey. For those who aren’t aware of the specifics I’ll give you a quick update. When I ended up in hospital back in February and gave up alcohol one of my ongoing anxieties was how I’d continue to have a ‘normal’ social life. Typically I’m from a generation of men who socialise centrally around alcohol and pubs. We aren’t a coffee shop or walk in the park kind of group. I knew that staying sober would be a challenge in itself but throwing in stag weekends, weddings and holidays would bring a different kind of pressure.

So anyways, it was one of my best friend’s “Stag” this weekend. 14 of us in Liverpool for two nights. My anxiety levels and general mood in the week leading up to the trip were not great and I was really apprehensive about socialising with a large group of blokes in what would largely be an intoxicating environment.

I needn’t have worried.

I had a great weekend and stayed sober. When I first arrived, found a long stay car park and checked in to the hotel I was still on edge and that feeling never subsided until after I had met up with the group (who had already arrived earlier than me via train). I was honest with people (some of whom I had never met before) and they were understanding and supportive of my sobriety. Considering I’ve had very little exposure to socialising since my mental health breakdown and alcohol detox it was an ‘extreme’ to jump head first into a two nighter in a party city.

So how did I not only get through it, but also enjoy it?

1. I bought myself some new Jeans when I first arrived in Liverpool from the Levi shop. I haven’t bought myself any new denim for a few years and considering I’d be saving hundreds of pounds by not drinking over the weekend I wanted to feel nice in some fitted jeans now I’ve lost weight. I managed to not only fit into a pair of 34” waist tapered slim 512s’ but with enough room to spare too. It gave me an early confidence boost prior to meeting up with folk and going to bars.

2. I went running on both mornings. I took my kit and was up early to appreciate jogs around a ‘quieter’ city. Liverpool Albert Docks is ideal for a run as you can hit the pavement for miles along the River Mersey with no traffic.

3. Coffee. It’s my new ‘beer’ so I made sure I treated myself to a few trips to coffee shops on my own during the weekend.

4. Sightsee. I’ve been on many city breaks over the years and not seen enough of the place I’m visiting because I’m either in a pub or my bed. Getting up early meant I had enough hours of daylight to appreciate Liverpool and take some pics.

The 1908 Grade I listed Royal Liver Building along with Liverpool’s most famous foursome

5. For me the hardest bit of the trip was being in pubs and bars where there were big crowds, loud music and boisterous atmospheres. Finding a table and sitting back made it easier. I could people watch, join in conversations and listen to the music without feeling I had to be central to it all on my feet and queuing at the bar for drinks.

Overall I’d say it was a success. I had plenty of me time and also interacted with the group. I spent very little in pubs / bars (£10 in total over two days is madness considering one of the lads spent £250 in one day) and I came away with good memories. I was there for my best mate and he appreciated my attendance. He seemed to have a great time and that’s all I wanted for him. It’s been a big step for me and it gives me more confidence going forward knowing I can go to his Wedding and have a great sober experience.

£50 for two day’s parking sucked though!

My leaving gift to Liverpool