Sean Locke

How I Came To Terms With The Fact I Inherited My Dad's Gambling Addiction

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One morning in the wake of sun, I heard a shriek from the kitchen. It was my mother. Her screams rips apart the walls around our neighborhood. The Great Wall Of China could be torn down with her screams. However, this wasn't so surprising. Our guesses were it was a black cat crossing the open doors of our home. My mother — a woman in her mid-30s — is one of the most superstitious women I've ever known. She believed in the bad omens stemming from black cats and the spooky bogeyman from under the bed.

Reminiscing on the bench outside of a graying, old school, our dad — a chained gambler — decided to gamble our fortune away because he believed in the luck of gambling. Our mother — a realistic woman — decided to put an end to his gambling and convinced him to go to a counseling session. However, his counseling fell apart in less than a week. He went back to spending our fortune in the corner lot slot machine. Observation is key, therefore for a small period of time, I spent my day watching my father dealing his hand.

I took this to our graying, old school. Dealing cards and placing bets became my after-school activity. I noticed that superstition runs rampant there, so I dealt the same hand as my father and never placed a bet on number 13. Until getting expelled, I never learned my lesson. In our community, you will learn the saying, "Foul luck has no scent" and that's exactly what happened to me. Over the course of the years, we were evicted, our father became an invisible figure and our mother became the breadwinner.

Moving out to the big city led to me forgetting my difficult past, but I had the itch of gambling. In college, I began my old habit again. However, instead of going old school, I went online. Online gambling became my hobby, and it eventually consumed me. I suppose the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. However, this overtook my emphasis on education, while my classmates, as well as my juniors, graduated and moved on without me. I sat there in that room year after year, failing. I was still good at betting, though.

My single mother — my single, shrieking mother — called me one fine day. Her cries drowned the loud traffic, and her tears stabbed my soul with guilt. I felt warm tears falling from my cheek, and while blowing my nose and wiping my eyes, I walked back to my old room. That night, in the midnight light, her words rang in my ears, "You're just as your dad." I rolled to the corner to fall asleep again.

Eventually, I quit school and enrolled myself into a rehab center. Change is a great step, but realizing anyone can fall into this trap is much harder to get other people to believe. The idea of my mother's tears shedding even more at the thought of her child failing was a thought I couldn't bear. Hence, I applied in the same rehab facility to be a counselor. Although not eligible, the seniors allowed me to work with the community kids focusing on those with alcoholic and gambling backgrounds whilst studying.

Through my work with the community kids, I realized that the word "victim" is only a label. For many of those kids, their addictive habits were their lifestyle for generations. Therefore, being a child or a teen in a family where gamblers and alcoholics are in their ancestry is a predisposition for suffering the same fate. I was given a chance of reform due to a strong woman, so I decided to do the same for the teens enrolled in our facility. As a counselor, I encourage them with their education, dreams and talents. I have become their support system in making it in a competitive society.

Eventually, years passed by and I left the rehab facility to contribute to the community on my own. With the right support, we managed to help children from those families create better opportunities in their lives.

Years later, I have my own family. I realize now that it's within my power to break my family's tradition, to keep up with the good and end the bad. However, every night before I go to sleep, I hear my mother's voice crying. Her words keep ringing as a constant reminder to keep myself healthy and gamble-free to this very day.