Chasing Your Losses

This week the Cheltenham Festival takes place, the biggest horse racing festival of the year in the United Kingdom. Four days of top racing as the very best horses, jockeys and trainers from Britain and Ireland compete for the glory and prestige of a Festival winner. It’s the World Cup of equine sport, think Kentucky Derby and Melbourne Cup rolled into one and then spread out over 28 races.

I used to be obsessed with Cheltenham. It was my Christmas Day. I didn’t bet excessively throughout the year, but from January onwards would start to study the racing form in forensic detail, trying to pick out Cheltenham winners. The house would become cluttered with racing papers and I would spend my lunch breaks scuttling round the city’s bookmakers looking for the best prices.

Come Cheltenham week itself, I was a nervous wreck. I would always take the week off work and watch every race, a case of beer at my feet. My stomach would be in knots as I jumped every hurdle and willed my horse to be first across the finishing line. Sometimes they were, but invariably they were not and my racing funds would steadily become more depleted. The initial excitement would turn to despair and self recrimination.

The buzz would dissipate and the ‘poor me’ mentality descend upon my shoulders like a robe of disgrace. Why had I been so stupid to fritter away the little money I had on a useless nag who was still toiling several minutes after the rest of the field were home and hosed? I would wake up every morning, hungover and miserable. A wise man would have got out while he could. Instead, I chased my losses.

For the uninitiated this means placing increasingly large bets in the hope of recouping the money you have already lost. Speculating to accumulate. Punters call it ‘getting out.’ Sometimes it works, and that 33-1 long shot romps home, amidst scenes of wild hysteria. Grown men hug each other and backs are slapped as we smugly collect our winnings. These moments, however, are few and far between.

Normally you lose, and dig an even bigger financial hole for yourself. You fail to see the warning signs and instead hurtle down the track towards oblivion. You are that train wreck. I would wake up the morning after the festival with a bruised liver and even more bruised ego. Vowing to never again indulge in such reckless abandon. Until the next time. For it was only 364 days until the next Cheltenham.

I don’t bet on the horses anymore but it was another manifestation of the addictive behaviour which ruled my life with an iron rod for many years. Horses, alcohol, people, I was easy prey to them all. There was no filter, no panic button, no emergency brake. I chased my losses, until I stood teetering on the brink, staring down into the abyss below. Just one more step. One more step. Chase your losses to the bitter end.

You might be chasing your losses today. It could be anything. Alcohol, drugs, relationships, the list in endless. My advice? Get out. By whatever means you can. Break the cycle and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. While you still can. For the abyss will swallow you whole if you take that final step. Only the blind chase their losses. Open your eyes before it’s too late. Chase the things in life that matter.

Are you chasing your losses today?

Have you chased your losses in the past?

How did you break the cycle?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 15 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

25 thoughts on “Chasing Your Losses

  1. An interesting post Stephen. Can’t think I have ever done it though I might have. But feading you reminds me of my sidterm who incidentally is coming to clean for us today. She is a GREAT cleaner, but can never finish, and does things many many times over. But we can’t stop her. It is like an obsession. Nothing is ever done good enough for her either. We tell her it is, but she won’t believe us! And everything is done to excess. Like eating many many apples in a day when she was a teenager – and nothing BUT apples. Washing her face splashing it for three hours in the bathroom every day. My mum never bothered. So now, in her suxties, my sister still has problems. Not that anyone else but us recognises it. We just have to try and deal with it when she comes to clean, and try and reassure her that everything is a,right. Interesting post Stephen

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  2. That’s the $64,00 question isn’t it – how do you break that cycle?
    One of my family has a tendency to addictive behaviour. In their teens it was cannabis, but they managed to break that habit because it was incompatible with something they wanted to do. Once out, I think they understood what a toll it had taken mentally.
    This person drinks far too much. It has had physical repercussions. And, of course, smokes – not excessively, but regularly.
    My heart sank when I realised this person was betting. As far as I’m aware, this hasn’t gone too far, but how would I know? I won’t, unless it goes too far to hide. I can only hope that their innate intelligence will win out in the end, but intelligence was never a guarantee of common-sense.

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  3. I don’t gamble. The most I do is buy a square for a football game & my son informed me yesterday that isn’t gambling … you’re not actually “in the game”. His father was a gambler & I refused to marry him because of that. & a few other reasons.

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  4. I don’t know why, but God has been very gracious in how he has dealt with addictive, potentially destructive behavior in my life. It is totally unfair for me to judge, or throw out easy solutions to those who struggle with physical and emotional addictions. Truth is I understand my journey, but can’t put a one-size-fits-all solution into anyone else’s story. The lure is so real and sweet, but the hook is so tough once set. Unfortunately, none of know when our dabbling in fun will turn to an ever-tightening spiral downward. Thanks for reminding me to be grateful and to try to be gracious to others.

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  5. I feel like I have one of those instant feel good with anything that fills the void type personalities. I have realized that what will fill the void is me loving myself. But that took awhile and a lot of pain. My husband has zero addictive traits so it is very challenging for him to understand this behavior. It feels so much fuller not to be chasing something outside of myself.

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  6. I’m surprised you chose the Cheltenham festival to ‘throw you money away’. Jump racing is far too random for me with fallers taking out would be winners. Certainly not worather a big gamble. Tho like many i’ve backed many losers and maybe 2 winners (in my long lifetime) in the Grand National. Give me flat racing every time. You can’t beat a good day at the races though only take what you can afford to lose and if you come back with any money that’s a bonus. 😊

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  7. Last week at the grocery store service counter I spent $5 on lottery tickets. Not much money, but it would have bought some fresh produce, a package of chicken, or a bag of Oreo cookies. Not a winning ticket in the bunch and a reminder that all my life I have never won the lottery – why would now be any different?

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  8. You have done a great job of putting a “picture” on gambling addiction. If one starts, sooner or later the cycle whirls. And it is so true with other addictions also. Even shopping. “See how much money I saved with this bargain.”

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  9. What a chilling narrative. Thank you for once again sharing your scars for the benefit of others. Question: are you able to watch the races and enjoy them, purely from a spectator’s point of view these days? Or is that out of the question?

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  10. Excellent post, as always.

    I believe you have also encapsulated the very way online games and apps are designed this way; to draw everyone ever closer to the hole, to attract that impulse that “just a little more” time/money/life will get you that ultimate win…. and the finish line is moved ever-so-subtly farther away.

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