I have to be honest - I made a mistake. A big mistake. It is a mistake which I am very ashamed of, a mistake which has made me very disappointed in myself, but a mistake which I am actively and honestly working to fix. It is impossible on my own, however. I have huge debts to repay and I'm not able to repay them on my own.
I let myself down, and I let my parents down terribly. I have no excuses for what I did, but can only offer an explanation in the form of clouded judgment because of my addiction, which thankfully I am managing quite well now. The debts, however, remain, and I am not able to continue down my life path and work toward my career goals with a clear conscience until they have been repaid.
To provide some context: due to the pandemic, I was living at home with my parents, not attending my normal college classes in person, and not able to work or find a job. I had too much time on my hands, and I (like pretty much everyone) was having a very difficult time putting my everyday life on hold and living a lonely, sad life of self-isolation (not that these facts justify my actions in any way).
I had played a reasonable amount of live poker with friends and usually done pretty well in our games. I decided to give online poker a shot in the hopes of earning some money from home while the pandemic raged on. While there were definitely times when I played well and ended up making a profit, I never cashed in on my winnings before I swung back down playing stakes way above my level and lost more then I had won. This vicious cycle continued through many deposits but I thought I would be able to get out and quit for good when I had won back the lost money and made a modest profit.
Unfortunately, that's not how things worked out. I spiraled further into debt after I tried to win back what I had lost due to what I considered a terribly unlucky turn of events: a few impossibly bad runs of cards which I felt I "definitely didn't deserve" and an unlikely, optimistic sports bet which came so, so close to cashing which I felt I "definitely deserved" and "would have fixed everything."
It was classic problem gambling, whichever way you look at it. My parents had trusted me, and I had shattered that trust, not to mention putting them in a really difficult situation by using up a lot of the money they had been saving up for years. Owning up to the truth and telling my parents was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It still pains me to look my parents in the eyes and even to look myself in the eye in the mirror, but the past cannot be undone. I can only admit to my awful mistakes, attempt to heal, and make amends for what I have done.
I'm happy to say I on the right path now: I have permanently deactivated my accounts and have entrusted my sister to keep me accountable by having her use her email and password to set up a gambling blocker on all my devices, making it virtually impossible for me to access any online poker/sportsbook websites. I am seeing a therapist for problem gambling, and his approach has really helped me realize my problem, cope with the reality of what I've done, heal, and rediscover the beauty in everyday life without gambling.
As much as these have been necessary steps which have been working well, the problem still remains - I have a $3000 debt to repay to my parents and that will definitely not go away on its own.
I realize that the most honest and proper way to repay this debt would be through finding a job, and working tirelessly until the debt has been repaid. However, as I said, I am a full-time student whose school year starts in a matter of weeks, so unfortunately this is not an option. Therefore, I have thought of another solution, which I hope you can appreciate.
I am well aware that simply begging for money online would be a pathetic and disingenuous way to do this, so I've decided to record and send some of my piano music (30 separate songs and pieces) in appreciation for any and all donations (a $30 donation ($1 per track) would be a simple way to do it, but any greater or smaller amount would be greatly appreciated). Among the recordings are many classical pieces, but also film music, several more modern pop songs, an original, and my favorite songs to sing. Hopefully you can appreciate the work I have put into this in an effort to make things right, and I hope my piano playing can be a pleasant escape from the harsh realities of 2020.
Playing piano and singing have been two of my biggest passions ever since I was 5 years old. To say they have been an outlet is an understatement; it has always been therapeutic to work through a difficult Mozart Étude or play and sing my own version of the latest One Republic hit. It has brought me much joy to play for friends and family over the years and hear their warm words about my playing. It was a great honor to play in celebration of my brother's big, joyful day at his wedding, and in solemn commemoration and mourning of a close friend at his funeral. Although I have never aspired to become a performance pianist, it has been very fulfilling to turn my great passion into something appreciated by many. I am very proud to have continued playing through all these years, and I hope you can enjoy my recordings in these difficult and stressful times.
To sum up: I know that solely through my own stupidity and irresponsibility, I have put myself and my parents in a huge hole financially, but I hope that with your help I will be able to repay my debts and move on to a life of integrity and honest, hard work. Thank you all so, so much in advance for your compassion, understanding, and generosity. It is heartwarming to see all the good in the world despite the unbelievably challenging and frankly depressing things this year has thrown at us from all angles. I wish all of you the very best, and may 2021 be a lot better to us all than 2020 has been.