Friday, 12 October 2018

Addict or Not?

Addict or Not?

Please read what I write here with the understanding that it is meant with great respect - respect that you all deserve. I feel this is important to be written here.

So here goes:

Why are we talking about addiction and SA with this guy [poster on the GYE forum "Holy Man"]?

Look, I go to meetings cuz I am an addict. And I am not denying the possibility that Holy Man is an addict, too. And I certainly do not wish to c"v dissuade anyone who may (or may not) be an addict from finding the help they need - and certainly many addicts are helped in 12 step fellowships, as I am, b"H. But I believe we should not be implying that he should consider going to meetings tonight solely on the basis of how bad or dangerous what he is doing may be. This is one example of the problem with believing in the existence of (or, say, the relevance of) 'Levels of Addiction'. Unfortunately, it is the tendency of many people to associate 'worse behaviors' with a greater likelihood that there is addiction present. Not true. The relevant question about addiction is whether there is any pattern here or not, and whether there is any progression here or not. (The 12 steps calls this 'Powerlessness' and 'Unmanageability'.) So, as strange as it may seem to some, even a yeshiva guy R"L going and having sex with a prostitute is no reason by itself to send him off to SA! Rather, I think it is a great reason to send him to a qualified therapist as soon as possible - and, if there is indeed an addiction there, it will probably be discovered with the therapist's help (if he is fully open and honest with the therapist).

And yes, if a GYE guy does open up a lot more even just on GYE and demonstrates a pattern of behaviors, a progression, and a willingness to take real actions to be free of it, then I would definitely discuss him getting to an SA meeting if he wants to. But in these GYE post admissions, honesty and clarity are severely hampered by the necessity to use a pretend name and by the tremendous shame guys feel. Few tell much here. But more about safety on GYE, in a minute...

Please understand this: I (and I am sure other recovering addicts) certainly do not want just anybody with just any sex troubles to pop into live SA meetings. For all we know, our fellow here has just developed this bad habit for a few weeks! What about us in the meetings? We need our safety - and curious onlookers are not welcome just because they are ashamed and think they have no place else to go. There are qualified therapists all over the place without curious onlookers coming into meetings and endangering us vulnerable people including rabbonim, mechanchim, well-known businessmen and women, lawyers, physicians, therapists, kolel guys, husbands, fathers, grandfathers, guys in shidduchim, etc, all choosing vulnerability so that we might find sobriety and recovery. We have no bags on our heads because we know we need to be real, to get anything real. But here on GYE all posters have bags on their heads - and should have that secrecy! GYE is open to anyone who has a computer w internet! It's dangerous. So yes, there is a type of honesty here on GYE...but it is really just 'honesty by proxy': the admitting of shameful facts that is made possible because our identities are hidden. The lack of vulnerability which is GYE's greatest strength is simultaneously it's greatest weakness. If GYE were not only virtual, most people would never even log on and they'd then remain in pretty hopeless isolation. And I agree that GYE is the most dangerous place to identify ourselves openly - so no one does. And that is as it should be, b"H! But because of the fact that there is no real vulnerability, honesty is also rendered sterile. It can be a tremendous start - and I do know way over 100 men in great recovery today (because they left GYE and moved on to good therapy, and/or live 12 steps groups, etc) who all started out timidly and 'safely' on GYE! But I feel that the fruit of virtual honesty can be no better than virtual recovery. And almost all the success stories I know, will tell you that that's why they had to eventually leave GYE. Just check out the Ted Talk that Guard publicized a couple of years ago that was titled, "Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong" by Johann Hari, wherein he states that all the power 12-steps recovery has, stems from the creation of REAL relationships - not virtual ones! Precisely GYE's weakness. GYE can bring addicts to the water, but it has none for them to drink. Addicts will need the Real thing provided by real recovery relationships with real people.

SA and other 12 step fellowships are different. We are anonymous outside our fellowship - not within it. Hence the term 'Anonymous', rather than 'hidden' or 'secret'. (Please see Traditions 11 and 12 in the second half of the AA book, "Twelve Steps and TwelveTraditionss" for a great explanation of this.) We are known openly to all in the room. We all take their 'bags' off our heads, leave egos at the door, and come in joining everyone else who is there for simple and real recovery in person. It's for real. So it needs to be protected by doing whatever we are able to do to try and assure that those who walk into the door are serious - that they want to get well - and that they might actually be addicts. We certainly do not need to be sure that all attendees are addicts - but we need to let them know that they need to think they may be, if they want to attend. Only then, is there hope for us that our identities are safe. Only then, is it true that identifying ourselves (as we all do) in our real, in-person meetings is actually far, far safer than (suicidally) identifying ourselves openly on GYE's forum. The forum is open to anyone - very few who read it are themselves sex addicts or even possibly sex addicts. This is why live meetings are be"H far safer than the GYE forum will ever and can ever be.

That is precious and needs to be protected.

Finally back to Holy Man...

So yes: if this fellow seriously thinks he may be an addict - that the 1st step applies to him - then he is surely welcome! All I see in his post here is that he has only one problem: he has gotten into the habit of dirty online dating services of some sort.

So?

Maybe he is just weak? Are all sinners addicts? Surely not. The majority of Americans watch soft-core porn in R-Rated movies frequently. Does that mean the majority of Americans are sex addicts? Nutty. Are most Americans alcoholics and need AA because they get drunk every few Superbowls? Surely not. And how then about most Lubavitchers who get drunk at Fahrbrengens a few times a year and at Simchas Torah, etc... are they all alcoholics who need to go to AA to save their lives? Doubtful. Actually, silly.

Is he willing to open up here - or with anyone in a safer setting - about the rest of his history, as well? Did this 'hooking up' problem just develop with no prior history of lustful dating/porn use/masturbating himself to fantasy/etc?

Like Alex and Guard mentioned, that is all-important.

If this issue he is posting about is just the latest sexual mess of many he has been through, fine, we may have answers for him - but before casting him the line that we think may 'save him' let's please give him the chance to clarify that here. Doing so might be of more value than us knowing about it or than anything we can suggest to him - honesty is powerful like that.

We can agree that what he did and is doing is highly risky behavior and usually leads to sexual behavior that will likely mess him up horribly on many levels (including giving him diseases, getting someone pregnant, and ruining his neshoma, and destroying his sensitive self-concept, among other things). But whether he needs SA, I think, is about more than just how much trouble he is in. Just because you and others are shocked by the extremes of someone's behaviors does not prove they are addicts. Obviously, he is not that shocked about it. He's done it at least 10 times already. The 'shock' is a horse that has left his barn long ago.

The question here remains: Yes, you are in some serious trouble, chaver... and what have you been doing till now? Is this the first example of lusting troubles you have ever had?

If it is, fine. But let's get the facts here... or in private with someone who understands.