Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Dressing our struggle in the Chaluka d'Rabonnon

by Dov (See all authors)

The reason that I hang on to the idea that the Problem is not a primarily a religious one is partially because that was my experience. So I accept that yours may be very different.

But that's not the only reason. I have also seen so many people prefer to slog through this mess and (unnecessarily) drag their poor families through it as well, all "for the sake of Hashem". Please bear with me. I do not doubt their holiness and the purity of their intentions, as I made the same mistake for years and remember it all too well. I have come to believe that the overwhelming majority of sweet, frum yidden who do have what you might call the "full-blown addiction" to lust, spend precious years or decades struggling with it painfully, as though they were normal; as though they just need to get "good" enough, and they'll stop! They desperately and innocently apply a chulent of basic Torah concepts, pop-psychology, and mussar to their mental, physical and spiritual problem called 'Addiction'. As a result, many develop deep emunah problems after years of falling flat on their faces. We go on hiding our shame ever more deeply, and eventually even drag our wives, children, and sometimes even our community, through absolute gehenom.

Based on this, there is no question in my own mind that the normal rules and attitudes of shmiras haBris, sexuality and tzniyus do not do them much use. I applied them to my struggle - and so did most of the well-meaning Rebbis and psychologists that I saw over the years. It didn't work and only gave me more pain to cover up and run from. I got worse as I got more medakdeik in mitzvos and more active in kiruv (of others).

Who knew there was another, simple option? It all seemed so complex.

When I began accepting the attitudes in "AA": I got sober, my life began to mend and my connection with Hashem became much more relevant and real to me. My yiddishkeit then slowly began to get repaired, and with it, my relations with others began to become more fun and bear fruit. Though I am no tzaddik, the way I learn and keep mitzvos connects me to the Torah that I always knew, better than ever before. Something was missing before sobriety, while I was still engaging in fantasy and sex-with-self (M*). True Bechirah has been increasing in my life, ever since.

So, even though I agree that religious considerations brought the overwhelming majority of us here to GYE, I prefer to believe that some of us know in our hearts that we cannot dress our struggle in the chaluka d'rabonnon forever. Something is destroying our lives, and we can't seem to dislodge it.

One day I finally admitted to myself that even were I to c"v give in to all my desires completely - I still would not find freedom. It would only destroy. It was all taking, no giving, and it left no room for anyone else's life in mine. I came to see that the lust I had would make living any kind of happy life completely impossible. No more could I lie to myself that "I was a failure only as a Jew - but would be fine as a goy". First of all, I could not "be" a goy, and second, I'd destroy my life as a goy, too! I have met many yidden who harbored deep resentment to yiddishkeit over "trapping" them in this bind "cuz what I want to do is ossur, damn it"! They may not speak this out, but the finger-pointing and the pain is secretly there. Is this what Hashem wants?

What a relief when they discover that their problem was never yiddishkeit, at all! It was always and only: themselves! Hashem is "off the hook!"

You may disagree completely - but that's how I see it. Not everybody fits this picture, to be sure. But to those who see they fail on a fairly regular basis, break resolution after resolution, and progressively get worse in their dirty mishega'as over time, I suggest to consider that they may be addicts. And if one is an addict, I suggest considering the 12 steps.

And I couldn't do it myself - not enough honesty that way, I guess.