Wednesday, 27 April 2016

How I (Finally) Got Out of My Box

Dov shares his story with another struggler who claimed he is not "ready yet" to talk on the phone.

by Dov (See all authors)

I understand fully and do not blame you. There is a right time for everything. I just want to share with you what happened to me and how the time became right.

With my first faltering and shaky phone calls for help almost 28 years ago to a person on an 'anonymous helpline,' I muffled my voice not to be recognized, gave few details of the truth of my exact behaviors, and jumped off the call as soon as I heard my wife coming near home. Boy, was that scary! Of course, it did me no good. I was doing so many little secret things already, hiding... the double life was beginning.

I festered in secrecy for another 5 years, until I had the pain and desperation to call a shrink and beg him for advice, which he gave me. He told me what I told you, basically. (Just not as nicely as I wrote it to you). I still did not listen. Instead, I said to myself exactly what you wrote above. Exactly. Acceptance of the double-life was in full swing.

I festered for another 5 years, until I was caught by my wife. It was horrible, horrible. She demanded we go to marriage counseling because she would not live with me any more otherwise, or maybe at all. If I had come out and told her everything, she would have felt much differently - but I hid it until I was caught and only gave her info on a 'need to know basis'... and she obviously did not need to know, right? I mean, it would embarrass me terribly - why did she have the 'right' to embarrass me? (I was blind to the fact that it was my own actions that were embarrassing me, not her). She had slowly become more of a secret enemy of mine than my 'other half.' My addiction subtly twists all my closest relationships and disfigures them.

But the bigger truth and terror for me really was this: If she knew it all, it would seriously jeopardize my freedom to keep acting out sexually whenever the going really got tough, wouldn't it? I was oblivious to this fact until many sober years later, when the truth hit me like a thunderbolt. Deep down inside, I had always believed be'emunah sheleimah that I just couldn't live without it. So I felt innocent! Even though it affected her, our marriage, my child-raising and patience with the kids, etc, etc. Gevalt, what this did to my capacity to reason, my seichel. So, when I got caught, and it hit the fan, I went to counseling - still holding on to all these sick beliefs. I felt trapped, not freed. I even took the medications that he (naively) had put me on. But it was all really just to get her off my back. I kept acting out sexually for another 2 years without getting caught at all, until I could not stand myself any more and discovered that my acting out was just not 'working' for me anyway...

Getting caught did not get me into recovery, and it did not get me to stop - in my case. But acting out did get me ready. it just was not working and I knew it. I was terrified of myself at some point: my bottom was reached, I guess. I was finally desperate. I went to an addictions counselor to try and help me take the next best step.

I did. She suggested SA meetings (in person, of course) and I met with a random sexaholic with 4 years sobriety, a goy, and he told me - a complete stranger - his story. Just to share and to try and help me, another clearly suffering person. He asked if I wanted to come to a meeting.

And I have been attending ever since and b"H sober for 19 years now. All because I became willing, really willing. Not just "willing to do anything!" that I hear from guys screaming out to me here and elsewhere sometimes. "Anything" is rather cheap, actually. But to actually be willing to do specific things ...hmm... that was a horse of a different color. Yes, to 'die' for it, maybe - but to 'live' for it, we know is another matter. No way. Specific stuff like telling the truth to anyone in person; to use our real name with anyone; to tell all the truth to anyone; to attend a real meeting with other safe, honest people who are sober... well, that was beyond that vague 'anything' that we feel desperate enough to promise ourselves we are willing to do when we feel guilt crashing down.

My life is beautiful, our marriage is beautiful, my relationships with everyone in my life is improving, and I am happy to be a growing healthy addict. No shame here, no more self-disgust.

Life is right. This is Hashem's gift to me so far, one day at a time. All because I had suffered enough and seen there really was help, and that there really were real people who were less afraid than I was. People who were willing to meet and be real and fully honest and they were not dying. Instead, they were getting free. I just could not believe this existed before. I was sure I would die with this secret, take it to the box with me.

Imperfectly, I grow one day at a time and life is right and good, b"H.