Thursday, 15 December 2011

The 12-Steps Are Just About Being Real With Ourselves

Dov writes to a guy who has a program of his own, and says he will go to the 12 steps if his plan doesn't work:

by Dov (See all authors)

Hatzlacha with whatever you are doing, my friend.

BTW, I have never really understood the idea that I have heard many times on GYE that, "I'll try x, y and z... and - if they do not work, then my last resort is the 12 steps."

The fact that one who is not deeply motivated will not get off their buttocks and do some hard work is understandable. The part I don't get is why the 12 steps are looked at as something other than just being honest with ourselves. Can life possibly be expected to work well without that? Especially for a person with a big, bad habit like schmutz - can change ever be expected without rigorous self-honesty?

It is not complicated, very simple, and very powerful to be simply honest with ourselves. I see it as Derech Eretz which is clearly kodmah laTorah, and believe with my whole heart that although there are certainly many ways other than the 12 steps to find recovery and sobriety, those of us who are blessed to have the progressive, chronic, and fatal disease of sex/lust addiction (or really any addiction) and find recovery in using these 12 principles, are blessed with a beautiful and real living experience in every respect.

I see the 12 principles (steps) as coming from Torah just as any advice in Pirkei Avos does. They are just about learning to be real with ourselves, with G-d, and with our fellow man. That's all. Isn't that a Torah value?

Perhaps the 'problem' inherent in the 12 steps for frummeh yidden is the fact that the steps imply that one can have complete success with living even though he believes in a false god. I believe that is the real reason that the 12 steps are placed outside the framework of Torah by many frum yidden.

I deferred using them many times over the 15 years of progressive acting out, too.

To me, the sad thing about that is that many of us very same frummeh yidden defer the 12 steps while we are serving a false god, ourselves! We are completely given over to the image and awesome power of young, attractive females with perfect, beautiful bodies. It is more than a desire - it proves itself as a 'need' by our track record of cyclical, repetitive use. In our bodies and minds we feel the tremendous power these images and women have, and perform - for the sake and in the service of our lust - many of the things our religion demands:

Tomid - regular cyclical service; 'lishkod al dalsosai, yom yom'...

D'chilu uR'chimu - we all know how our hands tremble and hearts race in excited anticipation of a juicy, really dirty schmutz site, the fruits of our desperate searching. The dryness of the mouth doesn't lie. It proves a powerful devotion that we have to it and obviously comes from our intense love and desire (r'chimu) plus our awe of and fear of losing (d'chilu) the precious, hard-won images and very real lust pleasures;

Tzniyus - very private porn use and sex with themselves (masturbation);

Kavonoh and Yichud haMa'aseh - there is no focus like the single-mindedness of our trance in search and use of our lust objects;

Emunah - faith in it actually working for us even though it may have failed many times before - we keep on trying and never give up;

Mesiras Nefesh - the money spent, embarrassment taken, the tolerance of excruciating pain of our own hypocrisy and physical discomfort. Many of us remember these things endured in the desperate search for our fix;

These values, bastardizations as they are, are no less 'Torah' values than are the 12 Principles of recovery. They are the values - not the Rules of Torah, and are forever independent of the Mitzvos. They are the property of all people, not just yidden. I call that Derech Eretz. Derech Eretz includes the tools for keeping the Torah successfully. That is why these values must at least be accepted 'kodmah laTorah'. And every lust addict I have ever met has excelled at living by these very same values - for their lust.

We already have demonstrated that we have the values. Recovery is called 'recovery' precisely because we are recovering the ability to use the values we already have to live real life, not the fake one. We are being restored to the sanity we once had... maybe as children.

That is why I agree with R' Twerski that the 12 steps are a great tool to use for living. It's just that I have not seen many non-addicts have the motivation to actually use these principles. Frum perverts-in-recovery like myself are a strange lot: the lowest form of human life in disease - and yet the very luckiest people in the whole world in recovery. (Reminds me of Chazal on "k'chochvei haShomayim - vs - chachol asher al s'fas hayam" - the extremes of Klal Yisroel.)

A related article on Aish.com - "Judaism & the 12-Steps".