The 12-Steps in Practice
Addicts have a problem -- their addiction. I had a problem -- my addiction and my inability to overcome it.
Convictions got us nowhere. I had plenty of convictions. I was learning sifrei musar regularly and seriously for 20 years. Had I been in control, no doubt I would have done very well on convictions. But convictions solved nothing for me because I was not in control. That was the problem with my addiction.
I desperately needed a solution. I had tried willpower, filters, accountability software. I had told my therapist. And I was fast running out of options. And not long after I finally gave up the images for good in a fit of rage (as I posted on the forum), I discovered that my addiction was really to Lust.
It's like someone who every day eats a whole Pizza Pie for Breakfast, 30 hot dogs for lunch and 20 burgers for supper. The guy is absolutely convinced that he is addicted to junk food. Then one day, in deteriorating health, he decides with all his might that he is giving up junk food for ever. Never again. And next morning he finds that he is eating 10 bowls of whole-wheat cereal for breakfast, 30 bowls of organic pasta for lunch and 20 plates of roast beef for supper. He was not addicted to junk food, he was addicted to food.
And I was not addicted to viewing images, I was addicted to lust. And as much as I was off the images, I was unable to stop lusting and fighting, lusting and fighting. I had no control. And there was nothing in the musar seforim that could give it back to me.
When I learnt musar I was like a first-grader trying to learn to stop throwing things at the teacher by learning sefer Chovos Halevovos. And it was not working.
I am going to be honest with you, extreme as it may sound.
It was not Sha'ar Ha'Bechina that I was missing or Sha'ar Avodas Elokim.
I was missing Shaar "Al tehiy kibheimo" (The Gate of "Don't Be Like an Animal")
And I did not need the first grade level of Shaar "Al tehiy kibheimo", I needed the "less than beheimo" level.
Something that was so simple, dumbed-down and foolproof that my Yetzer Hara was not able to complicate it.
Yes, I could understand the most difficult, complex and abstract musar, and even get very enthusiastic about it, but if I was going to be able to put anything into practice, it had to be short, sharp, to the point, and so easy that there could be no excuses.
Something that would take up no more than 10 lines and consist of no more than three action items.
Something ready to implement right away.
Something that the Yetzer Hara could not convince me out of, once I was determined.