Beginning of a lifelong journey
I started on Recovery when I was busted by my wife. I had been acting out for more than 30 years. That first night after I was busted, I went to sleep and I knew I was in big trouble with my wife. While lying in bed, I imagined myself in Beit Din Shel Mala at the end of my life. I was in the middle of a dark room surrounded by many people watching the Din. All of my acting out was played back and I felt a great dread that my Din was LeChova and there was absolutely no escape. I felt a deep fear. This was my rock bottom.
My wife had happened to be at a lecture by Rabbi Twerski where he talked about GYE for about 5 minutes. She told me that he said that this is the only way to recover from this addiction. I wasn’t convinced I was an addict, but I was desperate to pacify my wife. The next day (Day 1), I went on GYE and signed up for the Chizuk emails and joined the 90 Day Chart. I spent a lot of time on GYE and two things made a great impression on me. One was a reply from Rabbi Twerski where he said that if you know that a behavior is wrong, and you try to stop doing it and you are not successful in stopping the behavior, then you are an addict. The second was an article from someone who has been sober for more than two years. He wrote that when he starts to think that he has this licked then he knows that he’s in trouble. Next, I read a lot about the 12 Steps.
I spent my first two weeks in a severe crisis. My wife was a wreck and was barely talking to me. I had to take a hard look at myself and admit that I am a sexaholic. I studied the first step and tried to understand what it meant to be powerless over my addiction. I went through the following process:
- I admitted that I am a sexaholic. This was a huge blow to my ego. A more accurate description is that my ego was shattered.
- Because of the second article I saw on GYE, I realized that I had to start a lifelong process.
- I imagined myself in the same room where I had the Din. I shone a light around me and I discovered the part of me that is an addict. This part of me has been with me since I started acting out. Whenever I studied mussar and chassidut and tried to conceive of submitting my will to the Will of Hashem, this part of me was actively resisting. Whenever I tried to do Teshuva, including during Neila on Yom Kippur, this part of me was looking right over my shoulder and laughing at me. It was saying, “You can say what you want. You accept what you want. In the end, you will come back to me and continue acting out.” It was a huge revelation to shine a light on this part me. Just the fact that I discovered it and brought it out into the open, significantly diminished its power.
- At this point, I asked myself where do I go from here? I looked at the second and third steps and the answer was obvious. Once I had found the addict in me, I had to crush it. I submitted myself to Hashem and I asked him to help me. This was the first time in my life I felt I had truly submitted my will to the will of Hashem.
- This was an intense two-week process. I feel that I have never done cheshbon nefesh as I did during those two weeks.
What worked for me? I started with a reading list. I downloaded the Big Book and the GYE Handbook from GYE and read them cover to cover. I read Addictive Thinking and Teshuva through Recovery by Rabbi Twerski. I spent a lot of time reading articles and testimonials on GYE.
I have been working one on one with Duvid Chaim since nearly the beginning of the 90 days. He has been a huge help in guiding me on the path of Recovery including teaching me many practical tools and exercises. I call into Duvid Chaim’s 12-step call once or twice a week.
I find the daily Chizuk and Shmiras Ainayim emails to be very helpful. I start my day by reading them. They set the tone for the day. During the day, when I find myself getting bored (which was always a trigger for looking for inappropriate material on the Internet), I go on to GYE and read a few articles. This keeps me going for the rest of the day.
One of the big problems I always had was Shmirat Einaim in public. One of the best things I saw on GYE (and heard from Duvid Chaim) is that the first look is on God and the second look is on me. If I notice a pretty woman, I accept that I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m still clean. I have to concentrate on not staring and not looking a second time. This is much more difficult on a bus or train when the woman is standing next to me or sitting across from me. In these situations, if I’m having a hard time, I say a quiet Tfilla to Hashem (from the GYE Handbook), “Hashem, I cannot control my lust. I ask you to take it from me.” It works! My next trick when in a public place is to take off my glasses. It works wonders in a restaurant or when going for an exercise walk.
One of my biggest challenges with Shmirat Einaim was the thought that it was impossible to keep this up forever. In the past, I have tried to control this, especially around Yom Kippur. However, inside, I would always think that it's impossible to do this forever. This would eventually lead to a few failures and finally giving up. I want to relate this to driving. First, driving has always been a trigger point for me. When I would be driving around in town, I would always be looking around to see if there were pretty women walking on the sidewalk, crossing in front of me, etc. My point is that when driving, you always have to watch where you're going. You have to watch for other cars, traffic signs, and pedestrians. I would never say that I can't forever watch where I'm driving and I'll just have to give up and drive without looking. It's the same with Shmirat Einaim. In the same way, I realize that I will always have to watch where I'm going when I drive, so I realize that I will always have to be careful about my eyes every time I leave the house.
Throughout the 90 days, I have worked hard on davening to Hashem for help. I have found that my relationship with Hashem has progressed from a Rasha who is trying to daven to an angry disapproving Master to that of a son who is davening to his loving Father. I used to come to shul on Friday night and ask myself how I can accept the Kedusha of Shabbat after all of the acting out I have done during the week. Now I come into shul, I feel clean, I feel the Kedusha of Shabbat and I feel the love of Hashem.
I feel that Hashem took pity on me and sent my wife to bust me so that I would hit rock bottom. This sent me to GYE and saved my life.