It is extremely difficult for me to write this to you. But it is harder not to. Lately, I feel that my perceived dishonesty and hiding is creating tension in our marriage, sort of a rift between us, and rightly so. A good marriage must be built on a solid foundation of mutual honesty and trust.
You have a lot of questions. "The diligent scholar I married is wasting a lot of time on the phone with "friends" I never met, and am not quite sure where he met either. The same diligent scholar can spend hours chatting on the internet. Where did his diligence and intense studiousness go? I no longer sense a seriousness in learning, the only seriousness on his part is when he runs to drops me, our kids and anything else for an emergency "chabura" twice a week with those same friends. What's going on?"
Chani, believe me that you're the most important thing in my life. There is nothing in the world more important to me. I'll try to explain my predicament to the best of my ability, please don't make any rash decisions but try to trust me.
Let's discuss addiction for a minute, alcoholism, standard textbook case. Man drinks himself to death although he knows how unhealthy it is. What doctors have found in all such cases of completely illogical behavior is as follows. This man had a huge hole in his life, be it self-esteem issues, the pain of abuse, or a whole host of psychological impairments. This addict was walking around in pain, searing pain. Until the day he had his first drink. The drink numbed his senses, softened his mind, and wonder of wonders! He actually felt good!
His body decided that it wants to feel good at all costs, and so it drank whenever it had the opportunity. For an alcoholic; drinking is not a problem, it's the solution. The only treatment that has worked for thousands of alcoholics is the twelve step program of AA. This program does not address drinking at all. This program addresses spirituality. The concept behind the program is that addicts have a G-d sized hole in their hearts and minds. G-d is missing from their lives. The program brings them to spirituality and heals their character defects, making them satisfied with their lot to the point that: they don't need a drink!
As I've heard Rabbi AJ Twerski say many times, an alcoholic who had been sober for many years once got up at a meeting and said. "The man I once was, drank. The man I once was, would drink again. The man I am now by the grace of G-d, shall never drink."
Obviously, for an alcoholic the biggest priority in life is getting sober, just like any sick man's priority in life is getting healthy. I know an alcoholic whose wife was opposed to his going to meetings twice a week, it interfered with her schedule. He told her "Do you want a sick husband 24/7? Or a sober one who is absent twice a week?"
And yes. An alcoholic who doesn't go to meetings is sick, even if he's not drunk! In the program, we refer to him as a "Dry Drunk". Although he may not appear to be drunk, his heart and mind are not with him. Inside he's dwelling on the immense emotional pain he's in and how he can get his next fix.
Chani? Here comes the hard part... I may not be an alcoholic. But I'm an addict. When we met and married I was constantly in pain. I numbed it in my own way - on the internet. It's difficult to say this and I don't know how you'll take this, but by now all the frum publications have already written about the phenomenon of men being addicted to "objectionable material on the internet". That's me. I surfed, I fantasized, I chatted, and did all types of disgusting things.
And yes. I was disgusted with myself, which drove my self-esteem even lower, which in turn pushed me to get more of my "alcohol". Ahh, a never-ending vicious cycle! Until I found a website called "Guard Your Eyes" or GYE for short. There I discovered that I'm not alone and met many other respectable frum Jews that were working on this problem.
Together we formed our own twelve-step group- "the chabura" that so perplexes you. So, there, that's the truth, and that's my story,