Sunday, 29 January 2012

27,375 days = 75 years

How do I make my changes permanent?

by Dov (See all authors)

Someone wrote to Dov:

I recently fell after a clean period of 40 days, and it hurts. How can I finally beat this thing so that I never come back to it? I want to do a real, permanent Teshuva rather than having the difficulty to build till I just lose again!

Dov replies:

Don't kill me here please; the answer may not seem to make much sense, but here it is:

Recovery has to be worked one day at a time. There cannot be 40 days... it has to be for today only. This is not a pep-talk I am giving here, I am sharing with you what actually works for me. That's what you want it seems, not just "hashkafa".

Is there "obliteration" of the lust?

I have no idea and it's none of my business, but I have been sober today so far for thirteen+ years, and don't care to look back yet to check the success. Tzaddikim will look back (after death) and see a mountain, and cry in wonder: How did we do that?! We were just trying to be OK (in our case: sober) for one day... and look at what it became! A giant pile of years!" Excuse me, but these tzaddikim are not stupid - they know that their 27,000 days add up to about 75 years. But that's not the point at all. They are shocked because they never tried to overcome a mountain! It was always only that day that they were concerned with, be"H.

As long as my struggle is just to not act out, it remains a contest between me and my addiction. And the stakes build with time. We cannot "hold out" on our own indefinitely, even one day at a time, I believe. It's a mountain and we cannot overcome it, period. In my case at least, I have come to see that it is inevitable that I'll screw up eventually. Sobriety only succeeds if Hashem grants me a reprieve from my powerlessness over lust for this one day. To allow Him (yes, allow Hashem) to do that for me, I must learn how to maintain my spiritual condition today and remain vigilant because I tend to lie to myself and forget my disability. For me, that is the height of sheker and ga'ava. It closes me off from His help. To do this, I use the steps and a chevra (fellowship). I know of no other way to maintain the honesty, openness, and willingness that I need in order to keep myself out of Hashem's way.

I don't need perfection, nor do I need to deserve this daily miracle. I just need to surrender to the truth about myself and begin to put my life in His care today. I must live in the present - right now - and not get distracted by tomorrow or yesterday.

And I can't do it alone. I need regular meetings with like-minded people, a sponsor, friends who I can call daily, and to develop a real and simple relationship with a G-d of my very own. Elohai. That's what yidden always meant when they used that word in davening - He's my G-d. Dodi li - "my Beloved is for me".

I may still need a lot of work, I may be a mess. But I have found that He'll accept me anyway.

This is the real deal: Real emunahnot tzidkus nor perfection, just the real thing.

Does this help?