Becoming Open to the Miracle of Sobriety
Someone asks Dov:
Asking Hashem to save me and remove my lust has not seemed to work; I still masturbate once a week. Why is it not working? Maybe Hashem just wants us to fight this ourselves?
Far be it for me to say, "your missing ingredient is this, or that". What answer are you looking for from me? I am unable to keep myself sober, so how could I possibly save you? My sobriety is certainly a miracle. I do not understand it. But I know I must have done something to become open to the miracle. What was it? This is all I can think of:
I discovered that my best efforts to control my lust were ruining my life. My struggle to control it was not working and I was getting worse, always worse. I began to see that using lust was no longer fun. It was a need - a bitter compulsion.
And yet I was still unable to stop.
I was risking important stuff for it - just to get rid of the horrible compulsion and the pain of not having my fantasies, the adventure of the hunt, and sometimes even the orgasm (but not necessarily). I risked more stuff for it, and came to hate myself for it. (Little did I know that I had already been hating myself for decades already, and just pinned my self-loathing on my 'bad behavior' from about age 14. In reality, my acting out was not the reason I was disgusted with myself at all. It was an inherent problem of mine that my lust adventures helped me ignore, at least while I was 'super-stud'. I discovered all that after one and-a-half years of sobriety, after working step 4.) My best efforts always got me sicker, never better.
That was step 1.
I came to need G-d, rather than need to believe in Him.
That was step 2.
I started to think along the lines of working for Him instead of for my own goals. I started to learn integrity; to carry my G-d with me.
That was step 3.
The rest of the steps each changed everything, not necessarily the first time I worked them, but when I used them in real life, as instructed by the addicts around me and by my sponsor.
I went to meetings (not phone meetings, but in-person meetings, where I could no longer hide) on a weekly basis, and chose a home-group for myself and participated - I became a member. I used my real name - the one my friends call me - and described openly to other addicts exactly what I was doing and what I lusted for. I started getting better and learned that I was only as sick as my secrets.
I grew a lot in that group, followed directions, got a sponsor to help me work the steps, and stayed sober with Hashem's help. Hundreds of times I wanted to fantasize, to follow women, to look up schmutz, to touch myself in lust, to do one of the many behaviors - many of them repetitive, ritualistic and habitual - that would awaken my need to act out.
I saw myself as a sick person trying to get well, not a bad one trying to be good. I screwed up a lot and in many ways. But I remained sober and slowly grew in recovery. Very slowly. But with it came sanity, and that was nice. My life got easier to live and I got easier to live with. Though my wife and I never went to counseling, our hellish relationship calmed down and we got closer. My nagging doubts about my marriage, my yiddishkeit and my identity, were replaced with thoughts and actions of my recovery and a new security that was very frail but ever growing stronger. Many of my fears, regrets, and sick thinking became irrelevant. Not because of some voodoo magic, but simply because I becoming was too busy actually living, for a change.
You may not be an addict at all, but I suggest you look at the SA White Book and see if you qualify. Read "The Problem". There is no shame in not being an addict - but you will need to get some kind of help.
Perhaps you are not using the tools you have available. Are you using any chevra to help you let go of all your secrets? Are you still hiding your dirt? Whether or not you are an addict, that is not a good idea. There are safe people you can call daily and speak to. You are worth it - and your shame may be your only - and worst - enemy.
I hope something here is helpful to you. You are a very, very good person, I am sure, and a lot of people love you. Whether you realize it or not, you are very precious. So you are worth whatever it may take to actually help you let go of this thing one day at a time - not to 'beat it', of course -that'd be the old way that you have been trying till now that does not work, but ratherto learn to let go of it.