When I first joined this forum I was thinking, "I don't have such a big problem. I just have a lot of trouble controlling my eyes on the street. But po** and mast** I just slip up on once in while, and it's really not my fault because I'm trying so hard to overcome it."
I've discovered, first of all, that the po** and mast** was actually more frequent than I realized, and that there were some major underlying issues fueling these two behaviors. I feel like I'm in a much healthier place now. I have uncovered frustration, worries, tension, depressing thoughts, and I'm doing fairly well at warding them off. I'm trying to focus on positive thinking and on LIVING more and more.
But, regarding that first problem which, at first, was the only one I really admitted was a problem--controlling my eyes on the street, I feel like I haven't made any progress. My eyes seem just as hefker now as they were before.
What am I missing?
As the GYE handbook states, guarding our eyes usually takes a lot longer for us to master than stopping our "bottom line" behaviors... Please read tool #2 of the handbook again. Also, here's a page with lots of great tips and attitude ideas that can help us with guarding the eyes out there (read from the top of the page till the bottom).
Reb Eye, Here are some things you may wish to consider:
1) At least you are a "somewhat more humble, honest, and mature person" - in other words: "a more useful person", now. So you are still lusting out there sometimes. Did you really expect perfection?
2) You may be mistaken. Our "progress" is not readily apparent to us because we are looking at it from inside of ourselves. We judge its seriousness/badness exactly by how frustrated/upset we are with it right now.
So, today, you may have a much higher standard, say, in how much pleasure you take from it, how much fantasy you attach to it, or how much guilt and self-loathing you spend on it (the guilt and self-loathing being perhaps even more damaging than the fantasy...). Progress in these areas is progress, too.
So if you have progressed, it is likely that you feel worse about doing even less than you did before, because of your current improved state of sanity.
Make any sense to you? (I posted more about this idea over here last week)
3) I'd ask you if you are working the 12-Steps in order, with help from other recovering people. If yes, great! Look back at either steps 1 or 2. (In my case, I made no apparent progress before I worked the steps).
4) Maybe you are ready to start working on "controlling" your eyes in a new sort of way now. Here's something that works for me: Have a prayer to say for each and every one of the women you tend to stare at. (At least don't stare at them while saying the tefilla...). Then say it again if you still feel selfish. Try to feel genuine concern about their lives, self-respect, health, connection with Hashem (it's really huge for everyone to have a relationship with Hashem, rather than be fooled by chazerai and living death, no? And not just Yidden, right?). Aren't you a nice guy?("Of course I am!"). Don't you wish good for everyone? ("er, sure..."). So? Daven for her!!! And hey: I doubt using her image to lust is called caring. (".....ummm....").
Also, you can try to give your eyeballs to the Ribono Shel Olam (as a sacrifice) while you are driving/walking to work/yeshiva. I used to say the parsha of the Tomid (bal peh, of course) while driving into work, instead of taking that "second look" at the first image of a woman that I noticed in an adjacent car (or walking/jogging by) every morning. I treated the ta'ayvo - that I excruciatingly painfully gave up - as a korban to Hashem. I made it more real to me by saying the parsha, as Chazal tell us to do in lieu of giving the korban. (Note from admin: The words "zeh ha'Ishe asher Takrivu LaHashem" can be translated to mean "this is the woman that you should sacrifice to Hashem :-)
BTW - it was very important for it not to be the parsha of an olah or a chatos - it isn't kaporo I am interested in here at all. Guilt/Teshuva and kaporo are all strictly Hashem's business, as they have proven to be far too poisonous for me to worry about. My natural approach to them was infected with my old ways of "sick thinking" that got me screwed up in the first place. Chas vesholom for me to go back there, no matter how "frum" it may seem.
So it's a Korban Tomid. Just a gift for Hashem, cuz He's my Best Friend, My G-d, and I serve Him - rather than myself or Lust - as often as possible. A nice thing to do, no?
Besides, I found that "setting the table" well by giving up the very first "second look" made the entire trip to work safer for me! It was a really nice eyeball upgrade, though temporary - after all, it required daily rebooting and frequent refreshing for a few months, till it becomes much more natural.
I'm rambling again, but "Nu". Hope it helps somehow. It's not advice nor preaching, just sharing one addict's personal experience with another.