I'm Just Hashem's Kid

GYE Corp. Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Someone wrote on the forum:

I'm on day 20 and hit a milestone of one of the first periods of nidda that I made it through without falling. You would think I'd be flying high... But I actually had a tough Shabbos. My addiction was causing me to obsess quite a lot and it was really disturbing. I wanted to enjoy my success and totally envisioned that I would, but I didn't get that glowing feeling...

Dov Responds:

I can afford a little enjoyment of "my" successes. But just a little. It appears to many that the more encouragement, the better, but I have found it not to be so. Mind you, I am not proposing that there is anything at all essentially treif or evil about patting oneself on the back (even though Hashem really deserves 98.6% of the credit - I doubt He minds...). We do it all the time and Pavlov loved the idea. And so do I. I need to be grateful and appreciate success, because success makes me a believer. That is the only reason I use dates and anniversaries.

But when it came to expecting joy from "x" amount of days sober, I discovered that I reach a point of diminishing returns rather quickly. I easily get overconfident - I have seen dozens of guys get sober for a week or a month, or more, and go back out there. Strangely, it often happens soon after they expound a bit on new-found wisdom based on the "sobriety time under their belts". I am not criticizing them, at all. All I am saying is that I don't need that. And I don't want it for any other addict, either.

In the big picture, I deserve little credit for breathing. I also deserve only a little credit for just staying sober. It's the prerequisite for life itself. I pity the guy who just wants to "stay alive", for his whole life. The question is: what did I do with the life I was given as a result of staying sober? Not in a judgemental way, at all, mind you, but in a positive way. I simply do not have the luxury to sit back and enjoy the sobriety for very long. Just a bit. Then I need to remember to use my gift of sobriety to move on quickly into living my life. That's recovery for me. Real life - engaging it and living it.

See, some folks will say that there is intrinsic value in just not acting out. And, of course, I agree! You know, they say at the American Lung Assoc. that "When you can't breathe, nothing else matters". Great line, no?

However, I ask you: is that all you really want? Is that really your goal? Allow me to put it in a Torah context: Is your goal in your life as a Jew to "do mitzvos and to not do aveiros"? Or is it (as the Chovos Halevavos puts it:) to build a relationship with Hashem? Of course the work of a lifetime is in little bites - but as spiritual yidden (and I believe if you are an addict - you are probably very spiritual) most agree (at least those hold onto mussar or chassidus) that we need to keep our eyes on the Prize, lest we get lost in the details and derailed. As for me - and I assume you'll understand - I spent all my years in addiction serving Hashem, albeit in a very stilted way. I was relating to Him mainly through my lust: either I was pathetic cuz I gave in, or worthy cuz I didn't. Now I am neither. I am just His kid.