Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Keep Your Eye on the Ikkar

by Dov (See all authors)

Someone wrote on the forum:

I don't feel clean and I feel like I need to go to the Mikvah but I don't know how to go by asking without people becoming suspicious. I feel really bad because a few times I have watched porn right before learning.

Dov Responds:

I'm for going to the mikvah, in general, as long as you are comfortable with it... but irrespective of that, please consider this:

In the "bad old days", going to the mikvah seemed to help me feel better after acting out. But then, I'd use my drug (porn and masturbation, etc.) again in a couple of days! I was truly shocked. And things just kept getting worse over the years. It was clearly not the solution for me.... so, do you want to get better, or just feel better? A good question, in general, as feeling better is related to the solution and the goal, but is surely neither the solution - nor is it the goal, really.

Furthermore, in my own case, I went to the mikvah and did lots of other stuff along those lines (cold showers, not looking out of my 4 amos, hiding in a yeshiva, saying tons of tehillim, learning seforim about zera levatoloh [written 150 years ago for 1850's-yidden! ]). Sometimes they gave me a feeling that "what's past is past - it's over! I am now starting fresh!". OK. Now, living in the present is an absolutely essential part of my recovery. Nevertheless, it comes with some real risk for an addict who is not yet in serious recovery. In fact, it can be a devastating handicap at that stage.

It was for me.

Thinking in those terms then, made me able to delude myself that there really was no pattern. I was able to remain in denial of the fact that there was really something in me that had to change. Gimmicks allow us to seem as though we are changing while remaining exactly the same inside. "See, I am better!"... not quite. That derech distracted me from the ikkar while I worked really hard on the peripheral. And I see this pattern over an over. All manner of mesiras nefesh-like behaviors abound, while the very thing that got us so screwed up in the first place -i.e. our own very best thinking - remains at the steering wheel!

Our motivations have not truly changed.

Do you get me so far?

Until we face that there is something very screwy with our thinking, we don't seem to start getting better. And this is what the 1st and 2nd steps of AA's 12 principles of recovery are about. Accepting the facts about myself was the essential seed for recovery - whether one is an addict or not.

Mind you, I am not at all implying that you are an addict. But if you are convinced that you use schmutz compulsively, that for you it is like a drug, and if you come to see that you cannot seem to really stop, then I suggest you consider that the problem is no longer the women on the street, your father's computer, nor even what you did yesterday! These are all tofel (secondary)... just triggers - not the problem, at all. Rather, the problem is in you yourself, period. You are not bad, and it's not your fault - it's just the way it is. Nu. I've got it too, buddy... and life is fantastic (in recovery)!!! Besides, now is as good a time as any to get free of it - and you can. For that, I need a lot of Hashem's actual assistance, and help from people (like other addicts in recovery) to learn how to get it.

So... keep using the mikvah if you want to, or don't, but whatever you do peripherally, keep your eye on the ikkar and don't get tricked by behaviors that imitate real change. Consider opening up to safe people, staying open and honest, getting the help you need, and doing the work. Always talk to Hashem as you would to your very best freind, cuz He is and always will be. He needs nothing and has only our best interest at heart forever. After all, He's G-d!

Get started today.