The Captain Kirk Moment

GYE Admin Monday, 28 November 2016

Please bear with me and I'll tell you about Captain Kirk in a minute.

First, I will share that I have seen dozens of guys who have had the hardest time just saying their right name on a phone call. I have heard the hesitating, quiet voice on the other end of the line finally admit that "yes, my name - the one the real people in my everyday life know me by - is Pinchas". It is a terrible strain for some - and I hear myself in their trembling. That same hesitancy - fear mixed with shame. It's mine, too. It's just that in my case it is behind me - in theirs, it is still in front of them.

What is really going on here?

I have seen frum guys finally drag themselves into live meetings and start off the first few meetings using a 'fakish' name - their English name that no one who knows their frum persona really uses. Only to later change their names in the meetings to the Hebrew name that their wife and friends use - cuz they began to see the perverts in the room are like they are, that they need what the guys in the room have been given just as desperately as they do. No difference in that respect. That is when the walls go down and the real juicy work can finally begin. Until then, they are still unattached to what goes on in the meeting, for on some level it is not really Pinchas who is sitting there, but 'Robert' (the bad guy who is subject to porn worship).

How to bring them together?

Which brings me to Captain Kirk.

There was once an episode of Star Trek in which there was a time travel shtick, and the Kirk of the present went 10 years into the past. Now, there was another Kirk then, too, right?

That was a big problem. The scientists told him that normally two of the same people cannot coexist. It just does not happen. But as this was an exception (it was a TV show and they were getting paid $15,000 per episode) as long as the old Kirk did not actually meet the present Kirk, all would be fine. However, if they actually met each other, the entire Time-Space Continuum would be 'ripped asunder' (chas veSholom). Under no circumstances could they be allowed to meet!

I do not remember what actually happened to Mr. Shatner, but everything turned out OK, for there were another few seasons of the show (and also we are all still here, no?). But my point is just this:

How does a frum guy get all drawn into his very private porn, admitting by his actions its awesome, sweet power for him, and privately have sex with himself (masturbate) with such intensity and imaginative pleasure and power? OK, so he has shame, self-loathing, and sadness afterward. But how does he do both tefillin, teaching Torah, being mekareiv and really davening for others hard and really crying for the churban, and really working on his middos... and masturbating himself with a fantasy that could only mean he (secretly) also worships the beauty and power of those naked shiksas and the act of sex? How does such a contradiction survive in him?

How does it survive in us?
My answer to myself is simple. We learn to lie a little. We lie to others and we lie to ourselves. We'll quit really soon. We won't do it anymore when we are twenty... or fifty. Never on Shabbos. Never with masturbation. Etc. All lies, to ourselves. And over time, we learn to lie more and more without even noticing it, just as you cannot see yourself grow.

When we are being good, we feel good about ourselves and we wish we could forget the bad stuff we did last night - we call that a hirhur teshuvah. Really, it is just so we do not hate ourselves so badly, but that's OK. We learn not to face it right now by pretending that we are 'forgiven' by Hashem. That way, one persona does not invade the other so much. It gets put off till the next time if we are lucky.

When we are being 'bad', we wish we could forget how devoted we are to Hashem and His Torah and to our wives and children and to honesty with society - because it just feels so good to do the porn and we really see no way out of it. We know we need it and do not in a million years believe there is really an alternative for us, in the end. We end up 'ignoring' our kedusha during the act. That is lying to ourselves, and again, one persona does not see the other simultaneously. Pretending we are really rotten to the core is a much more comfortable way to act out. Nu. Who wants to hurt so much?

We walk about for years and are tortured inside, for we know the dichotomy we are hiding - we are the dichotomy. But we do not really know what to do. We fight to make one side gain mastery over the other and call that hisgabrus al hayeitzer. And we fall. Then we assume we are horrible Jews, and assume that Hashem agrees with us about that. That mistake is a hard one to shake... (see step 2).

So now about the time-travel dilemma.
When we open up to others under a username (or fake English name in a meeting) and share the entire truth (which most rarely do) about our addiction, we are still hiding our 'good' persona - the real me. It's OK to let them know the horrible dirt - yeah, all of it - as long as they do not know the 'good' persona too well. The two are just incompatible.

Those who got caught by their wives or children know exactly what I am talking about. They understand why their getting caught was so effective for a time - the desire to use the porn left them as a result of getting both personae dragged into the room at the same time. The horror of getting caught with my pants down by a co-worker, son, daughter, or wife is truly intolerable to anyone who has experienced it. Why?

Because the hypocrisy is mercilessly forced to come to a bitter end. The Time-Space Continuum has been ripped asunder. We look frantically for a place to bury ourselves. It's hell.

It is the two Kirks being forced to see each other by a third party - and only a party who knows both personae can possibly do that. Till that happens, we are all players. Lying a bit about the 'real us' to ourselves and to others.

Some of us insist on solving our problem without bringing the two personae together. Perhaps, they are just avoiding the terribly painful end of their hypocrisy, perhaps not. I do not know what is best for another. But in my own case, I got caught, and it still didn't help. After a few weeks, I was back at it, and it got worse and worse until I couldn't take it anymore. I was begging for someone to rip off my cover and get me real! My wife could not do that, for she does not understand what I am talking about when I describe the desperation to get the sweet porn in my mind and heart and does not understand the allergy to it that I have.

So I needed real meetings - with real addicts. Perverts for decades, who chose the path of sobriety because they had no choice. Just like me. People who can hear both sides of me. And I use my real name, wear my normal Jewish outfit, and talk with them freely about my real life.

And that flows out into being real with everybody else in my life, whether they know about my problem, or not.

And that is why so many of us are OK with goyim in meetings, but shrink into a corner when they meet a frum yid. There is a common strong desire to avoid and evade. And I do not blame them, for I had that, too. Here is a guy who can bring them even closer to the true full self! It's more pain to go through. But more healing, too.

Interestingly, I have seen newly recovering program-guys meet people from the meeting in public places just 'out of the blue' and totally ignore them, as if they didn't know them at all. Those guys did not remain sober. I think they may have been shocked by the cross-over from their 'meeting life' into their 'real life'. They were not willing to smile discreetly and say a polite "Hi" to the other guy. Instead, here was trouble - "so get away from me quick." Oy v'avoi.

This is precisely why AA has a strong tradition of real anonymity. We do not reveal the identity of anyone else we meet in the rooms to non-members. Ever. But it's not about shame, at all. It's because sharing the secrets of others will not help their recovery at all! Only the truth that they want to share will help them.

Those who just get caught and stay clean out of fear of further humiliation never, ever stay better. Getting humiliated into sobriety does not work until there is some humility added. Humility (in hachno'oh to the truth) is the underpinning of the steps.

And that is why 'accountability groups' are nice but will ultimately fail, as long as they are based on avoiding shame - which they can easily become all about.

And that is why opening up to the wife (and remaining consistently open with her) is so very powerful - when done at the right time. It is powerful medicine for my recovery and powerful medicine for the marriage. Honesty removes yet another layer of hiding from ourselves that has to go to the boards for true freedom.

Sharing my credit card number and address would not do any of these things for me, and neither would pulling up my pant-leg. It's not about compromising my security, nor my anonymity. It's not about getting hurt nor for the sake of being punished for all my wrongs until I can finally be good. This is not Teshuvah and it is not sigufim. It's all and only about being the real me with everyone that I can be, to the extent that I can be without violating the health of my family and others. We do the best we can in that, and ask Hashem to make it work right. And it works, period.