Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tolerating Imperfection

Part 2/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by Dov (See all authors)

Someone asks Dov:

It sounds like, from what you are saying Dov, that if we are not feeling shameful of our own flaws, then the only real determination to change must be coming from a desire for something better.

Dov replies:

Whoa! Sorry for being unclear. I never meant to imply that shame over character defects was a good or useful thing. In fact, the shame is paralyzing for me, even more than the defect, itself. I also never meant to imply that the only way that I have hope of getting better (or staying sober) is to get rid of all my character defects. What I was trying to say was that getting rid of the shame of admitting them to ourselves and others is a necessary prerequisite for me to getting any freedom from them. I can never truly ask Hashem to remove it from me if I do not really accept that I've got it. And if I cannot admit to another person (or in a meeting) that I've got it, then I still consider it an aveira, not a chlo'ei hanefesh (as RMB"M puts it). If it is an aveira, then it is ugly and wrong - how can I honestly believe Hashem takes away aveiros - that, to me, is completely against bechirah! An illness or 'bad' middah, yes - but an evil choice I am making?! That is a matter for basic Teshuvah, not for Recovery as I know it.

... how can we be expected to step away from behavior that is pleasurable now, for something that will be pleasurable later after much hard work. Its just so hard to know what's really around the bend sometimes, and what is worth waiting for.

Understood, amigo. I'd never change for a future reward either, and never have. Others have 'accused me' of this though, just cuz I sometimes describe the wonderful things I have discovered in a life of recovery so far that were the fruit of years of slow change. But I never looked forward to get any of those things. They just fell into my life. Promise.

But when it comes to using lust, it is just so destructive that I did whatever was necessary to get the help I needed to avoid it. I was simply scared of ruining what life I had left after getting caught and exposed for who I really was.

Now, some of the fruits of recovery are a sense of gratitude for the good things in life (cuz they start to be more reliable), a feeling of integrity that cannot apparently be dislodged (I think it is Emunah, actually, that G-d is really here with me forever and always), and a sense of safety (that I am not that likely to flush my life down the toilet at any moment, nor to get arrested, and have no fear that I'll get caught in a lie). These gifts, once tasted, are precious, no? We try to hold onto them once we recognize them. That may be what you are referring to, I guess, as "the payoff in the future". Well, I never counted on getting any of those things, till I tripped over them. So I ask you: why look forward to getting anything more than just being sober? If that is not precious enough to motivate someone, then I just have a hard time relating. It just isn't what I experienced, that's all. An expert on recovery in general might be able to help, not me. All I have is my own experience which is very limited.