We Need to Make it Real
The thing all the 12-step-recovering addicts in the world are making such a big deal about, is different than all the steps we thought we had taken in the past that "look like" the 12-Step program. It is different because it is different! All those times we have done the steps and ended up exactly where we were before, we did it by ourselves. It was out own brains that were working it all out. A blind man leading himself. Now that's really nuts, no? We hid the full truth about ourselves - in order to get better...? Not going to work. And when we did tell it to others, it wasn't to other people who were real to us. It was usually to someone we really had nothing to do with in the rest of our real lives. Who didn't know the face we were projecting - so they wouldn't really be able to really see what big fakers we were. Hey, it's embarrassing! And if we did open up to someone who knew the 'normal' version of us, then it was usually a person who had no clue about addiction, lust struggles, insanity, whatever.
My version of recovery - what I needed - was (and is) to get together with other men who think, tell, live, and know the exact same lies I do, want the exact same things that I want, who see me with my stupid, trance-like, salivating expression that I get while I stare at the computer searching in true desperation for that perfect, sweet, image that I need - cuz they know it themselves. I get together with men like that, who are crawling out from under their own wreckage with no pride at all, and let them hug me. Goyim, Jews, whatever. I get to know these men and get together with them weekly and share myself, make relationships with them, and we get to know each other. We get better together, while we watch many of our numbers fall to the wayside. Nu. Better them than us....
So where I come from, the 1st step is done in our hearts, of course, but in order to have a better chance to actually believe it, we write out as much as we can remember of what we have done that got us into some trouble as a result of lust compulsion and desire throughout our lives. Then we review it with a sponsor and then we share the entire thing with a group of other addicts - the guys who really understand us. They may still be sick, but they are in recovery and understand us, and that's priceless. On the other hand, advice to a struggling lust addict that is not based on personal pain and success, but based on a mussar sefer or a shmooze is often dramatic and beautiful but totally useless, it seems to me. We need to do the work ourselves if it is to be real enough to actually work. I have never yet met a single person who actually got sober from 'inspiration'.
Second step - real writing and real work - not just thinking in generalities. Same for each of the other steps. We get mushy and generalize the ideas, watering them down into the same useless mush we have always watered Torah ideas down to - and that's why they do not lead to change. That's gotta stop. Writing it for ourselves - not to impress anyone else - and sharing with others, is the only way I know to make it real.