Monday, 23 January 2012

Wishful Thinking

by Dov (See all authors)

Someone who kept having repeated falls wrote on the forum:

Another fall... no time to feel sorry for myself.. I just got to try harder.. maybe one day I'll get it.

Dov replies:

Hi. I have read through a good bit of your recent posts and see that you are really struggling valiantly. The themes that keep coming up are that you talk to Hashem, love Him, want so much to depend on him, and expect Him to actually help you stay clean. It is clear that you are bothered by the things that you sometimes choose to do.

The quote above sounds quite sad. I have said the same thing to myself and to others many times in the past as well, and I do believe that you think you are truly sincere. You are honest, admitting whenever you "fall". Of course, it is relatively easy to be honest in a 'virtual' venue like this - hurts the pride a bit, yes, but still rather easy. No one sees you.

You seem to feel that although you may be a failing, perhaps poor eved Hashem, you are at least still definitely an eved Hashem and assume that you will one day get better! I relate completely to those feelings.

Nevertheless, I have no sympathy for you, even though I love you. Chazal teach me not to have sympathy, it's not my idea... Please allow me to explain why I feel this way about you, and why I hope that sharing this with you may actually be helpful:

I am an addict. I am totally unable to stay clean. I use shmutz and lust, as you do, and have "special interests", as you do. Lust can easily take over my attention and my mind because to me it is a drug - it intoxicates me. With it, I can easily escape for a while into a fantasy world and feel powerful and free. I wake up shell-shocked, dirty and weak, of course, but what other tools for coping with the bothers of life do I possess? Not many, by nature, even though I was (and still am) a frum yid who learned Torah, davened, cared about, learned and even taught mussar, etc. A bit of a fake, no?

Nevertheless, I am sober today for over twelve years. You can look up my story on this site somewhere (see here). How is this possible? Am I showing off?

Well, the answer is in many of your posts too: it's all due to a relationship with Hashem that recovery is helping me achieve and maintain day by day, even though I'm very imperfect. And at the same time, recovery helps me get a clear view of me. After all, it's hard to get and maintain a useful relationship with a big liar or with a person you can't really see. I was both. I need other people to help me with these things. I need Hashem to help me with them because the work was impossible.

But I don't get the help just because I want it or ask for it. It requires me to do something. This is "olam ha'asiyah - the world of deeds". Period.

You do not seem to be lacking in emunah. But so far, every time someone posted a suggestion to you - a concrete suggestion - you responded with sweet answers like "Yes, I am putting my hope and trust in Hashem that He will help me with this." Very nice. But is that faith? Is faith about doing nothing but "trying harder", as you mention above? Is that "trusting"? Is trust something you have - or is it something you do?

I think you are describing neither trust, nor hope. I call what you are doing, "wishing". Nothing more than wishing real hard.

Faith - bitachon - is what Hashem wants us to use to gain the courage to do what is necessary to live as Yiddishe mentchen.

Promises and hopes mean nothing to your wife and kids. They want you to be better. I do not mean to insult you at all c"v. I am just sharing with you what was shared with me. And Hashem helped me.

He's powerful. He loves you. And He can do far better for you than help you "hope", if you just start taking the actions necessary to actually stop and get better. My wish for you is progress in the direction you started by joining GYE; to drop the shame, and to take whatever actions needed for you to get better. It all depends on what you want. Do you want to keep looking like you want to get better, or: do you want to actually start getting better?

If you continue wishing and hoping without progressing in taking real action, I would suggest that it just proves that you do not really want to get better.

And I may be the very last person to look down on you for being scared to death of actually quitting and staying quit. Hey - I'm an addict. I haven't forgotten what it's like to be tied to lust. And I also remember mastering the art of acting like I'm moving to recovery while actually running fast in the opposite direction.

And that is why I love you.

Wishing you all the chizuk in the world,

- Dov