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  Breaking Free Chizuk #1379  
In Today's Issue
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Chizuk: Relapse is all about repeating shame messages
Daily Dose of Dov: The Pain of Living
Content: Get a Partner or Sponsor
Torah: Where is the holiness
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Image of the Day
Relapse is all about repeating shame messages
By Allan J. Katz, LPC

To speak with Allan, call our hotline 646-600-8100, press Extension 2 for “Treatment” and then press 3 to be directed to his phone line.

Click on "Author" above for more information and additional contact info.

“I’ve had a wonderfully healthy childhood, how did I get this thing called 'sex addiction'?” is one of the most common questions asked of sex addiction professionals. The truth is, according to Dr. Patrick Carnes, sex addiction is not about sex. It is about core feelings of loneliness and unworthiness. Many addicts, in fact, encounter healthy sexuality for the first time when they are in recovery and experience sex without shame.

Where does this shame come from? It can come from physical or emotional abuse, emotional abandonment, even the messages we received as children from our families and teachers. We also have to consider the role each of us played in our families: Hero, mascot, lost child, enabler or scapegoat. There are ways families unintentionally cause shame messages in their children. Common quotations like “children should be seen and not heard” silence children from expressing their feelings. They begin to isolate, feeling lonely and unworthy of having a voice, opinion or belief. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” is another common way to silence our feelings. Worst of all, in some families there are unprocessed, unmentionable secrets that have power and create much shame. Children know about them but parents say, “It is in the past, so there is no need to talk about it.”

Children’s needs may also be denied or criticized. When a child gets hurt and the parent says, “You’re not hurt, get up, be a man,” this sends a message to the child that he is unworthy of love from this parent. To avoid further shaming and conflict, the child simply detaches from his own needs. So begins the shame cycle. We are torn asunder by two primary conflicting directives: do things right and do things to feel better. We had no one to teach us how to fulfill normal human needs and still be appropriate in our behavior.

The way relapse occurs is a certain trigger from our environment reminds us subconsciously of the shame messages we said about ourselves when either abuse or neglect occurred in our past. The trigger shames us into believing we are 'less than', lonely, never good enough, or just not worthy of anything good. Without proper boundaries in place, the addict enters the addictive cycle of preoccupation, ritualization, acting out, and despair, and the cycle continues. Sometimes, triggers can be as subtle as a song, smell, place, criticism, fights, problems with children, money, work, etc. Reminding us again that we are not worthy of living a healthy life.

According to Brene Brown, in her book I thought it was just me (But it isn’t),

“When it comes to shame, understanding is a prerequisite for change. We can’t consciously make the decision to change our behavior until we are aware of what we are thinking and why...” This is why it is critical for us to figure out what our past experiences have caused us to believe about ourselves and work on disputing, reframing and contradicting these shameful, internal messages.

Daily Dose of Dov
The Pain of Living
By Dov

The first step to recovery is to stop using your drug and to do whatever you need to do to stay clean. Then, as the pain of living happens, have the help you need to live through it usefully. And that pain will come, for the stuff that drives us crazy in life (about ourselves, others and their behavior) is what drove/drives us to act out in the first place. But we will certainly not face it sanely while we are drugging with porn, masturbation, sex, etc.

Now, I tried this many times over many long, hard, rotten years. After all, we really are good people, yir'ei Shomayim, and we do try to stop. But I could not do it successfully until I finally gave up on the luxuries of secrecy - and even normalcy - by joining other sick folks like me who are getting better (in my case, SA) and admitting that I was actually ill.

If we start on this road and stay the course one day at a time, we are forced to work (use) the 12-steps in order to face life and are automatically, shockingly healed - even without knowing or understanding what we are doing. And it's better that way, 'cuz, as they say, "my own best thinking is exactly what got me into this mess in the first place". Leave me out of my recovery as much as possible, thank-you.

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Where is the holiness

One should know that the principle aspect of a Jew's holiness and purity is in sanctifying his eyes. The Torah emphasizes this in the verse regarding Yehuda by asking, "Where is the k'deisha?" While the word k'deisha has the meaning "harlot," it can also be read in its meaning of "holiness," so that we read, "Where is the holiness?" And the answer is "b'Anayim," which means that the harlot was in the place called Anayim, but also that the holiness of a Jew is in the Anayim - the eyes (Bereshit, 38:21).

Do you think you may have a porn addiction?

Do you have a problem with obsessive and compulsive porn use? Have you seriously tried the tools on GYE and feel that you are not getting better? Maybe it’s time to consider joining a 12-Step program.

Porn Anonymous (PA)
If you’re compulsively acting-out with pornography and masturbation we suggest you explore joining Porn Anonymous (PA). If you need help deciding whether to join PA, call Michael at 347-699-2368, or email to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit (Hebrew: / Yiddish:

Sexaholics Anonymous (SA)
If your compulsive acting-out has progressed beyond the screen (with other people, paid sexual services, etc.) we suggest you explore joining Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). To figure out if SA is for you, call Dov at 917-414-8205, or email Dov at to schedule a time to talk. For more information visit

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