It's An Allergy
"KolelGuy" wrote on the forum:
I've been doing really well since my last fall, which just "happened" to be the day before I joined the GYE crew. The main issue for me has always been that I would forget my weakness and get too confident. But since I'm here, I keep myself aware of my goal and what will get me there, and it's been a whole different experience. Here, I got a whole new perspective on the benefits of knowledge about the nature of this thing, and how the best way to win is not to allow the fight to start in the 1st place. Up until now, my only weapons have been my seforim. But recently I've begun to notice that this isn't really a sefer issue.
Agav, this forum is the greatest thing since penicillin!
Steve, who is on Duvid Chaim's daily phone conference for the past few months, responds to "KollelGuy":
You got it!! That is what being addicted is all about. It's like an allergy to peanuts; some people are allergic, some are not. It's how Hashem made us, and it's part of His individual plan for each of us. The allergy never goes away. You can wait another 20 years between bites of peanut butter, but then - WAMMO - you can't breathe, and you hit yourself and say, "I shoulda known better..."
So how do we best avoid the fight from the beginning?
The BIG emergency first-aid plan, which we got from the 12 steps discussions, is to realize that the Yetzer Hara hides in the dark and then SUDDENLY jumps out at you, makes you feel like you've gotta act and make your choice right away, and not give you time to think, just react, which usually means a fall. And he knows EXACTLY what the best ways are to get your attention. He even got Rebbe Meir to drop everything and swim after him, cuz he knew exactly what kind of IMAGE would knock down even the greatest Tzaddik's barriers (see footnote below).
DON'T LET HIM FOOL YOU! You've got time. Stop, look away, don't confront him yet, just count to ten or more, take some deep breaths, the urge will lessen. Then walk away & do something else, think about something else.
YOU KNOW what'll happen if you even GO NEAR that peanut. You're allergic, you won't be able to stop 'cuz it's not in your control. If you think you are in control, you're fooling yourself. Just look at your track record: "Yeah, I can quit any time I want! I've quit 100 times already...!"
And if you fall, C"V, just say, "Sorry Tatty, I'm trying, but I need more time...". Dust yourself off, climb back on the horse and keep on riding. We're all only human, "trying to do the best we can".
Just don't get down on yourself if you fell. Don't call yourself names. Focus on turning the experience it into something positive - figure out what was the trigger that tripped you up, and what response you would have wanted to have instead. Then play back the scenario in your mind, and this time have it go the way you would have wanted it to. This is called "visualization" (like when we learned to drive, we imagined like in a movie how we would handle spinning on ice, so when the time comes we would be programmed to act that way).
This is a reference to a series of stories recorded in Gemara Kiddushin (80a-81a) where Hashem demonstrated the power of the Yetzer Hara to some of of the Tanoim who had felt powerful over it and belittled it's influence: The Gemara relates that the Satan presented himself to R' Akivah as a seductive woman in a treetop. He became so inflamed by her that he was unable to resist, and he started to climb the tree so he could sin with her. Halfway up the tree, the woman turned into the Satan and said: "If it wouldn't be that it had been said in the Heavens to respect R' Akivah and his teachings, I'd take your life!". A similar story is recorded with R' Meir swimming across a river to sin with a woman, and upon reaching the halfway point, the woman turned into the Satan, rebuking him with those same words.