The Mask in the Mirror
Here is the preface to a new e-Book written by Elya K. called "The Mask in the Mirror". Elya is a U.S. Hotline Moderator, Sponsor and Group Leader for GYE for already 3 years. To purchase the e-Book for $3 contact Elya by clicking here.
Every person is born with an innate need for connection. As infants we find solace in the arms of our mothers and as we grow we feel a part of our family when we are hugged and made to feel a valued member of our family.
When neglect, abandonment, abuse or trauma separate children from their family unit, physically, sexually or emotionally, children learn quickly to find someone or some thing they can connect with in order to feel safe and secure. Some children turn to join gangs or use drugs because they finally feel accepted as a member of this new group. Others turn to alcohol, sex, work, food or gambling to numb the agony of abandonment and low self esteem.
To cope with the outside world in the midst of inner turmoil, the addict resorts to compartmentalizing his life; wearing a mask in public to cover up his inner shame and guilt. When he returns to his "accepted group" of choice he looks in the mirror and convinces himself that he has now transformed himself into a new person behind the mask. His mask becomes his identity.
The Ateres Zekainim on Pirkey Avos says on the Mishna in Perek 2:2, "dissatisfaction is a prime factor in man's vulnerability to the temptation of the Evil Inclination. Unfulfilled people may fantasize that if only they had this or that pleasure, they would truly be satisfied."
Instead we are commanded to fill our time with both Torah study and an occupation so we have no idle time for fantasy. This also leaves us no time for inner contemplation and reflection.
Yet, it seems the pull of the evil inclination is much stronger for the suffering addict. When he feels resentful, irritable or discontent; when he is not spiritually fit, he reverts back to his childhood belief that again he is disconnected and abandoned. Now he must choose fantasy to fill his time instead of a more rational, healthier activity. His mask again hides his secret life until he looks in the mirror. In the mirror he senses there has to be a better way to live than in the prison of his own mind, behind this mask.
For several years now, I have had the privilege of helping hundreds of Jewish addicts get and stay sober due to my association with http://guardyoureyes.org. This book is a compilation of letters, poems, essays and practical advice which I have shared in personal correspondence, group sessions and in person with people suffering with addictions. It is my hope that you, the reader will discover practical ways to stay sober and achieve serenity and in the process be able to help others.
All names and situations have been altered to protect anonymity, the foundation of all 12 step programs. Because of the nature of writing a book in the form of letters, many ideas will be repeated. But just like repetition in meetings is helpful, reading similar concepts over and over again, categorized by topic will help you remain balanced no matter which way the storm blows your ship.
The Gemorah says, "Sheva Yipol Tzaddik V'Kum." A Tzaddik falls seven times and gets up. It does not say this person is a rasha, it says a Tzaddik. Part of being human is to fall and get up, NOT give up.
Want to find out if you really have an addiction problem? Answer the questions on this page.
If you are indeed addicted then you have a disease which is causing a lack of motivation and a longing for connection. Addicts sexualize boredom, loneliness, anger, guilt, stress and resentment.
Our addiction (the Yetzer Horah) tells us that we can do Teshuva by passing by places we used to go, just to say we passed by and didn't go in again, or browsing the sites we used to browse, and watch the movies we used to watch... But this is a setup, because when you do it enough times you will go back to your old behaviors.
It's like this anonymous story in 5 chapters:
Chapter 1: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost... I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2: I walk down the same street; there is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in this same place. But it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter 3: I walk down the same street; there is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see the hole, I fall in, it's a habit... but my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Chapter 4: I walk down the same street; there is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
Chapter 5: I walk down a different street.
This is the story of recovery... setting boundaries, slipping, getting back up, working on your character traits, eliminating resentments, making amends and helping others find serenity and sobriety. Only when we let go and admit our powerlessness can we begin walking down a different street.