Sunday, 24 June 2018

Integrity

by Dov (See all authors)

Integrity

Dear Dov,

What are some things we can do to build integrity into our lives? Sometimes there seems to be some in one area, but less in another.

-Looking for Integrity

Dear Looking,

There are many ways of bringing Integrity into our lives but I believe that all of them are basically neutralized when done in private. The blessing of GYE is that the technology allows us to do all this work in private safety... and that is its curse, too. For most of us, nay, all of us, our sexual deviations and related behaviors developed in the setting of complete privacy.

Correct?

How many people are aware of our repetitive lust rituals? Few to none.

Nearly every person I've met and spoken to believes with their whole heart that the reason for this secrecy was always shame or fear of getting into some sort of trouble if anyone would find out what we were doing. But it eventually becomes clear that this is not the entire truth. At some point in most people's recovery from this stuff, they realize that at least 50% of their motivation for keeping it all private has been: protection of access to our lust. We tell ourselves that we need to keep it private because of how horrible we feel about it, but the truth is that it we are hiding it because it is simply too precious for us to risk ruining it by exposure to anyone.

So we come on GYE expecting that finally exposing it to "Gingerbread man" or "TeshuvahGemurah613!" will change anything in the long run. Of course, it doesn't produce any real change because we have taken great pains in the admission itself to keep our full access to every aspect of our treasure protected. Nobody who really knows us has a clue and anyone who does know the facts is forever just a 'delete' button click away from Oblivion. Hidden behind our computers using our fake names, we remain in our private little Ivory Towers, and the floors are still sticky.

I know this because I chose to live that way for many years, myself. So all I have for all the suffering people who choose to still live that way, is understanding and pity.

You asked how a person can bring Integrity into their lives and were wise to expand it and write, "Sometimes there seems to be some in one area, but less in another."

I think you're hitting the key to success: integrity does not exist in a vacuum. It's either present in every aspect of our lives, or it's not really present at all. It only integrity when it permeates us as a value, not when we see it as a tool to be used when necessary or 'appropriate'. Oh, how it hurt my wife when she came to realize that in the first 11 years of our marriage my 'openness' with her was actually on a need-to-know basis, all along! Whenever I deemed it was best for her not to know, I made sure she wouldn't find out what I was doing. That's just not a marriage. I have met many people who are very kind and caring with one person but cold and calculating with many others. It's very common, actually. And we rationalize it with verses like: "im chosid - tis'chasod, v'im ikeish - tispatol", and others. That's the Mida of Gevurah - measuring, boundaries, limiting and defining our giving. But it just doesn't work as a basis for most relationships. And it kills integrity when the motivation behind that false Gevurah is the protection of our treasure. It also kills our chances for serenity when we need to keep in mind whatever we said yesterday to make sure it fits with today's alibis. I lived like that for a decade of marriage and hated it. But I had to protect my precious treasure of full, unobstructed access to sex and fantasy-fun. What else could I do? There was no way I could afford the high price of true integrity: transparency!

So my suggestion is to increase the sphere of honest relationships in our lives by opening up more and more honestly to more people. While it's true that I can admit everything about everything to my Program friends, it would be foolish to do the same with most of my coworkers and friends in shul! But that doesn't diminish from the power of the full openness I do have in my life because there are still real people I know face to face from whom I hide nothing. The wall of secrecy has to crack. But there's a balance here. Foolishness and prudence still exist. But I have come to believe that most of what I thought was prudence in the past, was just fear and shame...not my best 'friends'.

I believe things must start with a kernel of full disclosure and transparency to someone. And it needs to be someone real, not someone hiding behind a username, who we only open up to because they can't possibly figure out who we are. An openness that is predicated upon protection from the very person we are opening up to, is not openness, at all. Real vulnerability and real growth go hand in hand. I understand fully that the GYE forum can never be a safe venue for transparency and openness. It's completely unsafe because it's completely public. It's the very opposite of a face-to-face SA meeting, where walking in without a bag over your head is the ultimate price. See how we would all rather die than walk into a real meeting as ourselves! But posting - or reading others posts - on the Forum is free of any cost of any kind. That indeed makes it way too dangerous as a venue for the kind of opening up that I am talking about here.

So I suggest you cultivate all the real relationships in which you can open up some more. And that you try to create relationships with real, safe people to whom you can open up completely even though you aren't protected from each other. Opening up to another person will open them up to you more than anything else can. This was Dr. Bob and Bill W's secret weapon. They could never have done what they did over the phone...and certainly would have gotten nowhere at all hiding from each other behind usernames! And millions benefitted from what they did. So can you. Comfort has certainly not been our best friend along the trip behind us.

I am not suggesting you are an addict, and I'm certainly not writing to suggest you pursue 12 Steps or any kind of Recovery group. I don't know you or your situation. All I'm suggesting is that you take a page from their book and learn how to use it in your own life and in your own way. There's a lot normal people can learn from us, fortunately, recovering addicts, b"H.

Hatzlocha!