I was an addict from a VERY young age (to young for me to remember how old I was) for about 20 years. During that time, I was under constant stress from the addiction and - for most of the years - it totally dominated my life. I would get triggered from something I saw - or from nothing, and the feeling was overwhelming. It completely took over every fiber of my body and I was liable to risk my life to get my fix.
I was forever trying desperately to stop, but I didn't seem to be getting anywhere. I often thought about suicide, but I didn't think it would help me since it would just be another huge sin that I would have to face the consequences for.
I'm a very strong believer in Truth, so I was always desperately searching for the truth. I knew in my heart that obviously something was wrong here, and I was searching to find what it is. When I learned that Chazal say that anyone who is alive can't complain because it's enough that he's alive, I asked, "What is a life of sin worth?" And I asked it again and again.
When at 18 years old, I started to get some proper perspective, things started to get a little bit more bearable. A few years later, I began to understand that:
Life is not about how good I am, how bad I am, how successful I am, what people think of me, what has happened to me in the past etc........ Rather it's about DOING what Hashem wants me to do each second.
That it's not sin I need to fight but rather lust.
That it's not 'me and the lust' with Hashem somewhere out there getting angry at me; but rather it's 'Hashem with me' with the lust trying to get in between.
And I began to understand many other truths.
At that point, my addiction began to disappear. The more my life got clear direction and the more I developed a very personal relationship with Hashem, the more the addiction cycle disappeared.
There were ups and downs. I went clean for a few months or years, and then I fell. But when I fell, I didn't fall back in to the cycle like before (it was a gradual change). I did, however, get back up as a bigger and better person than I was before.
There's no question in the world that R' Tzadok's "Tzidkas Hatzadik" and R' Tzvi Meir's shiurim, changed me by changing my perspective on Hashem, on myself and on the Yetzer Hara.
Nothing that I see nowadays can fire me up or take me out of control.
But that doesn't mean that the battle is over.
Almost five years ago, after a good few years of being totally removed from this stuff, Hashem turned my life upside down. I'll just write a few of the things that happened. A close relative of mine, that I was extremely close to, went from being a happy successful "top-notch" bachur, to a lifeless mess. The way it happened was extremely painful and I took it VERY hard. At the same time, four of my kids were suddenly in crisis (emotional or spiritual or medical) with their problems ranging from major to critical.
Then I was blessed with a set of twins. One of them passed away at about one month, and the other one is very handicapped (At four and a half, he can hardly see, he can hardly eat, he can't talk or walk or stand or crawl.) A few months later, my wife informed me (after I was away for a few days) that life is better without me. [Our marriage is absolutely beautiful now B"H, since I learned not to rely on my wife for anything - including receiving my love or doing her part in raising the children.]
My days were taken up with caring for my baby all day, leaving me no time to learn and almost no time to daven. I definitely didn't have the mind or heart for davening or learning. I had to spend weeks at a time in Tel-Aviv (where they give out free porn mags outside of stores). All this happened after having the best six months in my life. I felt so beaten, it can't be described. I don't have to tell you what I would have done if I had still been addicted when this all happened. What actually did happen, was that my shmiras einayim was blown away, and I acted out a few times in a few years.
When I found that I wasn't safe with a computer, I searched for help and found this holy network. I began to share my story and share the truths that saved me and I saw that it was very helpful to people. It was also very helpful to me. Others were doing the same, and things keep getting better and better.
To see more of Battleworn's story, see this page of our website where we bring his story in 7 installments.
Battleworn posts chizuk on our forum in a special board we created called "Battleworn's Corner" which inspires many people.