Yosef Joins Live SA Meetings For the First Time
Halavei, I should be young. I'll give you a hint to how old I am. I was alive when Nikita Krushef was banging his shoe on the table (I think it was at the UN). If I were a young guy and starting recovery, I would have many more years of good living ahead of me. Instead I have made life very hard for myself and my family. Yes I do have a wife and a bunch of kids, but you can imagine what kind of husband and father I have been. When I was forced to confess everything to my wife almost 2 years ago, I thought she would leave me. Instead she said "why didn't you tell me before, I could have helped you". I have just joined live SA groups for the first time. This may sound "brave", but I really am not. I'm just out of options. You see everybody's disease progresses in its own ways and at its own speed. Mine really fooled me big time, because for many years it was "content" with masturbation and a little voyeurism - nothing that was too risky (except that it was rotting me from the inside). But then, out of nowhere about 12 years ago, my illness took off like a rocket and I have ventured deep into far riskier and sicker means of getting my "high" than masturbating in front of a computer. But it all came about because the disease blinded me into thinking that I could somehow beat this thing my way. My only chance, and B"H, I really believe this now, is to surrender myself to meetings and being amongst other guys like me. My SA meetings are the Holiest time of the day for me. I hope it doesn't take you guys as many years as it took me to give in. I had to be clobbered over the head by someone who saw right through me and how I was conning myself. Now he is my Rebbe.
As I was saying, I have started face-to-face SA meetings (5 meetings in the last 5 days). And I had no idea what I was missing. The feeling of togetherness amongst other addicts is very powerful - it's hard to describe why it is helping so much more than the online SA meetings did (since we use all the same materials) but I feel as though a huge weight has been removed from me. I have been traveling to different groups and making this a part of my day - it's just as important or more for me than going to shul. I'm slowly getting a better sense of who I actually am, when I'm there with others. My life and my addiction always kept me apart from people even when I was with them. I've been hearing very inspirational shares by others and have been trying to speak in details about aspects of my disease that I have always kept to myself. This has been liberating. I have been impressed with every meeting that I have attended so far. There is really so much out there for us. I had to surrender a lot of pride, shame and fear to show my face at these meetings, but as someone said, he would rather be caught coming out of a recovery meeting than out of a house of prostitution. I feel a part of the larger SA recovery movement now. I feel that I take the program and my new SA friends with me now into my day. And I finally am feeling closer to Hashem.
Like many guys on this forum, for a long time I couldn't bring myself to join live groups - and I didn't know how others could go either! Why was I so fearful and ashamed, and yet they were able to? Someone explained to me that it was because I wasn't really sober (in my thinking yet). My need for "dignity" was my disease talking - as if my masturbating while peeking into windows was really dignified. Or trying to make out with someone who could be my grand-daughter was dignified. I must admit that walking into an SA room for the first time didn't exactly feel like I was the guest of honor at a Yeshiva's Annual Dinner - but those kind of honors are not going to help me stay sober. I need to be in touch with who I really am; how far I've gone and the danger of even riskier compulsive sexual behavior that this disease will lead me to if I don't go to meetings. And once I sat down and looked around, I realized that I was exactly where I need to be. I then felt "held" and very safe in these groups which were very well officiated. I have been feeling more free to be myself lately.
To all of you here. I suggest getting together at meetings. If its embarrassing, then so be it. It will be the best thing to lose that embarrassment. It will be a relief to see that admitting to each other that we are sex addicts only strengthens us and makes us feel more whole. There are so many goyim who have been doing this (the groups) for so many years. Hashem protects them and nothing bad happens. The worst thing that could happen (that we lose some pride) becomes the best thing that could happen: a whole new way of life opens up for us. There is really nothing that the non-addict world can do to us if we stick together. Togetherness and helping each other is where Hashem is. We've got no choice but to trust this and take the first step to believing it.
In this week's Parasha, Hashem said to Moshe: Mah titzak alei? Why do you cry out to me? The question is, why not? What's wrong with Davening to Hashem to split the Yam Suf? The Ohr HaChaim explains that there are times when people have to do more than pray - they have to demonstrate their worthiness to be saved. Therefore Hashem commanded Moshe to stop praying. Instead, He wanted to see the people show their readiness to put their lives in "danger". Go ahead and jump into the water (do you really think that I'm not right there to catch you?). Walking into SA meetings still feels a little like this for me, but I know that that I have to find a meeting to go to, otherwise I will end up dead or in jail. I just think about how it would feel to be publicly exposed for what I am, as compared to admitting it too a room of guys like all of you guys here!
Dov responds to Yosef's post:
You remind me of what I heard from a beautiful drunk named Chuck C. who died with over 30 years of sobriety: "We wanted so much to be a part of - but we were forever apart from!"
He saw our tendency toward inner isolation (that is often unknown to even our closest people) as a great curse of addiction. You are breaking out of it the hard way, by opening up precisely in this area - and it is the only way I have ever known to access normalcy.
Chuck also talked a lot about giving up the ego/pride, as you are slowly doing, by not giving so much credence to our little worries and convoluted thinking and figuring.... He called the process "getting lost in living, and waking up in G-d." Beautiful, beautiful words to me. You seem to understand this, too.