From Slavery to Freedom
Although this is my first post, I have benefited from the GYE community for the past 2 years. My purpose in writing is to share with my brothers what worked for me in the hope of helping. I was lost in a very severe lust addiction for 30 years, starting pretty much from puberty. Gazing, flirting, p-rn, fantasy, self-pleasure, intrusive thoughts, obsession with various women. When the internet came around, I quickly harnessed it to further intensify my addiction. Numerous cycles of teshuva every Elul invariably ended in relapse soon after Succos.
All this while raising a frum family, learning Gemora daily, listening to hashkafa tapes and attending shiurim.
I was so exasperated that I took a vow not to look for un-tznius (immodest) images on the internet for one year. I kept this vow, but the intrusive thoughts intensified. They gave me no rest. (Note from editor: Be cautious when making these kind of vows. See the TaPHSiC method to learn safe ways of using vows).
This was when I discovered GYE and learned for the first time that I was an addict. I read voraciously and subscribed to both emails. I gained tremendous chizuk (encouragement) from those who told their stories on this forum. I made a commitment not to look at women (other than my wife) and still believe that this is the most important key to success. This is not easy. I work with many young women at my job. I pinched my inner thigh if I caught myself looking, and in the beginning my thigh was quite bruised. Eventually, it got easier.
When intrusive thoughts (images, fantasies) entered my mind, I recited the following: "Ribbono Shel Olam I am powerless over lust and my life has become unmanageable. Only you can restore me to sanity. I turn my life and my lust over to your care and ask you to please heal me from this illness of lust. I don't want to lust. I only want you and a relationship with you." In the beginning, I probably said this dozens of times in a day. Now it's maybe once a month.
I also worked channeling lust properly in marriage as well. I recommend Rabbi Sholom Arush's book "Garden of Peace. A marital guide for men". This too is an important step for married men. The yetzer (evil impulse) tells us this type of lust is ok. I've gotten better at this too, over time.
This was right around Rosh Chodesh Nisan 2 years ago. I was then given a recording of a shiur about the hidden power of the Pesach Seder to overcome any yetzer hora (evil impulse or trait). The title is "Higher order of the Seder." The speaker is Rabbi Yaakov Labinsky of Aish Hatorah. He explains how to use the four languages of redemption and the four cups of wine to free yourself from the bondage (avdus) of the yetzer hora to a new level of freedom (cheirus). It influenced me greatly. I have had NO RELAPSES in the following 2 years. I am not suggesting that this is a substitute for using a system proven to address addiction. I also applied many of the basic principles of the 12 steps in my recovery program and still do. But the seder is an opportunity to jump ahead, an opportunity that should not be lost. You will not walk away from the seder cured. It will still be a mighty struggle, but you can be much further ahead.
I still ask Hashem to heal me from my addiction (in the bracha of r'faenu) and I ask for a stronger relationship with Him in many places in davening.
Within a few months of subscribing to the chizuk emails, I assumed a normal life B"H for the first time. My connection with Hashem continues to grow immensely, my learning is going much better, my home is more peaceful. For the first time since childhood, I am alive and well.
I felt it was only right for me to come and finally share my story. Although there isn't any one approach that works for everyone, this is what worked for me. If I can help even one person, that would already be a success.