How I made it to 140 days clean
Before I share what works for me, I want to thank this wonderful organization from the bottom of my heart for the amazing things it has accomplished. Without the GYE community, I would be lost as I try to navigate this increasingly insane world.
A little background on my struggle. Since I was a teenager, I always struggled with M"ZL. B'H, since I was away in yeshiva during my high school and bais medrash years, my access to the internet was always limited. As such, viewing inappropriate websites was not something I really struggled with. After I got married, I spent a few years in Kollel. During this time, we did not have internet in our home. However, I always struggle with M"ZL. I realized, that getting married, sadly does not cure us from these nisyonos. When I left Kollel to go to work, that's when things started to get very challenging. As my job necessitate the use of a computer, I now had to fight the urge to refrain from viewing inappropriate materials. It's amazing how very few websites are completely clean. Many "innocent" websites have advertisement or links to other sites that can lead to a dangerous path.
At first, the spiral started by viewing images that were not clean, although technically not porn. Not surprisingly, eventually this led to viewing more explicit materials. The feeling of hopelessness and despair that I felt was horrible. I was losing control. How can I look at my wonderful wife and kids after the things I've seen?
Around two years ago, by some miracle I discovered GYE. The feeling of relief was palpable. I finally discovered a whole community of people with the same struggle. GYE provided a map, guidelines, and perspectives on how to approach this nisayon. The GYE handbook is a remarkable compilation of advice and how to have the proper attitude when approaching these nisyonos. Joining the 90-days challenge helped too. I was successful in making great progress in shmiras einayim and cutting down on the amount of times I was M"ZL. I would have nice stretches of 30-40 clean days. However, I would eventually fall. Then comes the feeling of guilt and nothingness. But I kept on trying and davening to Hashem to pull me out of this black hole.
B"H, I'm now holding at 140 days clean. I recognize that there are different levels of addictions and lust related behavior. Everyone has their challenge. No 2 challenges are alike. But I wanted to share with the rest of the GYE community what has worked for me to help me reach this milestone. Some may seem obvious, but it took me a long time to internalize them.
- For me, the key to this battle is avoiding triggering situations and putting up the necessary fences to help protect me from falling. Below are some examples that are applicable to myself:
- I do not own a smartphone. Yes, this has caused some inconvenience and believe me, I do get asked some uncomfortable questions on why I'm "not with the times". But I don't care what people think. For me, having a smartphone will just be too dangerous. I cannot risk it. Perhaps down the road, it will be unavoidable, and I will need it for work, etc. But for now, no thank you.
- I stay off social media.
- At work, there are multiple ways to get to my desk. Some routes have women who don't always dress appropriately. I try to avoid those routes.
- Up until last year, I used an older free filter on my personal computer. Besides it having an adverse effect on the functionalities of my computer, It was not a very strong filter and had many loopholes. After one of my bad falls, I finally upgraded to a much stronger filter. It is one of the best $140 I've ever spent.
- Do not even start "acting out", thinking that I'll be able to stop before I fall. It's a ploy by the yezter hara. Even if I resist now, it will fester and grow stronger, until eventually I cannot hold back anymore.
- Besides working on not giving in and being careful what I look at, I realized that it is just as important to work on my "kedusha" and growing as a yid. One small area where I made changes was listening to shiurim during my commute, instead of the radio. One series of shiurim that were a lifesaver is "The Fight" by Rabbi Shafier. These shiurim discusses how to overcome the nisyonos we are faced with. It can be downloaded for free at the following link https://theshmuz.com/series/the-fight/
- Utilizing the resources on GYE:
- Reading the daily chizuk emails
- Posting on the forum and reading/responding to other people's post
- Reading and Reviewing the GYE handbook. This is an incredible handbook!
- Of course to always and keep davening to Hashem to help us overcome this nisayon.
As an aside, one of the great chiddushim GYE came up with was the concept of "hitting rock bottom while on top". The earlier one hears the "wake up call" the easier it will be to climb out of this dark hole. I find that after having a bad fall, there will be a short period of guilt, shame, and humiliation. This feeling can go two ways. Either it can be used to beat us up and give up hope or it can used as a burst of inspiration to change. It is important to not let this moment slip by without making real changes to one's behavior.
One more point/suggestion I want to make. Chazal tells us that when one davens for his friend, he will be answered first. There have sprung up organizations that were created around this concept. Such as matching up older singles to daven that each one should find his/her zivug or childless couples davening for one other to have children. Many times, when reading a first timer's post that describe their pain that this addiction had caused, I cry. I may not know that person, but I feel his pain. I recently started davening to Hashem to help all the members of the GYE community to overcome their challenge. Perhaps this is something we as a whole can adopt.
I know that I still have a long road ahead of me and can never let my guard down. The yetzer hara is constantly working and coming up with new methods to get me to fall. I still have moments when I feel my resolve weakening and have come close to falling. But with Hashem help, I, along with the rest of the GYE community, will persevere and win this battle.
Mazal Tov! Beautiful. May you go Mechayil el Choyil!
By the way, today, Pesach Sheini, is exactly 10 years to the day from when I put out the GYE handbook. I remember being up all night typing and retyping it until I felt it was ready to be released... And then I went to daven early in the morning after having sent out the announcement to all our members... So it's real nice to see how even 10 years on it's still helping people, as you wrote that one of the things that helped you was:
"Reading and Reviewing the GYE handbook. This is an incredible handbook!"
On another note, you wrote how the series called "The Fight" helped you as well. We have a shorter version of it up on our site at guardyoureyes.com/thefight, which he made specially for GYE, and we partnered with Rabbi Shafier also to give out tens of thousands of free CD's with the full series in the mountains during the summer, a few years ago.
Keep up the good work!