The imperfect victories of a spiritual baby.
Yesterday, Hashem graced me with 1 year of sobriety, and I owe GYE a HUGE "thank you" for their part in it. When I found GYE, I had stopped my bottom line behaviors thru the help of "The Garden" series books and working on personal prayer, but I couldn't stop pornography and masturbation. After white-knuckling it for 4 months, I eventually fell and went to my first SA meeting.
Going to meetings helped me tremendously. The brutal honesty, in which people spoke about themselves, helped me realize I had not been honest with myself (or Hashem) in my prayers. It has been my experience that Hashem graces meeting halls with serenity. I find that almost without fail, whatever noise is going on in my head during the day, it shuts off whenever I come to a meeting. I can finally be present and at peace. Also, I'm a spiritual baby who struggles to see how full my cup actually is. So when I hear some of the real war stories, it always helps to shift my perspective to a healthier and happier me. I can't tell you how often the "random" reading speaks to me and my situation or, even more unnerving, when the part that I read is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. It only makes me that much more aware of Hashem's loving Hashgacha Pratis.
I owe a big "thank you" to the members of the forum who pushed me to get a sponsor. My very first sponsor gave me five tools for everyday:
1. Custody of the Eyes- Guarding them and praying for anyone I get triggered by
2. Spiritual warfare - surrendering lust and all negative emotions, attitudes, moods that I become aware of, to Hashem
3. 6 daily phone calls to others in program including check in with my sponsor
4. Daily meeting when possible (I actually only make about 3 a week)
5. 1 HOUR of personal prayer
Every program is different. For me, to find a sponsor who also pushed a full hour of personal prayer was pretty incredible hashgacha pratis, as well.
I maintain that the hour of personal prayer is most key. It is the spiritual exercising of my soul. But just like with regular exercise, I need to stretch, eat well, get sleep, etc., so too, the other 4 tools support my spiritual exercise, my hour of prayer, and help me keep it steady and consistent. The other 4 tools keep me sober, but, as the white book says, "Sober is not well." However, when I pray well and really feel connected to Hashem, then I find I'm sober AND serene.
I am only on Step 3 having had to start over after I lost my first sponsor, but the information I have learned from my new sponsor has been indispensable. He advised me to get the "Joe and Charlie Big Book Study" app on my phone, and it has helped me so much with my understanding of the program. Best $3 I ever spent!
Again, a big thank you to GYE. I look forward to reading the daily chizuk emails. The inspiring message pics, Rabbi Twerski's input, and, of course, Dov's delightfullly dedicated diatribes have always been a huge help.
Thank you, Hashem, for leading me to GYE and to SA and for freedom from the stupidity. I say stupidity because my experience was not that my addiction was cunning, baffling, and powerful. It was that it made me into a moron when it came to dealing with it. My best thinking got me nowhere. I am still a work in progress. I still struggle with looking at women. I still struggle with connecting with others. I'm still painfully aware of the multitude of my character defects. But I see progress! And it's "Progress, not perfection."
May Hashem bless everyone involved in any way with this website with all the things I want for myself: complete emunah with emotional conviction, the success of their hands, shalom bayis, righteous and outstanding children, aliyah at the best time according to His will, increased daily personal prayer, and may we all know and love Him in return.