Does this hit home?
One of our members (whose story can be seen here) wrote the following e-mail to his partner who was struggling to break free of this addiction:
There are 2 areas that need to be addressed when dealing with this - the root cause, and the practical day-to-day challenges.
For the root cause, I would suggest a good therapist. A common theme (including in my own story) is the avoidance of emotional pain. "Pain" is a broad term and includes simply feeling disconnected from your own goals and ideals or from other people; feeling bored, lonely or simply not productive. Some questions I'd pose:
- Do you truly feel all the things you were taught about Hashem and Judaism or is your understanding just intellectual?
- How do you put those ideals into practice on a day to day basis?
- Do you have questions that were never fully answered?
- Do you have a real connection to a Rebbe or Rov who knows your background and who you trust and admire?
- Do you have resentment towards "the system" and feel like many frum people are hypocrites?
- Do you feel like you're part of a community of like-minded people, one where you truly belong and fit in?
If any of these questions "hits home" then there's a good chance that you experience some level of emotional pain due to the "disconnect" that exists in your life. Acting out through pornography and masturbation is a way to temporarily feel good and avoid the pain. Since you're bothered by it and working on overcoming this, you obviously realize that it only makes things worse almost immediately after you're done. A good therapist helps you understand why you have those questions to begin with and the more you understand, the more you can overcome them. Often, it has to do with childhood experiences and how you were raised.
For the practical aspect, I'd suggest the following.
- Does your wife know about this? If so, is she supportive? If not, it could be you should tell her, BUT it depends on your relationship and needs to be done carefully. This was a big deal for me and I'd be happy to discuss it in more detail if this is relevant to you. (Write to email@example.com to get the author's e-mail address).
- Who else knows? Accountability is very important. Having a partner for E-mail correspondence is a great step however almost by definition, having to tell me if you act out is not as effective as someone you're close with personally and don't want to disappoint. After all, who would better understand and "forgive" than someone who went through the same struggle?
- A good book that helped me is Ten Keys to Breaking Pornography Addiction (http://www.no-porn.com/tenkeys.html). It outlines some good techniques like being able to distinguish "you" from the "addiction" (Yetzer Hora), identifying circumstances that are higher risk and avoiding them, and others.
- Describe in writing how you feel after acting out and make a list of consequences as well as benefits that result from overcoming the urge.
There are others that could be used based on your specific circumstances but that should be a good start.
You should also install good filters and accountability software like Covenant Eyes. The GUE website has a lot of good options (here).
I also joined the Jewish Healing Hotline by GUE and found it very helpful.