What is Hashem looking for us to do?
Someone who has been on our forum for a long time and put in a lot of effort to break this addiction and yet still continued to have occasional falls, wrote on the forum:
I think many of us have given it our all. We've made drastic changes in our lives, created many fences, worked so hard in our spiritual lives... and yet, we have this "moment of insanity" where we are possessed by the Yetzer Hara and do all that we know is wrong. If the Yetzer Hara is infinitely stronger than us, how are we supposed to defend ourselves when the Yetzer Hara goes on an all-out attack? It seems that only Hashem can help us in such times. So how much can we really affect this battle? What can we really contribute? What is really up to us? After we've done all we can (fences, etc), what is Hashem looking for us to do?
The fight is 100% up to us, and yet the fight is 100% in Hashem's hands and not in ours. "Excuse me?" Yes, you heard right. We can't understand this, but the Torah tells us that both are true. "Hanistaros La'Hashem elokeinu, Ve'haniglos Lanu Ulivaneinu - The hidden is for Hashem our G-d, and the revealed is for us and our children"... Since we can't understand it, we'll just have to accept it and leave it to Hashem to worry about exactly how it works :-)
The Yetzer Hara is indeed stronger than us, WAY STRONGER. After all, we are just human and he is a Malach! That is why the only way to find freedom from the addiction is to avoid fighting him (i.e. the lust) head-on at all costs. This can be done in two ways:
1) Fences, better fences and even better fences. Each time we fall in a new way, we put up a new fence. This can go on for quite a while, but eventually we will get enough fences up to keep safe - if we are honest and true to ourselves. Read tool #3 of the GYE handbook for many great ideas.
2) We need to learn how to give over the fight to Hashem. Yes, He is the only one who can fight the Yetzer Hara, not us. And once He is in the equation, what does it matter if the Yetzer hara is 100 X stronger than us? Like the meraglim said, "We cannot go up, for they are stronger than us", and they were right. But Kalev and Yehoshua knew that Hashem will fight for us, and therefore if makes no difference how strong they were!!
So do you want to learn the secret of how to give over the struggle to Hashem? Join the new 12-Step phone groups that we recently began, and learn how even the most hopeless non-Jews were able to beat this (after all, you are surely no worse off than them!).
I would like to bring two more great answers that were posted to this Yid on the forum, since there is so much we can learn from them both.
If anyone can say they relate to you, I can. Eight months ago I lost my sobriety after 3 years sober! But I have not given up, and no one can take away from me the clean time I had. It is an achievement that proves to me that I can do it again, one day at a time. Sitting around being miserable about it is only going to keep me in the sickness.
Never ever underestimate the power of addiction, it is far stronger than we ever will be. Addiction is an insanity that only gets progressively worse. How many of us started off by being addicted to masturbation, then onto soft porn.... each time swearing by everything holy that we will never get worse, and before we realize it we crossed that line too.
Before I came into recovery, I went to see a renowned Dayan in London as I was going through a really bad phase of misfortune and I attributed it to Hashem's wrath. And the Dayan asked me if I had crossed a certain line and I got really upset and said "No way! I only have a problem with the internet. I would never do THAT!". Well guess what? Within a year, I did just THAT; something that I thought I would never in my life do.
Another part of this insanity is, that every time I act out my disease tells me that I will get a different result. But in truth, I am beating my head against a brick wall and expecting a different result each time. How insane is that?
You wrote that "many of us have given it our all"... I do not want to be harsh on you and neither am I judging you, but I know from my experience that very often I will "appear" to take the right actions, but when I do an in depth soul-searching I will have to admit that there are further lengths I could have gone to.
Hashem is not going to "fix" me for free, He wants me to put in the effort. When I daven to Hashem to relieve me of the addiction, I have to mean it. I cannot give up my addiction to Hashem with one hand, and hold onto it with the other hand.
The AA program talk about "rigorous honesty" which is very difficult for me as an addict, because I am so used to justifying the unjustifiable. When I have slipped in the past, I had to do an in depth Chesbon Hanefesh and see where my program was lacking, and where could I have taken a different action than I did.
You also talk about the "moment of insanity". For me, the 12 steps have been crucial in this respect. The program gives me a choice before I act out, to either take an action - like call someone, or act out. This choice is only there for a split second, but when I was in active addiction I never had a choice. As soon as the compulsion struck, I was like a robotic slave and I went and acted out. Now in recovery, I have a choice and it's up to me.
Just last week I was sitting in my office dealing with some very difficult financial issues, and a major craving to act-out hit me. I made some phone calls to members but did not get through, and that's when the choice came, either I can continue to try and get hold of someone and/or leave my office, or I could act out. Thank G-d I was able to make the right choice. I also know that the longer I am sober, the less the compulsions are likely to strike.
In summary, all I have written here are steps 1 to 3 of the 12-Step program. Step one: I am powerless over my acting out - and when I act out my entire life becomes completely ruined. Step 2: I cannot cure myself by myself, but Hashem can restore me to sanity if I use Step 3, which is to fully trust in Him to restore my sanity if I take the right actions.