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How can I make this Ellul different from every other Ellul?

GYE Corp. Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Part 1/3 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

I was addicted to sexual thoughts, fantasy, pornography and masturbation. Every year, Ellul after Ellul, I would launch a full scale attack on my addiction, But sooner or later year after year, I fell and failed.

There were times I stopped in Ellul and did not even make it through Ellul. I would stop again for Rosh Hashana and sometimes not make it through aseres yemei teshuva to Yom Kippur. I would stop on Yom Kippur and not make it through Sukkos. Sometimes I did not even start getting stopped until Rosh Hashana came around. Sometimes I held out from sometime in Ellul for a month or even a little more. But one way or another, come Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, I was back again to my addiction as if Ellul had never come.

I had tried mussar seforim; Shaarei Teshuva, Chovos Halevovos, Maalos Hamiddos, Orchos Tzaddikim, Sefer Charedim, Mesilas Yeshorim, Yesod Veshoresh Ho'avoda, Nefesh HaChaim, Cheshbon Hanefesh and Sifrei Maharal. I learned these seforim with absolute desperation and determination and tried to implement them and follow their instructions, but I always failed to get anything that would last beyond Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. I listened to Rav Avigdor Miller's tapes and learned his seforim. I had a Rebbe who gave excellent mussar and I almost never missed any of his Shiurim. I cried out to Hashem every Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and I was absolutely determined to make that year the last of my addiction, but all to no apparent avail.

Then on January 20th of this year I posted my Teshuva here on GYE. Bechasdei Hashem, I have been sexually sober, one day at a time, since then. What did I find in GYE that I did not find in all the mussar seforim?

Even more puzzling, 10 days after I joined GYE, I joined a face to face meeting of Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). It was there that I discovered not just how to avoid pornography and masturbation, but how to recover from fantasy and lust to the extent that on a daily basis they no longer interest me at all.

And through SA's 12-Step program I was introduced to Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and was able to lose 40 lb in 4 months. I was also introduced to Debtors Anonymous (DA) and today, for the first time in over 20 years of marriage, my wife and I have stopped borrowing money. We have a monthly spending plan that is in the Black for already three months, and we have stopped incurring overdraft fees after having racked up over a thousand dollars in overdraft fees in the year before we began our recovery.

What did I find through SA, OA and DA that I did not find in all the mussar seforim?

Looking back, I now realize that what I had found through GYE, SA, OA and DA was everything I had learned in the mussar seforim! But somehow, I had been unable to get it to work against my addiction. So why did it take GYE, SA, OA and DA for me to discover it?

The question of "Torah vs Steps" has been much discussed on this forum. At certain points I have added my own two cents to those discussions. I now believe though, from my own experience and from my experience working with other Frum Jews, that there is no "Torah vs Steps" at all.

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