Do I have to live my whole life in pain?
"It's what goes on in our minds that's the issue"
In response to the question discussed above, Dov writes:
We need to ask ourselves, "what are we really looking for, in recovery?" Do we want the ability to fantasize about schmutz whenever we want and yet still remain sober?
What I'm getting at is this: Of course there are different types of alkies. But for most alkies who have been sober for a few months, you are right that being around drinking people or near alcohol is not a true "trigger" for them.
While "sight", as you wrote above, is a trigger for us, I believe it's really not the whole story. This is important to me: It's not really looking, reading, etc. that are "sipping" (or slipping) - it's what goes on in our minds that's the issue. Lust is not exactly like alcohol, where it needs to be taken into the body to mess us up. A lust addict uses schmutz to get the lust woken up - it's about the desire and excitement. I (and every other addict I have ever met in SA) can get high on lust and crazy without taking any look at all. By the same token we can get good and drunk (really, not symbolically as in the "dry drunk" of AA) on last month's schmutz or sexual encounter. That cannot happen in AA or NA. They need their drug, while our drug is also in our mind. Now, to say that this means "I can look all I want, as long as "in my mind I'm not fantasizing!"... well, we have found that this attitude just doesn't work.
Again, the real question is "what do we want?"
The answer to the question of, "Am I condemned to a lifetime of pain as an addict?" depends on what the person's goals are. Is their goal to be able to control acting out - meaning: to be free enough of it's tyranny that they'll be able to lust their brains out with their wife or husband whenever they want to (what we call "being able to lust like a Gentleman/Lady), then I'd indeed suggest that this would condemn an addict to lifetime of pain. If you are an addict, you cannot successfully use your drug. Per AA experience, that's exactly what being an addict means. It's the first step. The goal in AA is not to be able to use and control alcohol, is it? So in SA, the issue is not sex, but lust. To clarify a bit more, I'll ask a question: If I stay away from triggers, then how does a married SA ever get involved with sex? Sex is surely a bigger trigger than seeing a jogger! No?
In my experience, the answer is that it is lust that is the issue, even in the trigger.
So the first sip doesn't necessarily happen with sight, or even with sex itself. A lustaholic in recovery can have sex without getting lost in lust, can be a doctor and work with female/male patients without losing their sobriety, can drive through the street and actually see joggers scantily clad (like an alkie in the bar in the piece from AA that you quoted above)... It all depends on whether they turn it over to Hashem and do what they need to do so that they don't take it in and use it. Lust is 'used' and is always about 'taking'.
I guess that there are some lustaholics who never get there, and cannot do some or any of these normal things. But I know very few people in SA like that. I believe that they are impaired by their desire not to let go of lust, at all. Perhaps they keep thinking they are addicted to sex itself, not to lust. Now that may be true, but I doubt it. Call me bold, stupid, or whatever. I have just met too many guys who are totally powerless over lust, and yet they stay sober and are still able to function in situations that newbies equate with acting out!
Recovery means getting back to what you lost - to what is natural and normal.... at least in some respects.
Finally, I'd say that worrying about my future as an addict is just plain silly. "Let Go and Let G-d" is something we all need to learn how to do, usually by hanging around with recovering addicts.