Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Powerlessness of an Addict

Part 2/6 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)


by Dov, Duvid Chaim, GYE (See all authors)

Someone posted on the forum the following:

Rav Pam writes in Atara Lamelach that today we cannot do teshuva by focusing on how bad sin is. That would only hurt us and drag us down more. Rather we should focus on our maiylos and how special we are as the descendants of the Avos and as the bearers of Yiddishkeit, and strive to improve ourselves.

Dov replies:

Dear yidden who are on many different paths,

Yes, we are special. Sha'arei Kedusha basically opens with this fact and posits that the lack of recognition of how wonderful it is to be a yid and carry such a high, ancient, and beautiful neshoma, is at the root of falling into sin. Yes, it's true.

And yes, thinking of ourselves as "sinners" carries great risks. We carry so much baggage regarding that label. It may mean to us that "it's all over" and become depressed; we may give up and do worse things; we may lose emunah in Hashem's Power, Love for us, and in His Wisdom; and as a result, our chances of growing/fulfilling our potential may become quite poor, etc, etc.

But it seems to me that some people, especially frum yidden, tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this one. Here is what I mean:

I am sick. I have a progressive, fatal disease. It is also chronic. It does not have to kill me, as I am in remission because of my medication (the 12-Steps). But I need to take it correctly for it to work. We know of many people who have this disease and successfully live full lives nonetheless. My life has been full since getting my treatment, and as my wife told me just yesterday, life is getting better every year. It'll probably stay that way as long as I don't take the credit, 'cuz taking the credit would mean that I have stopped taking the meds.

You know what I'm talking about. It's sexaholism, lustaholism, call it what you like. Surviving it isn't a "challenge" for me, it's not about being on a "higher madreiga", and it isn't very pretty, really. But it's the truth.

Did Hashem love me fifteen years ago? You'll say "YES!". Was I "special"? You'd say "YES!". And I agree. And by the way, while I was special, I was also teaching a shiur and then leaving right afterwards to the red-light district to act out. While I was "special" I was also hooked on a seven year long telephone relationship with someone I wasn't married to, and while Hashem loved me, I made many secret rendezvous to see people who definitely didn't love me at all, but looked like they did - to me. I was just plain nuts...

And if you asked me to stop, as my neshoma did, I'd have told you (as I told my neshama) "You know, I will tomorrow, I HAVE TO quit!!". It was the same torture that many of you on this site know only too well. I would ask myself, "what am I doing??" I figured that I just really sucked at serving Hashem and was a first-rate "sinner". In actuality, I was truly serving myself in the temple of lust, carefully using the instructions the p**n industry had taught me. To me, this is not just a cute moshol, it's the truth.