Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Powerlessness of an Addict

Part 3/6 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)


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

Why am I reviewing this?

Because I believe that as long as a person is truly struggling with his Yetzer Hara, he is really lucky! There are s'forim, shmuessin, nigunnim, etc., all there to help him fly right. The overwhelming majority of Yidden in the world fall into this category I believe. They need to employ every aspect of Toras ha'Teshuvah to be saved from lusting and acting out on their lust, to learn how to live lives with progressively less shmutz and to be the holy yidden they are meant to be.

However, once a line is crossed enough times and the "struggle" becomes an addiction, I believe he is actually ill. And there is little evidence that he will get cured. (Some may disagree here, and I respect that 100%). I believe it is then time for what is now revealed to have been a saucy and ecstatic "Teshuva game", to end. That is, unless he enjoys being road-kill.

I do not mean that he ought to then give in to the desire at all. I mean that he needs to bite the bullet and get the help he really needs - in my case it was actually working (not studying) the 12 steps, SA meetings and a sponsor. In any case, it means living life differently, before his disease changes it drastically for him.

If you are with me so far, then you understand why romanticizing the struggle of a guy who is truly an addict by referring to it as an epic struggle with his Yetzer Hara, can perpetuate the pathetic slugfest indefinitely. Promising a shining light at the end of the tunnel for someone who really believes that Lust is his best friend, may actually be cruel. Why? Because he simply will not believe you deep inside (where it counts). Would you in his shoes?

Once the point was reached when I believed I truly had no ability to control myself (though I had no idea why - or how to regain control), then all that the "Yetzer Hara/Teshuva approach" really left me with was guilt.

In most cases, encouragement to fight for K'vod Shomayim and for the beautiful life a yid deserves to have, is indeed the greatest divine service and love for a yid. And reminders of Hashem's love are indispensable in this struggle against the Yetzer Hara. But there are cases, like mine, where a yid sees that he has an illness and admits that "hey, normal people do not do anything like this stuff!". They finally admit that it has taken control of their lives and that it has been getting only worse, never better (Step 1). These people need to be allowed to say that they are truly mentally, physically and spiritually ill.

I do not mean this in any way as an insult to yidden who are addicts. Often at first, a person will interpret their failure at using standard Torah concepts of Teshuva as proof positive that they are inferior, as I did. But that is a total lie. A yid who is an addict is not inferior at all. In fact, addiction often comes with a powerful sensitivity that is valuable, a striving for perfection that needs to be learned how to live with.

I am a loser - when it comes to lust. In my opinion, we simply do not have the power to "win" - and won't - until we are allowed to admit we are ill and learn how to live with that fact. If they are told that (as per the Ramba"m in shmoneh perakim) "don't worry , everyone who does aveiros is in the same boat and needs to learn how to do Teshuvah. Welcome to the club!," I believe these people may not get the medication they need and will end up taking their families down with them. This probably happens frequently. You read about it on "" or whatever it's called...

Furthermore, if after a short period clean these yidden are convinced that they are ready to live as others do and resume the struggle [i.e. to let lust in a "little" - and fight it] because they are better; (after all, as the Ramba"m says, I've been in the same situation as before and not sinned, so that means I did teshuvah sheleimah and I'll never go back", right?), these guys fall hard - and keep falling hard - until they realize they are really sick, not bad.

For decades I thought I was fine in the head, and it was only my body that was screwed up! No, my head was - and is - screwed up (but getting better, thank G-d!).

Just one more thing: The goal of the path I am referring to (the Steps) is definitely 100% only about closeness to Hashem and learning to live with a clear recognition that Hashem is with us always. And it leads to freedom from the aveiros, with Hashem's help. It leads to discovery of our gifts; and the fact that they came to us through aveiros makes them even more precious. It was the last place we thought we'd have thought to look for Hashem!! But He was there.


PS. Anyone who read this whole megillah must be a tzaddik, of some sort.