Tool 11: Accountability
We can try to find a close friend or a Rabbi we respect, to whom we can confide about our struggles. And even more importantly, we need to make sure to keep in touch with them about our progress and give them honest updates every few days. Obviously for this to work properly, we must remain completely honest and open with our accountability partners, at all cost. If we fall, the shame we will feel in reporting it will be atonement in itself, as well as providing a strong incentive to remain clean next time.
We can also hook up with someone else who is struggling like us and give each other Chizuk. When feeling an attack of lust, it is very helpful to call our partner and talk it out. Although this partner may occasionally experience falls himself, he can see much clearer than us right now because he is not caught up in the lust as we are. His Chizuk will often be exactly what we would have told ourselves, but because we are blinded now, we need to hear it from someone else. Also, by nullifying our own mind and accepting to do whatever our partner suggests, we will often be able to get “out of our heads” and out of our own destructive desires.
Even when not under an attack of lust, it may be helpful to be in touch with our partners on a daily basis at first, either by phone or by e-mail. As we progress, the updates can be less frequent, but they should still be at set intervals which can be decided in advance.
If our wives know about our struggle, they can be one of the best accountability partners. We will feel their pain when we are slipping even more acutely than with others, and this will be a big incentive for us to remain clean. (Although it’s never good to go into too much detail about our struggle with our wives). If our wives do not know, it may be extremely helpful in the long term for them to find out. However, this should be done only once we are taking serious steps to recover and are seeing good progress. Also, it should best be done with careful preparation and preferably in the presence of a therapist or Rabbi that can help her understand the nature of the addiction and offer guidance on how to cope. Although it is often very painful for the wife to find out about our struggles in this area, in the long term it generally does more good than damage. Aside from the strong "accountability" that this provides us with, a couple can ultimately grow much closer together when there are no secrets between them.
It is most effective if our partner or mentor is indeed someone we know. This adds an element of personal honor, which boosts the efficiency of the accountability. However, if this is not an option for us at this stage, Guard Your Eyes provides a framework to help everyone find an accountability partner or sponsor from our network. Sign up to our Partner/Sponsor program and our system will be able to find you a partner or sponsor that matches your gender, marriage status, location and other constraints which best match your situation. You can choose whether you want to be in touch with your partner by e-mail, chat, or even by phone. Using Google Voice, you can receive an anonymous phone number to use for calling and receiving you partner’s calls.
From ‘day one’ of our journey, we can already be a partner to receive and provide accountability, understanding, chizuk and hope with another struggler. However, to be a sponsor on our network, we must have at least 90 days sobriety.
If we feel inadequate or unequipped to provide others with chizuk, we can use this Handbook, (both parts 1 and 2), as a basis for great material to discuss with our partner. Alternatively, we can read and discuss the many tips on the website or material from any of the hundreds of past chizuk e-mails sent out.
Those who join 12-Step groups (discussed in later tools) will be able to find a sponsor in the group who will serve both as an accountability partner as well as a guide to help them work through the 12 steps. As one group member beautifully summed up the power of accountability and of having others help us in our struggle:
I have had enough of the silent suffering, the hiding, the lying and the living a double life. Today, I talk to people in my program every day, besides going to meetings twice a week. The whole truth about me needs to be on the outside, with safe people.