Tool 12: Group Support
Since one of the most powerful tools for breaking addictions is getting out of isolation, we need to increase our interaction with others in the same situation as much as possible. If a single partner or sponsor still does not give us the strength we need to completely stop acting out, there is nothing more powerful than group support to help addicts break free from addictions. Rabbi Avraham Twerski consistently stresses this to people who seek his council on dealing with this struggle.
On the Guard Your Eyes network, there are a few group support options. Firstly, we can join the forum and post there frequently. We quickly come to view the fellow warriors there as our spiritual "family". We get tons of support and are able to share chizuk with so many others. This is very helpful for our own recovery. We no longer feel alone in our struggle, and we watch how others, perhaps even worse off than us, make great progress.
Besides this, Guard Your Eyes offers many phone conference groups throughout the week where we can share anonymously with a group of Yidden like us, and get chizuk from the various programs and from each other. See our website for more info on the various phone groups.
One of our phone conferences recently started a great new feature. Everyone who was interested shared and exchanged phone numbers (anonymous numbers are available from Google Voice) and e-mail addresses with each other - through the moderator. He then sent the group “Call Roster” to all those who had participated, and encouraged the members to call each other and stay in touch regularly, especially when feeling weak. This new feature proved to be very helpful to the members of the group, and we plan on expanding this idea on GYE in other ways as well, such as by creating a special database of members’ anonymous ‘contact info’ available to anyone who wants to join.
One of the previous Slonimer Rebbes had a Chassid that embarked on a business trip. Being away from the comfort and protection of his home, he was tempted with the Nisayon of Yosef Hatzaddik. In a moment of cheshbon hanefesh he said to himself: "when I come back, my Rebbe will see that I sinned". But then he thought: "I will avoid my Rebbe". Then he thought to himself, "but my friends will notice on my behavior that I sinned, and can I live without my friends? NO, I need my friends!" And that is what helped him overcome his Yetzer Hara. When he got back, his Rebbe told him: "What even a Rebbe can not accomplish, having good friends CAN".
I would like to quote from a letter written by an older Bochur (who is clean already for over a year):
Yes, it is possible to be shomer habris, both before marriage and after. How did I make it this far? At the time it seemed impossible but, Baruch Hashem, I have a few friends who realize the importance of this mitzva as well. The six of us are unmarried bachurim, currently learning in a prominent yeshiva. Together with my friends, we formed a group based on the idea that this is an important focus of our lives. We meet once a month to stress the importance and beauty of what we have undertaken, and also to make some pledges. The rules of this group require that if one falls chas v'shalom, we are required to inform all other members of the group and to pay a fine of 200 dollars to the tzedaka of our choice. The number is arbitrary and serves as a number that is a significant amount, yet doable. The members have managed to be shomer habris from one month to six months, as of today, Baruch Hashem. Your amazing website guides many aspects of our group. It all starts with accountability. If you have someone to answer to, and especially to a group, it will be that much easier and it becomes that much more real.
If we know even one or two friends who also struggle in these areas, we can perhaps start our own little group - which would meet at set intervals to discuss the importance of these matters, and would serve as a forum for chizuk and accountability for one another. As time goes on, the group may grow to include additional members.
To make this work even better, there could be a separate count for the "group" (besides our personal “clean-day count”). If one of the members of the group experienced a fall, the "group" count would have to be reset (and perhaps everyone would have to give a set amount to Tzedaka as well). This would provide a very strong incentive to the members of the group not to be the one to cause the "group count" to be reset! Also, each time someone fell, he would need to discuss with the group what steps he will take to ensure that he does better next time. This would help everyone in the group become strengthened as well. Obviously, these ideas would only work if every member of the group is committed to being 100% honest. (And that should perhaps be the first condition to being accepted into such a group: a commitment to complete honesty).
GYE offers online Accountability Groups on the forum that follow this basic format. (See the "Accountability Groups" Board).
If you are a Bochur learning in Yeshiva, you could start a revolution (discreetly, of course) and earn unfathomable reward in the next world if you can find the inner strength to overcome your natural feelings of shame, and try to begin a discreet group of serious Bochurim who would meet at set intervals, as discussed above. To make it easier to sell to your close friends, you might just call it a “Shmiras Ainayim Chizuk group”. The group can start with even two boys, and gradually it would grow as word would spread from ear to ear (no posting 'signs' of course). Imagine the merit you would have for such an undertaking! Not only would this help you tremendously in your own struggle, but it would help countless others, especially if the idea continues even after your time in the Yeshiva is over, for perhaps many years to come! And who knows? Maybe in your merit, this idea would even spread to other Yeshivos as well! What an unbelievable opportunity this could be to do something great for yourself, for Klal Yisrael and for Hakadosh Baruch Hu!
(For the most powerful form of face-to-face group support, see Tool #16 - 'Live 12-Step Groups' - below).