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A 20 Year Struggle (3 parts)
Taken from Our Forum
I struggled with this horrible addiction for close to 20 years! I tried to stop in the past, but never managed for more than a week at a time. I was at a point where I was a Jew only in name and outer appearance, but not in practice and in depth of heart
I will not go into the whole story now, but Hashem orchestrated a whole sequence of things that brought me to a crossroad in my life. I had to choose a life of Torah and closeness to Hashem or a life of embarrassment, failure, dejection etc.
Baruch Hashem I was able to choose wisely and am now free of my addiction for over 5 months. I am davening again. I am learning Torah again. I am trying my hardest to do Hashem's will, and he is giving me the strength to become a better person, a better Jew, a better husband and a better father.
One of the key things that I did was to give up watching ANY movies or listen to ANY radio stations! It is all filled with z'nus oriented stuff! When I am in the car I listen ONLY to torah tapes. Without the words of Torah the struggle is impossible to overcome!
I hope to share more details of my struggle with this forum in the coming days. If I can help even one person become a better person, as I have, it will be worth the effort!
In the not too distant past, I used to belong to the Yetzer Hara. He knew he had a trusted friend in me, and he didn't have to worry about how to get me to sin. All he had to do is put the thought in my head, and there I was standing erect (pun intended) ready to sin!
It's not that i didn't know better, as i was raised in a very religious household and I knew exactly what was right and what wasn't. I just pretended that I had no choice, and that the Yetzer Hara had a grip on me that I couldn't get out of. So, as time went on I didn't even bother fighting, I just went along with him.
It started with small things and turned into a total disregard for Hasjem and his Torah: Coming late to shul turned into not going to shul at all. Eating without a Bracha turned into not davening at all. Sneaking a peek at an attractive female turned into a full blown sex addiction.
Soon enough, my entire day was consumed with sinning!
I woke up in the morning, didnt bother washing my hands or davening, and ate a nice breakfast without washing or bentching.
On the way to work i would listen to the most vile radio stations I could find, and often masturbated in my car in traffic, just for the thrill of it! (yes, I was very bad)
At work I would check out various websites that should never be seen by anyone, let alone a religious Jew! I would lie, steal and cheat just to get what I wanted! My entire day was consumed with pleasuring myself, and not a moment was spent thinking about Hashem.
The only time I went to shul was on Shabbos, and even then i spent my time there shmoozing and speaking Lashon Hara, and did not bother to respect the sanctity of Hashem's house of worship.
I can go on and on,, but I think you get my point: I was dressed like jew, but my heart was the heart of a sinner and my actions were the actions of a sinner; I was a sinner. Kosher meant nothing, Shabbos meant nothing, Taharas Hamispacha meant nothing etc. etc.
I did not sin to anger Hashem, rather out of the pursuit of what I perceived to be pleasure.
Each time I transgressed a sin of a sexual nature (be it myself or with someone else) deep in my heart I regretted it, and had no real pleasure from it afterwards, yet I was too weak to truly change my ways and become a different person. On many occasions I resolved to change and become the good Jew that i knew I could be, but that resolve usually disippated and I remained the same old sinner that i used to be.
Then something happened one day (which I am still not ready to relate here, but hope to eventually) that in retrospect i see was hashem's way of giving me an ultimatum:
"My dear son" Hashem said (his is how I perceived it) " You must make a decision now and repent for good become the good son that I know you can be, or your life from today and on will be a miserable hell and you won't be able to walk the streets out of shame and embarrassment"
That day I was totally torn as to which way to go. I was debating giving it all up, and going to live a life devoid of Torah and Mitzvos, but also devoid of any true happiness of family, friends and truth; that would have been the easier decision at the time!
Baruch Hashem, Hashem gave me the fortitude to choose the other path, the path of truth. It was not easy. It was not without pitfalls. It was not without pain and suffering. But I did it! I truly regretted everything bad I had done in the previous 20 years of my life. I regretted the fateful decisions I made in transgressing the fundamentals of Yiddishkeit.
I accepted many guidelines upon myself, and perhaps some things are perceived as radical, but I had no choice but to make a sharp turn. A turn inthe right direction.
One day I went into a private room and recited the long Vidui of Rabbeinu Nissim, which enumerates hundreds of sins. I was crying like a baby as I realized that I have transgressed nearly each and every one over and over again!
I was a sinner. But no more!
The Yetzer Hara tried to convince me that I was hurting people by turning my back on them. (This may have been true, that I in fact hurt the feelings of the (mostly) women that I was involved with in one way or another in various relationships of Aveira by simply disappearing from their lives). I recognized it as a ploy and didnt fall for it Baruch Hashem.
I am rambling, and I apologize for that.
Let me end by saying that I am far from where I need to be, but Baruch Hashem I am very far as well from the low point where I was, and I will never ever allow myself to fall to those depths of hell again.
The main thing that I think we all can agree on is that the only way to grow spiritually is to learn more Torah, daven more, do as many mitzvos as you can, and lean on each other (because no one else understands us) for chizzuk and friendship.
Chazak V'Ematz to all! May Hashem keep us strong and steadfast in our ongoing battle against the Yetzer Hara!
After my last post, the moderator of this wonderful forum posed the following question to me:
"What would be really beneficial for us to know is, did you use any specific methods to break free of your sexual addiction or was it simply a very strong determination? Did you use any therapy, group support, medications, specific methods, Rabbanim, Mentors, anything? If yes, please share them with us, and if not, what pratical steps did you take to ensure that you wouldn't go back to your old ways?"
OK, I will try and respond to this as best I can.
My initial reaction to your first question was to say that it was simply a strong determination. But on further introspection, I realized that to say that would not be 100% true. Fact is, I did have a very strong determination to stop. But much like a smoker's determination to stop smoking, the determination alone didn't translate into stopping! Since I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was a very curious boy. This curiosity led me to various bad places, which had very negative effects on my life. Sure, it started slowly and subtly, but before I knew it I was intimately familiar with my bris, and was an expert at pleasuring myself in all different places, in various different methods, and at all times of the day and night.
Though at the time I began masturbating I had no idea I was transgressing a sin (or at least I didn't have an idea of the severity of the sin, and how I was ruining the Kedusha in my body and for the future generations that were to come from me), still it became second nature to me, and by the time I was mature enough to know that what i was doing was terrible, it was too late (or so I kept telling myself)
Yes, I was determined to stop. No, my determination alone wasn't strong enough for the over two decades that I fought this horrible addiction.
Deep in my heart, I knew that I had to grab the bull by the horns and stop this! I knew it just wasn't the way to live my life. It was having a negative effect on my life in so many different ways, but I still felt trapped by it and continued living that dark and secret life.
My family, my wife, my friends, my co-workers, and everyone that knew me, all thought I was a normal, healthy, religious guy with perhaps a "fun streak" in me, but none of them in their wildest dreams would ever imagine that I was a person with dark demons deep within me, who possessed me down to the core of my soul!
No one would have ever dreamed that I was a person capable of bowing to the whims of those demons, regardless of what they asked of me!
I think they would all fall off their chairs if they ever knew that i spent many hours a day engrossed in my darkest desires and steeped in the lowest of the low places. It wasn't enough for me to simply masturbate every now and then (which is bad too). No, I had to have every sinful fantasy of mine fulfilled! At first it was the chat rooms, where I got to know likeminded women who were also entrapped by their Yetzer Hara.
First it was cybersex. that blossomed into phone sex. From there I graduated to meeting women in the flesh. one thing led to another, and one woman led to another, and my life was consumed with real, hardcore sex affairs!
Nothing was taboo (I am embarrassed even to write these things, but as I said previously, if my story can help even one other Yid, it will have been worth writing it)
Most of the women I was with (besides the last woman I was with, for whom I had real , not just sexual, feelings for, yet have no contact with anymore since I started doing Teshuva)meant nothing to me, other than being a vehicle for me to fulfill a sexual fantasy.
Each time I sinned, I knew it was wrong. Deep down , I wished I could stop, but I rationalized it, and blamed one thing or another for my failures, and continued doing it.
I even asked G-d on more than one occasion to help me stop (but, in retrospect I realize that those prayers weren't totally sincere, as they were not for the right reasons). yet, I continued becoming an even bigger sinner.
On the outside, I looked like a typical religious Jew, but on the inside I was fast approaching the 50th level of impurity, from which there is no escape ( even though according to the Ohr HaChaim and others, after Matan Torah, there is ALWAYS a way out of Tumah, even if one reached the 50th level. So nobody out there think that they are beyond Teshuva!)
I did not seek therapy, medication etc. , as I don't think they would have helped me. Every person needs to know what works best for them, and for many people therapy, medication, group support etc. is imperative, and they should indeed pursue those options if they find themselves G-d forbid in such a predicament.
As far as I am concerned, and I think I know myself very well, the only thing that works for me specifically is to combat Tumah with Tahara.
I knew from past experiences, and from past chapters in my life, that whenever my situation of Tahara (i.e. Torah study etc.) was elevated, my Tumah was weakened.
After I found myself After G-d placed me at the crossroads, and i found myself having to confront my demons, that I have been hesitant (or perceived as unable ) to confront, I went on a drive to clear my mind.
I shut the radio. I was driving in silence, but my mind was filled with noise. Very loud noise.
My mind was racing with all sorts of options for the path I would take for the rest of my life.
Was I ready to give up sin?
Would I survive a life without masturbation and illicit sex?
Would I manage to never again watch TV or movies?
Was I ready to finally commit to Hashem after all these years for real?
Would Hashem even accept my Tefilos and my teshuva? I was after all a soul that was filthy and ruined.
Would I have the guts to tell the woman I was "in love with" that i would never speak to her again?
My mind was hoping for the answer to all of the above to be a resounding "YES", but the Yetzer Hara (who of course came along with me for the drive) was tapping me on the shoulder and trying to tell me to just give it all up, and forget Hashem, and go live a "good" life of sin.
I cried like a baby on that car drive.
I listened to some wonderful CD's of Rabbanim discussing Teshuva etc., and it felt as if they were talking directly to me and giving me the courage to go with what i always wanted deep down in the depths of my Neshama.
By the time that drive was over (it was many, many hours of driving) I had made my decision, and there was no turning back.
I came home and went directly to my computer, and deleted any email addresses, blogs, or other accounts that I had that were in any way related to sin.
I slowly started purging my home of any influences of sin. I got rid of Movies, magazines etc.
I started davening with Kavanah, and I started learning a lot of Torah (though it is far from enough)
I installed a filter on all my computers, and started seeking out sites of interest to replace the sites of sin that used to fill my down time. (which is how I found this site, Baruch Hashem)
One thing i will tell you, which is how the Yetzer Hara tries to re-trap us back into his miserable world of sin, don't assume just because a website is "Jewish" that it is kosher! It is far from the case. many "Jewish" sites are full of Lashon Hara, lack of modesty and no Torah ideas. Just be careful, and verify before surfing.
When I walk the streets, i try to the best of my ability to not look at any immodestly clad women (unfortunately this isn't easy today, as many of our dear sisters, daughters of Hashem go dressed worse than the non jews, and cause many people to sin. Ay Hashem! Cause them to see the error of their ways and do teshuva)
Am I perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination! However, I do aim for perfection, and that is what our task on this world is, to try our best to do what hashem wants us to do, and not be discouraged my the naysayers (who often are our best friends)
The main thing to remember is a) to never trust yourself totally (as the Mishna says) and always be on the lookout for the Yetzer Hara's new trap and b) Hashem loves us more than we can ever love him (so says Rav Moshe Chaim Luzatto), and he wants us to do Teshuva and will wait our entire lives for us to do it.
I am sure that many people who know me (or those who I no longer allow to know me) say that i went mad! Perhaps.
But I will take being mad and following in Hashem's path any day over being "normal" and following in the Yetzer Hara's path.
May Hashem give me (and all of you reading this) the inner strength to persevere, and be amongst the select few who merit to join Mashiach in the rebuilding of the Bais hamikdash and the glorification of Hashem's name very soon.