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The War of Many Battles
Posted by "Battleworn" on our Forum here
Click here for a page of Chizuk and tips from "Battleworn"
Part 1: ("Battleworn" posted his story in stages)
I grew up in a very good environment. My parents are tzadikim. I don't mean they're considered tzadikim or they look like tzadikim, I mean they are really tzadikim. When I was very young, I don't know exactly how old but it seems to me that it was before I knew how to read, I discovered a porn magazine that someone had hidden. To this day I have no idea who it was, it could have been a guest etc. I was immediately drawn to it with a strong force, and the struggle basically started from then. I hardly ever felt pleasure from porn and I think I never felt pleasure from masturbating. I never wanted to do it, I just couldn't control the drive.
If you don't have time to read the whole story, I'd like to skip to the end.
That powerful drive is mostly gone, but the treacherous murderer is always working full time to somehow get me. Some of his main tools are depression and anxiety combined with curiosity. I don't get aroused easily, but he's happy just to get me to look. Since I discovered this forum, which was about a month and half ago, he hasn't had any hope of laying his filthy bloody hands on me. Thanks to GUE and friends. So that's it for now, CHAZAK VEAMATZ!!! YOU GUYS ARE GREAT!!!
In that first stage, the rotten ruthless menuval obviously didn't have much resistance. Although I'm a very conscientious person, it doesn't do much against a powerful urge. I used to look at the underwear and swimwear sections in the Sears catalog (the magazine disappeared after a few days). [I must point out that it was a tragic mistake on my parents part to have the catalog in the house. I know that they just couldn't imagine that a "normal" person would be drawn to such things. The hateful menuval had them fooled. Look how that crooked wicked evil malicious menuval uses every dirty tactic. He doesn't respect the Geneva Convention or any convention. He fights so dirty, and YOU CAN'T IMAGINE HOW MUCH I HATE HIM.] When I was about 12 I again found a porn magazine in my house. This time I knew whose it was and I got him to supply me for the next 5 years. That magazine (and future ones) had the additional effect of making me associate all kinds of things with shmootz. The way someone sees something the first time has a very strong impact on his perception (am I being clear?). [This was also a tragic mistake on my parents part. While I learned the great lesson of giving from them, I also learned -the hard way- how careful you have to be with who and what comes in to your house.
It was also around that time that my little sister told me about a phone service (in those days it was 999) which she thought was funny. I didn't find it funny at all, I did find it addictive. So by the time I became bar mitzvah, I was pretty messed up already. It was about then that I started fighting back. In the first stage, I really had no chance at all. But as I got a little older, I began to worry that if I don't get out of this mess now I'm going to really be in trouble when I get older and more physically mature. Most of the time I was in yeshiva where I didn't have access to garbage but I spent a lot of time fantasizing and masturbating. So I started fighting hard and I discovered that if I daven shmoneh esrai with a lot of kavana I could manage to stay out of trouble until the next tefilah. [The fact that I was davening was great, but I had one crucial mistake. You see when I was a kid was told the story of a famous gadol that when he was young he couldn't understand his learning. So he cried so hard that suddenly Hashem opened the gates of wisdom for him. That's a terrible story to tell children. It's so important to teach our children that our job in this world is to work with what Hashem gave us, and to work patiently, diligently and consistently toward our goal. But being that I didn't know that, I was full of frustration and guilt.] At that time a friend of mine in yeshiva bought a science fiction book by isaac asimov. After he read the book he told me that it's a great book but he just has to tear out about 40 pages from the middle. But he'll let me read it first. [What a "friend"! The truth is that I don't hold it against him, I hold the ferocious malicious menuval solely responsible for everything. The reason I'm writing this (and a lot of other details) is [besides that it's therapeutic for me] that we've got to know our enemy in order to fight him.] The saddest part is that I was all alone.
(The funny thing is that although I didn't know it at the time, my real problem was not with control but rather with perspective.)
While I'm at it I'd like to fill in some other details.
1) When I was a child it would happen that I would be with my parents or siblings and we would pass pritzus etc. Every time this happened they would say "ich disgusting" etc. and I couldn't understand them at all. To me it was bad and alluring, not at all disgusting. This was quite unhealthy for me. It gave me the feeling that either I'm crazy or they're crazy. [To this day I don't find porn to be disgusting. What I do find disgusting is when the horrendous, sly menuval manages to get g-d fearing women to dress in tight clothing and other forms of pritzus.]
2) When I was about 16 it suddenly dawned on me that I'm not fooling the world. The person who they think I am is who I really am. What I keep finding myself doing against my own will does not define me at all.
One time my Rosh Yeshiva asked me if I feel I am in control of my y'h. It's really to his credit that he wanted to help, but what a fool this otherwise-very-smart-man was being. He would force me to tell him things which I didn't want to and didn't need to, and suddenly he expects me to trust him and confide in him. How utterly ridiculous. Given the way he treated me in general, there was no chance of me telling him. So I just said that I was in control.
Anyhow, that's basically what went on for the next few years. There were always ups and downs. At one point I was in a place for a "zman" where the stores routinely displayed indecent pictures outside. I found that the only way I could control my eyes, was by saying Tehilim out loud as I walked in the street (the streets were noisy so no one heard me). At the same time I got a letter from a relative who knew me well and must of somehow known that I was struggling. He wrote about a letter from R' Hutner zt'l that's printed in "pachad yitzchak".
R' Hutner was writing to a talmid that had complained to him that the rotten menuval was giving him a hard time. So he discusses the pasuk "Sheva yipol tzadik vekum" and he explains that it's the falling (7 times) that makes the person in to a tzadik. It's a very powerful letter and he ends off saying (based on chazal on bireishis "tov meod zeh yetzer harah") "had I received a letter from you saying that everything is great in your avodas hashem I would of said it was a good letter. Now that you wrote me what you did I say it's a very good letter." This was a great chizuk to me but the wicked, cruel menuval kept on saying to me (of course I didn't know it was him) "fine 7, but 700 or 7000 that's something else".
I also heard at that time, I think in the name of R' Abramski zt'l, what I think might be the most important yesod in chizuk. He said that when a person is itching to say loshon horoh (it's much easier to talk about that) and he holds back 1,2,3 times and then it just bursts out. He thinks "I blew it, I messed up, it was a waste of energy. But that's not the case at all. Because (although he must do teshuva) for each "regah" that he overcame the urge he will indeed merit "Or haganuz sheain kul malach uberya yecholin leshaer". This was extremely relevant to me because the evil menuval would always say to me "you might as well give in now because you know that at the end I always win." I think that these two pieces of chizuk are what saved me from giving up totally.
Then I came to Israel and I had to travel often on packed buses. So I got in to the habit of making sure to be pressed against girls, while of course looking as innocent as possible. [This is something that people really prefer to ignore, but it is definitely not uncommon. In my opinion it's a big problem.] My ups and downs continued: basicly the better my learning and davening were doing the more control I had. But the books and magazines that I got from friends were a killer. For the most part I'm not referring to "bad" stuff, just regular novels (robert ludlum etc.) and innocent magazines like sports illustrated (the regular issues). An interesting thing started when I was 18. Somehow, every week at the same time (at first it was Friday at sunset time, after a year or two it became later Friday night) I would get the overpowering urge and would desperately look for material and I would always eventually find something to look at or read until... I don't know if there are other explanations for this, but I think it's because that's when my soul was screaming for spiritual pleasure. All this went on until I got engaged....
The only way to describe the last 5 years before I got married is HELL!, nothing less (because I felt like I have no control over that dirt bag).
At this point I want to point out what I didn't know when I was a bachur. I hope others will benefit from my experience.
1) The struggle is not a problem but rather a gift from Hashem to make us grow. Although we must always avoid nisyonos as much as possible and we daven every single day "al tiviaini lidai nisoyon", but when Hashem in His infinite wisdom and infinite love gives it to us, we must realize that it's exactly what we need.
2) Every bit of effort that we invest to be misgaber, is immensely chashuv in the eyes of Hashem.
3) We don't always have bechira. We can never know what is expected of us. So we always need to try our best-not one drop less and we may never ever give up. But after the fact, there is no reason to assume that we could have done better.
4) Perhaps my worst mistake of all was that I concentrated all my effort on not being mz'l. (Often trying to stop at the last second.) I was not at all aware of the damage I was doing to myself by not guarding my eyes and my thoughts. In fact I had never learned about shimiras einayim at all. I thing this alone is a fatal error.
5) Hashem doesn't expect us to go it alone (This is one of the main yesodos of the Baal Shem Tov and by now it's accepted by everyone.) You need to belong to a system/community/Yeshiva/Chasidus etc. A tzibur is much much stronger than a yochid. And you need to ask for help if you're in trouble.
There is no question at all that my life would have been very very different had I known these things. But of course it is all for the best and I hope that through my suffering, many others will be spared from sinning and suffering. I also want to point out that I did not suffer any significant trauma in my life. Of course I suffered some level of abuse-everyone does-but clearly the greatest abuse by far was from the ferocious, monstrous, wicked, mean, vicious menuval. Also, I never associated taivah with love, but I am a very loving and emotional person.
When I got engaged, I suddenly felt calm content and happy in a way I had never felt before. As a result of that, I was much more in control. (I had one mess up in those two and a half months.) The day of my wedding I cried so much so hard. The tears flowed straight for two hours and it was coming from every fiber of my body and soul.
At the time, I thought the big fight was over. In fact I still think so, only now I know that there were more big fights to come.
The first year of marriage was okay, although it was a big shock to me when I discovered that my wife dislikes physical relations. I was very patient because I loved her immensely (I still love her) and I hoped things would get better. She tried a few times to get help but it seems that nobody (including me) was able to understand her. As time went on it got harder and harder.
I am with my wife 2 or 3 times a month, but -in general- she is like a piece of ice during relations. For fifteen years I kept on trying to make her feel good. I tried everything, I always thought that there has to be some way to make her happy and I made it very clear to her that I want to do what she wants. But the feeling was always that she was doing me a favor and I could hardly live with that. It makes me feel like I'm with a zoina and worse, because as low as I have fallen I can't handle the thought of my marriage being defiled. (To me, marriage is a very holy thing. For example, I can't imagine how someone can look [lustfully] at the kallah by a wedding.)
At the time I didn't realize that she is uncomfortable with love, disgusted by intimacy and incapable of experiencing pleasure. I thought I was being the best husband in the world, because I loved her despite the fact that she was making my life miserable. I had no idea that I was also making her life miserable. Firstly, because she felt inadequate even though I almost never complained. Secondly, relations (and usually all physical contact) were stressful for her and she built up resentment. Thirdly, every time I told her that I love her, or showed love in any way and she couldn't reciprocate, she felt guilty. It all built up in her, while I didn't know anything about it. As far as I knew our relationship was great and I alone was suffering.
After a year, when I was under a lot of stress, I fell back to my old ways of ups and downs. It was about then that I actually bought a p... magazine for the first time in my life. The ups lasted for months at a time, but then I'd fall again.
After about a year like that, I b'ezras Hashem made a big comeback. I learned a few seforim that strengthened me tremendously and opened my eyes to a totally new level of understanding in avodas Hashem. I reached a very high madreiga (by my standards). My learning and davening were on a different plain. My shmiras einayim was on a very high level and my bein odom lachaveiro was also way up there. I was extremely happy and very resilient. [At that time I realized how twisted my understanding of shmiras einayim had been. I would catch myself hoping (almost praying) that I would see pritzus by accident, since it's osur to look intentionally. I suddenly understood how ridiculous that is and how damaging these things are even if you've seen them a thousand times before.] It was then that I began to understand that everything I'd gone through was a yerida letzorech aliya. This stage lasted a few years.
To be honest, I still have a hard time accepting that it's possible to fall so low after being so high. But in my mind I know that it's possible and it really happened to me. Make no mistake, the menuval didn't have an easy time. His old tricks were useless on me. (By the way, I forgot to mention before that it seems that the tears on the day of my wedding, wiped away about 95% [or more] of the garbage that had been stored in my brain). First he arranged for stress to build up from many different angles. But even then he couldn't even suggest the old stuff. So he slowly got me to loosen up a little on shmiras einayim. I would look indignantly, at frum women in the street (although the styles 13 years ago weren't nearly as bad as today) and I would say to myself: "Here I am working so hard to be an ehrlicher yid and they're just parading around like that." (By the way, that was a big mistake; who's to say which nisayon is harder?). The menuval tried to give me the feeling that everyone had deserted the battlefront and left stressed-out, depressed and battered me, all alone. I don't remember the exact details, but the bottom line is, that eventually he broke me.
It hurts very hard to fall that badly, but I didn't give up. It was back to the ups and downs. The stress would build up until I would succumb and buy a p... mag. I would read it until I would masturbate and then throw it out. Sometimes I would save a telephone number from it and call from my house when my wife was sleeping. One time I made a kabala that I wouldn't buy p... for the next six months. After five months I couldn't control myself, so I went to a place to watch a video. I actually have trouble believing that I did these things with my full beard and all.
The most dramatic change of my life (like many other people that I know) was, when I discovered R' Tzvi Meir Zilberberg Shlita. His clarity and complete understanding of what Hashem wants from us and also his complete understanding of the menuval's tricks, transformed me in to a new person. For a few years the menuval was left totally in the dust, but as we all know he never gives up. At this point the real challenges of life began. For example I started worrying about my children. When I saw one of my sons playing with his bris in his sleep (he was about 8 at the time, and I saw it twice a few days apart) I literally almost died from pain and worry that chas vesholom he will go through the hell that I went through. It was also then that my wife started saying things about are marriage that upset me very badly. (But in the beginning it was nothing compared to what happened in the last few years.) Still, I had a whole lot more defense than I had had before. But there is no end to the menuval's arsenal (until Moshiach comes). So once again it was a new fight. I would hold out for long periods of many months or years, and then somehow he would get me again. It could be on a trip to the U.S. or when I had Internet access for a few minutes and I couldn't control my curiosity. [What I did was extremely reckless. I was by my friend sitting by his computer and he walked out for a few minutes. I did what I did and I didn't know that I need to delete the word in the search history and the browsing history. It's hard to imagine how he didn't catch on. (I have pretty sound proof that he didn't.) I think it was a ness.] Even when I fell, I got back up fast, even when I was feeling quite depressed.
About 5 years ago I really pulled myself together. I became very much in control of my life and very thought out. I was doing a program of working on self improvement that is very intense. My sedarim in learning were very solid and orderly. I wouldn't waste any time, I was always patient, I never got angry, there was no chance in the world of me saying a word of loshon horoh and obviously I was very very happy. It was impossible for the menuval to get me.
Then the impossible happened. I don't remember what started the stress, but I want to tell you what happened next. I remember that I was feeling stressed for about a week, when one night I walked in to the bathroom in shul and got the shock of my life. Let me first point out that I'm talking about an exclusively chareidi area. Somebody (presumably a young teenager from the heimishe yeshiva next door) had drawn a porn scene on the wall. I don't know about other people but I CAN'T LIVE WITH THAT. It simply drove me out of my mind. I can't handle the thought that any innocent boy could just happen upon something like that and there is no way to protect them. I know we can try to fortify them but that does not calm me down. This, by the way, is one of the main reasons that I hate the menuval so totally, so completely, so vehemently and so unforgivingly.
But as much as it broke my spirit, that deceitful obnoxious maniac still could not get me. After that it was one thing after another. I have to omit some of the major stuff, so I shouldn't be identified. Suffice it to say that there's been tons of pain, tons of turmoil and tons of worry. At the height of it all, I went away for a few days to try to get back to myself. When I came back, my wife informed me that life is better without me. (She did not at all mean that she was considering breaking up. She was just trying to say that I should change.) I know that a lot of people take such things more lightly, but I just can't. To me, my relationship with my wife (and my love for her) is a very central part of my life. I tried a few times to get an apology out of her, but she doesn't even understand what the problem is.
After a while of recuperating I began to concentrate very much on building her up. (By that time I understood most of what was bothering her.) I thought I was doing a great job, but then she dropped another bomb. (The fact that I don't remember exactly what she said, is a good sign.) I became such a total mess, that I was almost powerless. It's important to realize that I had become very distant from acting out. I hadn't touched my bris in years. I don't get excited when from seeing p... . But I became such a total wreck, that the menuval managed to blow up my curiosity about what is on the Internet. Over the next few months I visited an Internet place a few times. I, Boruch Hashem, put a stop to that, but he still didn't give up. At a time that I would be feeling particularly weak, and sitting by my computer at work, suddenly I just needed to know all kinds of things. Like, how good is the censorship on Picassa web albums. Or what happens if you search in images with this or that word with safe search on. The list goes on and on, so I'll spare you the rest. Of course, once I was heading in that direction, one thing lead to another. Eventually I would get aroused and a couple of times I was even mz'l (without actually touching)...
At that point, my marriage was at it's worst state ever. About five and a half months ago, I tried making a strong detailed kabala to stay away from bad searches and bad sites. That helped for a very short time. (The hadracha on this site for making vows, is the perfect solution to this problem [webmaster comment: See here and here].) Right about then, I had a meeting with my wife's therapist, (that she's been seeing the last few years). In the past, there had been a bit of a disagreement between the therapist and I (although we always got along very well and I always agreed to give everything a try). In this last meeting, everything seemed to become very clear. On the one hand, it felt good to really understand what I'm dealing with. But at the same time, it was a very hard pill for me to swallow. The next day the menuval grabbed the opportunity. He got really cunning and managed to get me to break my kabala.
A few days later, I began to search for a website that helps with these things. First I googled "kedusha", but that didn't get me anywhere. But B"H I kept trying until I found GUE, the greatest site in the world. It was very exciting, although the forum -which is my favorite by far, wasn't up yet.
By the way, there has been discussion here about a Torah source for the 12 steps. I want to say that I had never heard of the 12 steps before I discovered GUE. When I saw the 12 steps for the first time, there were no chidushim to me. I had learned it all over the many years of my battles, at least 90%, perhaps 100%, from Torah sources. [I also think the question is irrelevant, as others have pointed out.]
I should have subscribed to the chizuk email list right away, but I was lazy about figuring out how to set up a private email address. What I really was looking for and really needed was a forum. I followed a link to a different site that has a forum, but it was just not the right thing. The next time the disgraceful, despicable menuval started up, I decided that I had better take care of the email thing. So B"H I did it, and the first time I opened my mailbox I saw a link to the forum. I clicked on that link -bless that day- and pretty soon I was crying. To see my holy, precious, beloved brothers and fellow warriors joining together to fight back effectively and give each other support and chizuk, is by far the best therapy and the best chizuk I can ever hope for.
That was about 100 days ago, and since then the rules of the game have changed. Of course I know very well that I can never let my guard down. But I also know that I have won a new and different kind of battle, than ever before. Until now my main weapons were Torah, Tefilah and simcha (of course that's the way it should be). But Hashem wanted me to learn, how to stay clean even in the darkest times. I have hardly been able to learn during the last six months, even though normally I absolutely love learning. I have hardly been able to daven properly, and I feel like I forgot what simcha is. But bizchus GUE and all the fantastic chevra here, I've learned to fight and win even without my weapons.
I deeply yearn for the day when my shmiras einayim will be like it once was. And also, of course, my davening learning and everything else. But until then, I promise not to give in to the menuval, come what may.
I hope I don't scare anyone with my story. Quite honestly, I don't think Hashem does this to most people. One thing everyone can learn from me, and from the menuval, is to never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever give up.
Dear holy beloved brothers,
I love you more than you can imagine, and I daven for you -along with everyone here- every day.
I have a strong feeling that the reason Hashem let the menuval do all this to me, is because it was crucial for my tikkun that I should join everyone here on the forum. Like I already pointed out, I really don't think my story is typical.
The general rule is, that the more we concentrate on continuing to grow, the less Hashem "needs" to test us.
Simchu BaHshem Vigilu Tzadikim, be happy not worried. If you would have the slightest idea how chashuv you are in the eyes of Hashem, you would be jumping for joy!