Guard Your Eyes

GuardUrEyes
A website for Jews struggling to maintain their moral purity in today's world
  GUE Home New Website Forum Email List Stories Tips Hotline 12 Steps Filters Links FAQ Help Us Kosher Isle Contact  

Q. I am a 22 year old single guy. I have battled in the area of sexuality for years and years (I actually canít remember not having this yatzer harah). The problem is these days the internet is everywhere, including cell phones. I was going down a spiral. You have no idea how much I wanted to stop. I took my very expensive cell phone and threw it in the dustbin. But the internet was still unavoidable. I used to have bitter, bitter nights where I would cry my self to sleep. I installed a filter on my PC but it was useless, when I was in the grip of desire I would even reformat my PC to gain access. After a lot of thinking and honesty, I realized that medically speaking it is not really possible to stop if you are not married, babies even do it. I had to completely change my attitude towards masturbation.

While I believe that I can overcome pornography, I no longer believe that I (and a lot of other people) can stop masturbating. For years I believed I could stop, do you have any idea how much pain and suffering that belief caused me? I believe that this belief was one of the main causes for my pornography addiction. (Although I admit that there probably are a lot of other reasons.) Because the Torah seems to be very strict about this issue (Iím sure you know the sources), my self-esteem was utterly shattered.


Although there are people that can completely rid themselves of this desire (I saw your links
[see our original answer to him with the links below]) Iím certainly not one of them.  Do you want to know what happens when I try? Eventually the urge is so strong that I canít fall asleep so I stay up the whole night, The next day Iím exhausted, I can hardy get through the day. That night, the urge is even stronger and I still canít get to sleep! Another all-nighter. By early the next morning I am usually broken. Sometimes I am able to fight a bit longer (I have to cancel everything I was meant to do that day), and eventually when Iím half unconscious, I give in. I used to get really depressed about this. All the Torah sources cut through my mind all at once, I almost hated my self. For the next two weeks I would numb my mind with pornography. Then I would somehow snap out of it, and try again, another bitter, bitter cycle. I tried every trick in the book, sleeping pills, massive fines, you name it.
 

A few years ago, I somehow went for about four and a half months without doing it. I began to experience pain in that area of my body, I thought I could have cancer G-d forbid. Eventually I went to the doctor he referred me to a urologist he said that the pain was caused by not masturbating. For years I lied to my self that I could overcome this, probably because I was scared of sounding Reform, G-d forbid. But I now realize that I have to be honest with my self in order to grow.

 


I sent your question to the world renowned addiction therapist and Talmid Chacham, R' Avraham J. Twerski (author of over 50 books!). Meanwhile though, I ask you to please read through the following links.
1) /GUE/FAQ/FAQ1.asp
2) /GUE/FAQ/FAQ17.asp
3) /GUE/Tips/lfln.asp
4) /GUE/FAQ/FAQ11.asp
5) /GUE/FAQ/FAQ22.asp


 

Here is Rabbi Twerski's response:

 

 

Contrary to logic, marriage does not help sexual addiction, and continuing masturbation after the marriage can ruin it. Even if it is totally controlled, he must tell the woman that he wants to marry that he had a sexual addiction.

 

His conviction that he cannot overcome the addiction is the addiction talking to him, saying, ďGive up the fight, Itís useless. Youíll never succeed, so why put yourself through the misery.Ē

 

Other than try to stop and pray etc, what has this young man done to make essential changes in his character? Thatís where one should begin.

 

I attended an AA meeting where the speaker was celebrating his 20th year of sobriety. He began by saying, ďThe man I once was, drank. And the man I once was, will drink againĒ (but the man I am today, will not). Alcoholics who have not had a drink for many years but have not overhauled their character are ďdry drunksĒ and will often drink again. The same is true for sexual addiction.

 

How does one become a different person? By working diligently on improving oneís character traits. Learning how to manage anger, to rid oneself of resentments, to overcome hate, to be humble, to be considerate of others, to be absolutely honest in all oneís affairs, to admit being wrong, to overcome envy, to be diligent and overcome procrastination. In short, one should take the Orchos Tzaddikim (Iím sure itís available in English), and go down the list of character traits, strengthening the good oneís and trying to eliminate the bad ones. This does not happen quickly.

 

When one has transformed oneís character and has become a different person, one will find that this ďnew personĒ can accomplish things that the old person could not.

 


Dear Jew,

In addition to Rabbi Twerski's answer, I would like to add a few things.

The symptoms you describe when trying to stop, are "withdrawal symptoms". Anyone who tries to stop any addiction will experience these type of symptoms. They can be excruciating at first, but they get easier as you make progress. I advise you to see here this time line of "Jack". Jack is someone who was heavily addicted and didn't have one clean day in 38 years, but he is now 90 days clean (this Monday)! At first, Jack went through exactly what you feel when you tried to stop.

The fact that you were once clean for 4.5 months shows you have real strengths inside you, and I don't believe that you will be able to live comfortably with yourself if you don't beat this record. As far as the urologist who claimed that the pain you had was from not masturbating, this is nonsense. Here's an excerpt from an article on Masturbation that was reviewed by the faculty of Harvard medical School: "Some people have strong religious, cultural or moral objections to masturbation. For those who hold these values, choosing not to masturbate is normal, too. There is nothing weird, odd, or unhealthy about this choice". 

And see here as well (below):

Question:

Dear Sexperts, What happens if a male doesn't ejaculate for a long period of time?

Answer:

If a male doesn't ejaculate for a long period of time nothing noticeable happens. There is no buildup of pressure or extra sperm for several reasons. Our bodies are always reabsorbing and disposing of extra material, including excess components of the ejaculate. The sperm produced by your body will simply die and be degraded by your body if they are not used. This serves two purposes: it keeps you stocked with "fresh" sperm and it prevents a backup of extra sperm.

Sperm, however, only makes up about 1% of ejaculate. The majority of the ejaculate is composed of fluid produced in the seminal vesicles and the prostate gland. These fluids are also stored and eventually reabsorbed by the body if you do not ejaculate for a long period of time.

It is perfectly natural to not ejaculate for a long period of time, especially if you are not sexually active and do not choose to masturbate. Also, it is possible to experience nocturnal emissions and ejaculate at night without any sexual activity or masturbation. There are no risks or heath problems associated with not ejaculating.

Sincerely, The Sexperts

So my dear Jew, please hear us out. This is your eternity at stake. Don't give up. Make a new push for it. Your plan to stop looking at porn but not stopping to masturbate won't work. As long as you are feeding the addiction, it will control you. And marriage won't make it easier to stop the addiction either. 

You should know that Hashem adds together all of your previous struggles, tears and sacrifices. If you try again to stop now, it is not like you are starting from zero. You have all these years of pain and sacrifice Ė even throwing out your expensive cell phone, all these things are kept in a special place by Hashem, and when the time is right Ė you will suddenly have strength you never knew you had. I believe that the fact that you have found our site and even received an answer from Rabbi Twerski, is a sign from heaven that the time is NOW. You will be able to do it. But you need to be ready for the withdrawal symptoms. And you will need group support. Please join the FREE phone group. Write me for info and I'll send you the phone number and PIN. It's fully anonymous.

Don't worry about "getting down". Promise yourself you will never get down, no matter what. This is a trick of the Yetzer hara. He wants us to get down, even more than he wants us to sin. Because if we get down, he owns us. And in your case, he wants you to get down so he can tell you that it's just not worth it. So don't listen to his lies. He has tricked us for long enough.

Through this struggle, and in the process of breaking free, you will gain the greatest gift, which will make the whole thing worth it. What is that gift? The art of true closeness to Hashem and how to give him over our heart.

Indeed, so many people are given this struggle just for this. For Hashem, it is all worth it in the end. Yes, Hashem knew they would fall - and yes, he still loves them, but he is waiting for when the time is right, so that they may learn how to give over their desires to Him and gain a new dimension in their spiritual quest on this world. That is why he gave them this struggle. Hashem has infinite patience and waits sometimes many many years until the time is right for his plan to come to fruitation.

Hashem is with you. Grab ahold of this site and donít let go, join the Chizuk list, keep posting on the forum, use out all the tools on this website (see the home-page of www.guardureyes.com) and you will succeed in ways you never believed you could, G-d willing. And do what Rabbi Twerski says. His last line holds the key:
When one has transformed oneís character and has become a different person, one will find that this ďnew personĒ can accomplish things that the old person could not.


Dear guardureyes

I am truly grateful for Rav Twerski and you taking time to help me. I have the utmost respect for Rav Twerski, me and my chuvrusa use ďLights along the wayĒ for our mussar.

However there are a few things that I really donít understand. Firstly how does my conviction stem from my addiction? After years of trying to stop Masturbating and my pornography addiction getting progressively worse, I realized That the only way to stop the downward and dangerous spiral of pornography was to Stop fighting Masturbation. This seems to be working, instead of spending endless nights In front of my pc drowning my sorrows and destroying my life, I now only spend A few minutes 4 times a week masturbating. I feel like doing it if Iím sad and equally when Iím happy, how is my approach from my addiction?

Secondly I (in my very, very humble opinion) think it is very dangerous to compare some one who masturbates to a sexual addict, thatís what I did and a dug my own grave. Over 90% of males masturbate on a regular basis, even men that have wholesome lives. Are they all sex addicts? Are 13 year old boys sex addicts when they canít stop masturbating? Or are they sinners? I believe that Hashem does not expect most of them to stop. Think logically, are they destroying the world? Creating very harmful forces? I donít think Hashem runs his world that way. Iím 22 now and since last year I have stopped worrying and feeling guilty about masturbating, you asked whether I could live comfortably with my self not trying to Beat my record? Yes because I know if I try, at this time in my life there is a big chance of falling and drowning in pornography, I know this from experience and a canít ignore that fact. If some one put I gun to my head and said eat non-kosher or I may or may not kill you, should I take the risk and not eat? The food is masturbation and me being shot is The downward spiral.

Finally your sources donít prove that everyone can stop masturbating. All they are saying is that it is not dangerous if someone is somehow able to stop for a long time. When the doctor told me that the pain was from not masturbating he did not say that it was dangerous. Also I am I bit confused about your source, because of these and a whole lot of other posts in the very same section of the site. Like it says there in answer to someone else's question: ďwe would like to assure you that it is a perfectly normal and natural expression of sexuality. Almost everybody masturbates, so relax and enjoy yourself.Ē

I donít see how you can pick and choose from a source like that. Please donít say that what you did to that website I am doing to the Torah G-d forbid!! I would rather die than do that. I am just trying to understand the Torah and how to live my life properly, should I rather lie about what I think?

Iím very, very sorry if I have been disrespectful in any way and I thank you and Rav Twerski for your patience. Sorry for writing so much. I just donít know what to do anymore.


Today's Chizuk e-mail was in your Merit! (#341 on this page - Scroll down). I will try and answer some of your other points in another e-mail... but meanwhile, please read today's chizuk e-mail well. It was written FOR YOU.


 

Dear Jew,

 

Please open your heart to hear what I want to tell you now, and please put all preconceived notions aside for now. (Don't ignore them, just don't let them block you from hearing).

 

First of all, did you see yesterday's Chizuk e-mail? The main points I wanted to bring out from that e-mail was: 

1) Only "Depression" is unhealthy, but guilt is healthy, and without it we are spiritually lost.

2) In spite of all the scary, terrible things written about masturbation in Chaza"l, if a Jew doesn't let go of G-d and he lets himself feel guilt and pain at being far from Hashem and keeps trying to do better, then Hashem chooses to ignore even the lowest and worst sins - as it says "Lo hibit aven bi'Yaakov".


Now to answer some of your other points.

 

First of all, the source I brought from the internet was only to show you that stopping altogether is in no way dangerous, and it should not cause any pains either. As it says there "There are no risks or heath problems associated with not ejaculating". Pain is a "Health Problem". (The urologist was probably just "assuming" or making things up).

 

Of course you can bring me a million articles that masturbation is normal, but that wasn't my point. My point was that "stopping is not dangerous". Yes, masturbation is normal for humans, but Hashem expects more from Jews. He expects us to be holier. That is also why in the ultra-Orthodox circles, they marry off their kids at 18 years old. Because it is normal to need these things, so why have to fight so hard to be holy? What if one falls? They feel it is not worth the risk. As Chaza"l say, we need to be thankful for our wives - even if they are difficult people, simply because they save us from sin. Chaza"l are not trying to ignore the human instinct. But for someone who is not married, Hashem does expect them to try and be as holy as they can. Let yourself feel guilt when falling, and try again! Keep making progress, keep working on yourself, keep davening. And yes, get married soon. But even marriage won't solve an addiction. It will only help if you are in full control.

 

You asked how your conviction that you can't stop, comes from the addiction. What Rabbi Twerski is saying is, and he has told me this a number of times in the past, that someone who is addicted to something will find 100 reasons not to take the steps he needs to take (like join a 12-Step group or whatever). What is important to realize is that it's NOT YOU who is making these excuses, it is the addiction talking to you. Your addiction is telling you that you can't stop masturbation, and that if you try to stop you will get depressed and fall even lower. You must tell the addiction, "No! I can stop. Hashem is stronger than you. And HE will help me stop". And tell the addiction "NO, I will not become depressed, no matter what". (Guilt yes, but NOT depressed).

 

You also claim that an addiction to masturbation is not the same as a "sexual addict". To answer this, I ask you to please see what Rabbi Twerski answered on this page:

 

And to answer your next point, unfortunately yes, often 13 year old boys may develop an addiction to masturbation. This stems from the fact that the nature of this "Tavah" is: "The more you feed it, the more you need it". And often kids this age begin to feed it, many times simply to sooth themselves (maybe from some emotional pain, low self esteem, abuse at home, or anything like that) and they can easily be pulled into an addiction. Just like with any pleasure, the pleasure sensory is stimulated in the brain. Simple neuroscience. Whether its cocaine, a tasty sandwich, or pleasure one might get from bad things during movie, the serotonin levels spike & the dopaminergic pleasure pathway is activated, in the standard "addiction" pattern. Little do people know, we are actually "addicted" to food, but that's a healthy addiction, and most people are able to moderate their food intake. The same CANNOT be said for mind altering drugs, porno and masturbation.

 

But Hashem is very patient and does not consider them "sinners" at age 13. He waits sometimes many years until the person is mature enough and ready to be able to try to stop. And it is all worth it in the end, and this was indeed Hashem's plan, for in the process of stopping they learn self-sacrifice and how to give over their hearts to Hashem. And like we saw in yesterday's e-mail, as long as a Jew is trying and doesn't let go of Hashem, Hashem is more than ready to forgive. But think about it honestly. If it wouldn't say such terrible things about it in Chaza"l, would we ever make the strong effort it takes to try and stop? Because it really does take serious effort. But at the same time, we need to know that as long as we hold on to Hashem and keep trying, he will forgive us. One day we'll succeed, and then it will all have been worth it. Not only that, but each minute we were trying, is priceless in Hashem's eyes.

 

PLEASE do me one big favor. Read carefully the Chizuk e-mail #296 and #297 on this page (you need to scroll down).

These two e-mails will show you how important it is that you don't stop trying, every day anew, and how precious every minute that you hold back is in the eyes of Hashem. Would you throw away millions of dollars? If I told you that holding back even 5 minutes is worth more than that, would you say "I don't want to try to hold back at all, since I am afraid that when I fall I will get depressed and fall even lower"?

 

So my dear Jew, keep trying even if you fall. Instead of ignoring "guilt", learn to ignore "depression". Never let a fall drag you further down. Know that every second you held back, every time you tried, is priceless, and it will never be lost. It is all added together, and when the cup is "full" Hashem steps in and does the rest.

 

I beg you to open your heart and hear what I am saying. Never let preconceived notions rule you. I heard an inspiring saying once (non-Jewish). It goes "Always stay hungry and always stay foolish". (Meaning, never be satisfied with where you are now, and never say "I already know").

 

The fact that already now you are stopping with the porn and limiting masturbation to just a few times a week, shows you have tremendous strength and conviction. You are already well on the way. All that remains is to convince your mind of two things. 1) "I will not get depressed when I fall no matter what". 2) "I can stop fully and nothing will happen to me" (besides withdrawal symptoms in the beginning).

 

May Hashem give you strength. As soon as you try your best and give over the fight to him, he will do the rest. Trust him.