Editor’s Note: This piece contains descriptions of the author’s Sexaholism symptoms in general terms, which some readers may find uncomfortable. Refuat Hanefesh believes that addiction is a critically important issue to shed a light on in the Jewish community, particularly this segment of addiction as it is seldomly discussed. We commend the author for sharing her experiences and message with our community.
I look like you
I talk like you
But am I like you?
You see, I am an Orthodox Jewish girl; I cover my knees, cover my elbows, go to Torah events. And I am a Sexaholic.
A few years ago, I said those words for the first time in front of ten men. No women. They looked at me and they understood me, and I wasn’t as afraid as I had been.
I spent years reliant on pornography and masturbation, wanting men and women more than I thought any woman should. I was always thinking about sex. I didn’t believe I was normal. I knew that if I got married, I would have an affair because I never said no.
Living in Washington Heights (upper Manhattan), I couldn’t have been more like and dislike everyone around me. I felt like a TV show character. When there was no one else around, I melted into the background, disappeared. I weaved in and out of reality. And my eyes, those sad sad eyes. So empty, so hopeless.
I would stay up late into the night watching perverted, illegal, and imaginary things, losing myself more and more into the abyss. In the beginning – when I was in high school – I thought I had found magic, a solution. When I did or watched a particular thing, I didn’t feel sad, alone, or different. But as time passed by, the fissure in my personality was destroying me. I felt just like a typical person in the morning but somebody else in the evenings.
Searching for Health
I would do everything and anything to stop except tell someone – God forbid anyone should know! I tried stopping a million times, but I couldn’t stay stopped. In fact, every time I stopped, I came back to do and see worse things than I had done before I left. I started to accept that this was my fate.
Divine providence, I believe, led me to my answers. I happened to read a book about a man who sounded just like me! He was a slave to lust, powerless over it. One hit was too much and 1,000 hits were never enough. He said Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) helped him get sober, helped him be OK.
Facing my Addiction
I was desperate. Even though I knew anyone could be in those SA rooms, death seemed liked a better option than life at this point. What did I have to lose?
In the end, I found everything. I found sobriety; I found friendship; I found sanity. I found life!!
As Shavuot comes around the corner and we choose to accept the Torah, I am so grateful that I can now say I choose life. I choose to stay present and a part of the world that is this imperfect, painful, sad, and happy world.
Still, I sometimes wonder, am I like you?
But I give up on caring about the question
Because I just need to be like me 😉
Message from The Author: Please note that I am not a representative of Sexaholic Anonymous; everything I have shared is based on my personal experiences only. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at my recovery email email@example.com.
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