I got a lot of encouragement growing up. My parents, my teachers, they told me I could do anything (I was suited for). My dad in particularly thought I’d make a fine attorney.
I got the idea that by applying myself, I could succeed. I could overcome anything with self-discipline and self-will.
Then I got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 1988 and for the next six years, I was severely limited, no matter how hard I tried. In 1994, I made a partial recovery but my life was still limited, though not as severely as the previous six years.
To the extent of my physical limits, however, and to the extent of my natural abilities, I thought I could do anything.
Converting to Judaism didn’t change this belief. The foundation of Judaism was belief in free-will and that people can choose between good and bad and that God holds them accountable for their choices.
I converted to Judaism. I studied Torah. I observed many commandments. I thought I could make myself a good person and a good Jew.
I failed spectacularly (with particular vividness from late 1995 on when I decided to devote myself to chronicling the commercial sex world. My subject coarsened me and I became alienated from much of the Jewish community.
In 2007, I decided I’d quit blogging on the porn industry. I thought I could move on to something else, but I was scared. I felt defeated by life. Once again, I entered a program to convert to Orthodox Judaism. Part-way through, I got tossed from my Orthodox shul of the previous seven years. The needless cruelty on my blog was too much for my rabbi. He was ready to wash his hands of me if I wouldn’t conform to Judaism’s teachings on sacred speech.
I was so scared and lonely and bereft and struggling. I had little confidence in the application of my will to accomplish good things. I struggled on, however, following my will.
When I went to my first 12-Step meeting in April of 2011, that was admitting defeat. I admitted that following my will wouldn’t get me where I needed to go. Until then, I thought that if I only tried hard enough, disciplined myself rigorously enough, I could accomplish everything I needed to.
When I started going to a 12-Step program, however, and accepted that I had emotional addictions that were causing me to use everyone and everything in my life, I realized I needed to turn my life over to God and to give up on running on self-will.
After that, I found some peace and serenity.