When individuals first enter the Purify Your Gaze program, the last thing they expect to find is real meaning behind their sex addiction, which on the apparent is filled with layers and layers of darkness.
They may look at their journey of recovering from their unwanted sexual behaviors with drudgery, as something shameful they are forced to go through.
However, as they begin to understand their addiction better, there is a newfound sense of empowerment when they realize that the very thing that once brought them pain and misery can become transformational and life changing, and their biggest blessing.
The journey of recovery from your unwanted sexual behaviors isn’t different than any other journeys’ undertaken by mankind.
In fact, you may be surprised to find that your own journey perfectly parallels the Hero’s Journey, which is a narrative that is commonly in many of stories of heroes and heroines, across cultures and time.
The gist of the hero’s journey is this:
The hero encounters a challenge, and at first rejects the call to undertake the journey to address it. As he overcomes the initial fear of embarking on the journey and begins treading the path, he undergoes a transformation in his being, and returns to share the story of his journey with others and transform their lives as well.
In this article, we will go over the first two steps of the hero’s journey, and see how they can be applied to your own journey of recovery from sex addiction.
Step 1 – Call to Adventure: The first step is the call to adventure. Here, the hero comes across a challenge that needs to be overcome, and this puts him on the path of adventure.[blank_space height=’2em’]
This may refer to the moment of truth when you begin to realize how out of control your unwanted sexual behaviors have become, and how negatively they are impacting your life.
Here are some reflections from members of the Purify Your Gaze Community about their own call to adventure:
Brother Ahsan”Something happened yesterday that really struck me and made me hit rock bottom… Even though I have not struggled with anything further than porn and masturbation, yesterday on the way home I past by a brothel and I felt a strong urge to go inside (I have never felt this trigger before).
“I fell into my desires and triggers and went in… subhan Allah, I paid for the service and when I was inside the room with the lady, I felt a strong urge to just escape and get away before I even touched her, she tried to stop me but I told her I need to go and I ran away, I ran for my life and left that filthy place, I went into my car and drove off and I began to praise Allah and make istighfaar…
“That event really struck me, I thought to myself, subhaan Allah even though I have not been viewing porn, I have gone to the extent of zina!!! (even though I didn’t commit the act). I am so embarrassed for entering that place. But now I have learnt that I cannot do it on my own. I simply cannot recover on my own it simply does not work. I need to take my recovery seriously and that is why I am here…”
Brother Mubeen”Over the years my addiction has grown. My worst moment was when I spent two months salary within the space of 48 hours on cam chat sites. Looking back I have realized this has affected everything: my relationship with family, friends, work, but most importantly my relationship with Allah.
“I cannot say I am beyond redemption because as Muslims that is diminishing the Mercy of Allah but I would be lying if I do not feel like that sometimes.”
Step 2 – Refusal of the Call: The hero tries to refuse the call to adventure because he is afraid or angry that he is being called to this journey.[blank_space height=’2em’]
While you may be aware that the challenge with your unwanted sexual behaviors is there and you need to tread the path, the overwhelming fear of the unknown may cause you to reject the call, leading you to minimize the seriousness of the problem.
There may also be anger or resentment that you even have to go down this path in the first place.
I was speaking with one individual who felt such resentment. Brother Abdul Majeed had been in and out of the Purify Your Gaze Program several months at a time, but he never actively participated or applied what he learned.
Through our conversation, what we discovered was that he was angry and upset that his “good muslim plan” didn’t work out for him and he is suffering from this “lowly” addiction.
He is very active in Dawah masha’Allah, but he ’s angry with himself that he failed in this specific area of his life. He was also angry spiritually with Allah that all his attempt at ‘fixing’ this issue did not work out.
I shared the following perspective with brother Abdul Majeed on his “refusal to the call,” which really struck a chord with him:
Allah SWT has brought you to this door, this opportunity many, many times. You’re standing at the door but you’ve never stepped in because you’ve been resentful, angry, upset and afraid, and your pride got in the way.
You didn’t want to step through, you didn’t want this journey. You wanted a more honourable journey that was not degrading; A cooler journey, a cooler battle. That “I’m supposed to be this active muslim, this practicing muslim, I want a different battle against my nafs.”
This really resonated with him as he understood what had been holding him back from making progress in his recovery and became a catalyst for change.
Here is what another client, brother Hasan had to say about experiencing fear and minimizing the call, in his own version of Refusal of the Call:
Brother Hasan”I initially thought PYG was a bit extreme and I wasn’t THAT bad. I mean, I did have this GPA, this position in the MSA, this award for leadership, this noble work that I did/doing etc. Surely I’m not as bad as some of these people.
“Also, the call to adventure went away quickly due to my perfectionism. Not keeping up with the Breaking Free modules on time meant I was a failure and being a failure meant I would slump and not do it. I still struggle with this. I think it was my fear of falling behind and lack of approval that comes from it.
“Couple the above with senior year of university and work. The vision of the adventure went away so did the rigor to pursue it. It was still in the mind but more like a faint voice that was barely heard.”
Those who first embark on this path of recovery commonly face the fear of failure, and the fear of the unknown.
You may find yourself stuck in this step as well, but it is important to realize that this is just a normal part of the process in your own recovery journey, and is expected.
It is just the beginning, and does not have to be end of your journey, as you will see in the following article of how individuals overcame the mental and emotional barriers to progress to the next steps of their own hero’s journey.
In the near future, we will in sha Allah get into the next few steps of the hero’s journey: Meeting the Mentor, Crossing the First Threshold, Test, Allies & Enemies.