Embrace Honest Accountability – Abdallah’s journey from a life of dreams broken by addiction to the freedom created by his newfound commitment to accountability and honesty.
Today we’re talking about honest accountability – here’s the reason we need to talk about this: many people who are struggling assume that it’s better that my embarrassing and humiliating sin be hidden away from the world while I try to fix it all on my own.
Many think “look, I don’t want to harm or inconvenience or make uncomfortable the people around me by sharing with them my struggle – it’s better for everyone that no one ever finds out, and I’ll be able to fix it all on my own.”
The problem is that when you go to great lengths to ensure that no one knows the truth of your struggle, you also destroy one of the most important keys to success, and that’s accountability.
Why we need accountability to grow
You see, Allah made us a people who need others around us to help us grow and reach greater levels of our potential. We as human beings cannot rely solely on our own selves for our growth. And sometimes that means we need someone to steer us in the right direction when we’re going down the wrong one.
But in a desperate attempt to avoid the consequences of their mistakes, many people isolate themselves further and further – so that no one is able to see the true you, and the result of staying in isolation is that there can be no true growth.
Abdallah’s journey to honest accountability
Now what I want to focus on today is actually a story – it’s a story that answers the question: what happens when I embrace honest accountability? What happens when I let someone outside of me hold me to a higher standard? What happens when I’m no longer relying on my own will power and knowledge to achieve the growth I seek?
The reality is that it can really scary to face our uncomfortable truths – but as you’ll see in this story of Abdallah, doing so only paves the way for a much, much brighter future.
Growing up, Abdallah had a religious upbringing and went to Islamic school, but like many children the faith wasn’t firmly planted in his heart. So when he began seeking out explicit material online at a young age he didn’t really think it was a problem – only that no one could find out, of course.
He was a bright, good, innocent kid to his parents and community. He did well in school, but he didn’t really fit in with the others, and he got made fun of a lot.
As a child he responded to this bullying with resentment that he kept inside of him, and his access to pornography was his way of dealing with the lack of control and significance he experienced at school.
As he moved on toward middle school and high school, he became very methodical in accessing pornography regularly, and by this time he also started chatting with girls online.
And that was the greatest satisfaction he got in life – as a nerdy little kid, the idea that a woman would pay attention to him and laugh at his jokes was immensely validating.
He developed elaborate ways to act out while remaining secretive – he would go to bed at 11pm, then after everyone slept he would tiptoe to the family computer room, and he would stuff pillows around the computer to muffle the sound of it whirring and the sound of the dial up modem, so no one would wake up.
While this private life was going on, in public he still had a genuine interest in academics, and in high school he was obsessed with getting into an Ivy league university, and that was his big aspiration in life at that time.
Although so far he was able to keep up his grades despite spending hours each week acting out, at age 16 things turned around. He got a car, he got his own cell phone, and his family got high speed internet.
A whole new world of acting out sexually opened up – and overnight his grades went from A’s to E’s.
His big dream of going to an Ivy League school became jeopardized – but he was torn between his hunger for lust and this genuine dream. In the heat of the moment, he would forget all about reality, and he would indulge holding on to the false hope that the damage won’t be too bad. Yet, when the fantasy faded, he would be hit with reality once again, asking himself “what have I done?” and promising he would never go back again.
The consequences in his life were screaming “you need to do something about this problem!” but rather than taking heed he held onto the false hope that if he simply promised that he would stop, then everything would be OK.
As the years went on, he did things he never thought he would do. If you asked him if you would ever call one of the girls you’re chatting with, he would have said of course not. Yet that’s what happened. If you asked him would you ever meet one of these girls for a sexual encounter, he would have said of course not. Yet that’s exactly what happened as time went by.
Sometimes you can’t be objective in your own judgement, as we can see here his own judgement was telling him “it’s OK that you’re dreams are being sabotaged”. And so it’s important to ask – are you willing to rely solely on your own judgement?
By now his dream of going to an Ivy league school had been sacrificed for his sexual addiction.
Yet, he still did not fully admit the severity of his problem, because he could always say “well, it’s not so bad” – he couldn’t go to an Ivy League school, but hey he still got into a local college.
→ He didn’t face the reality of what he sacrificed for his addiction, and as a result it was free to continue to consume his life. And that’s one of the problems of staying in isolation and not embracing accountability in your life. The voice of addiction always belittles the consequences of your choices – don’t you see why it’s important to have another voice in your life to help you see things more clearly?
As this went on, he continued to be the model Muslim on the outside. He was active in his college MSA, and he was giving jum’ah khutbah at his local masjid.
And, at 23 years old, he got married, and his wife did not know the full extent of his behaviors. He swore that after getting married he would never go back to acting out.
→ The problem with promising yourself that it won’t happen again without taking responsibility for your actions up to that point is that it creates the illusion that nothing is wrong. And so with that illusion, no further action is taken. And this happens frequently when you are in isolation with no one holding you to a higher standard – but when you have honest accountability, then that support person can help you see that “look – you can’t just walk away. There’s work you need to do to clean things up.”
Just a few months into his marriage, he was talking on the phone with a woman, and his wife overheard the conversation.
She came into his office, where he was supposed to be studying, and asked “who are you talking to?”
His heart started racing, he became sweaty, and his face flushed – yet he still brushed aside what he was doing with more excuses, saying it was nothing and asking her what are you talking about.
She rushed to the living room crying, saying that she did everything for him, and that she wanted to get divorced.
A divorce did not happen, but the issue was swept under the rug, and, like he did previously when he faced the consequences of his behaviors, he swore up and down that this would never happen again.
However, eventually his wife caught him another time and the story repeated itself. And yet again he promised himself it would never happen again.
After his second time getting caught, he completely turned his life around – he became a very strict Muslim at that point. And he went about an entire year without acting out sexually!
But the problem is that he was still carrying the weight of his secrets.
A lot of people approach their struggle assuming that if they have enough self-control then their problems will be resolved. But in reality this struggle is NOT a test of your will power, it’s not about having an iron will! The real test is one of surrendering to Allah, accepting responsibility for your choices, loving yourself enough to make things right, and humbling yourself enough to get support when it’s needed.
Because for Abdallah, even this time around, with his sincere and very serious efforts, he still fell back to his habits after an entire year.
He got caught a 3rd time within 3 years of marriage, and then he finally began to realize that he needed to get help.
He and his wife met up with a Muslim family therapist, and this was a huge, huge step. But as they sat there, Abdallah was still lying in the name of Allah. His wife knew he accessed pornography, but when the therapist asked him if he had ever met up with another woman, he swore by Allah that’s something he would never do.
At the recommendation of this family therapist, he joined Purify Your Gaze to work on his recovery from sexual addiction. And now his wife knew that he was actively working to recover, and she truly believed that things could turn around.
Yet, even as he worked on his recovery, he still fell into his old habits of chatting with women and meeting up with them – and this was a part of him his wife had no idea about.
Until one day while he was doing some recovery work, she stumbled upon the notes he was taking while going through the Purify Your Gaze training course. She was happy to see the notes because it meant he was working hard. But as she started reading, she read about things he had done recently that she had no clue were even an issue.
At that point, his world fell apart.
In the whirlwind that ensued from his wife confronting him to her separating from him, at that point he asked Allah “I don’t know how, but after today, please let there be no more secrets!”
→ You see, in retrospect, he realizes that the worst part of the entire struggle was the fact that he could not be his true self in public and not even in front of his own wife. And he finally realized he could no longer live a life of secrets.
When he and his wife got around to speaking with one another, he told her everything.
Afterward he got in touch with Br Zeyad, who is the founder of Purify Your Gaze, asking for an urgent meeting. And in his work with Br Zeyad, he learned the following lesson that drove his life from then on:
The truth is guidance, and guidance is a Mercy, so when you deprive someone of the truth, you are depriving them from the Mercy of Allah.
And with that, Abdallah started building his recovery on the foundation of honesty, and that proved to be the solid foundation he needed to truly heal.
He disclosed everything to his wife’s family and his own family. And together it was decided the two of them should separate for a year. And at that point the terms of the marriage were clear: he would stay clean for a year, or they would get divorced.
For the first time, he was very clearly accountable for his actions. The possibility of crossing boundaries and going without consequences was completely eliminated. And so he shares that with the terms so clear, he abstained from acting out for that entire year for the sake of his marriage.
What happened during that year is that he tasted no happiness or joy whatsoever. And sometimes that’s what happens. There is a price we need to pay for our choices, we need to serve our time.
And so, as painful as it was to serve his time, with his commitment to honest accountability, justice was finally restored in his life.
Beautifully, he shares that the first time he felt genuinely happy since then was when he saw his and his wife’s first child in the ultrasound.
→ You see, he kept secrets from his wife believing that it would destroy his family if she knew – but what happened when he embraced honest accountability for the first time is that his family actually grew!
When they got back together this time around their relationship was built on a strong foundation of trust. And it’s been more than 3 years since then and he continues to enjoy the fruits of his commitment to honest accountability. And I’m happy to share that Abdallah and his wife have been blessed with yet another member to their family – a baby boy.
So, as we look at the whole of Abdallah’s story, there’s really one takeaway that’s so important and so relevant for us.
It’s so tempting for us to think that the answer to our problems can be found within our own selves, am I right? How often have you felt like if you want to solve your problem, you need to be stronger, you need to be more sincere, you need to get your act together.
But what this leads to is a self-reliance that only compounds the problem further. And this is so clear in Abdallah’s case. Time after time, as he faced bigger and bigger consequences due to his behaviors, he made more promises that he would never go back. Each promise was more resolute than the last one, but it made very little difference in the results.
Where did things turn around for Abdallah?
They turned around when he begged Allah “please let there be no more secrets after today.”
Rather than being so fixated on “I need to solve this problem” he redirected his focus to “I just want honesty, I want truth, I want sincerity in my life.”
If you can see the value of this very important shift of focus, then you may be wondering “how do I create that honest accountability in my own life?”
If you are wondering that, then I want to share with you that at Purify Your Gaze we’ve opened our doors for you to take that first step toward getting honest accountability in your own life by speaking with a member of our team.
The way this starts out is by you applying for a 45 minute Strategy Session with us. This is where you’ll get some private one-on-one time with a member of our team to talk about your recovery and to create a strategic plan to help you break free from your unwanted sexual behaviors.
I’ll let you know that to make sure that those who apply are really committed, there is a $100 deposit for this session, which will be fully refunded back to you after the session, unless you enjoy the session so much that you decide you’d like to apply your deposit toward joining us in our longer-term program.
You can learn all about this opportunity at www.PurifyYourGaze.com/getcoaching
Here’s the thing – Abdallah could have decided that “I’ve had enough” when he was still in high school and maybe his academic dreams could have been saved. Or before he got married, and maybe the heartache in his marriage could have been spared. The point is that it’s really up to you to decide when to draw that line and step out of the shadows and decide it’s time to put an end to the secret life.
So this Strategy Session is an opportunity to draw that line today. You don’t need to wait until that next big disaster or that next big relapse to embrace the accountability that will help you turn your life around.
So I truly hope that you’ll choose to draw that line today and you’ll let us help you build your life on that strong foundation of honest accountability.
Sign up for your strategy session with one of our caring team members at www.PurifyYourGaze.com/getcoaching
And I’d like to thank you once again for being with me for this episode of Kickstart Your Recovery, and I look forward to seeing you for our next episode where I’ll talk about Letting Allah Help you – and I’ll tell you this is going to be one of my favorite episodes insha Allah because I’ll share stories about how recovery actually teaches you how to surrender to Allah with your full heart, and how that very important lesson can help you lead a life of much greater peace and effectiveness, insha Allah – see you there!