Susannah: a confession

#pornfree is going well (though the real test will be how I recover from a fall). That leaves one last bad habit to confront: looking.

Going back to the office after a long time WFH is a good time to break bad habits, and this is a good bad habit to break.

I have nicknames for a few of the women in the building — Clip-clop, Slinky, Pneumatic, … — I keep an eye out for them, entertain daydreams and fantasies. The woman in the office next door, my nickname for her is just Slut. Her presence is the strongest trigger — her voice, her footsteps, the sight of her waddling along the corridor, the sound of her car arriving — can flip me into a sudden overpowering hunger.

The David and Bathsheba story is not really useful here, in fact it’s rather gratifying to the voyeur: David gets to do what he wants to the girl, and she doesn’t have a speaking part (iirc) so remains an object of desire to be used as desired.

Slut’s real name is Susan. I looked to see if there were any Susan’s in the Bible, and found the “deuterocanonical” Daniel 13. I read it, transfixed and horrified, as if under a spotlight, feeling as if the story had been written directly about me.

9 And they perverted their minds and turned away their eyes from looking to Heaven or remembering righteous judgments. 10 Both were overwhelmed with passion for her, but they did not tell each other of their distress, 11 for they were ashamed to reveal their lustful desire to have her. 12 And they watched eagerly, day after day, to see her.

I want to use this story as a memory aid, a “reverse trigger”.

The men ambush Susannah when she is alone, and threaten to accuse her of adultery if she doesn’t let them “lie with” her. Susannah refuses and calls for help (“it is better for me not to do it and to fall into your power than to sin before the Lord.”), she is accused and condemned. The young Daniel intervenes and cross-examines the men, and they are exposed, humiliated, and executed.

Unlike Bathsheba, Susannah is a strong and memorable character in the story — stronger and more central (her steadfastness and faith) than Daniel really, though the happy ending is important.

The men are repugnant and weak, each acting as a tempting devil for the other. In cross-examination, Daniel describes each of the men as being cut or sawn in two. That is the experience of being overcome with a repulsive desire.

Two strong images to hold on to and use are:

  • the men being sawn in two by their weakness and their desire:
    “this repulsive desire that cuts me in two”
  • the root cause of the men’s sin, their failure to look to Heaven:
    “Let Me Look To Heaven” LML2H

Have the second pinned to the wall somewhere visible in my office. Be ready to use them both.

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