Pain is the most heeded of doctors; to goodness and wisdom we only make promises; we obey pain. -Marcel Proust
Successful recovery from addiction is often preceded by great pain. This pain comes in many forms, physical as well as psychological. And for a while we will probably attempt to navigate this pain through the mechanics of our addictions. Eventually, the effectiveness of this approach will wane, and will likely no longer mask the inescapable truth that our addictive behaviors are causing more pain than they are relieving, and worse, that they are not sustainable. This is a most painful time—as we realize that that which seemed our only hope is now only deepening our hopelessness. But this is also an immensely important time. It is important because we can use this pain as a signpost and move toward the direction in which it points. Over time, we can learn to recognize these indicators sooner, without their causing so much discomfort. Eventually, with effort, experience, and sensitivity, we can learn to use pain as an immensely important navigation tool. If we learn to use it properly, pain can be used to remove our blindfolds, guiding us toward truth. The sooner we acknowledge it, the sooner we can implement its message and move through it. Eventually and ultimately, pain can be viewed not as something that needs to be avoided, but as an opportunity or indicator directing us toward health.