Nowhere can a man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than his own soul.
-Marcus Aurelius

For most, our addictions served the important purpose of soothing the emotional edges created by a consistently agitating experience of life. Sometimes, physiological dependence took over and the underlying reasons for our addictions were replaced by an obsession for a particular substance, but beneath that is always underlying emotional discomfort. Addiction is always an attempt to use an external source to create and manipulate an internal experience. Our recovery, then, must be the process of learning to change our internal experience until it ceases to rely on external sources of support. Ultimately, as today’s quotation suggests, we want to reach an emotional state where being alone with ourselves feels like a retreat instead of a “rough neighborhood.” I am not speaking of isolation, which can serve as just another avoidance behavior, but peaceful solitude, the conscious ability to be comfortably without distraction, where the mind is experienced as a helpful tool instead of a caustic tyrant. Eventually, for our recovery to be sustainable and enjoyable, we must learn to be our own best ally, and we must learn to be our own untroubled retreat.

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