We have two lives…the one we learn with and the one we live after that. Suffering is what brings us toward happiness”
-Bernard Malamud

It is oft suggested that the motivation to change is born through the experience of emotional discomfort and pain. And although it is possible to learn without pain—optimally through the experience of joy—big changes to addictive patterns are often initiated through the desire to escape discomfort. One way to look at our lives during active addiction is that they were the default result of the lives we “learned with.” This doesn’t mean that there were no other purposes to the chunks of our lives that were spent locked within addictive patterns, but it may suggest the need for a new paradigm. For most people with serious addiction problems, there is a real feeling that a very different life began only after addiction had been faced and the underlying emotional patterns that fueled them had been addressed. Addictions are symbolic of escape, and living a life of escape takes a lot of energy. What will we do with all that energy after we have learned the lessons that our addictions present us? How will we live after that?

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