Humankind cannot bear very much reality. -T.S. Eliot
Addictions represent an attempt to temper reality. Beneath the tumult created by the addictions themselves, lies a need for emotional regulation. Once we become abstinent from our addictions, we are still left with the need to learn to regulate ourselves without taking destructive emotional shortcuts to do so. At different levels, our recovery may require that we develop the skills to navigate the ever-shifting landscape of our inner world if we are to successfully live without returning to—or developing new—addictions. Most likely, our addictions represent a faulty learning process. They were unintentional dependencies employed to sooth and temper our emotional experience of life. So our recovery may need to be a new learning experience, one through which we teach ourselves to monitor, embrace, and navigate our experiential reality. As we develop these vital skills, not only do we learn to bear reality, we also begin to decrease the dysfunctional need for the external regulation that our addictions served to provide.