Within yourself is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.
-Hermann Hesse

Today’s quotation is not a given. The part of the human psyche that its author refers to is not always accessible to everyone. For the person mired within addictive patterns, for instance, there have usually developed layers of emotional protection erected unconsciously in an effort to feel safe. Addiction is simply one of those layers. But just as these layers strive to protect us from emotional pain, an inevitable side effect is that they wall us off from the vulnerability necessary to experience a sense of inner safety. This points to the very essence of the addiction problem—the fact that there doesn’t exist an inner sanctuary that can provide a sense of safety and retreat, thus the need for our addictions. In recovery, after initially breaking the specific bond to that to which we are addicted, we will need to learn to develop this part of ourselves. We should learn to tell the personal story that explains this resistance to vulnerability and the resulting need for protection. As best we can, we should address these emotional wounds and learn about what is needed to heal them instead of protecting ourselves from them. Eventually, as we shed some of this protection we become able to develop this retreat space inside of us, allowing us to find a true and reliable version of what we unconsciously sought through our addictions in the first place.

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