And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
– Anais Nin
At the root of addiction lies the need for protection. Protection can take many forms, as can addiction. Today’s quotation (one of my favorites) reminds us of two very important things. First, that protection both protects us from, and causes us pain. Second, that it is often pain itself that creates the motivation to make changes. It is almost always the emotional pain caused as a result of the addictive behaviors that begins to act as an announcement that changes must be made. As the pain increases, so, too, does the awareness that the addictive behavior is no longer bringing the desired relief it once did. As the pain increases, so, too, does the need to defend from the pain, causing a necessary increase in the addictive behavior. This begins a self-perpetuating downward spiral. Addressing addiction is a daunting process and usually means making a major shift in lifestyle. By no means simply a moral decision, truly addressing addiction may mean changing friends, developing brand new responses, changes of venue, and certainly making an effort to explore parts of the self that addiction strives to keep hidden. But in this major and often life-changing effort lies a blossoming, an opening up to a new and more fulfilling way of living and experiencing life. Recovery usually means repeating this process of pain-leading-to-the-awareness-of-the-need-to-make-changes again and again. But it is worth every drop of sweat, every bit of energy, as it leads to a life that requires less and less protection. It can lead to a life that can be simply enjoyed instead of endlessly endured.