Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. -Michelangelo
Recovery from addiction, just like any other form of emotional growth, is rooted in the process of discarding the aspects of ourselves that are getting in the way of achieving our goals. While it may seem that we are primarily discarding the substances or behaviors that we are addicted to, what we are really discarding are the parts of ourselves that are dysfunctionally protective. For those with obvious addiction issues, there has always been a history of feeling emotional pain and then a reactive attempt to avoid the impact of that pain through an addictive process. And at a vital but ultimately superficial level, we probably will have to discard substances and behaviors during this process. But it is the deeper level at which we examine and change the fundamental way that we use emotional protection that really defines recovery. It is when we can learn about the deeper story of emotional pain and our, often, unconscious attempt to protect ourselves from that pain at all costs, that we can make lasting changes. When we can develop a new relationship to emotional discomfort, we can learn to contain it and become open to what it has to teach us, we can then allow ourselves to discard the fundamental and underlying need for protection. We must become the sculptor, and through the process of recovery we can discover the whole person that lies beneath the layers of protection that our addictions attempt to provide.