Never Underestimate the Power of Gradual


Almost everyone I’ve ever met has lived a portion of life in the midst of a belief system that says he or she can finesse what’s necessary for themselves, if only they’re smart enough to think quick and take that punch. Timing is crucial, but if only I can jump on that big opportunity and pull the trigger, I’ll be set, done. No worries. I’m good.

That’s not how it worked out for me. Not that I didn’t have memorable and intense experiences, modest success in my vocation and avocation, and impressive social contacts. I started to live in a spiritually inefficient way. I spent several decades gradually laminating the layers of the thickening walls of my tiny dungeon of substance abuse and behavioral isolation. I was, in a word, disappointed in life, ignoring much of what anybody else could do for me or say about me. I felt cheated in life. I took the stuff so I didn’t have to care about me, or others. I quit. I ran my life like a predetermined wreck, enjoying the self-pity, thinking I was a loser, in bad faith and bad self image, believing the stigma of a street-stupid junkie was deserved but resenting it all the same.

In my mid-fifties, I finally had enough, admitted to friends that I needed help, and got it.  Eventually, I accepted the unique gift of recovery and acted as if I deserved something that huge. Never underestimate the power of the gradual to heal. I have never looked back.

That’s how I found The PILLARS. Through ongoing training and perseverance, I am allowed to, as we say here, “meet you where you’re at” when you walk in the door. As a Peer Advocate, I am actually qualified to meet you by virtue of my lived experience. Who could have imagined I would be of service by sharing what I have in common with others in recovery!? This grateful addict is able to have a purposeful conversation with someone he just met, listen actively to him or her, ask the right questions to discover where, exactly, his or her strengths lie, what’s been successful for the person in the past, and where we go from here, just for now. Holistic Recovery Support at The PILLARS is all about the freedom of self-directed recovery. Free! For the mind, body and spirit, the whole person and his or her family and community.

I believe the key to this ability is that my contribution is from the heart. I can’t be your counselor or treatment clinician; that’s somebody else’s lane, and I’m happy to refer a recoveree to our colleagues in the field who have the necessary skills for a friendly handoff. My task is a joyful one of cheerleader, active listener, lifestyle mentor, confidant, resource broker, advocate for pathways of wellness and recovery, and concerned friend and sounding board.

It’s also rewarding to share my experience with recoverees who express an interest in the twelve step program of my choice, when appropriate. My personal history more often than not has some similarity to that of the person now before me, making a commitment to his or her own wellness and recovery.

The PILLARS: Recovering people helping people in recovery

-Byron Stevens, Peer Recovery Coach at The PILLARS