Ready to get help? Call (855)972-9760 Request a call

Call Us | 1-855-972-9760

Owning Your Recovery – Gratitude (Episode 4)

Consult with a professional now to learn how we can help you or your loved one.


Our Podcasts >> Owning Your Recovery – Gratitude (Episode 4)

Listen On:
Spotify | Google Podcasts | Apple Podcasts | Amazon Music | Stitcher

Episode 4: Gratitude (feat. Jay Hillier, CCAC)

Kinga Burjan: Hi, welcome to owning your recovery, you made the decision to look at your life from a different perspective and realize that the destructive behaviour of addiction does not serve you anymore. The grip of addiction can be strong, especially when times are tough.

This podcast is created to remind you that ups and downs in life are normal and to provide you with professional and peer-related insights and support in your recovery from illness to wellness.

My name is Kinga Burjan and I’m a registered psychotherapist here in Ontario, Canada working with Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres. Thank you for joining this podcast today, and my special guest today is Jay Hillier. He’s a colleague, he’s an addiction counsellor, he’s also the founder of Relating and Recovery, a person who’s also in active recovery themselves. So I’m so honoured to have you here as my guest today, Jay. It means so much to me.

Jay Hillier: It’s an absolute pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me, Kinga.

Kinga Burjan: Thank you. So I’m going to mention to the listeners that we have a gratitude group, all the staff and you posted a short video on kind of like your experience of having a bad day and how you work through that in gratitude. And I thought it was such a beautiful, simple, authentic and to the point video of how gratitude can really move someone from a place of maybe feeling like a victim or helpless or you know, in a negative mood to somewhere that’s empowered.

So I’m not sure where you want to start. I know you have a lot to share and I love talking with you, but I’m not sure if you want to kind of start maybe a background of where like how you got to this point.

Jay Hillier: Sure, Yeah, absolutely. Like, honestly, I feel like a bull coming out of the chute, right? Like a cannonball coming out of the cannon, right? I always have a lot to share. I’m pretty excited about recovery, you know? But it wasn’t always this way Kinga, right? Like, you know, it was dark and angry and full of despair for a lot of years.

Me personally, I’m the product of five treatment centers, right? I’m the product of a guy who didn’t just come into recovery, sit down and get well. That just quite frankly, wasn’t my story, right? I was kicking and screaming the whole way, like I was a ninety-nine percenter right like I did everything except just give in to the fact that that I suffer from this substance use disorder on such a such a high degree right?

I’ll give you a little bit of a background is, you know, I guess I started to try somewhere along the way I went to go stop drinking and drugging, and I couldn’t. I learned in that moment I couldn’t. But there was this part of me, right? That was like, somehow, you know, someday I can drink or drug like normal people. And that just wasn’t a possibility but I had this obsession that I could. So every time I would, I would make these little attempts to get clean and sober.

I would find myself failing and then feeling even worse. And then I’d slip into this guilt and shame as a result and the hole got greater and the journey got harder. And I would find myself looking up at this mountain that was just impossible to climb. And until I was able to start looking back at how far I’ve come, as opposed to how far I’ve got to go, I really didn’t have much of a shot.

I found myself beating myself up, you know, blaming others. I was angry. I was hurt. I was full of fear, 100 forms of fear, you know, and it was brought to my attention at some point in the game that, you know, all these fears were were under two umbrellas of fear of losing what I got and fear of not getting what I want.

And that kind of sums up my whole early recovery journey because I’d go into these treatment centres and I feel like I had all this knowledge, right? Because I’d be this piggybacker. I’d get information and I’d regurgitate it out, and I’d say what the therapist wanted to hear and you know, and here’s the thing for a guy like me.

I had an inability to process consequences. I couldn’t say, well if I do this, this will happen. I would just do it and clean up the mess after and then I had all these associated emotions that would be attached to that.

And it was just it was so daunting. And then I’d get into treatment and I’d say what I want to say and all of a sudden a therapist or a counsellor or a fellow peer client like somebody would be talking to me. And while they’re talking to me, I’m formulating in my head what I want to say. So I wasn’t actually retaining any information, and I would just find myself just taking this information, transferring it into the next conversation that I’d have, and I really didn’t learn anything.

And then I was surprised, and when I’d get back out of treatment, how I’d end up, you know, washing my socks in a creek, under a bridge once again, right? A lot of my life was filled with a lot, a lot of anger, a lot of despair, as I mentioned, right?

And so when I first started to like, begin this journey of recovery, when I finally got to that point where I was really able to to get honest with myself, it was at that point that I had to start trying new things. And I don’t know, like the truth is, is the most unnatural thing in the world for a guy like me is to embrace change. And the most natural thing is is to get high and drink like, that’s how I coped.

That was my M.O. for a million years. And you know, it was just almost it was almost absurd to me the extent of the different things that I was asked to do in order to get well. And I didn’t really realize that there was a lot of different areas that would accumulate and build this circle of recovery in my life today. And one of them is practicing gratitude.

I had no idea, right? And you know, before I tell you what I did and how it happened and these sorts of things, I just want to mention that as a result of all the work that I’ve done on myself and as a byproduct, you know, I get to live a life today that I never could have imagined, right? Never could have imagined.

If you had told me five years ago that I’d be sitting here with you, chatting about this on a podcast in Erin, Ontario, like I live in Oshawa and and this is I was fortunate to work on a couple of treatment centers before here, and I just keep on challenging myself to continue to grow and become a better counsellor, a better, a better man, a better human being, a better in every aspect. I challenge myself to continue to grow and continue to be self-aware.

But this all sort of stemmed from this experience I had when I launched Relating and Recovery, and so relating and recovery was actually born out of, you know, I was actually grieving the loss of my mom and and I remember thinking, you know, like in recovery, there was this incredible connection with other like minded alcoholics and and addicts that I could as I identify that I could just have this, you know, we didn’t have to explain to each other the disease model of addiction, right? And try to explain it to someone who wasn’t wired like me was quite honestly like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. I was getting nowhere fast, and once I stopped having to do that, it just, I don’t know tt made things seem a lot easier for me.

So at that point, I like the idea of of potentially other people who could understand what it was like losing their mother. But because of my, history and my background and where I was at that point in my recovery, it evolved very, very quickly into addiction and mental health and and relating in recovery is basically what it says. You know, no matter what challenge you’re facing and whether what you’re recovering from, we can all relate to that recovery.

It doesn’t have to be the symptom, right? You know, like I found when I was sober about a year and a half, I was eating a whole lot of ice cream, and my obsessive-compulsive behaviors were very similar to that when I was drinking Jack Daniels and doing cocaine.

But so I had to start looking at all the different behaviors in my life after I actually put down the drink in the drug. But I was angry, right? I was still angry. I was still blaming people. I was still, you know, it was still I was still pointing fingers and blaming circumstances and past experiences and people that I had wronged me and I caught myself one day.

Well, here’s what actually happened. It was a guy who sponsors me. I’m in a 12 step fellowship and a guy who sponsors me actually pointed this out. He said, You know, you’re going to have to start like working on rewiring some of your thinking bud.

I’m like, talk to me, talk to me, tell me more, right? And he says, Well, you know, maybe a gratitude list, right? He goes, I’ll tell you what for the next 30 days, I want you to write three things every morning that you’re grateful for and then send them off to me. But here’s the challenge I want you to make sure you never repeat these, these three things again.

So I got three on the Monday, a different three on Tuesday, a different three Wednesday. And you know, it really wasn’t that difficult at the beginning, right? Because I mean, I’m grateful for community relationships, our passion, earth, clean air, family health son, my sister, my mother, my schools, my kids, my memories, my sobriety, you name it. I’m grateful for lots of things, but this was all the external stuff and that was no problem.

But what happened was I noticed around the week, 10-day window. I couldn’t come up with anything, so I had to really dig deep, I was like, What am I grateful for? No said that one. No said that one got that one, too. But now. And so that that process of having to dig deep to find what I was grateful for without repeating myself was was the actual exercise. And so I did this every day and did it for about a month.

Somewhere along the way, I woke up one morning, I woke up and this is what I was sharing with you in that video as I woke up this morning and I remember getting out of my bed, Kinga and I was freezing cold, right? I was freezing, I was shivering. I was like, Oh my God, it’s cold in here, man. And next thing I know is I get out of bed and I’m shivering and I go to walk out of the bedroom.

I step in the hall and they stepped on my son’s Lego I’m like, Oh man and so I kicked a Lego and I used a few choice words, right? And now I was starting to feel the blood boiling right. It was like getting a little like poor me. And why is this happening?

And next thing I know I go into the kitchen, I’m about to pour myself a coffee, but I have to put some sugar in the sugar bowl, so I reach up to grab the sugar out of the cupboard above the Sugar Bowl, and I spilled the sugar. Now, Kinga, I don’t know about you, but like cleaning up sugar like it was everywhere.

And so at this point, I’m like the hell with the coffee and just my blood is boiling. I’m fuming. I walk over to the front door. I’m about to open the door and I open the door. And next thing I know there’s like four feet of snow. I’m like, Why me? And I’m just curious. I can’t believe it, right? My blood’s boiling. My head’s about to pop off, and all of a sudden I take a deep breath and I have this shift.

Ha, OK, so I’m freezing cold, but I have a sweater I could put on, right? I have a jacket I can wear. You know, I stepped on Lego, but that’s because I have a happy child playing in my home, right? I can afford Lego, Kinga. That wasn’t always the case. I’m spilling sugar because I’m making coffee, because I’m up in the morning because I have a purpose in my life, I Have a job to go to. You know, I have a job, man. That’s amazing. That’s a miracle to me.

And yeah, there’s snow. There’s snow everywhere. But you know what? I’m able-bodied. I’m able-bodied to shovel the snow. Not everyone’s story, right? And then I think, my god, I have a driveway. I was homeless for a lot of my life. I have a driveway today and I went, I had this complete alteration to my thinking. This complete shift in my thinking and I’m thinking, Man, am I ever blessed? You know?

And how did and how did that happen? Right. That happened from putting in a little work. Put a little effort, right? You know, there was this was brought to my attention a long time ago, you know, like if I have a toothache, I don’t pray for the pain to go away. I got to get my butt to a dentist, right? I got to do a little work. I got to do take a little action in my life in order to facilitate this kind of changes.

And you know, that’s kind of where it started, and just much like anything else in life. Once you have a taste of something good, right, at least for a guy like my elk, I want more of that, right? I have this disease of more. So I’m like, I really liked how I felt that day. So of course, I doubled down on my gratitude list. I still do a gratitude list to this day, Kinga.

Kinga Burjan: Beautiful. So I love what you’re saying about the action involved because I think a lot of people give up prematurely. But the fact that you were practicing that gratitude on a regular basis when you actually needed it, that resource was there. It was available because you created that pathway in your brain to think about, Oh, wait a second. But I know it just doesn’t happen overnight.

Jay Hillier: No, no, well, much like much like exercise, right? If I want abs right, I can’t go do a crunch on Thursday, four crunches on the Saturday and then five crunches the following Wednesday and expect to have results, right? I have to be disciplined, I have to be motivated and I have to put in some effort, right? And that’s kind of where I got to.

But I think when you get a lot of us, when we get to this point, if you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get to get clean and sober, you should be willing to do whatever it takes to live a good life as a result. Right. And that’s sort of where I found myself.

Kinga Burjan: So what would you tell our listeners, if you know, perhaps they’re not necessarily in recovery from addiction, but maybe they’re really struggling with depression or anxiety? What like what works for you to keep that discipline to have that practice?

Jay Hillier: Well, for me, I had to remind myself, no matter how good or bad I felt, I had to remind myself how desperate I felt at some point. I would tap into that feeling of like where I just mentioned about being willing to do whatever it takes. You know, I had to have a little faith that the process was going to work. I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I started practicing the list.

As a matter of fact, there were many days, Kinga, where I thought, Well, this is a bunch of hooblah, right? It doesn’t make any sense. It wasn’t until I had that experience on that day that made me realize, Hey, wait a minute, there’s something to this thing.

And so if it’s depression or anxiety or anything that you’re challenged with, if we’re going to do something, we have to tap into the reason why, you know, and the reason why is because I truly want to feel better. And if I truly want to feel better, then I’m going to have to put in a little bit of effort. You know, I didn’t wake up one day when I was 14 years old and say, Oh God, I really hope that I grow up and I’m a drug addict, an alcoholic with different disorders to challenge myself for the rest of my life.

But that was the cards that were were dealt to me. And so, I’m not responsible for my addiction, but I’m most certainly responsible for my recovery and I think we could apply that to anything. If I know that, that that that there’s a solution to my to whatever’s ailing me. If I know there’s a solution, I can’t sit there and just accept the status quo anymore. If I want to feel better, I’m going to have to tap into the reason why I want to feel better.

I want to feel better because I don’t want to feel bad. I mean, isn’t that the goal? I mean, my goal in life is to be happy, right? And I think that would be most people’s goal. Well, sometimes it’s really difficult at the beginning. It’s very difficult to see the sunlight through the mud. But I know the sun lights there, right?

So I’ve got to keep I got to keep trudging through the mud until I get there, you know? But if I just say, okay, well, I’m just going to stay stuck in the mud, well, then I have to figure out a reason why I’m okay with not finding the sunlight, right? Because the truth is is, I want to be able to get to a place where it feels effortless, but it’s not going to get to that place until I use some effort and that’s and that’s sort of where that list came into effect.

And that was just one tangent on the overall scheme of my recovery. There was a ton of different things that I applied into my life and some and some of them were effective and some of them weren’t. And the only reason I would know they were effective is because I actually noticed changes, right?

I don’t do so well a lot of times with just lip service, I need to have shifts in my perception. I need to have shifts in my thinking. I need to be open-minded to try new things. I need to be willing to put effort into those things. And if I don’t do these things well, I’m probably going to stay stuck in the mud. I might know the sunlight’s there, but I’m not going to put the effort out to get there. I guess the real thing is how bad you want this thing.

Kinga Burjan: So I’m wondering if you’re willing to share with listeners because earlier on, as you were mentioning your story and how you’ve been in treatment five times, what at what point did do you feel that shift happen where you were that honest with yourself to say, OK, you know, I don’t want to do this anymore? When did kind of the scales tip?

Jay Hillier: Okay, well, you know, look, I got in trouble with the law when I was really young and and I put on a mask at an early age and somewhere along the way, I just didn’t have any idea who I was. And so every time I tried to get clean and sober, I think I was starting to peel back layers of that onion, you know, take a mask off at a time, even though I wasn’t totally thrilled with what I was finding underneath, right? But that was early on it.

So I mean, after, you know, I’ll just be completely candid here. In 2013, I had an attempt on my life that was that was a very dark and desperate time in my life and I came out of a coma. And I remember thinking, You know, actually, I don’t know if I was relieved or angry, but I remember thinking, there’s there’s no way in the world, there’s no way in the world I’m ever going to drink or drug again.

And within a month, I found myself washing my socks in that creek under a bridge in Oshawa, Ontario, and I couldn’t understand how I got there again. And every time I came out of treatment prior to that, I just kept having similar experiences of defeat. And so I finally got to after that point, though, I did find myself in my last, my last kick at the cat and treatment. I learned a lot of truth about myself.

Some of the counselors were. Brutally honest with me, which is what I need. Nobody co-signed my nonsense. I would tell the truth. I mean, I didn’t like what I was hearing, but I needed to hear what I was hearing at the time. I didn’t like the people that were telling me this stuff. But looking back, they were a big part of the reason why I’m sitting here alive today with a life. I’m no longer just existing.

So in 2016 on Halloween night, I’d already had my son taken to me and brought to foster care, and I had to have a couple of clean urine screens in order to have supervised visitation. And supervised visitation is not good for an egomaniac of my type.

And I was, you know, I remember thinking, how could they do this to me? And and it blows my mind when I hear those words come out of my mouth today because I was so selfish and self seeking that that that even when they took my son at the age of, I guess, he was four and a half at the time, they took him to foster care. It was still about what they were doing to me, not about what I was doing to my son, and I didn’t have this variable.

I couldn’t separate what was actually happening. And so along, fast forward a few years I managed to get one clean urine screen to have that supervised visitation. Then I convinced the courts to have my son back. So here I was on Halloween night 2016 and I was a couple of doors down from my apartment, but I was coming out of what was probably my 1000th blackout because I could never string together a day, let alone two days of sobriety.

And I used to detox so often that I stopped going to do it medically and safe. I would just do it at the risk of my health, and I would have many seizures. And so my son, who was victimized at this point, I basically say that I took him hostage in a way he helped me home. And I mean, when I say I was lost on my street, I meant geographically because clearly I was lost in many ways. And I can only laugh today because of the outcome of this event.

But he helped me up the stairs and I was getting prepared to detox like I normally would, and my son looked me in my face in his beautiful little head. I could see it vividly today, you know? He said, Daddy. It makes me sad when you’re sick. Now, I don’t know why, but all my life, my mother had tried to love me back to health. All my exes, my sister, my brother-in-law, my father, my aunts, my uncles, the police, the psychiatrist, the judges, the teachers, you name it. Everybody, my other children, you name it, neighbors, old landlords like everybody tried to tell me what I was doing to myself and what I was doing to them as a result.

And it was all just words, just words all the time. You know, I felt like I suffered from what I call terminal uniqueness, right? I thought I was different. I thought I was a different man, and I just couldn’t process what they were saying and for whatever reason when my son said that to me that day. I felt what he was saying, and all of a sudden, I could feel what everybody had always said. It wasn’t words anymore. It was a shift that I was talking about, similar to the shift when I had that gratitude moment.

Similar to many shifts I’ve had since that night. But I had a shift and I could see things from a completely different perspective. And it was really powerful to me, and my son put his head on my chest and he started to cry and I remember tears streaming down my eyes as well, and we fell asleep like that. And you know, the next morning comes and I knew I had to try something, man. I had to try something.

And so I got him dressed, I put a shirt on the inside, out and backwards, I think, and I know I got him in a taxi and I got him to his mom’s and I found myself back i a 12 step room and I was just ready. They always talk about, you know, when Bruce Lee says, when the student is ready, the teacher appears right?

And I had lost all fight, right? My back wasn’t against the wall anymore. My back was in Europe somewhere right. There was nothing left. There was nothing I had to tried. I was completely out of options. I was forty-three years old and I was just done. It was either, live or die, and I had to make that decision. You know, do I want to live more than I want to die?

And at that moment, and because as a result of the night before, I decided that I wanted to live more than I wanted to die and I had to be able to now, ask for that and the most incredibly daunting four-letter word for a lot of us. I had asked for help, you know, and I had to be able to be gracious enough to accept the help, you know? I think I was what I like to say is I was beaten into a state of reasonableness, right? Like I was now ready to receive all the information that I’d been resisting before.

I know that when I was a child, I used to jump up on the monkey bars and I would jump onto the first two bars and I would dangle there. And I know the objective with the monkey bars was to swing past, the bar, grab on with one hand and then swing past that bar and grab the next bar.

But what I would, what I would always do is grab the same bar so both my hands are on one bar and then I would dangle there and kick my legs not getting any traction until I would fall. And I much feel like that was me all along until I finally just took the fear out of the equation, right? The delusion of fear. This illusion that somehow I was going to get hurt by trying to get, recovery fully invested in my life.

Somehow, I was going to feel more pain, which as a result there was some. But you know, that was me going through the mud and seeking for that same sunlight I was talking about earlier, right? You know, and I would believe myself, right? And I’ll just share quickly. I know I’m stealing a lot of the time.

Kinga Burjan: No this is lovely. Thank you for sharing.

Jay Hillier: No problem. You know, there’s there was a guy, right? And he goes up to an elephant camp, right? And he sees these massive elephants. And it’s got this tiny little rope tied around his big elephant foot. And he’s got the same little rickety rope tied to this rickety little tiny fence. And the guy’s kind of bewildered. He’s like, I don’t get it, man. I don’t get it. Like, look at the size of that elephant. Why doesn’t he just walk away?

And he’s so confused. And while the elephant trainer comes over and he says, Well, you see what that elephant was a baby elephant. He had the same little rope tied around his foot, tied to the same rickety little fence, right? And he couldn’t walk away.

You know, so as he grew bigger, he was conditioned to believe that he was still stuck. And that’s and that’s kind of where I felt like I was my entire life. I was that elephant. And until I realized that it was simply a matter of making the decision simply a matter of making a choice to do, to try and try new things in order to enhance my opportunity at living a life that I deserve today, I had to start by taking a step away from that fence, right? I had to start walking.

Jay Hillier: And, you know, and by staying stagnant, I was never going to get anywhere. And by believing that I couldn’t change, that was going to hold me back. And those variables go all over the place, right? But I mean, as a result of all that stuff, like I get to have experiences like writing a gratitude list and then seeking out why my life is so good today.

The truth is, I choose for it to be this good. Do things happen? The things happen? You better believe it. I’ll tell you something else. I’ll share something else with you. If you got a minute.

Kinga Burjan: Please.

Jay Hillier: Because this was like I was about 14 months sober and probably the biggest challenge I’ve had in sobriety was burying my mother. You know, my mom, was my heartbeat right? And it was devastating when I lost her. And so, of course, everyone in my circle. All my family is so worried that I was going to go drinking or drugging or, you know, typically my behavior for what I would do on a Tuesday through Friday, Friday through Tuesday. You know, I didn’t have to have such a catastrophic event in my life to try to convince me to go drinking.

But in such an event like this, there were obvious and justifiable fears from my loved ones, but I found that I found myself in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and I got to bury my one-year medallion on my mom’s hand. She’s holding it in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the cemetery right now. And I remember I had this thing. This is all as a result of because I, like I mentioned, I still do gratitude lists, right?

So and these are even on the tough days, right on the days that are really tough for me to do them, I would still do them. And so what happened was. see, my mom was 81 years old and she had 11 siblings. They’d all been buried. Her parents were buried.

My mom had just done a World War Two tour with my father, and that was her on her bucket list and she did it healthy. My sister had just gotten a nice, secure job with her in her profession that she was worried about. My niece had been doing well. You know, my brother in law had successful surgery. My father just beat prostate cancer. And all these things were coming in my mind. And I remember thinking, you know, and my mom wasn’t sick. It was very sudden. And I remember and I remember thinking to myself, You know? She had no regrets.

She was done. And I had this enormous sense of and this is going to sound bizarre, but I felt gratitude in that moment. I felt grateful the day that I’m burying my mother, but I felt grateful that that I couldn’t think of a single regret that she was leaving on this earth. I couldn’t think of a more poetic way to say goodbye with her husband of fifty five years at her side and all these things.

And now listen, I’m not sitting there telling you that I don’t miss my mother. I miss her dearly, you know, and have good and bad days. But the reason I shared that is that if it wasn’t for practicing gratitude in my life today, I could have very easily slipped down a very slippery slope of the poor me into a depression.

And as a result, my typical M.O. would be to pick up a drink, which would lead me to cocaine. And who knows where else? You know, and because of practicing one facet of my recovery so diligently, it’s allowed me to take these catastrophic events in my life and view them differently.

Kinga Burjan: Mm-hmm.

Jay Hillier: Kinga, I think we’ve met three or four times now, and I could probably if I was to ask you, honestly, you probably see me smiling. And most of the time.

Kinga Burjan: Every time.

Jay Hillier: Right. Every time.

Kinga Burjan: I love when you walk in the office.

Jay Hillier: I’m genuinely grateful for my life today. You know, as simple as that sounds, it’s so real. Like I generally say thank you when I wake up, you know, because I know that’s not everybody’s story today. Not everybody woke up today. Not everybody is going to wake up tomorrow. So I don’t take it for granted, you know? I do like to to live and remain where my feet are at right. I do like to be in that moment and that present moment, you know, between my thought, my actions, so I can continue to to be appreciative for the things that I have and not focus on the things that I want, you know, be focused on the things that, you know.

Sure, there are things I feel like I need, but those are just things because that was the other aspect of it. And I hate to keep circling back and I don’t want to talk grief. But you know, I remember looking around mom’s house the next day, and I’m looking at all her stuff and I thought, well, this is just stuff. It’s just stuff like it mattered to mom, but it’s just stuff. And then I heard a guy say. Well, the first thing he said was there’s no problem in the world that a good stiff drink can’t make worse, you know? And I loved him for that.

But then he goes on to say, we were talking about this and I remember talking about the stuff and I remember talking about, you know, I have one life to live, you know, and how do I want to live it? You know, I have some choices I got to make today. And in that moment, he said, something that is forever changed my thinking as well, he said. The only thing we take with us when we die is what we leave behind. Boom, right?

I had this incredible moment, I’m like, Yeah. So the interactions I have with people, the way I view myself is how I’m going to be a reflection on how you view me. All these things are intertwined, right? And if I love my life, my life today, and if I’m grateful for the life that I’ve been given an opportunity and blessed with an opportunity to have today. Well, I don’t shun from that. I embrace it and I scream it from the mountaintops, you know, and I feel like the dark, desperate despair that whole journey that brought me to this point. I feel like it’s allowed me to have this appreciation and gratitude at the next level because I remember, you know, hearing when I was a child, you know, stop and smell the roses and treat others how you want to be treated right.

We all heard some of these things and today I do stop and smell the roses. Today I do catch myself smiling at a cow in a field, right? Like these things, things that I never in a million years would have even noticed, right? Like a sunset or, you know, a flower blooming right? These aren’t things that I’ve never noticed before.

So, you know, a combination of different things that I’ve put into play in my life is giving me this opportunity to view the world differently, right? A complete alteration in my thinking. The truth is, Kinga if you ask anybody who know me five years ago, anybody, especially my family, still looks at me on occasion and goes, Huh who are you? If you ask people, most of my ex-wives are, you know, and yeah, that should qualify me. But the truth is is, if you ask anyone the new me, the transformation is astounding. Like it’s night and day. And I can say that honestly, because I not only do I see the results outward inward, but I can feel it. I feel different, you know?

Kinga Burjan: Yeah. And my experience with you is a presence of appreciation and gratitude. One hundred percent. That’s why I was so grateful that you said yes to joining the podcast because I think sometimes there is this misconception of, being positive and toxic positivity.

Jay Hillier: Right.

Kinga Burjan: But what I hear you saying is it’s not that you ignored the negative things in your life. You still dealt with your grief. We still dealt with your pain. But amidst all of that, you chose to still focus on those things that you can appreciate and have gratitude for. And as you did that the stronger that muscle became in that skill became when it and because you chose to practice it regularly, you became responsible for that aspect of yourself, amongst other things.

But I know gratitude is our focus today. And then it was there for you when you really needed it, like when your mother passed away. So it’s just beautiful. Like what a testament to the work that you are like it really is so beautiful and you have no idea my appreciation for you being on here because if one person listens to this and you inspire one person, you changed one person’s life. And like you said, that ripples.

Jay Hillier: Thank you, Kinga. I just want to share before we close out or just share about the starfish story, right? And that was the whole principle. It’s funny you said that. There’s one person, right, like there’s a little boy walking along the beach and you know, and there’s an older gentleman he sees from a distance. He sees this little boy and he’s picking up something. He’s throwing it in the ocean and he walks over. The boy says, Son, what are you doing? And then the boy says, Well, look around. You know, the tide washed in all these starfish and the tide went back out, and now they’re going to die.

And so the man looks around. He says, Son, there are thousands of them, you know, surely you can’t save them. All right? And the little boy reaches down. He picks up a starfish and he throws it into the ocean. He goes, yeah, well, I made a difference in that one’s life, right? And if we can just if throw one starfish back into the ocean at a time, then all right, I’ll take it, you know?

Kinga Burjan: Beautiful story. And one more thing just to wrap up. You said that you weren’t responsible for your addiction, and just like people are responsible for the house that they’re brought up in or diseases they might have, or trauma that happens to them. But like you said, you’re responsible for your recovery. And that is my whole kind of intention behind this podcast. Owning your recovery is to take that responsibility and to make that choice to move forward. So thank you again from the bottom of my heart. So much. You being apart of this.

Jay Hillier: No, it was an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much. I was excited when you asked me any time I could do anything to help and just reach out. Absolutely. I’m here.

Kinga Burjan: I will, because I have so many other questions I want to pick your brain about, so you’ll be hearing from me.

Jay Hillier: All right, sounds good anytime.

Kinga Burjan: Thanks again, Jay. Oh, and make sure those listening to check out your podcast. Do you want to share how they can find it?

Jay Hillier: Yeah, absolutely and also my website. So related recovery ended up becoming a little grassroots movement in southern Ontario. We’re designed to help provide connection and hope. We’ve been working hard at doing that since 2019. We’ve done a lot of community events. We’ve had local politicians involved. We’ve been mentioned by Lisa LaFlamme on global news. It’s just it’s really grown into this thing, right? That wasn’t the intention, but it’s turned into this thing that really grew legs during COVID.

And we’ve had talent shows and we’ve raised over $10000 recently for a treatment center out in Brooklyn doing walkathon, the road to recovery walkathon we’ve had we’ve just connected thousands, thousands of people. And so we have a website that has a link to our to our podcast relating and recovery. It’s on Spotify, Apple, Google, Alexa, et cetera. It’s on the website is

We have a little clothing line there. 100 percent of the proceeds go back into the recovery community. We got a ton of stuff on there. There are blogs, there are resources for days, there are resources for days for everything from medical detox to treatment centers all over Ontario. Go check it out and there might be something in there that you can you might find useful.

Kinga Burjan: Thanks again, Jay. And thanks again, listeners, for joining us today.

Jay Hillier: Yes, stay grateful. Thanks.

Kinga Burjan: Stay grateful.

Meet Our Renowned Experts

You will receive addiction and mental health treatment from the very best.
We have a team of accredited professionals who have many years of clinical and research experience.

Photo of Christine Courbasson

Dr. Christine Courbasson

Clinical Psychologist & Senior Clinical Advisor

Photo of Nathaniel Israel

Nathaniel Israel, MA, RP

Clinical Director, Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program

Photo of Kinga Marchment

Kinga Burjan, MA, RP

Clinical Director, Virtual Integrated Programming

See Our Team

Different Treatment Options

We offer addiction and concurrent disorders treatment programs through:


Our Substance and Process Treatment Programs

Virtual, Outpatient or Residential (30, 45, 60 or 90 days)

Consult with a professional now to learn how we can help you or your loved one.

    CALL NOW(1-855-972-9760)

    When you click below, you accept our Terms.

    A client is happy with his treatment at Trafalgar.