JONESVILLE — It can be in the darkest moments that we find light, not only for ourselves, but for others. Such has been the case for Elisa Bryant, minister and outreach coordinator for Rebuilding Your Life, a peer support group that will take place at Mt. Nebo Unity Holy Church at 6 p.m. every third Monday starting Aug. 21.
With a Bachelor of Science in human services and criminal justice as well as being a certified peer support specialist, Bryant has felt a calling to use her experience to lead others to a life of recovery.
“I was born in a well-provided Christian family home,” said Bryant, who began her dark journey as a high school student.
“Having no friends must have meant something was wrong with me, my looks, attitude, speech or the fact that I was fat and couldn’t play sports,” said Bryant. “Alcohol heightens emotions of self-pity and worthlessness.”
One bad decision as a teenager led to others. “That’s the thing about bad decisions,” said Bryant, “they produce bad outcomes upon one another.”
Eventually excessive drinking combined with the difficulties of losing her mother and unfortunate relationships lead to cocaine. “A drug that took my hurt away,” said Bryant, “in fact it took all my feelings away. I hated though. I hated life, myself, my family, church folks and all.”
It was when Bryant had reached the darkest depths of that hate that she found the light. “I went to the hospital to die,” said Bryant, who had reached a point where her body was shutting down.
Thanks to the aid of Dr. Robert Qualheim and the staff at Watauga Medical Center, who cared for Bryant during her 45-day stay, “hope began when I realized it was the third day in the hospital without supplying my body with drugs nor liquor and I was surviving,” she said.
“It all began with hope that change can happen even at this point of my life,” said Bryant. She intends to bring that same hope to others, “the point where I thought it was the end, instead it became the beginning of living.
“What I hope to achieve with this group is people opening up, willing to share,” said Bryant, explaining how sharing something with others can help alleviate some of the fear.
“There’s nothing new under the sun. If I have this issue, someone else has had this issue before,” she said. “Knowing that someone else has that same fear or knowing someone else has overcome that fear, we’re not alone in it.”
Not only is the sharing in itself expected to be helpful, but Bryant expects solutions to be available as well. “We can talk about things,” said Bryant. “There are solutions to these things we are facing. There are new ways we can address them.”
In addition to conversation, Bryant hopes to help people connect to other resources as well.
“If someone has an issue and they don’t know where to go [I can help],” said Bryant, who is a member of Partners Behavioral Health Management’s Consumer and Family Advisory Committee. “I know people and I can help you [get connected and find information].
“I don’t see myself replacing any program. This is my way of reaching out here at the church as a minister,” explained Bryant, “and as someone that has lived in some bad situations and how I overcame them.”
Although Bryant’s recovery came through her relationship with Christ, she does not want anyone to feel like that will be the focus of the Rebuilding Your Life meetings.
“This is a church and this is where my foundation has begun, but I don’t want to the church to frighten people thinking it’s all going to be religious talking,” said Bryant. “I want to address the natural being. We have to cater to the natural being before we can take care of the spirit. Different people take different paths to get to their wellness or their wholeness.”
Bryant hopes that path will lead sufferers to Mt. Nebo Unity Holy Church at 413 Cedarbrook Road in Jonesville at 6 p.m. every third Monday of each month.
“Recovery [can lead you] from the darkest place to live into the brightest existence imaginable,” said Bryant, who claims she found both within herself.
For more information on Rebuilding Your Life or Bryant’s Hope Recovery Service, call 336-244-3915.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.