Cover Stories

The Internal Conflict Of A Peer Specialist In The Making.

The contradictory role of peer specialist is less conflicting in terms of transitioning from consumer to provider then it is transitioning from an activated response to a more trauma informed perspective. It’s sort of like deciphering the difference between an automatic post traumatic response, and an enhanced coping mechanism. It’s a learned experience that can often be distorted by what we think we know. 

My greatest acquaintance from HTH lies within the soul of the very man who chose me amongst many others as a worthy candidate at HTH. I will simply refer to him as master T, for he sees all, and means well, even if his vision leads to failure at times, not everyone is perfect. Also because I am not yet fully acquainted with the laws of disclosure when it comes to public writing. He once said, as he quoted a dear loved one that “there are things you know, things you don’t know and things you don’t know that you don’t know”.

This is something that has truly provoked a sadistic nature within me that is both cynical and submissive. It is a truth without limitations, expectations, or obligations. Master T has bestowed upon me a sense of enlightenment that I could not have received elsewhere,not even from myself. We all, as human beings may have experienced that rebellious stage where we think “our shit doesn’t stink” and we “know it all”. His words, where an astounding reassurance to what I thought was my very own faulty mind set.

I have always been the antagonizer of confrontation, and the opposer of dictation. If you tell me I am wrong without a justifiable, or sensible reason I will go through great lengths to prove you wrong. If you tell me I “can not ” do something I will go through even greater lengths just to smite you, even if I know you’re right. My rebelliousness has been my greatest asset and my biggest flaw. 

I can honestly state that my greatest battle within life is that which is fought against the self in opposition to all that is external, and optional.

 I recently sat for an online course called From Trauma Informed to Healing Centered: Relational approaches for building resilience and advancing social justice, with the Institute for the Development of Human Arts (known as IDHA), a school for transformative mental health.

I won’t go into much detail about the training material provided, as I think this provision of education is well worth the suspension and exploration of others. I would however like to focus on one particular topic that has conflicted with me since before I learned of the peer movement. 

That topic is the relational impacts of trauma. Unfortunately for myself, I have been indoctrinated under an individualistic western culture where the strongest survive by any means necessary, the weak are subjected to unjust oppression, and the outcast are caught in between, ignored even when they are so obviously displayed for others to bare witness. As a native of NYC, I have witnessed a displaced and disregarded sense of responsibility for others. 

I realize that this troubling phenomenon is truly difficult when dealing with both personal and professional relationships. As a lover, daughter, sibling, aunt, and supposed ally I find my struggle to be truly distressing. As I progress towards a more trauma informed perspective I find myself more alone than ever, even as I connect with “unattached” like minded individuals within a spectrum of diversity.

When talking to a stranger is easier than talking to my partner, or my mother, I am truly conflicted. I become a little less motivated, and inspired to become a professional peer specialist at all. I suppose a question to the public eye is in order.

How on earth, as a sensible human being, do you properly assert yourself as a professional peer specialist when you can’t even take your peer work home without provoking a distorted confrontation?

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