On my walk today during lunch hour, I got to thinking about the evaluation I just completed for the Families Healing Together family recovery course. There was a question on it something about “I know where to find peer support in my community.” At first, I was going to answer “strongly disagree,” because I am not really part of my community even after living here sixteen years and I don’t know what services it has beyond the hospital program that I ran away from as fast as I could. Not being entirely fluent in the local language, I am hesitant to join support groups, etc. Actually, I take that back, I don’t want to join support groups, the language barrier is just an excuse. I really don’t need an excuse any more, because I finally got to the point where I can say without irony, I am my best support.
But, then I looked again at the question, and realized, that yes, I do know where to find peer support in my community for my son Chris. I clicked with confidence on the radio button “strongly agree.” Chris has plenty of peer support that he has relied on through the years. He has his friends in choir and musical theater, he has his holistic helpers like the sound therapist that he saw four years ago (a guy who speaks his language and knows a healing path). He has his girlfriend, “Jenny.”
Coincidentally, Sera Davidow writes on the topic of peer support over at the Mad in America site. I must admit, it took me a while to figure out the complexity of her thinking on this subject, but I realize I must have come to the same conclusions as Sera when I wrestled with the radio button choice. “Peer does not mean ‘someone receiving services.’ It means people who exist as a part of a community of some sort and who share commonalities and relationships with one another.”
To be amongst one’s peers is to be amongst one’s equals.