The last few months we have been featuring “Recovery During Covid” stories from our awesome TPC team, seemed fitting that on our “14th anniversary” newsletter issue that I should share what recovery during COVID looks like from the leader’s perspective. Too often the leaders are expected to be that calm steady-the-ship force during crisis. Double that expectation when the leader is also a person living in recovery. Stigma carries a particularly strong deterrent from leaders being “awkward, brave, and vulnerable” as my spirit-sister social worker Brené Brown would say. So, the meaningful activity in my recovery work is attending to the job of maintaining a safe and supportive working environment that assures the team is equipped to provide recovery support and to meet our associates (participants) exactly however they appear, no matter their level of recovery. It was those one hundred or so Associates that show up every day that prevented me from making the hard decision sooner, to suspend our in-person services until we could do that work safely. As one of our board directors pointed out, the best way to protect the associates was to protect the team. And so … our 13th year of operations, going into our 14th year, felt much like our first year of operations … making quick decisions as the situation and circumstances evolved. And they evolved quickly. Leadership on the fly. Ah .. memories 🙂. That being awkward, brave and vulnerable part got tested in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. Leading a diverse team with differing world views is a challenge on a good day. On a bad day, when cultural and historical trauma involving long-standing racial injustice smacks you in the face, it becomes something altogether different. So, do I tell the team that “I am not ok”? Or do I brave-face it out which is the typical and expected stance for leaders, and especially leaders from communities of color. Add black female leader atop mental health, childhood and adult trauma lived experience and you’ve got a perfect storm of inner conflict. But that is also my work of recovery. No more brave-facing it out. I took a chance on my team. For the most part they embraced my simple acknowledgement of not being ok. For some it was a matter of “what’s understood does not need to be explained”. For others … well, we might still be playing out that awkward, brave and vulnerable part. Hard conversations. They do not happen until we can safely acknowledge not being ok in whatever environment, in whatever role we are serving. One of my joys is having the opportunity to create safe space for that. Going into our 14th year, I do not regret taking a chance on my team by showing up for them, fully human, doing my work of recovery, during COVID, and at any other time. Wishing us all a safer, more compassionate, more brave new year!

Juliet D-W
Executive Director

The P.E.E.R. Center

If you would like to read any of our previous “Recovery During Covid” stories, follow this link to our previous newsletter features.