Yesterday I started my job as a Peer Support Specialist. The Integrated Health Services team (of which I am a part) is squeezed into one tiny office and a converted utility closet (the sink is still there). Ten people with lap tops, all talking on the phone, or to each other, or elbowing into their TV-tray-sized work spaces. The plan is to move the team off-site to a real office space. But for now, we are literally on top of each other.
A year ago—heck, three months ago—I would have bolted from that chaos after a half hour. But, I didn’t. And the fact that I didn’t makes me proud. I could feel dread and panic creeping into my head like Dark Shadows mist, turning my thoughts sour and rigid with resistance. But then I went on my first client visit, and the doubt and hysteria melted.
Talking to clients, listening to them, asking questions, empathizing and marveling at their courage and resilience—it all fell into place. What I used to do as a nurse, what I do now with this blog, even what I’ve become as a person all come into play when I’m with the clients. I was made for this job. I can do this.
So, last night I drank a beer, popped a Xanax, and slept long and hard. This morning I was ready to jump back into the fray. Until I got my own TV tray, I set my laptop on top of a waste basket to do my work. That was fine. I’m relearning Windows after eight years alone with my iMac. That was fine, too.
Everyone on the team is supportive, enthusiastic and only a little less confused than I am. This roll-out of Integrated Health Services across the state is enormous, complicated, sometimes incomprehensible. It makes us comrades. They sent a lovely card and a plant when my mom died, and I’d only met them twice.
We’ve been digging through lots of old stuff at my mom’s house. We found a box with my grandfather’s WWI kit and a trunk of my dad’s with his WWII navy uniform and a photo album. In those pictures, I can see how tight the bonds are between Dad and his friends. I understand that a little. I’m not saying we’re experiencing anything like what Dad and Grandpa went through, but adversity and a common goal does something to a group. Those of you in business know more about this than I do. There’s probably even a name for it.
I know these people have my back. I know they won’t let me fail. I know they will understand if I ever do have to bolt from the room. And I’m not afraid to do it if I have to. Because I know how to take care of myself now—without plugging into the power grid.