You called me a lived expert

November 07, 2022

By: Dyane Provost, Lived Expertise Advisor

You called me a lived expert  

And in little bits and spurts
You got to know my back story, and saw its worth
Publishing my poem on Aging in the right place certainly didn’t hurt !

You called me a lived expert

I still had my doubts
Though it felt like a nice pat on the back
I thought ‘well, that’s the end of that’
You then asked me to participate in the writing of your research paper
We met for coffee a few weeks later
Once again my back story was heard
Outside of recovery and trauma circles
And guess what, I started standing up straighter
Maybe not on the outside
But on the inside

You called me a lived expert

And the unexpected happened :
You offered me a scholarship
To attend two conferences in TO
All expenses paid …
I still had my doubts
But I said yes and jumped two feet firmly into the Unknown
Every anxious thought was immediately relieved by your replies
Either by email or text
I could not believe the generosity of this gift :
Travel, hotels, meals, per diems, oh my !
Treating us like royalty
Not gone unnoticed by me
See photos below, from Hotel Westin at Harbour Square
Funny, I didn’t splurge on anything, I’m so used to being frugal
I walked at least 10K a day
My way of self-regulating my nervous system
Digesting the whole experience
Little by slow
Connecting seemingly randomly with various people
All of it meaningful
All of it rich
All of it such a precious gift


Below is my written testimonial to the Federal Housing Advocate, Marie-Josée Houle

You called me a lived expert

A particular session on Day 2 had my heart skip a beat and leap up with possibility and vision :

Building Zero Barrier supports : Navigating Peer Mentorship as a person with Lived Experience of Homelessness

This session outlines examples of robust peer support programs that guide and support people with lived experience working in the housing and homelessness sector.

A few notes taken :

Stigmatization of hierarchy (yes!!!) … 6 testimonies of people who get paid for this, have training for this, using their lived experience as their biggest asset … you can’t teach lived experience … building trust and impact of self-disclosure … “It’s humble to be able to lead from this position : we don’t need human resources to BE a human resource” … holder of complex and traumatic stories (I’ve been doing this for 30 years – 32 years of continued AA sobriety, compassionate inquiry 1-year certificate of completion 2020 cohort).

You called me a lived expert

After the above session, I started to “see” myself being “all of me” in a community that could use my lived expertise, without running after a degree so people will take me seriously. Without feeling FRAGMENTED.

I never felt I belonged anywhere. My roots are inside myself now, thanks to the wonderful people along the journey that helped me reconnect with me. That is my true home. Attending these conferences confirmed to me once again that I am already on the other side and giving back, which is all so very well and good indeed.

That my lived expertise could be part of a recognized – even paid ! – part of the larger community, that makes me feel like “all my parts” can be freely offered in this suffering world in need of peer compassion, human to human. When I’m in “the world”, there is part of me – the richest, most true part of me, the lived expert part, now I have a proud name for it – that is invisible and underground.

I’ve written down a whole bunch of contacts I hope to follow through with in the near future.

I have a rich spiritual life and God’s got me in a big learning curve, am quite busy right now, so it might take a little while, but please remember me, do keep me in your thoughts and prayers. And if you feel so inclined to contact me about anything, I’m here.

I’ll end with something an Inuktituk Elder said about herself during breakfast on Day 2 (her name was not in the program, if any of you have it, would be lovely):

“I am very proud of who I am, but I don’t show my pride as it might blind me from love”

Dyane Provost
(Now a proud) Lived Expert 💗