Last week I celebrated 5 years of LIVING with HIV and while I’m fully aware of just how different my life is since being told I was HIV-positive, it wasn’t until today that I really stopped to pay full attention to just how incredibly blessed my life is and how thankful I am for everything that has transpired in my life.
The first year of being diagnosed was a complete nightmare because I was homeless, sick and everything in my life was temporary. I even switched doctors four times and three clinics before finding a doctor and clinic I trust completely. Part of the reason I’m living where I’ve lived for almost four years now is a direct result of my current doctor and clinic.
I remember my Ma once telling “from the time you came into this world you’ve been a fighter and always striving to live against all odds”. She was talking about the fact that I was born with Sickle Cell. Nothing has changed since my birth; LIVING has always been my plan. Even through my battles with cancer, through homelessness and now LIFE with HIV. The only option has been to LIVE. In fact I recall my Pops once saying to me “if you have a plan ‘B’, then your plan ‘A’ aint worth a damn” So for me LIVING has been my ONLY plan, my ONLY option.
I had to basically figure out the ins and outs of HIV all on my own the first year. There was no such thing as “community” support in my life and ya’ll already know how I feel about the word “community”. I was my own support system.
I made the choice to LIVE, even in the midst of an entire world being upside down, inside out and totally flipped. I was not going to be a victim, nor was I going to hide in shame and I certainly was not going to believe that I was damaged or no longer worthy of being loved. I refused to run from support group to support group and not truly move forward with my life. I know support groups work well for some people, but for me that represented a full and complete surrender; for me they represented guilt, shame, silence and the closet of HIV. Closets are for clothes and where you hide things you don’t want company to see. They’re not a place for people who want to LIVE.
I’ve surrounded myself with people who are creative, out of the box self-thinkers. People who don’t give a rat’s ass about my HIV status, but are willing to listen and learn about HIV when I talk or want to share some information with them. People who do not subscribe to groupthink mentality of any form . In doing so I have some pretty amazing people in my life.
A major part of my choice to LIVE is tied to me being completely honest about my HIV status and not being afraid or ashamed to talk about it with anyone at any time. In being as open and honest as I’ve been this has meant that some people will choose not be get to know me, not want to work with me or even stand or sit near me, but those are their own issues and demons that they must deal with. I refuse to take the low pulpit in order to make someone else feel comfortable about my HIV status.
LIVING also requires that I am fully and totally honest, without any reservation about disclosing my HIV status to someone I may fuck or begin to develop a relationship with. This has not been hard for me because I don’t fuck or suck any Tom’s dick that’s hairy. Full disclosure speaks to who I am and exposes the depth and strength of my character which is turns speaks volumes about who I am as a human being. Full disclosure means I’m FULLY in charge, on board with and accepting of the fact that I’m HIV positive and with this comes responsibility. However this does not mean that some knucklehead may choose to look past me because of my status. But if this is the case, then they are someone I wouldn’t want in my life to begin with.
So as I look back over the past five years I see so much growth, but I also see where my foundation remains solid and unbreakable. I am so very thankful for everything that has happened in my life….even the bad things and things that caused me so much hurt, pain and tears.
My friends say to me all the time “When I look at you I don’t see someone with HIV. I see someone who is living and enjoying their life”
If I were to die today, I know none of my friends would mention HIV at my home going service, because they know HIV is irrelevant in my LIFE.