Recently, I tried to picture my life without HIV.
Not in a nostalgic reminisce of a life without a disease, but a comparison of the life I now live to what it was actually like without the virus lingering (sometimes ominously looming) in the background. Kind of like pushing the rewind button to see if I missed the good parts.
It was a futile effort on my part. The former non-HIV status had its perks, but no matter what way I looked at it, life was stressful back then for other reasons. Who knows, in rewind, if something else would have tried to throw me off my game plan? The options are endless - maybe another disease, an untimely accidental death, a catastrophic hurdle, a financial setback, or a broken relationship?
My HIV diagnosis in 2009 felt like all of that – a crisis like no other I had ever known. But in time, the alarm bells quieted as I got informed and hooked into resources, support and health care. HIV got designated to the background, with a respectful acknowledgement that I was to take care of me while it was in the mix. But life gets dirty, and in turn, self-care can get a bit muddy.
In rewinding the past ten years, I pushed the pause button at some moments I regretted.
Yep…I said it!
Regret- a word shunned by some and privately experienced by others. I have heard many say, when they look back on the past… “I wouldn’t change a thing”. As I grow older, I cannot deny that I have had the profound ability to think I am doing the right thing but find out otherwise, further down the line. Whether my mistakes are quiet or loud, private or public, I refuse to take on the societal pressure to brush it all under the rug. Being ashamed of my shortcomings is a natural prompting but wallowing in shame isn’t. The real dilemma occurs when I paralyze the future by allowing the weight of shame to distort, prevent better decision making or foregoing goals and aspirations.
At the end of the day, when no one is around, I know what I like and don’t like about the direction the day has taken. Even the direction my life has taken.
So while I work out my journey, I find it more important to not let anyone else push my buttons. I can reflect better when I rewind, or start things over by pushing reset when necessary.
There’ll always be someone pushing your buttons, whether voluntarily or involuntarily assigned. It can come from close relationships where it hurts the most or someone can speak out of turn and throw off how you feel. Something so simple as an abrasive receptionist can frustrate or annoy. Funny how small annoyances can rewire your output for the entire day!
This past week I reset my art skills and took on a massive undertaking – hand painting a detailed baroque painting on a large ceiling. Despite my background as a visual artist, I dove in as if it was my first art venture. There was such a lengthy gap in time since I employed my design skills so reset was my best option.
Some people have wondered about the impact physically of doing this. My HIV status sometimes plays into decision making and I walk away wondering if I missed out.
Not this time. I took control of the motherboard and directed which buttons get pushed.
“Reset”, not rewind.