All my life, I’ve been a quiet person when it comes to talking about my relationships and love life. I’m intensely private, and to be honest, I don’t know why. Logically, I’m aware that love is something that should be celebrated and shared. But it’s not something I’m comfortable doing.
It didn’t help that Alex didn’t want to meet my friends (and to be honest, I was okay with it because it meant I didn’t have to talk about things with my friends – even my best friend). It feels silly to admit now, but Alex was my first partner. My only partner. And if you were to ask me if I see myself dating again in the future, the answer is no; so as it stands at this moment, Alex is likely to be my only partner.
Since my diagnosis, I’ve tried a lot of things to get and stay in a good mindset. Lots of long walks with the dog, dinners and talks with my dearest friend (who has always been there at the drop of a hat when I’ve needed her, something words cannot begin to express gratitude for). These have helped.
But, there’s always the quiet moments – the weekends at home alone, the evenings long after most of the world has gone to sleep and I’m awake, thinking about what I’ve gone through. Based on being a quiet person, you would think I’d savour those moments. To be honest, I don’t. They are the hardest moments of all. Some times, ABBA just knows how to say it best… (see below).
The quiet is when I start to feel like I’ve lost my health (which I haven’t). They are the moments when I realize that I’ve gone through a lot of hard times, and there’s still hard times ahead.
During these quiet times, believe it or not, I miss Alex. After I was diagnosed, of course I was furious with him. I hated him. But there was still a lot of conversations on the phone, right up until two weeks ago. I know I shouldn’t have kept him in my life. But at the same time, he knew exactly what I was going through. The blood tests, the doctors visits, the side effects of the pills… all of it. But it wasn’t until two weeks ago that I finally found the strength to tell him that enough is enough. It’s during these quiet moments that I feel incredibly and permanently alone.
But, during these quiet times, I also draw strength. I reflect on the fact that I have gone two whole weeks without talking to Alex. I reflect on the fact that the HIV I have is completely under control, undetectable in my blood. I reflect on the fact that I have my health. I have a job, I have friends, I have a loving family, and I have a dog, who, despite getting in to trouble all the time, knows when I’m sad and always is the first to try and protect me from the dark clouds that try to set in.
I guess, what I’m trying to say is, no matter what you’re going through, embrace the quiet. After the sadness that can come with it, the strength and the burning passion for life arrive. And it’s those moments that make me truly see that everything is going to be okay.
This article previously appeared in Josh’s own blog The Plus Side of Life here.