This past weekend, the view above was my front yard. It was a much-needed getaway with two very dear friends, at their family cottage. Despite the sunshine, the great company and the amazing location, I was anxious.
Why was I anxious? Well, this is the place where things became real for me. This is the place I was on my way to just over a year ago when Alex told me I needed to go and get tested for HIV. I was afraid that, in coming back here, all those awful memories would be stirred up at a time where I was starting to find some sense of peace.
I learned something, this weekend, though. It’s all about the people. I spent this weekend with some of the kindest, open-hearted people I have ever had in my life. Despite being in the place where I had the unconfirmed sense that my life was changing, I didn’t think about it. I didn’t dwell on it. I took my pill at dinner time, and that was it. The rest of the time, we went around the lake on the boat, read a book on the dock and enjoyed a cider or two. It was, in a word, perfect.
I have to admit something – awhile back, I said it had been two weeks since Alex and I had spoke. After that, he called me a few times, and (no surprise), it was awful. It led to rage, tears and just more of the same feelings of despair. And then, something funny happened. I’ve always been a frequent writer of journals. I found an entry I wrote about Alex a week after our first meeting – the one where he disappeared immediately afterwards.
In that entry, I wrote about giving Alex a second chance. I said, in part:
…I almost didn’t give it to him, but ended up (maybe foolishly) agreeing. I’m so unsure about that decision. Part of me thinks I’m setting myself up to get hurt again…
While I wish I had found that entry sooner, it gave me the strength I needed to write a firm, final email to Alex. I was firm, as I need to move on:
I was flipping through some of my old journals today, and I happened across an entry from July 8, 2012. It was an entry written exactly one week after I met you. In it, I talk about how hurt I was by your actions after you went home the first time we were together. The blocking, deleting and then asking for a second chance.
In that entry, I wrote about my head telling me to move on. I wrote about how giving you a second chance was likely just setting myself up for more hurt. I wish I had have read those old journals sooner, because they carry a lot of advice for the present. I should not have given you that second chance.
I continued on, but I told Alex not to email me. Not to call me. To cease all contact. And I felt good about that decision, until last night.
Yesterday, I was driving to pick up my dog from my parents and as I drove, Alex was on my mind a lot. I thought about the good times we had (believe it or not, we had some) and how this week will be the longest time in three years that we have not talked. Next week will be three years since we first met, and I guess it’s just on my mind.
Dealing with a breakup on its own is hard enough. Despite being treated incredibly poorly, and ultimately betrayed, it is still a loss. And to add an HIV diagnosis on top of that makes things even more complicated.
I feel like there’s still a lot of work to do on my mental health. And I’m open about that, and am taking the steps I need to take to do that.
This article first appeared on Josh’s own blog The Plus Side of Life here.