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Sunday, February 17, 2008

The HIV Closet

If you are HIV + and not comfortable with your new state of health, you need to read this and absorb its content to your life. This is not only admirable, but places you squarely in a position to take action to change your state of mind. Remember, it is your mind and not anyone else’s, and you have total power over it and its workings.

I don’t care if you are a Gay person, a Straight woman or Straight man: it is a part of you and a part of who you are. You might deny it, but to do so is not only futile, but is also very damaging to your own psy­che. In the same way, HIV is now part of who you are. It will be with you until you die, and that is just the way it is. So, do you by any stretch of the imagination consider it prudent to try to hide this very part of you, and not disclose for the next 10, 20, 30 or 40 years? Whew, that would place such a strain on your own mind, heart and persona that sooner or later you are going to crum­ble. Part of the acceptance of HIV and living with it is that very nasty subject of disclosure. How difficult is it going to be to go through the next 30 years making every effort in your being to keep this secret from everyone that touches your life? How diffi­cult is it going to be to try to trust someone enough to become a good friend, knowing that some day in the future, that friend might make a slip and let your secret out of the bag? Remember, HIV is for a life­ time. That is a very long time.

Considering this factor, was one of the most liberating and empowering things that I have learned while living with HIV. Ac­knowledging that you are in fact HIV+ is one of the biggest and most daunting hur­dles that you must conquer, and disclosure to family, friends and work, then sets you up to “create” a new and exciting life while “Living WITH HIV/AIDS” and not IT living with you! I realize that it all sounds like semantics, but I assure you that all long term survivors that have been self empow­ered, have at some time in their lives taken the bull by the horns and come out of the HIV closet. Many of us have nailed the damn thing shut, which then frees us up to do and create exciting things for our lives with the consideration of our HIV limita­tions. Remember, I was confined to bed for the better part of three years, and from then confined to a wheel chair for another five years. Now when I cannot walk, I mount my electric Zippy Cart and off I go, with my red ribbon firmly stuck to the back and in plain view of anyone that isn’t blind. Am I special for that? No, not one iota, but do I gain com­fort in the fact that I will not let HIV get me down and crush my life? That is a definite yes. I try to celebrate life, even when my head is in the toilet every morning, barfing up what is left of the Trizivir from the night be­fore. It is just part of life as I now know it.

Many have suggested that when living with HIV, one must stay flexible and that plans are always tenuous at best. This I have found to be very true, and when making plans, I must consider that my body might change those plans. I cannot get all worked up over that reality, but only accept that maybe I shouldn’t have made the plans I made for that period of time.

Please look at the message 1 have given you here, and please remember that part of your survival and good health in the future will totally depend on how you deal with the virus, both physically and emotionally, and coming out of that damn closet of secrecy will change your life, and do so in a positive direc­tion. Oh yes, some in your family will shit all over themselves, but this is not their life. They gave you life, and for you to take this bug and force you into the darkness for the next 30 years would be so very sad and destructive. There are many, many of us out here that have nailed the closet of secrecy closed for good, and I must tell you. I don’t miss that thing at all. It was totally miserable.

These are my thoughts.