Life is hard. I wish I could make it easier for everyone out there, but life and living are filled with hardships that must be overcome if one is to continue on and thrive. What makes things hard isn’t life itself, but those living in it that think they know best for all. This goes from the top and our elected officials and bosses at work, right down the line to family, friends, and strangers. Everyone is fighting for their space, learning from their experiences, and forming opinions that have the power to interfere with others. Truly, life is hard because we make it that way, and the sad part is we all make life harder for many people in our lives indirectly and directly. So how do we live an unencumbered life, existing well with others as much as ourselves?
I have to share I had a rough weekend. I started my day full of hope and plans with an outdoor art show, a beer festival, dinner with an old friend, and a night out with a group. I was excited until plans started to crumble. Friends became busy, some still wanting to get together but needing more time, ultimately having to cancel. In the meantime, I enjoyed Netflix and browsing my social media to pass the time between those plans that were still on the table. I came across a post from a friend that discussed the recent conviction of a man accused of knowingly having unprotected sex with multiple people without disclosing his HIV positive status. Being HIV positive myself I find his actions reprehensible. His actions further fear and hate for those being responsible and open about living with HIV. I usually don’t read comments in posts like that because they tend to be filled with anger and negativity but for some reason I did.
The comments were as I thought, filled with condemnation but also ignorance about how this conviction will affect those who already deal with the stigma of HIV daily. I don’t want to get into much on what was said, but I was left hurt and broken for what I saw was a huge step backwards on putting a better and more accurate face on people with HIV. I did go back and forth with comments for a while, trying to shift the focus to safe sex, personal responsibility on both sides, and education in general, but either way by the end I was a bit raw. I then had to continue with my evening plans out with friends and enjoying their company but I wasn’t as healed as I thought. We were all laughing, dancing, and drinking in excess. By the end of the night, I wasn’t myself.
Alcohol is a depressant. You might be feeling great and lively in the beginning but as time goes on, your body is slowing down. Your mind during all this drinking and partying isn’t as secure as it once was, leaving one vulnerable to emotions that arise naturally but this time without the ability to process and control them. As I was being hit on, I was put in a position to disclose my status. The gentlemen took it well, asking questions and things were fine. I wasn’t interested and we went our separate ways but out of nowhere I was in tears. I was happy a good friend was there for me, but soon I was in my car driving home and the tears would not stop. I pull into my driveway, turn off the engine, but the tears would not stop. I completely broke down, and while I thought I knew why I was crying, I realized at the end I was crying for something completely different.
My tears started because I was tired. Being strong in the face of outside views is exhausting. I’m not scared of my HIV. I know my life is still wonderful. My health is actually better than it was because I partner with my doctor to correct not just my sexual habits but my lifestyle. I am lowering my blood pressure, keeping my sugar in check, and many other regular things most don’t take care of because most go to the doctor maybe once a year, but usually only when they are sick, which could be late in some situations. What affects me are the eyes from others and their lack of knowledge. People have more compassion for ever other illness people suffer from, but with HIV, many want to place blame and see us as being sluts. Being gay is worse because many feel the virus as a whole is our fault. In this moment of breaking down, all of those emotions came to me, some based off the comments in the post that pretty much said some of these things, and just the feeling that I will forever (until they find a cure) be seen as a leaper.
While the start was about my status, I soon realized I was crying because I’m not published yet. I was crying because my Buddhist practice isn’t where I want it to be. I was crying because I have amazing friends, but sometimes I feel like I am not thought of well by them. I was crying because I’m not confident my career plans are solid. I was crying for ever fear I had pushed aside and not dealt with up until that point, and those tears were the most exhausting and aggressive tears I’ve ever experienced. I’m fighting them now as I recall my pain. But just when I thought the tears were going to take over, they stopped and living began.
I had a great cry. Things were revealed to me I now know I need to put more attention on. I will be honest and say I was very broken down. The next day was full of contemplation and I reached out to friends who showed me so much love. The reality is I have to heal these wounds and no longer put up these walls around negative emotions. I have no walls now. They were demolished in that nearly two hours of crying. It’s funny to be thankful for that, and I definitely wasn’t in the moment and most of the following day but today is a new day and I still have a purpose.
I’m here to say I cried and I’m not ashamed. I have HIV and I’m not ashamed. I am sometimes lonely and I’m not ashamed. I cried and now I can heal. You can’t tell me I’m not a man. Let me see you face your inner fears. No really face your fears. I am better for this rough weekend. I am stronger because I cried.