I am at a very painful place in my life, Its the moment that you realize nothing that you have been doing is working for you and your not exactly sure how to change. I have this beautiful, happy, intelligent child who is quickly growing right before my eyes. I look at her and I want to be so much more for her. Right now I feel like I’m fighting my past to obtain my future. How does one overcome a lifetime full of having nothing, being nothing, and doing nothing? Poverty is an infectious disease. I would even go as far as to say that it is genetic. There is a cure but its not easy to obtain. A person has to be driven to break the chains and step outside of the picture that has been painted for them.
In my current situation I am at the point of wanting change. I don’t have the tools to break the chains yet but I know it can be done. My daughter can not grow up and think that abuse is normal. My daughter can not think that the answer to everything that she wants is “No we can’t afford it.” My daughter will not be ok with receiving government assistance in order to eat and maintain stable housing. I really feel let down by all the organizations that are set up to “help” those who are living in poverty. Every place that I have ever gone asking for help has only directed me to where I could go to receive a handout. As an HIV positive youth I would ask for information on GED programs and HIV peer counselor trainings or training to become an HIV testing specialist so that I could qualify to help others get through the difficulty of testing positive, I’m no longer considered a youth but I still haven’t been pointed in the direction of where I could be trained for any of the things I’m interested in. At this point I know that the places that appear to be there to help us get ahead are really there to help us have just enough to survive. Every Social worker I’ve ever dealt with only has information that will help me stay poor. The system is not designed to change lives it’s set up to keep everyone exactly where they are.
I call this transforming victims into survivors. Victims are not happy with where they are. Victims see a problem and want to fix it. Survivors acknowledge the problem but they don’t give it any power to make them feel negative. Being a survivor is a good thing when there is nothing that you can do about whatever the issue is. THEY want you to think there is nothing you can do about living in poverty so they offer you food stamps so you can be poor and still buy food. They offer you a few hundred dollars every month so that you can be poor and pay a bill or two. There is low-income housing which encourages you to remain below the poverty line because if you make too much money then you no longer qualify for the nice apartment that you live in. There are perks to being poor so that you can be a survivor.
My goal is to overcome, and defeat poverty. Im at a place in my life where I know it is possible but I’m not certain where to start. It makes me sick to my stomach to know that it took me so long to realize that I’m capable of so much more. I can be a champion. I look at my daughter and see a champion in her. I made her so why don’t I see a champion when I look at myself? She is just a baby and I know there is nothing that she can’t do. I have to do better so she can have a chance to see her own potential before she gets to be my age and relive my story. I love my mother but I hate the fact that I have allowed history to repeat it self by reliving her story. I have given up my power, my joy, my love, and my potential by holding on to the chains of what I saw growing up.
I’m happy to say that my mother is now doing better then she was when my siblings and I were kids but I wish I would have seen her doing well when I was a child so that I would have nurtured the spirit of a champion instead of aiming to survive.
I’m standing at the gates, still on the side of poverty, trying to discover how to make it to the other side. I don’t think its going to be easy. As I get started I plan on documenting the journey so that others can pull strength form my struggle. I believe it all starts with education. I have earned my GED about 3 years ago. I haven’t done anything with it yet but that was the start. I have a few college courses under my belt but right now my focus is finding a source of steady income. I give myself 6 more months to make this happen. I’m hoping that should be more then enough time. I’m not sure if this is the right thing to be focused on right now but that’s the beauty of being in control of my own destiny. If my plan isn’t working out I have the power to change it and try something new.
At the age of 30 I finally feel like its ok for me to be mad at the people who caused me pain. A friend of mines expressed to me that he use to hold on to a lot of anger because of my story. He questioned how anyone could intentionally hurt me. Now that I know someone else held strong emotions about my past I no longer feel like I was wrong to be angry. I have put a lot of effort into acting like everything is ok. I just went through something that was very emotional for me. I went way back to the city that I remember abuse starting. I was a part of a project targeted towards telling the story of HIV and intimate partner violence (IPV). I had to mentally go into my past and speak about the stuff I don’t tell people. The sexual abuse, the memory of my father beating my mother, the past and current abusive relationships. I now know that my coping method is not working. I can’t just pretend that everything is ok. That is what I’ve done my entire life. People have said awful things about me but I’ve always smiled and said silently to myself, ” they talked bad about Jesus so it’s ok.” I’ve never admitted my true feelings because I never gave myself the permission to be angry but yes I’m angry.
My childhood was drenched in abuse and death. That abuse has followed me into the present day. I have tried several times to “fix it” but I don’t think I know how. The earliest memories I have took place in New York. My abusive father convinced my mother to pack up and move 3,000 miles away from everything she knew. It was there that my mother decided to leave him. I remember her making me and my three siblings go out the window and up the fire escape to the neighbors apartment when her and my dad would fight. Arlene would just open her window and let us in. She would turn on loud music so that we couldn’t hear our parents arguing down stairs. I would always want to know why my dad always made my mom cry but I never asked. My mom left him and started to date a guy who would have been the father of her 5th child. During that pregnancy she tested positive for HIV. The baby was born during her second trimester in the 5th month of pregnancy. He survived five months before dying at home. The cause of death was listed as SIDS. Shortly after Raymond died my mom somehow found out that I was being sexually molested by her boyfriend. Her reaction was not expected. She blamed me and she took out her anger on me. Still to this day I make excuses for her. My grandma was abusive to her as a child so she only reacted the way she knew how. I would love to hear her say she was wrong and she’s sorry for the way she acted but I know for a fact that I learned how to forget from my mother. She blocks any negative situations from her mind and its like it never happened. We moved back to California but the Abuse followed me.
I’m not sure how old I was but I know I was in middle school. My mom would make me take the bus to school alone. Some days I would miss the bus so I would go into this store to get snacks and kill time between buses. One day the man who owned the store closed and locked the door behind me. He asked me to follow him behind the counter he pulled down his pants and sat down on a stool he told me to look as he played with himself. I just stood there. He touched me and kissed me then he ejaculated. He gave me $40 as he let me out the back door of the store. He told me to come back and see him and I did. I use to earn money doing stuff around the house for my mom but no one ever gave me so much money to do nothing. It got to a point where he wanted more. I was conditioned not to disagree with adults so I didn’t, I let him do what he wanted to me and he would give me money. I changed schools and no longer took the bus near his store so that ended that.
I have had a total of 6 relationships in my 30 years of life. All except 1 of them were very unhealthy for me. My self-esteem has always been on the low side and I never made decisions for myself. My Lack of self confidence had me fall in love with anyone who expressed the slightest interest in me. The longest relationship I’ve had was with a guy I met on the party line at the age of 19. We ended up in an on and off relationship for over 10 years. This guy was very toxic in my life. I tried so hard to please him but I was never good enough. He would physically, verbally, and emotionally abuse me. He isolated me from my friends and family, took control of my money, told me what I could and could not wear and how to style my hair. I was so dependent on him I would follow him everywhere like a sick puppy. I would sit in his car while he was at work or in class. During one of the off times I was in a relationship with someone who was exactly like him. Very militant, his way or the highway. This relationship ended with me being homeless and with only my purse and my laptop computer. I ran back to the party line guy because I knew what to expect and deep down I knew he was dangerous but I felt safer with him then I did on the streets. I felt I needed him but he rejected me. He still called whenever he wanted sex but I was not good enough to be more than an object to him. I began to date a woman thinking I would be better off with a female since my luck with men was not great at all. This relationship was destine to crash because I didn’t love her. I felt sorry for her I stepped right in to her pity party and allowed my misery to be pushed aside by hers. . .
I could go on and on forever describing the failed love stories that make up my life but the common denominator in each situation is me. I need to do some serious soul searching and learn how to love myself. That is not something that I have ever seen demonstrated to me. I have no idea what it looks like, feels like, or sounds like. I can imagine it’s a beautiful thing but how would I know? I can only say this for sure. I’M WORKING ON IT!!!! When I get there I will blog about it but until then I’m open to suggestions and encouraging kind words.
Yesterday was awful. I started to feel sick on Sunday. I ate oatmeal for breakfast and my stomach didn’t feel right then. I skipped lunch and at 3pm all the oatmeal that I had for breakfast graced my taste buds with and unwelcomed encore. There was a tornado brewing in my tummy. I convinced my body to sleep that night but the next morning at 4:30 am the tornado made its way to my head concentrating all its force on my left temple. I couldn’t take it. I made 6 trips to the bathroom before 5am. I didn’t know what to do. Being HIV positive and now single and living alone who could I call at 5am? I waited until I thought she might be awake and called my mother…. no answer. I don’t have a car so my options were call 911 or chance it on the bus. Hours went by as I attempted to get dressed so I could take the bus to see my Dr. by the time I had my clothes on it was around 2pm and I was sure that I wouldn’t make it to my clinic on time. I changed my destination and planned on going to the E.R. Just as I was walking out the door my mom called me to ask me to accompany her to her appointment for lab work. God is always looking out for me. once she heard my voice she knew something was wrong and came right over. I made it in time to see my Dr. and avoided the hours of waiting in the E.R.
Today I still don’t feel well at all so I’ve bundled up in front of my T.V. and I don’t plan on moving until I feel better. But I can’t help but think about the fact that I’m here alone and my mind keeps wondering to the last person who was there for me the last time I got sick.
Breaking up is always hard but the times when you need that person makes it hurt even more. I was the one to end it but once you notice that saying good bye means your giving it all up, the good and the bad, its too late. I think about her all the times. I loved taking care of her. It made me feel needed. There was so many little things that she said she never had before and I made it my goal to give it to her. Its been a month so the break up is still fresh and I still worry about her. What hurts the most is the fact that I know she isn’t worried about me. No one is. If my mom weren’t going in that direction I would have been on a bus going to the E.R. If I died last night no one would even know. Its hard to feel Positively Beautiful when your alone kneeling over a toilet bowl.
We moved from the 2 bedroom house behind my granny in south-central LA, to a 3 bedroom apartment on the west side of LA on the outskirts of Beverly Hills. It was another major change. I went from a place where I didn’t have many friends to a place where everyone smiled and said hello. My school was in walking distance. The first day I thought my mom was going to drive us to school but she didn’t she told us to pay attention to what she did and where she turned because she wasn’t going to come pick us up and she expected us to be home within 30 minutes of school letting out.
My older sister, older brother and I were afraid that we would get lost so we drew maps of the neighborhood as we walked to school with my mom. As the days went on we would take different turns just to see what was where and to add to our maps. We marked streets, the homes of our new friends, the candy stores, and streets with hills that we could ride our bikes down, big trees, parks, libraries, and strange looking buildings. By the time we finished making our maps the first pages were torn or lost.
My days at Shenandoah Elementary were fun. I was still very shy but I had a few friends. No one messed with me and I did well in my class. I was the type of student who wanted to get all the answers right. I raised my hand to answer every question and I cried if I didn’t get the answer correct. I was in the third grade. Only seven years old and I had a secret. Like all kids I wanted to share my secret so I told a girl that I considered my best friend. This was the beginning of the discrimination. I told her I had a big secret and that I would tell her if she promised to keep it between us. I told her and she stepped back and said to me “Your gay and your gonna die. My uncle has that and my mom said hes gay and deserves it.”
“Gay? Whats that mean?”
She just ran off and I never talked to her again. I didn’t want to tell anyone that I told my secret so I kept this conversation to myself. I think that was the day I began to keep everything to myself I didn’t want anyone else rejecting me. I tried hard to fit in. I didn’t have an opinion and anytime any one asked me to make a choice my answer was either I don’t know, I don’t mind, or it don’t matter. I didn’t want to make any wrong choices and give anyone reason not to like me. It became my major goal in life to make others like me. I was always polite I always smiled and I never tried to stand out. I didn’t want anyone to notice me because I thought they would somehow discover that I had a secret.
I was in the 4th grade and I’m not sure why but my mom had to tell my teacher about my illness. Ms. Magana is one of the nicest teachers I ever had. Im not sure if she was so nice to me because I was HIV positive or if she was just that way by nature but I felt like she smiled just a little brighter when she looked at me. She was the first teacher who didn’t question my intelligence. I always felt smarter than the other kids in the class because in New York they teach you at a faster pace than in California. I knew how to multiply and divide in the first grade. Ms. Magana let me do work from the 5th grade books and she also let me help her grade papers. I was helping her make copies one day and I got a paper cut. She asked me if I could clean it and bandage it myself or if I needed her to help me. She didn’t want to send me to the nurse because she understood the stigma and rejection that may have followed. I told her I could do it myself. I washed my hands dried them and tried to put the band-aid on. She saw me trying and came over took the band-aid and put it on my cut. She explained to me the my blood had germs in it just like everyone else’s and any time anyone got a cut we should always make sure to protect ourselves from their blood. She explained to me that she was not afraid to help me clean and cover my cut because she could do it without touching my blood. She put the band-aid on me and said “see all don’t and I have nothing to worry about. She got a bottle of cleaning solution from the cabinet sprayed the table I was sitting at and wiped it down with a paper towel. That made me like her even more because now I felt like I had a friend.
It started with Timothy Brown AKA The Berlin Patient AKA The first Person to be cured of HIV. He found out he was HIV positive in 1995. His life was saved by the medication that made living with HIV a reality. In 2006 he received a new threat to his life, leukemia. he under went chemo therapy just the same as many cancer patients but the leukemia came back. the next step was a bone marrow transplant.
Many years ago there was a documentary on people who were resistant to HIV. It was late one night and I couldn’t sleep so I flipped through the channels and stopped on one with a graphic showing how HIV entered a cd4 cell. I remember them following a man who described how he began to lose all his friends due to complications of AIDS and he noticed that many of them were former lovers of his. He heard that the virus was contracted sexually and when his current lover began to show signs of sickness. they both went to get tested. His lover was infected but he was not. He described to the doctor that several of his former lover had already died and his current lover is ill so clearly the test was wrong and he had to have this virus as well. but test after test came back negative for HIV. He began to ask how is it that other were contracting HIV from practicing the same behaviors as and he wasn’t further test showed that his cd4 cells did not have the receptors that HIV needed to latch on to in order to take over and infect it. This meant that even if the virus did enter his body it was unable to replicate so it would simply die causing his to be resistant to HIV.
Now back to Timothy Brown.
His doctor, Gero Hütter, didn’t know very much about HIV but he was aware of the fact that a genetic mutation, called delta 32, disables the CCR5 receptors on the surface of the CD4 cells. If a person had two parents with delta 32 they were completely immune to HIV. T. Brown was in need of a bone marrow transplant, and the CD4 cell is produce in the bone marrow. Dr. Hütter was on to something that no other doctor had ever tried before. An HIV resistant bone marrow donor would cure T. Brown of leukemia and produce HIV resistant CD4 cells curing him of HIV as well. Long story short IT WORKED!!!!!!! Dr. Hütter found 232 donors worldwide who were matches for Brown. They worked through the list testing each of donors for the mutation. Donor 61 was just what the doctor ordered!
While the rest of the world was focused on improving treatment and creating a vaccine AIDS researchers and clinicians had accepted the beliefs that a cure was impossible.
Cure stories are starting to pop up all over. First Timothy Brown then the baby in Mississippi is treated and cured, now a 12 year old boy has received a cord blood transplant in hopes to cure his leukemia and HIV. My fingers are crossed! Maybe soon I will be telling the story of how I get cured.
I just completed the freedom course of the Spectrum Life Design Program. In the class I have learned so much about how I can re-create myself. The first thing I need to do is except the things that I fight with and realize the more I fight the harder I make it. I also learned that my feeling like I am nothing is not bad. To create is to make SOMETHING out of NOTHING! I am on the right path and excited about who I am going to become.
I will no longer be the girl that has great ideas that dont materialize. I am the author of my life and my success is not optional IT IS A MUST!!!
I was given the chance to look deeply into my own thought process and pin point what makes me feel the way I do. I was in the habit of blaming and playing the victim instead of looking at the things that I do to make myself feel like I am right. I have the option to live my life guilt free and un- victimized
I have made a choice to accept only positive thoughts. This means I have to stop the “feel-bad-for-me” post. I claim
A FLAT TUMMY!
2X’S MORE HAIR THEN WHAT I CUT OFF
A SUBSTANTIAL RELATIONSHIP
AND ALL THINGS GOOD AND PURE, EASY AND STRESS FREE
I am the creator of my destiny, the author of my life, and I am ready to do the work to make my dreams a reality! I suggest you jump on board and claim some greatness of your own. You get out of life what you put into
A man in Texas killed his girlfriend because she told him that she had HIV after they had sex. Hearing stories like this scares me because that could have been me many times before. I have had moments where I could have easily been that women in Texas stabbed to death because things happen some times and I’m only human I make many mistakes. I often wonder why God has protected me for so long. WHy has he allowed me to avoid people like that man in Texas. After high school I didn’t care about myself or anyone else so I was wild and I did somethings that could have gotten me killed but I was so blessed that God kept me. It wasnt untill my last birthday that I decided to stop trying to live a negative life, and by negative I mean HIV negative and negative as in wrong. I did make bad choices because I thought they were fun. I fell in lust with a few people and had sex and drank and hung out and didn’t tell anyone I was HIV positive. I had an excuse that made all this feel like it was ok even tho I knew deep in my soul I was wrong. Death was coming for me anyway so I decided to live my life the way I wanted to and then when I ended up in the hospital I was going to call and confess to those that I cared about and spend my last days asking God to forgive me. In my head my plan was going to work because I was going to die and if my friends hated me I wouldn’t have to deal with it because I wasnt going to be here any more and they would feel better about hating me because I was going to get what I deserved for deceiving them. DEATH! with some I thought I was going to work my way in to their hearts and then HIV wouldn’t change anything because they would love me for who I am and they would feel bad that I was going to die and mourn me. I now know that I was so wrong to think any of that. but when do you tell? this women in Texas certainly didn’t do it at the right time or place. I have tried telling people at the first hello but that left me feeling like a damaged good. I would hear “oh wow I’m glad you told me. It was nice talking to you” and then they would go away taking a piece of me with them. A painful secret that they didn’t need to know. Disclosure is a big issue I have had my whole life. I never had a problem talking to a room full of strangers but it’s so hard to tell the people who I consider to be my friends, people I hope to have some type of social life with. So at this point in my life I just don’t look for friends. I disclose by telling people to check out my website or google me and then call me if they still want to be my friend or call me if they want to ask me any questions. It took me a really long time to be ok with being alone. I still struggle with it, but I would rather be alone and be a voice to help educate, motivate, and inspire other than to be killed because I didn’t know how to tell someone who I really am.
What is the goal of my blog? The goal is to let you know what its like to be me. I want to educate you on my life and what I go thru now and what I have gone thru in the past as a person born HIV positive. I want to share my passion for life with you and entertain an adventure thru my mind.
What topics will my blog cover? I plan on writing about anything that comes to my mind. Topics that you will certainly read about will be politics, health, current events, and anything that is going on in my life. HIV affects life in many different ways. I have stories that will make you laugh and stories that will make you cry. Trying to have a social life while positive is very hard because others and their lack of information can lead to discrimination and I tend to tell you guys all about it.
Who is the target audience of my blog? I hope to target those who are going thru the same things that I am going thru and those who know nothing about HIV. I hope to educate some and remind others of how we can stop AIDS.
What do I hope to get from blogging? I have attempted to write my story into a novel but I have been diagnosed with depression for the last 2 years. I have moments when I feel like I can focus and get anything done and I also have moment when I am so sad and UN-motivated that I just can’t think of doing anything that requires my attention. On the sad days I might try to blog about the fact that I’m feeling sad but I honestly choose to ignore life and stare at a wall until I fall asleep. I have started my book several times but those sad days creep in and I look at how much I have done compared to how much I have left to do and I just seems like a never-ending task. I grew up waiting to die so I hate to admit it but I have never accomplished a long-term goal. I jump from project to project and if it takes to long I dump it and move on to the next. With blogging I find I can just do short post to get the idea out and it’s not too much to commit to at once. As I go along I hope to be able to piece my book together using my blogs and just tying them together to make sense.
Even this entry will somehow end up in my book. I hope that I am going about this the right way but even if I don’t end up with a book and even if no one reads my blogs I will feel good about the fact that I have a couple of my stories preserved in text. I feel words are the only way any person can live forever.
EXCITED!!!!! Las Vegas here I come!!!! And I’m not going for fun this time. I just came back from a 4 day trip with my mom, step-dad, and best friend. But in a few days I’m going to be out there again learning whats new and whats now about HIV in the USA. I can’t wait!!! I’m excited to meet new people and network with those who share my passion to end AIDS. Right before I leave I’m going to be attending the LA Womens Task Force Leadership Dinner where I’m going to be awarded the peer leadership award. I feel this is a great honor. I fear I haven’t actually done the work to earn it yet since all my plans are still premature but I will accept it and use it as fuel to push me to success. The Positively Beautiful Fashion show must go on. I feel like I could be and should be fighting harder to make this happen. I have a great team of supporters that is growing into something that can’t be stopped. Things are starting to change for me and I can almost see the light. I pray that I can keep up with the excellent changes that are coming my way!
I RIP UP ALL THE DOCUMENTS THAT WOULD CLUE YOU INTO ME. CHANGED MY NAME TO ANGEL DOLL AND STOLE A HALO TO HIDE MY IDENTITY.
I DELETE ALL THE VOICEMAIL MESSAGES AND ERASE THE E-MAIL TOO. I WILL TAKE A MILLION EXTRA STEPS JUST TO KEEP MY TRUE SELF FROM YOU.
IF ONLY THE WORLD WOULD UNDERSTAND I WOULD CEASE TO LIVE IN FEAR. BUT DAY TO DAY IN MY SOCIAL LIFE IGNORANCE IS ALL I HEAR.
IF I TOLD YOU THE TRUTH WOULD YOU STILL BE MY FRIEND OR WOULD YOU RUN AND HIDE. IF I TOLD YOU THE TRUTH WOULD YOU TREAT ME THE SAME OR WOULD YOU FEEL I DESERVE TO DIE.
YOU MAY FEEL IN YOUR HEAD THAT YOU’LL BE THE SAME TODAY AS YESTERDAY BUT I HAVE HEARD THAT BEFORE AND IN THE END I KNOW YOU WILL RUN AWAY.
BEING ME IS DIFFICULT A NEW STRUGGLE COMES WITH EACH NEW DAY. I HAVE GOTTEN TO A POINT WHERE FOR MYSELF I REFUSE TO KNEEL DOWN AND PRAY.
I FEAR THAT THE CREATOR HAS PUT ME HERE AS A SPONGE TO ABSORB THE PAIN. I TRY SO HARD TO FIT IN I JUST DRIVE MYSELF INSANE.
TRYING TO HIDE MY REALITY I DRIFT INTO A ONE PLAYER GAME PUTTING ON MY MASK I ACCEPT THE TASK OF RUNNING AWAY FROM MY SHAME.
I wrote this poem about 3 years ago when I was just tired of being “that girl with HIV” I didn’t want to walk in my shoes any longer so I tried to take them off. I did every thing I could to get rid of those shoes but despite how hard I tried they are still here.