I feel like I almost have to trick people into being “o.k.” with me. I have started to work a normal 9-5 job and I’m deeply afraid of my HIV status being found out. I don’t know why I feel like I have to be secretive and private about something that is such a minor part of my life. HIV has been a major part of society for so long that I feel like I shouldn’t have to fear rejection any more. Its funny I started talking to a person that I am attracted to and have been for a while. I’ve known this person for a few years now and when I first met them the vibes were strong and I felt like they wanted to explore the possibilities of a relationship with me. This person even made comments about how much they like me. I was called attractive and sexy and the smile that was on my face was as bright and fake as a neon green sky because I felt like as soon as they found out about my illness they wouldn’t feel the same. That person ended up in a relationship that recently ended and I felt like the stars might still be there so with me being the new open and honest person that I am I spilled my guts one night after hanging out with that person. We have been talking daily since then but I am hurt about the fact that the vibes I got in the beginning are gone. No more stars. Just a friend.
I honestly do appreciate all my friends but they don’t fill the empty spaces in my heart. I am truly missing the kind of love that can only be filled by that special person. the one who will have your back no matter what, the one who will laugh and cry with you, talk and listen to you, love and hold you. My last relationship made me fill that space with concrete. but just like the sidewalks that concrete wears down and cracks over time. The emptiness hurts and after a while it will drive you crazy.
What is it about this virus that yells “BE MY FRIEND AND NOTHING MORE!” Positively Beautiful is my motto but sometimes I wish I could drop the “Positively ” and just be beautiful. As I type this out I realize tonight is going to be one of those long lonely nights. Despite the fact that I’m in a house full of people I feel like I’m at the bottom of a ditch screaming and crying but no one can hear me. The quick hugs and pats on the back are cute but not enough sometimes. I feel stupid for feeling like this but I think everybody need somebody.I know a few people who have had children to get the unconditional love that they desire. But for me to have a child would be the most selfish thing I could do. I know the risk of me infecting the man or baby are low as long as I adhere to my medication and keep my viral load at an undetectable level but I still know that I’m sick and may not be around long enough to raise my own child.
I try to drown myself in work and activities to ignore the fact that I’m alone but when the sun goes down and the world is asleep I’m left alone with my thoughts and my nightmares. Dreams that I’m running away from and angry mob of people who wish me harm. I run out of places to hide and I’m tired of running. Ive spent my life hiding and running but what do I do now. I face the mob. Alone. Tired the sad part is that when I stop running they just run past me and I realize that it wasn’t me that they were after in the first place. I am nothing.
Today I sat and listened to 2 women talk about how sexual abuse played a role in their lives. I have always known that more women have suffered through being molested than those who have made the choice to talk about it but my question is why do we feel the need to be silent about the fact that we have been victimized? I myself honestly don’t know how I contracted HIV. Yes I could have been born with it but there is also the possibility that the father of my mom deceased 5th child gave it to me during one of the many night that he took advantage of me. My way of dealing with things thru out my life has been to forget. I’ve worked very hard at forgetting and I have gotten it down to a science. I’m so good at forgetting that I now do it with out trying. I’ve worked very hard to forget the scent of tobacco on his hands as covered my nose and mouth to silence my cries. I’ve worked very hard to forget the images of the naked women with “big girl bodies” that moaned and enjoyed the touch of the male supporting actors in the adult videos he showed me. It took years for me to forget the words he said to me “God is a man and he says you have to listen to me because I’m a man, if you tell you will never have a big girl body and your never going to grow up, this is normal I have to do it to you and you can’t tell your mom because if you do she’s going to be mad at you, the blood means its working”. In a way some of the things he told me was right. My mom found out and she was mad at me. I fell while sliding down the rail of the fire escape and I began to bleed between my legs. I only remember being less than 7 years old because by the time I was 7 I no longer lived in New York. My mom hurried me in the house and taught me that blood will stain so it was important to wash the blood from my clothes right away. She told me to undress while she went to run bath water and I did. I saw that the blood was in my panties and just like all my other blood stained panties I hid them in the closet because HE said I should. My mom came back in the room and asked for my clothes so I gave her my shirt and my shorts. She looked around and asked for my panties then she asked me to show her where I was bleeding from. I started to cry and she asked again. This time I went and got all the panties from the closet and told her everything. She got angry. She got her belt and spanked me. I remember this being the worst spanking I ever got in my life. She told me to go show Miss Ana how grown I was and she pushed me out into the hallway naked to knock on the neighbor’s door. I stood there crying and shaking with fear as I raised my hand to knock on the door. Before I could knock she grabbed my arm and pulled me back into our apartment. She put me in the bathroom and slammed the door shut. I could hear her crying in the next room and I just stood there afraid of what she might do next.
I believe this was after she knew she had HIV and I believe it was after her last child was found dead in his crib (sudden infant death syndrome, He was born positive, premature and had underdeveloped lungs) but as I said before I’ve worked hard at forgetting. I can’t recall dates but I have found the smell of cigarets brings me back to a place that I want to forget. Hearing a man speak with a Jamaican accent reminds me of the way it sounded when he would say to me “don’t tell or it wont work” hearing a young child cry reminds me of the way my mom hit me with her brown leather belt. Hearing a women cry reminds me of the way she sobbed while I stood in that bathroom. I now know she was just as confused as I. She was just as hurt as I. She now take full responsibility for my diagnosis. Even tho I feel it wasnt at all her fault. When any one asks the answer has always been that I’ve gotten it from birth. My dad isn’t any help at all. He avoided my question about his test results the 2 times I’ve gotten the nerves to ask him, and the abuser, Willy, is just a man whom I try to forget.
I was asked a question today “When did you learn about sex?” I had to think deep. I thought it was those night that he had his way with me but I didn’t know that was sex. I thought it was exactly what Willy told me it was “Something he had to do.” As I think more about the question my mom never had the sex talk with me. Growing up HIV positive there was always an educational event or safe sex presentation going on somewhere and my mom went to many. I was normally right at her side even tho child care was provided. I heard it all starting at the age of 8. I also had a support group that I attended with other HIV positive girls. They were maybe 2-4 years older than me but I was always mature for my age so no one ever knew I was younger than the others. Sex was a command topic because we had all heard things and the group was our space. Nothing we said there ever got back to our parents. I guess my mom just made sure to put me around the information so I could get it from a source that could give it to me better than she could. I think about it now and that has been my moms approach to parenting. She didn’t teach me how to drive, she didn’t show much interest in my education. Of the 3 years That I played the trombone in middle school and all the school band concerts she managed to miss all of them. I can remember asking her to come to my parent teacher night at school each semester and she would always say she was tired
Don’t get me wrong I’m in no way bashing my mom because through all of that I know my mom did the best that she could. Raising 4 children on her own and fighting for her life everyday I can understand why she was tired. I don’t have any kids now and just trying to take care of myself makes me tired. She may have missed parent teacher night but She had me to every Dr. appointment on time. She may have missed the school band concerts but she cooked us dinner each and every night despite how she felt and despite how much money it took. She was too sick to work and stress from raising her kids made it damn near impossible for her to but she kept the lights on and the water running hot and we never went without. I never had torn clothes or holes in my shoes and now that I think about it I wasn’t even forced to wear my older sisters hand-me-down clothes. I had my own and so did both my brothers and my sister. We grew up blessed with a mom that made the hard look easy.
I sit here at the foot of my mother’s bed wondering what steps I could have taken to avoid the current situation I find myself in, jobless homeless broke and loveless. I guess it’s mostly due to the fact that I have spent my entire life waiting to die.
At the age of seven my sister informed me that I was blessed with a curse. How I came in contact with that curse remains a mystery to me. I was born in Los Angeles California my mom was 21 and my father, also a mystery to me. I know where he is and who he is but that’s about all I know about him. I can’t remember how old I was when he convinced my mom to pack up and move to New York but I do remember her talking about how she missed her family and home. I was so young that I didn’t know anything about California or how we got to New York. All I know was that the crowded streets and tall brick buildings were home to me. I was use to the cold winters and I had forgotten the sunshine. I looked forward to the mornings when my mom would dress me and my siblings in so many layers of clothes that we couldn’t bend our arms or legs. We would walk the best we could two blocks up and one block over to our school. Nothing like the schools in California named after the great presidents and historical icons. I remember the schools simply being called two letters followed by a number. My sister, older brother and I attended P.S.118 I was only there for pre k, kinder, and first grade.
With all the sweet memories I also remember a few bad things. We were walking to school one morning and I bent down and picked up a broken spoon. It was dirty and black. My older brother hit my hand and made me drop it he said to me “Don’t touch that. Those crazy people use that to take their medicine.”
I asked him “Is that why there are always needles on the ground?”
I never thought in a million years that my father was one of those crazy people but as I said before he was a mystery to me. Now that I’m an adult my mom tells me bits and pieces about him. He asked her to move with him to New York because he had an opportunity to work a better job and take better care of all of us. He told her he was under a lot of stress and that this move would ease a lot of it but she couldn’t tell her family because they would try to stop her. He also told her that they were fighting so much because of stress and after the move he wouldn’t be so stressed and he wouldn’t hit her any more. The truth was that there was no job, just drugs and a chance for him to get involved with selling. She agreed to the move but his promises of being able to care for all of us quickly went out the window. He was never allowed to get involved with dealing the way he wanted to because of the fact that he was an addict. He began to fight and argue with my mom about the fact that there wasn’t enough money coming into the house so he told her to go get a job and he would stay at home with the kids. This worked great up until he got his hands on some money. Then he would be gone until the next day.
When he and my mom fought she would tell my siblings to climb up the fire escape to our neighbor’s apartment. She was a Hispanic woman named Arlene. Whenever we tapped on her window she would open it up and let us in then turn the music up way loud so we wouldn’t hear the sound of our home being destroyed or our mother’s screams. The whole time she would be yelling and saying what she would do. I only understood about ten words that she would say because of her broken English.
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.
May you rest in peace Cicely Bolden
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!