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.
I have been without a computer for a few month now but I haven’t stopped forward movement. I have a few major acomplishments to fill you guys in on. If you have been following me then you know about my last relationship. The last thing a wrote regarding my love life was the fact that it was over. Well like most relationships we tried to give it a second chance but Im happy to say it has ended FOR GOOD! I was sad about the fact that I was alone for a minute but you know what they say “misery loves company.” Once I decided that I no longer had time for misery I started to move forward and I didn’t need company to do that! At the end of last summer my best friend gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. His existence prompted me to get started on the self work that I had to do in order to make myself some one that a child would be proud to look up to. After all, she did ask me to be his God Mother, a role I accepted with honor and pride!
I started my journey to become a better person. Don’t get me wrong I know I was already awesome but there is always room for growth and improvement. I found a free GED program and I went to do the practice test. To my surprise I was told that I did so well on the that I didn’t need to come in for tutoring. I put my name on the list to take the real test that following weekend. The test was done on two consecutive Fridays. I was an hour early both days and I sat outside the room asking God to help me through what I thought was going to be a difficult experience. Day one was the english, writing, and social studies portion of the exam. I was the second person done and I left the room feeling confident. Day two was the math and science portion. I was sure I would do well but at the same time I found it hard to ignor the small nagging doubtful voice in the back of my head. I was maybe the fourth or fifth to finish and I left the room nervous yet relieved that it was over. It seem to take forever for the 5 days to pass but Wednesday morning finally came and I called the school for my results. I PASSED!!!! I finally finished something that I started and it felt amazing!
I did what I had to do to prove to myself that I was actually smart! I spent so long doing things for everyone eles that I didn’t know how it felt to do for myself. Im glad I started working on me because now I cant stop. I signed up for classes at the a community college and I have been going since fall semester 2013. I finished that semester with a 3.5 GPA which qualified me for the Dean Honors Award. Im so excited about what Im going to create next for myself. Life is so great right now and something tells me it can only get better!!!!!
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.
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!