I tried to meditate this morning, and not that listen to chimes and chant ummm kind of meditation but the kind where you clear you mind and stop thinking…. Its very hard to stop thinking. I realized that its never truly quiet. I could hear the traffic of people trying to make it where ever in the world people go a 4am. I heard planes going over head, the crackling of the flame burning on the wick of my tea light candle and some other random unidentifiable noises. I couldn’t keep my eyes closed so as I tried to focus on the burning flame my eyes started to drift to the right. My gaze settled on a pile of dirty clothes in the middle of my living room floor. I swear I just did laundry! where did those clothes come from. I noticed one of my daughters toys laying next to the laundry I thought I pick all her toys up last night. I looked over at the half empty mug of coffee on my end table. Why did I leave that there when I washed the dirty dishes last night. I couldn’t stop all these thought about how dirty my home is. I feel like no matter how much I clean I’m never done.
This is true for life. No matter how much you do as long as you’re alive you will never be done!
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.
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
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.
…. he came and got me from my bed every night. I would cry when my mom left for work begging her to take me with her. I clung to her on weekends. It got to a point that she couldn’t leave me at home without me and if she did I would cry until she came back or I fell asleep. She would have to sneak out the house and not let me see her go. I never told her why I was afraid to stay at home without her.
As my mom’s relationship with Willy went on she became pregnant by him. The baby was conceived around the time that a strange illness was affecting new born babies. I’m not sure exactly what happened leading up to my mom being tested for HIV but she was and with that test she found out that she had AIDS. The baby she was carrying was most likely going to be born ill. Raymond Antony Miller was born prematurely in September of 1990. He was so small he could fit in the palm of my mother’s hand. He stayed in the hospital for a long time. I remember my mom saying that she asked God to just let him come home long enough to wear all his clothes and after 3 month he was able to come home. On the morning of valentines in the year 1991 I remember waking up and seeing red lights flashing outside of the window. It was an ambulance. I didn’t know that when I opened the door and walked out I would see a bunch of strangers in the apartment. I quickly turned and closed the door to the bed room and got under the covers I didn’t know it at the time but they were in the house trying to resuscitate my 5 month old baby brother. Raymond died that day. His little lungs gave out while he was asleep. Somehow I don’t think I was really upset or sad because I didn’t really understand. When I look back now I think I would have had ill feeling towards him because of what his father did to me.
Shortly after the death of the baby my mom was told by a nurse that if she wanted to survive with AIDS the best thing for her to do would be to move back to California. She pack up the things that we were able to carry including the goldfish my siblings and I got while trick-r-treating and she bought 5 grey hound bus tickets. I don’t remember much about the trip across the USA but I do remember getting off the bus in Los Angeles and meeting my grandma she was so happy to see us she took turns hugging and kissing all of us over and over again. Now that I think about it I know that took love because we had just spent 3 days on a bus and there were no shower breaks.
Even thou I was born in Los Angeles I felt like I was in a very different world. It was warmer and it felt less crowded. I was in aww at the grass that lined the sidewalks and to openness of the streets. My older sister and brother and I were bused to school. In New York our school was a short walk away. Living with my grandma was fun in the beginning
Young adult afraid to commit because they surpassed their expiration date by years and they fear that any day now they will cease to exist
Gay men exiled from their families, locked out of their churches and condemned to hell
Straight men shunned from their communities
Women murdered bloody bodies left cold on their bed room floor for their children to find
I am that child. I am that young adult, I am that women, I may not be a gay or straight man but we are on the same side of discrimination, stigma, hate, fear, and discuss. I am an HIV warrior, survivor, advocate, educator, and example.
I live my life out loud. People tell me that no one needs to know my HIV status at the first hello but I honestly feel that the more I talk about it the better. If I can get through the fake people and move on to the ones who accept me as I am I can spend my time where it counts. I just decided right now that I dont have time for ignorance. If a person is misinformed about the facts surrounding HIV then I vow to educate them as long as they are accepting and receptive of the message that I have to share with them.
I promised a friend of mines that I would write when ever the feeling hits me. I have no idea where these thought came from but I feel good about the fact that I sat down and let it all out, Thanks for the advice ChefBlaze!
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.