Positive Thinking – The Reality of Living With HIV part 11

6 months ago — 4 min read — 2 Comments
By Paul

He said this to me: “I wish I could swap and have it instead of you”.

And so we come to Love. I don’t know if one little blog article can really fully cover Love, especially in regards to HIV but I’ll give it a damn good go!

My experience of love has often been retrospective, something I am trying to change about myself.  I am single now and in future I promise to try and know I am in love more, if that makes sense? Looking back, I’ve really been in love, absolutely deeply in love and more than I realised at the time. When I have been in relationships I have definitely taken for granted the little things that, for me looking back now, scream love.

When I was diagnosed I was with a guy who went through this with me. During the period after, I felt I egoistically mulled and mentally churned over accepting HIV . “No-one could possibly understand what I am going through!”

What I didn’t spot enough at the time was how much I worried for my boyfriend in how he was dealing with it too. I was comforting him through the diagnosis. I also didn’t spot how carefully he had to negotiate my state of mind. In fact, he had to deal with it and deal with me and be cool and calm about it, whereas I was allowed to scream and shout and be … HIV-ey about it. But here’s the thing.. I really didn’t do that as much as he would definitely have allowed to. And I didn’t because I was in love and empathically understood the nightmare he must also be going through.

What was definitely for sure and something that has been harder to accept than HIV was loving myself. I didn’t love myself before it let alone with it.

For me, love was a subject that could only go two ways. I could either indulge in my freely available self-disapproval and take it to HIV hell or take a deep breath and use HIV as a catalyst to finally start loving myself a bit. Warts and all. Diseased Warts and all.  At the time, that felt like the harder path but really in my mind the only sensible one and I am so unbelievably glad I did. There is no future in self-hatred. It will eat you alive.

But retrospectively there’s more: Looking back, I can see so clearly now how I was helped by him to do that. I was in love. If the person I was with loved me yet I didn’t love me, then I was invalidating and ridiculing their standards of love. And if I didn’t love them, I wouldn’t have even tried to bother yet I really did bother. I’d do the injections, I would do the medication, I would get a grip and get over myself . In fact, what I saw through my boyfriend, through my family, through my sister reaching out in the way she did was a whole lot of people loving me. Me. Not me with or without HIV, just me.

HIV is a nasty, sly disease that no one should have. You cannot let it have the upper hand. Even if you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend or friends or family to help, you are still letting it win if you don’t let you love you. You have to take the harder path, that one where you have to accept its all part of the lovely mess that is you. If someone is reading this, has HIV and is wondering what that’s like? Its lovely, its just you.

We broke up after many years together but he’s my best friend in the world even to this day.

Was he in love with me? What is love in one sentence?

He said this to me: “I wish I could swap and have it instead of you”.

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