When I was first diagnosed with HIV I had a rough time mentally. Every healthcare provider I visited kept reminding me that I will live a long life. They kept saying that advances in medication make it so you are undetectable. I kept hearing about how I can have an HIV negative baby and how people with HIV were getting married, all these great things. My issue was that sounds good but I don’t see it.
I know that as someone who thought they were HIV negative I wouldn’t listen to someone tell me they had HIV and believe this stuff. So how could I expect anyone to believe it long enough to deal with me. Mentally I had this whole HIV thing wrong. I wanted to be accepted by them instead of figuring out if I should accept them.
My first thing I had to do was accept myself first before I could expect anyone to accept me. So I went on a journey to love myself first just as I was. It wasn’t easy but it is something you can do too. When I was first diagnosed I would meet people and date them and then never tell them. I would be so fearful I would just find some reason to leave them alone. I got tired of rejecting myself so I started to do the opposite accept myself.
The first step I took to accept myself was education. I learned what was true and what was not true. I learned how to protect myself and the people who may be involved with me. I decided I couldn’t listen to nobody about myself I had to educate myself. I got all over the internet and went to HIV conferences. I stayed on the website poz.com because they had forums. It was the reddit of HIV. This built my confidence up in realizing I wasn’t nasty and I wasn’t going to die tomorrow. Once this was in my spirit I decided that I should focus on living. I told myself I am going to get married and have children.
The next step I took was disclosure. Disclosure is a hard process but I had to realize you can never be accepted or rejected if you don’t get into the game. So I practiced with people that were close to me. I told my closet friends and saw how they reacted and what their responses were. No matter how they took it, my confidence went up. I even did the most scary thing which was tell a potential dating partner. My first time telling people wasn’t fun. I made sure I approached it very confidently and I was open to anything that may occur. I was rejected and it stung because they didn’t give me a chance but I was happy I did it. Eventually I did tell someone and he accepted it. One of the reasons he did accept it is because of my confidence and the education I provided when he asked questions. He became my first boyfriend post HIV and it lasted 5 years. It was something I never would have thought. That relationship didn’t end in marriage but I learned a lot and I realized I was still human I just came with a chronic condition. Eventually I did find my husband who is my soulmate.
Another thing I had to realize is that not accepting your status runs deeper than than that. Sometimes it’s hard to accept because there is a lack of acceptance of yourself. You have to take time to love and accept yourself as is. When you do a check on areas of your life you can definitely identify changes that need to happen. If you don’t accept you for you when you change you may find yourself unsatisfied by the changes. This is something that takes work and time so don’t be hard on yourself. Acceptance is the key to fighting this illness. This can be applicable to other illnesses as well.
Acceptance is Hard, but in the end it’s beautiful!