In those early days after walking home from the doctor and trying to make sense of the news he just shared to me of my status there were two thoughts running around in my head. Am I going to die of this disease and what will people think of me? I wanted to share the devastating news right away but the ‘what if’s’ came pouring in filling my brain with uncertainties. Questions that I couldn't answer but I still produce came, questions such as what if they reject me. What if they blame me? What if they tell me this is what happens to people who are just like me, gay? Knowing that to share my news I also had to reveal my other secret, my sexuality, that was sheltered by my ‘what if’s’. I think no matter how hard I tried to find a workable solution in the end each scenario had the same outcome and not in a good way.
What if they find out about my secret?
What if they discover my medication in the bathroom cabinet?
What if they fall in love in love with me?
What if I give them HIV?
What if I re-infect them or they re-infect me?
What if I die on them?
My language of what ifs were truly making my life have less value and if I examined all the questions of my ‘what ifs’ I would see that it was mostly for the benefit of others and what they thought of my life. In my unselfish moment I was being selfish to myself and denying my own self a rich full life. Ironically when I questioned what if I die on them I should have looked at myself as I was already slowly dying mentally and not because of my HIV status but because of my own self-inflicted limitations. My ‘what ifs’ had dictated my movements, my non-movements, my dreams and goals and I was tired of it stealing my joy. I had heard of the benefits of jumping into the waters and learning to swim but I was so scared of drowning that I stayed on secure ground.
I went back to school and got my degree.
I quit the unsatisfactory job and fell in love with one I liked
I learned to swim literally as I always wanted to but had a fear
I started a blog just for me and a few friends and now helping strangers navigate the world of HIV
I would never had accomplish any of these things if I had never stop trying to be always in control and having the ‘what if’s’ run loose in my thinking.
I finally used my key and left that house of fear.