Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Violently happy

I do take into account that the fact that I wake up and all I want to do is grab my work and delve into it, or slip into my jogging gear and out the door and into the exceedingly colder and wetter outdoors, or into P's bed (because we sleep separately most nights, that way I can toss and turn away my PN-like symptoms, and P can snore to his heart's content), could be just a pseudo-manic episode or a post-menstrual high. So instead of following up on any of these options I end up here, with oatmeal and Moroccan tea in front of the keyboard (the only time I don't eat in front of which is at dinner, when I trade the laptop screen with the TV's). I mean, I know I am happy, but there are still stings of fear and anger and restlessness. I can still wake up and think of a member on AIDSmeds who shunned me and blocked my PMs (and it wasn't as though I was bombarding him with them, I only wrote him once in response to his question I didn't feel comfortable answering on the forums, and then once again to ask what's up when instead of responding like I asked him to, he started a bit of online bullying). I also think how much I regret spewing and frothing over one very public HIV figure's glamorous appearance and demeanor. I still feel what I said and I still think that public people with this disease should be more down to earth and less aloof and glamorous. If Magic Johnson could tell the world his secrets to staying healthy and looking so great after all these years, that would be awesome. It sure as hell isn't Kaletra, which is is the spokesperson of, keeping him that way. Ditto for Regan. But I should not have been cruel with my words. Thing is I am angry and terrified sometimes and we all need all the help we can get, but there is such a disparity between the poz community and the poz celebrities, as much as there is one between the general community and the Hollywood community.

I forget though that poz celebrities are not "our" celebrities but the "faces of AIDS" to the entire community. And this also sends a twisted message across. If the only poz people that the public recognizes are rich, glam, and successful, then HIV/AIDS is completely solved, and why should any funds be dedicated to unluckier folks, who should have gotten their act together and climb to the top like the others. HIV hardly seems like a handicap or a serious problem anymore, let alone a chronic and still terminal disease. And most importantly, the disfiguring qualities of the meds and their toil on health and functionality are completely disregarded. And it also sends a message to young people, especially gays, that it ain't so bad.

I also think a lot about the people I meet, online and in real life, especially women, who are so screwed by this disease. It seems to combine with other factors like a poor socioeconomic status, former addictions and their social implication, and so many other problems to depress women down that much further. I am lucky that HIV - the tag not the disease - hasn't stopped me and slowed me down in any way, but I always remember that unlike these women who are secured on social benefits, as meagre as that won't be, I have no rights in any country. For that, I am increasingly angry with my employers taking advantage of the desperation of young academics. I am angry because this is the first time that it happened to me and it coincides with my losing my rights at home as a consequence of my residency being revoked and the fact that I haven't paid taxes in so long, and that this happens at the time in my life and age when I need this safety net more than ever.

So when I think about that I see a dreaded vision of the future in which I am older, uglier, sicker, poor and maybe even homeless, surviving on only the most basic of benefits, dragging my sick ass to hospitals, looking as sick or sicker than I actually am. It's a horrendous vision, and it encapsulates everything that I am afraid of. It is actually the vision that I had previously of me being over 60 or at the age when no one will hire me for work anymore (40?), except it has been speeded up into the foreseeable future, because that's what HIV does to you. It accelerates the aging process, whether science describes is that way or not, this is what happens, and it puts you in harm's way in the same way that being fastforwarded into your retirement without a pension would.

So given this mix of reality, fears and thoughts, can I be blamed for distrusting my own happiness, for sticking pins into my own hot air balloon when it rises more than a few feet of the ground? It's so hard to let go of these fears when every day I am confronted with them. I know that had I not been involved with other poz people I probably would do a better job at suppressing them and focusing on the now, but I feel that I need - should - be involved. Not because I delude myself that I can help others that well, but because this is part of my identity now and I can't ignore it. If I did it will backfire sooner or later. But then again ignorance is bliss. I wish I could just let this drop and just be me without the diagnosis, but with all the good things it had already brought me like my relationship, my better interactions with the environment, my appreciation of the now, my increased emotionality and receptiveness. But unfortunately these come embedded in a great big thorn bush of fear, so that whenever I reach for one of them I come away wounded, and the longer I manage to hold on to them, the more I bleed fear afterwards. So that's what I'm doing here. And I am still violently happy.


KYPIAKH said...

really pleased to see your posts again. Great writing, as always. "violently happy" is a very expressive term.

Anonymous said...

It's great to see you posting again. You are a very gifted writer.
All the best

Anonymous said...


Ron Hudson said...

Beautiful...and all of it needs to be said.

Anonymous said...

I very much enjoyed your commentary here. I have a close friend with AIDS (poz for over 17 yrs) & I never realized that the medication could age him so much. Thank you for bringing this aspect because it will help others as well. Keep posting & hang in there.