How I Became Free From My Inner Enemy

635999177076002532-559373664_8-habits-that-will-boost-your-confidence-and-make-you-happierI can never forget how I always felt that everything was my fault when something went wrong, or I could never do anything right and needed the approval of other people.

Now that am older, I understand that being a victim of abuse had me in a box that I was living in and didn’t know how to escape from it. I didn’t know how to be free from it. I was walking around in a box.  I wanted to jump out like “Jack in a box” waiting on someone to come wind me up and hoping I’m free from all the pain within me. That never happened. My pop-outs were when I became extremely intoxicated and ended up in the bed with someone feeling free for just that moment.

The next morning had me feeling like I was abused all over again. I asked myself what are you doing here, and should I add on top of that feeling less than, because I was a high school dropout, and hopeless and wanting to try something different than alcohol to medicate my pain. Then I tried ecstasy, but should I say it tried me. Let’s just say, I realized it was not for me. I was just going to stick with my drinks. I thank God for that. Years later I was still playing the victim roll, and not knowing how to be free.

Then I met my new frenemy, and her name is HIV, but should I say that she was the best thing that happened to me. She got me in a place where I had to accept my past and face my reality and the things that happened to me. Now I am stuck in a place that I have to use the F word all the time and that’s FORGIVE, when I really want to say F you!

I was tired of running and wanted to be free! I didn’t want to be like Jack any longer, having to wait on someone or something to come wind me up and free me. I wanted to be free, and stay free, and the only way that I was going to do that was to forgive myself and everybody who hurt me. So I choose to forgive.




The Secret of HIV

 I was watching The View when I heard Cookie Johnson say when her husband ”Magic Johnson” confessed that he was HIV she had to make a choice. Her choice was to leave and let him die or stay and help him live!

why-love-is-a-good-drug-for-mind-and-body-ftrShe said how hard it was for her when he had to close himself in a room and call all the women he had, had sex with over the past 10 years. I heard her say this and I thought “This is my story in reverse.”

I’m the infected spouse and my husband decided to stay and help me live. He stood by while I had to talk to the health department and disclose my sexual contacts. He wasn’t literally in the room but he knew I was online and on the phone giving names and contacting those I may have exposed or who may have exposed me to HIV. He chose to stay and in the early days or months he probably thought I wasn’t going to be in his life and our children for much longer. He chose to stay and help me fight this disease. He was tested within hours of my diagnosis and tested negative. I thank God for that. He chose to care for me when I couldn’t get out of bed. He drove me to every appointment to sign up for care, for medicines, and everything connected to infectious disease. He keeps me on schedule and checks for any new side effects or symptoms. He drives me to the hospital when I have to go and stays until I force him to go home and rest. I wouldn’t say he’s a Saint but he’s pretty darn close to it.

We still argue as many couples do that have spent so many years together. They are not big fights more of disagreements because we don’t agree on a lot some days. One thing I guess we do agree on and that is that it’s better staying together than being apart. And alone.

I love this man whom I decided to marry so many years ago and will try to make up for the terrible choices I made in a bad time in my life. If he asks something of me I can not refuse and part of that request is keeping my status private from most of our life. Secrets are hard for me and lies are a close second.

Now in our later years we care for one another. I guess the part of the marriage ceremony fits here. “In sickness and in health” We are the elderly couple sitting together on the park bench or walking on the beach. We may not be always holding hands but we will be very close together.



“Being Alone In HIV”

No one knows the loneliness of having HIV unless you have HIV. The feeling of being alone all of the time. Every waking moment is controlled by HIV. Many are able to hold a job, do everyday things like housework, emmagem-lonelinessand raise their children. Some are not as healthy or active. However it’s like walking around with a time bomb inside us. One misstep and the bomb could explode. We shy away from normal sick people. A common cold is not a
common cold to us. We mark our calendar for doctor appointments and the dreaded flu season. We look forward to that yearly flu shot. Why? Because it’s just a little extra protection from more complications. No we don’t die from HIV anymore or rarely. But many of us die from complications such as a cold that developed onto pneumonia. Or PHV that develops into some cancer. I know other people have the same health issues but HIV    and it’s not good.

Depression is a big part of HIV. So many have depression and may not even know it. We have to fight depression just like we fight a cold or any illness. Depression is like a cancer. And it spreads or worsens within our body and brain. The good part is we can fight back. How you may be asking? There are many ways that isn’t expensive and can be done at home in privacy. Look around you and see the beauty in things. You might even make a list of pros and cons or better yet good and bad. Bad is we’re sick, good is we are able to take medicine and feel better. We can watch tv so that can be good because we have our eyesight. Listen to the birds sing or the butterflies flit about outside our window. Look at the beautiful sunshine and how it makes things sparkle especially after a rain. Look at the flowers or the green grass growing. Even weeds have some beauty as they are growing things.

If you can take a walk outside and enjoy all these things of nature do it. If you can’t you can still enjoy them from your windows.
Read a book or even a magazine. POZ has many really good stories and you can get them free. If you have a computer there is a world of free entertainment from books to chats with live people. If you don’t like chats just read others conversations. Lol. I find a wealth of information just observing. Facebook is a good social media and we have many groups of people like “us”. (HIV Groups) But there are recipes for the cooking enthusiast and baking. Sewing is a hobby of mine that I learned from my Mammaw and in Home Ec in school. (Remember those classes?) I play games online (my husband refers to them as playing dots. Says a man who listens to Christmas carols year round. Lol. Also crafting from scraps and trinkets and even recyclables. I love creating gifts for grand children, family and friends. Reading is another favorite though I save mine for in the car in brighter light and in waiting rooms of doctor offices. Knitting or crocheting is a good and relaxing pastime. The internet has free patterns, so does Facebook.

I recently gave my sister a coloring book and a box of crayons and she’s 61 years young. She was excited. Lol. She asked about staying in the lines and I told her just scribble if you want to. It’s about colors not about staying in the lines. She’s in a rehab and recently lost her husband of over 30 years.

And last but not least is meditating or what I call quiet thinking. You can be staring at the tv, a book, or close your eyes and just go inside your head and think! Give thanks to anyone that enters your mind. Prayers to God or whatever belief you may have. Keeping your mind active is as important as any other exercise and it can be done anywhere. I am giving thanks now that I am healthy and able to write this Blog. ;)What kind of ideas do you use for depression or changing your mood?

What kind of ideas do you use for depression or changing your mood?


Strengthen Your Future, Give Your Past Away

There are many things that we can do to make our future better and one of them is giving our past away.  Our past has so many bad things that weigh our lives down and it could make us sick.  So, we begin little by little, on trying to make our future stronger by giving away the past and all of the things that come with it. The things that are in our past may consist of many things, such as, work, school, sports that we may play, children, and relationships.  I know what you are saying, “Why give away all the things that make us happy?”

We don’t give away the memories, we give away the bad habits, and the bad thoughts that may have come to our mind throughout the day, not to mention that we woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe, the toast is a little over cooked. These are just a few things that come to mind. This stuff needs to be let go or given away through your Power Greater than Ourselves, our journal, parents or maybe friends.

As we talk about the little things, some which are listed, these things start to leave our minds, body and our souls and makes us smile, and enjoy our days. This is a necessity because it is essential that we lighten our load by letting go of the past.

To have a strong future, I have given you a few things that will help to strengthen yourself, your future and the thoughts that may come to your mind. If we give away the dirt, we can’t help but feel cleaner.

What is keeping life so bogged down for you?

Once letting go, you must leave it there.

What is your reason?






What Does Beauty Mean

Beauty- The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.(loveliness)  2. the BEAUTIFUL person or thing such as a beautiful woman. 3. a particularly graceful, ornamental, of excellent quality. 4. a brilliant, extreme, or egregious example or <that mistake was a beauty>                           — Merriam Webster Dictionary

As you can see there many dstriped-core-354528_960_720efinitions of the word “Beauty” just as our own definitions are different.

This is the time to share the beauty of things in life.  A good example of beauty is to always try to find the positive out of the negative. True beauty is not always about the outside and the way we look, that is always a plus, but it doesn’t define us.

There are many ideas of beauty in us spiritually, emotionally, physically, we just have to search within ourselves what indeed we think is beauty. We have to also be as consistent as we can be when showing our beauty. Believe and be honest to yourself.  Even when we are going through things and we think that we are all alone, but we aren’t. There is a beautiful person or a group of beautiful people that don’t mind showing you how to reconnect with your beauty.

Remember that we are all beautiful. True beauty is having a good attitude and that is more beautiful than anything.


So, what does beauty mean to you?

Why I Meditate

mediateA few years ago, I started a new journey on my own when I moved to a new city. I have been HIV positive for many years, and sometimes I found myself having too much on my mind at one time. It would become very chaotic and overwhelming, so one day I decided to go and sit in my yard to try to relax. I wanted to sit outside and get the sun on my face because I felt like I could draw energy from the sun.

I would breathe in slowly, thinking about nothing but drawing in energy. I keep breathing in until I felt like I bottled up all of the energy I could manage. Then, I would breathe out slowly. While breathing out, I let everything go. I let go of stress. I let go of the things that are outside of my control. I just let everything out while breathing out. I tend to let my arms out too while I’m breathing out because it helps me get rid of that extra energy. When I breathe and meditate, it is about me letting go of the things I cannot control.

My advice for anyone who would like to start meditating is that, first of all, you can meditate anywhere. I used to live by a beach, and I would walk on the beach in the mornings when it was quiet to do my breathing. You can also meditate in your bed before you go to sleep. I suggest sitting up in your bed, crisscross if you can. Then just slowly breathe in and out, focusing on letting go of the things that are outside of your control. The most important thing about meditating is finding a quiet place where you can focus on your breathing.

What I have learned from meditating is that worrying isn’t going to change anything in your life. With meditation, I’ve learned that it is important to let things go and not focus on the things that are outside of your control. It helps to make life’s hardships a little easier to deal with. We have to be okay with not always being in control.


The Fear of Attending a Support Group

Doorways Through IPemmy ElderSupport groups are everywhere. There are support groups for drinking, sex, gambling, health issues, etc. Having a problem that requires a support group is hard enough but then you add the fear of attending that first meeting. You don’t really know anybody, but you do know that they all have the same problem going on that you do and that’s a comfort. A million thoughts are running through your head when attending the first meeting. Will I have to speak? Am I being judged? How will this help me?

Most support groups are non­judgemental and a safe zone where you can share your thoughts and feelings with people who understand what you’re going through. Being the newest member of anything is always hard, but being part of something that is helping you better, or get through your life is the best.

I was a new member of a support group about three or four years ago and I was terrified. I didn’t know anybody and was hesitant about people finding out about my status. The ladies of that first group were wonderful, though, and made me feel very welcome. Now it’s years later and this group has become such an integral and important part of my life. I love every single person so much and I can’t imagine how I would get through life without their support.

Support groups are there to help us and most of the time they end up being our biggest supporter. I encourage everybody to try one.

At Let’s At Let’s Talk About It- we stand up and speak out against gender-based abuse!

reprinted from:

Women, HIV and Trauma: Toward Resiliency & Healing

06/17/2016 02:52 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2016
  • Shannon Weber Love note writer + public displays of affection + mapping the end of HIV transmission
  • Co-authored by Karishma Oza, HIVE Program Coordinator. 2016-06-15-1466025254-1904082-LoveNoteHeal.jpg

    One in four U.S. women have experienced gender based violence. Among women living with HIV, one in two has experienced intimate partner violence, and more than 60% have been sexually abused – 5 times the rate of the general female population.

    For over twenty-five years, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital & Trauma Center-based HIVE clinic, has provided compassionate, expert reproductive and sexual health care to women living with or affected by HIV. The impact and consequences of violence against women, particularly women living with HIV, is magnified through the lens of women’s reproductive health. Reproductive health highlights the intersection of violence and reproductive justice at the individual, community and institutional level.

    • Trauma is associated with: increased HIV vulnerability, higher HIV incidence, faster disease progression, more hospitalizations.
    • Unaddressed trauma is associated with twice the rate of death among women living with HIV.
    • The aftermath of violence and/or trauma ruptures women’s relationships with themselves, their partners, family members and the medical system.
    • Women living with HIV have higher rates of tubal regret – meaning more women second guess their decision to have a tubal ligation, for some this decision was made for them.
    • Partner contraception sabotage increases rates of unintended pregnancies.
    • 33 U.S. states with HIV criminalization laws enforce long histories of systemic oppression, further stigmatizing women.

    Pregnancy, contraception, trauma and HIV vulnerability intersect in ways that dramatically impact women’s lives. Even in the face of these overwhelming statistics and devastating outcomes, there is hope. Our collective resilience is cause for a standing ovation. We can seek solidarity in our advocacy efforts and heal through relationships even as we continue efforts to create systems-level change.

    Progress at the national level to integrate trauma-informed care into the primary care setting and specific references to trauma-informed care in the updatedNational HIV/AIDS Strategy, shifts institutional approaches. We share strategies for operationalizing these guidelines at the clinic and individual level with a lens toward healing and resiliency-oriented approaches for working with women living with HIV who’ve experienced trauma.

    1. Shift our focus from “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened?” Moving away from blame, allowing space for her story, staying curious, seeking to understand her worldview creates opportunity to meet women where they are and understand their lived experiences.

    2. Commit to self-care and resiliency oriented approaches to our work. More than just practicing what we preach, this integration of trauma-informed principles become the touchstone for truly becoming a trauma reducing, healing system. This begins with a commitment to heal ourselves.

    3. Include women. Ask women for feedback on provider and program approaches, integrate women’s lived experiences when designing new programs or crafting policies, hire women for important roles. Create space for women living with HIV to lead.

    4. Use trigger warnings at the beginning of emotionally intense meetings or online content. Those with primary or secondary trauma are among us. Invite self-care. Create awareness and respect with an overview of what to expect. Respect the self-care measures others take.

    5. Universal screening for intimate partner violence, with counseling and referrals. Preventative education about the intersection of intimate partner violence and health can be provided to all patients, not just those who have disclosed a history of violence. Ask questions in non-triggering, nonjudgmental language with the goal of patient empowerment and safety.

    6. Rape and other forms of violence remove women’s sense of power and control. The medical system is inherently hierarchal. However, medical visits should not create more pain, violence, or humiliation. Turn commands into questions, create space for her response, provide opportunities for women to be in control.

    7. “Difficult” patients may have experienced sexual trauma. She isn’t difficult; she’s had a difficult life or experienced traumas that are difficult to integrate. What might be difficult is the system she’s trying to navigate. Reframing allows space for the experience she is living, invites you to meet her where she is today.

    8. The body of a survivor remembers traumatic experiences. We are somatic creatures; this is our vulnerability and our strength. Through our interactions with survivors, we can change the way we see her, then change the way she sees herself.

    Toward resiliency and healing, we share this poem.

    beyond compassion
    By Silvi Alcivar, The Poetry Store

    the gates call you
    to move forward,
    to pass through thresholds
    that make you able to sustain you,
    the work,
    that make you able to sit in service,
    to model dignity,
    to recognize trauma,
    to take care of community,
    to live your intellect through your heart
    and be wise.

    the wise one asks:
    what’s the beauty of what we attract?
    what’s the beauty asking me to heal?

    the wise one remembers the breath.
    the wise one drinks the waters of nourishment and release.
    the wise one works with the shadow knowing the shadow means
    there’s always a source of light.

    the wise one asks:
    what are you teaching me?
    what isn’t being seen, held?

    oh, the gates call you, wise ones,
    to move forward, to attend
    to what needs attending, what wants attention
    in ourselves and our inheritance.

    call in your support. breathe.
    honor the spaces between.
    hold intention. clear. release.

    put on your golden cape.
    heal. and be healed.

    Baby, You’re a Firework

    Whenever I think of the fourth of July, I automatically think of fireworks. I think of gathering with others to celebrate, but most of all, the colors and the awe that come with watching the festive explosions. It wasn’t until recently when I began thinking about what the holiday was originally designed for: to celebrate independence.

    Because of my age, it is hard to consider myself independent. I always look at others who seem to have their life together and think that they are the picture of independence. I see someone my age living in his or her own apartment, landing his or her dream job, and looking absolutely happy while doing it. When I see these individuals, I always compare myself and come up lacking.hands.


    But then I think of the fireworks.

    Each firework is unique. No two patterns end up being the same. No two fireworks follow the same path. Why is it that I am in awe of the fireworks, but not of my own accomplishments? To be independent, you do not have to follow the same exact path as those around you. That is the beauty of independence: you get to define what it means to you.

    In light of this road to self-discovery, I will part with the lyrics to Katy Perry’s “Firework”:

    You don’t have to feel like a wasted space

    You’re original, cannot be replaced
    If you only knew what the future holds
    After a hurricane comes a rainbow

    Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
    So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
    Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
    And when it’s time you’ll know

    You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
    Just own the night like the 4th of July

    ‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework
    Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
    Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
    As you shoot across the sky-y-y

    Baby, you’re a firework
    Come on, let your colours burst
    Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
    You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, awefireworks2

    Fear of Making a Presentation: National HIV Testing Day:

    First, I want to start off and say, I am not a presenter. I never have been. Getting up and talking in front of people seemed to be the worst kind of torture to me. I hated it and I never could remember all I was supposed to say or do. They say the only way to conquer a fear is to do it often and events have allowed me to put this theory into practice. I have had to come out of my shell and actually speak to people. At first I was terrified about speaking in front of people and having all their eyes on me, it was a nerve-wracking feeling. Well, I gritted my teeth, buckled down to practice and got through it with a lot of help and support from others. Now I have been making presentations on a pretty regular basis, and this mostly involves talking to people about living with HIV and how it has had an impact on my life. Wanting to help other people living with HIV is what gave me the push to tackle more public speaking. I wanted to educate others on the disease, those living with it and those who are not.

    Being able to help and educate people was important to me. It’s important that the word get out there that living with HIV is not a death sentence anymore, you can live a long and healthy life. I can’t say I still don’t get nervous before a presentation, but once I’m warmed up it’s usually a piece of cake. I usually practice what I’m going to say the night before, and it really helps when you have a partner to practice with. That way you have somebody besides yourself listening to your presentation, and they are able to give you feedback on it.

    I would say you can really start speaking out anywhere, but probably keep it small at first. As long as you have the passion to educate, inform and help people you will be able to speak up anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you have the experience or not. Your passion will shine through.

    June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. As we observe this day, take time to create awareness and encourage testing. So, I challenge you to take the first step as well and speak out.

    Here are a few sites for additional information:

    Share with us the steps that  you take in observing this day.