Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Take a Deep Breath: Living with HIV Is like Learning to Hold Your Breath under Water

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Take a Deep Breath: Living with HIV Is like Learning to Hold Your Breath under Water

Article excerpt

LIFE CAN SEEM like an endless barrage of accolades and reprimands, and we hardly notice how each one propels us from one moment to the next. While the thrill of achievement is fleeting at best, the fallout from a mistake seems like an endless free fall.

When it comes to HTV, those who live with the virus often feel as if it's the ultimate mark against them, forever diminishing future deeds and successes. But this feeling--whether it stems from HIV or any other regrets--is a result of self-induced shame and guilt.

To be frank, it is complete and total bullshit.

Think about it. A life without mistakes or missteps is not a life at all, or at least not one that sounds very exciting. A life worth mentioning is filled with excitement and regret, love and heartbreak, adventures and mistakes--and yes, the risk of catching an STI.

Sure, it's a good idea to avoid what will obviously harm you (sexually or otherwise). But personal growth comes from the aftermath of doing things we regret. Unfortunately, the social stigma and blinding fear associated with HIV often hinders people from seeing that truth.

Many poz people choose to live in the shadow of their former selves and begin to accept they will never have that life back. Meanwhile, the pieces are sitting in front of them waiting to be put together again--into a new, improved, restored, renovated, and upgraded self.

Living with HIV can be like learning to hold your breath under water. Your lungs feel as if they're going to explode, and you want to escape to anywhere but here. …

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