Love at what price ?
Oct 11, 1999
Dr. Shernoff , I was diagnosed with hiv in 1996. Shortly after diagnosis (like 3 months) I started a relationship with a charming hiv negative man . At first he was accepting of my being hiv positive , went with me to all my Drs appointments ,cooked me meals ,took me on vacations , told me he wanted to be together for the rest of our lives . Unfortunately I bought it and he slowly became abusive . Very gradually he became verbally abusive ( Then said he was so sorry with gifts promises great sexual desire ). Then it turned physical . He hit me hard enough in the side of the head to shatter my eardrum . I lost consciousness . I woke up with my left side covered in blood from my shoulder to kneecap and needed a MRI to determine if I had brain damage . I woke up after this incident and understood my boyfriend did not ever love me I was part of his power problems . Promptly I filed and put him in prison for my saftey and His own . I was that angry . I'm happy to say Im finally over the feelings of grief and the betrayal and Im back in control of my life I have a great new job , a new place and a new boyfriend . The only problem is I don't want any sexual contact anymore .I have it to please my boyfriend but as infrequently as I can like once a week . It no longer feels safe to me .I trusted an ex who claimed he was tested and I got hiv for that mistake . It doesnt feel like connecting anymore it feels like a struggle for leverage and power between two people .Intimacy and love used to hook you and break your spirit . The thing is I dont like feeling this way . Im aware somthing is wrong with me now . I want closeness but not if the price is my own destruction .What was I doing wrong to have people like the last men enter my life ? How can I tell if my present b/f is the same way only its hidden right now ? Do some people live a life being celibate ? Is this an acceptable alternative or do I need counseling ?
Response from Mr. Shernoff
Whether or not you need counseling has very little to do with whether you choose to live a celibate life. You are already way ahead of many other people who have been physically abused, you are not in denial about the reality of the situation, and you took actions to end it. This is great, and are important aspects of recovering from an abusive relationship.
But from what you say, a great many of the psychic scars are still there and have not begun to heal. For this you certainly might want to think of consulting a mental health professional who is an expert in helping people recover from abuse and domestic violence. From my clinical experience your becoming sexually shut down is a very ordinary symptom that indicates that you have not yet done the internal mental and emotional work that is required in order for you to continue to heal even more. Professional counseling, but only with someone who has expertise in this area, is very often necessary in order to be able to do the work necessary that can help you continue to heal these terrible mental and emotional wounds. Good luck. It will not be easy, but in the long run, I promise you that it will have been worth all the effort and energy you expend. Michael Shernoff, MSW
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