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I'm over it
Aug 11, 1999

A friend revealed to me that he's positive because he needs someone to talk to who is also positive. At first I was glad to help and offer my experiences, knowledge and support. Unfortunately, I'm so over it that I can't feel what he's feeling anymore. It's been a few years since I had to "deal" with being HIV+ (now it's a matter of maintenance). I wonder if not only am I being a bad friend for not wanting to deal with his irrational thoughts at ungodly hours, but am I doing myself and/or the HIV/AIDS community a disservice by not being more involved. My friend gets very emotional when discussing how he has done this and that for AIDS oriented events for local organizations when all I want to do is get on with my life. Does that make me a hypocrite? Lots of wonderful things have been accomplished by those who are proactive, but I'm not that much of a fanatic about anything. How does someone like me give a little something back aside from dropping a few bucks in a jar to someone collecting money for an AIDS charity at the door to a club?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I think you are asking two different but important questions. The first is how available and empathetic you can be for this friend. There is not anything wrong in telling him that you do not accept phone calls before or after specific hours, since you say he calls you at "ungodly hours.". Similarly there is not anything wrong in being honest with him and telling him that though you are glad to be able to listen to him, you are so far removed form what he experienicng that you do not relate. This can help him see that at some point in the future he too may get to a place of emotional equilibrium about being HIV+.

At this point perhaps suggesting that he join a support group where he can meet othe people who are in the same or similar situation may be a helpful suggestion. By joining a group he can develop mutually supportive relationships with othets who are wrestling with learning to cope with living with HIV. It also sounds like you are burdened by how much he is dependinng upon you. This may be something else that you may need to discuss with him in a gentle manner.

The other question seems to be your own guilt about not being an AIDS activist. NOT everyone needs to be. If you do not honestly feel the pull to volunteer for an AIDS organization, give yourself a break about this. Michael Shernoff, MSW



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