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I gave it to him...
Aug 13, 1997

I infected my partner and it is time for me to deal with this. I have known about myself for 4 years, but he has been afraid to get tested. He was negative when I tested positive, but has been afraid until recently. He says he always knew, but was quite depressed for a few weeks after the news (as was I). There is no doubt that I infected him, I never thought I would have been infected myself but I was. I'm having trouble forgiving myself, although my basic attitude is still optimistic that we will have many good years together. Still, we have not really talked about the fact that he got it from me. I find myself feeling so much regret sometimes, but it is difficult to even think about the subject so that I can deal with this. I feel the way I did when my father died, I was too busy dealing with the "issues" that I didn't stop to sort out feelings for months. I have had no feelings about this but the occasional regret, but not for long. Any ideas? Am I normal to have trouble addressing the issue, or do I need to address it at all? Am I just trying to have a "beat me up" party with an unwilling partner? He seems to have accepted it now and is beginning a drug regimen before me. I feel afraid to share my feelings with him without sounding trite. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I really feel for you. Clearly it is completely appropriate for you to have a lot of strong feelings about having infected your partner. From your letter it does seem that your way of handling a stressful situation is to get busy and take care of the details that need to be handled. This is very commendable, but it still leaves the feelings waiting to be integrated into the rest of your life.

Are you in therapy? If you are not, I think that this is a perfect opportunity for you to consider doing so. I believe that if you and your partner do not develop the skills necessary for you both to share your feelings with each other about this situation, and to really listen to how the other one feels, it will only create an intense negative dynamic between you. I am not in favor of any "beat up on you" party. What we are talking about here is each of you learning to articulate some extremely uncomfortable feelings, grow more vulnerable with each other, and then grow closer as a result of taking those kinds of emotional risks with each other. By doing this you can vastly strengthen your relationship and strengthen the foundation between you for any future crises. It will not be an easy process, but the rewards will almost certainly make it one of the most exhilarating investments you can make in your self and in your relationship.



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