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MY BOYFRIEND NO LONGER CARES ABOUT ANYTHING!!!!!!
May 14, 1998

WE ARE BOTH HIV POSITIVE.I CONTRACTED IT FROM HIM.WHAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND IS THAT THIS DISEASE HAS MADE ME REALIZE THAT EVERY MOMENT WE HAVE HERE ON EARTH IS SO PRECIOUS.NOT ONE MINUTE SHOULD BE WASTED.MY BOYFRIEND ON THE OTHER HAND HAS STOPPED CARING ABOUT EVERYTHING,MOST IMPORTANTLY,HIMSELF.I WISH THAT I COULD MAKE HIM SEE THAT THERE IS SO MUCH TO LIVE FOR,REGARDLESS OF THIS TERRIBLE DISEASE THAT WE HAVE.I WANT TO SPEND EVERY LIVING MOMENT WITH HIM,BUT I CANNOT SEEM TO DO THAT BECAUSE OF THE WAY THAT IT IS AFFECTING HIM.HE IS STILL DOING DRUGS,HEAVIER THAN EVER BEFORE.HE STEALS AND LIES ALL THE TIME.HE DOESN'T EVEN CARE ABOUT HIS ONLY SISTER ANYMORE.I DON'T KNOW HOW TO HELP HIM.IT IS SO FRUSTRATING TO WATCH HIM THROW AWAY WHAT COULD BE THE BEST YEARS OF HIS LIFE.I WOULD DO ANYTHING TO HEP HIM IF I ONLY KNEW WHAT TO DO.I HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING,DRUG REHAB,COUNSELING,PSYCHIATRISTS.NOTHING HAS WORKED.I DON'T WANT TO GIVE UP ON HIM.WE ARE BOTH ALONE IN THIS STRANGE CITY AND WE NEED EACH OTHER.PLEASE HELP US!!!!

Response from Mr. Shernoff

There are several things about your letter that really are disturbing. The first is that you say that the two of you are alone in a strange city. Why is that? Haven't you reached out to the local AIDS service organization to join a support group for people living with HIV? Research has documented that people with HIV who have strong supports do better over the long run. Please contact the local AIDS group and inquire about a group, at least for yourself, so you will have a lot of support and not feel so dependant upon someone else who sounds very self destructive and depressed.

In addition, if your boyfriend is using drugs and you are trying to help him, something which is literally impossible unless he wants to be helped, you need to RUN to Al-Anon in order to learn how to help yourself detach from focusing so much on him and trying to fix him and his problems and learn to put the focus on your self. This will not be easy, but ultimately your survival, both emotionally and physically may depend on your taking this action.

I hear that you love him and that your attitude about living int he moment sounds exactly right on the target, but he sounds like an emotional albatross around your neck, bringing you down. You sound so desperate and that so much of your life revolves around this other person who sounds like a real loser. If he is depressed and unhappy and still using drugs and refuses to get help, an important question is why do you remain with him? I hear that you love him and are frightened to be on your own. So you need to meet other people socially, I am not saying you need to date and go out with other people, but you definitely do need to make other friends, otherwise his negative attitude can very easily bring you down.

I also think that as scary as it sounds, you need to find out if he loves you as much as you love him. One way of doing this is to give him an ultimatum that unless he begins to get help for himself by seeking out counseling and an AIDS support group as well as drug treatment so the two of you can enjoy your lives together and stops feeling sorry for himself then you will leave him. I know that this sounds harsh, but it is only presenting him with a possible motivation to get out of the rut he has fallen into. You can not make this ultimatum to him unless you are willing to follow through on it. Never make an idle threat. In order for you to become that strong you will need the help and support that I have suggested above, and perhaps also your own individual counseling.

It is always devastating to see someone we love ruin their lives when we are powerless to do anything to help them. One choice we do have is whether we behave in a way that allows the person to continue doing exactly what is so self-destructive by idly standing by our man, when this is exactly the wrong thing to do both for him and for ourselves. It is going to be a very rough time for you no matter which course you decide to take.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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