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Very scared and sad, please help me
Oct 12, 1999

Hello. I'm crying as I'm writing to you, so please bear with me. I'm 27 years old and male. I always felt very lonely in my life and always played by the rules (got good grades, didn't abuse drugs, didn't have sex, etc.) Yet I was still criticized for everything and was very, very unhappy. Finally, several years ago I just flaked out and, after I realized I'm bisexual, embarked on a few relationships. A few were unsafe, but I just wanted to be loved so badly and to trust someone so badly...anyway a few years ago, I met the woman of my dreams and got married...we have a wonderful marriage...however, I was recently diagnosed with HIV. I am on medications and am very 'religious' about taking them. Everyone tells me that I am healthy and can look forward to a long life. My wife supports me and loves me (she is negative, thank God), but there's a gulf in our lives (she won't sleep in the same bed or drink from the same glass or kiss me on the lips). Everyone tells me that HIV/AIDS is no longer considered a terminal illness, but a chronic, manageable condition. I'm just so scared and feel I can't do anything right. When I played by the rules, everyone mocked me and criticized me because I wasn't perfect...I slip and get HIV. I can't talk to anyone about all this (except at therapy sessions, which I have just started). I don't want to die or get sick. I'm so paranoid about every little twitch and ache now...and I get tired easily. I believe in God and love God and pray...but I feel somewhat cheated (not by God). Just when things were looking up, I get this diagnosis. Especially when we have been planning a long life together with children. All I ever wanted was to be happy and loved. I try to trust my doctors when they say I can plan for a long, long future and not be so paranoid...but I have a hard time trusting people. And I feel so scared and so alone. Anything you could offer would be appreciated. God bless you.

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear friend---I have read and reread your letter several times and I feel very surrounded by the pain, fear, loneliness you express. If you were telling me this face to face right now I would ask if you would accept a simple hug as the beginning of response knowing that God would fill this gesture with a great amount of care, respect and support for you. I know from what you have said that there are decisions and incidents in your life which you would now like to undo and for which you feel regret and shame. I wnat to encourage you to find ways and words to forgive yourself and to invite others, including your wife and anyone you feel you have hurt to forgive you and also to open yourself to gestures of God's healing love. I also want to encourage you to live with HIV as a challenge and invitation to make healthy and positive and hopeful choices each day---important medication which is definitely non-toxic! I am glad that you have sought personal therapy and I also hope that you would consider other avenues of personal support--perhaps including support groups where there may be others who share some similar background to you. This could also help treat the feelings of isolation and give you an opportunity to offer support, care and hope to others. I will keep you in my prayers and invite you to keep in contact with me through this page or directly at the National Catholic AIDS Network (ncan.org). Blessings and peace, Fr. Rod



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