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Davis L. Hawkins

i want to take this opportunity to share...
      #448 - 03/30/00 05:13 PM

My name is Davis and I want to take this opportunity to share
with you for a few minutes what a significant impact the current
situation that I find myself in has had on my life. On October 8,
1988 I was diagnosed as being HIV+. I was a gay man and had been
in a relationship with someone for seventeen years. The
relationship had terminated only a few months prior and I was
still reeling from the changes that had brought and was sure to
continue to bring to my life. I had attributed much of my weight
loss and general ill health to the relationship breaking up, even
though it was something I had tried for years to get up the
courage to do, it was still a very emotional period to go
through. My health continued to deteriorate until I was down to
112 pounds and looked like, as my friend says, I had one foot in
the river and the other foot on a slippery rock. Finally with
nowhere else to turn I went to my family doctor and he tested me
for the virus that causes AIDS and the test was positive. I felt
as though I had done something terrible to deserve this
diagnosis. I am, what I have come to realize, one of the lucky
people that; number one: was able to immediately confide what I
had learned to my family and; number two: to be accepted and
supported by my family. Many in my situation are not blessed with
an understanding family. My sister who lived many miles away was
immediately at my side. My closest cousin who lives thousands of
miles away became heavily involved with the AIDS support
organization in the part of New England she was living in. Even
with this outpouring of love and understanding from my family I
was spiraling down into a deep depression that I could see no way
out of. I had a history of alcohol and drug abuse that didn't
help the situation in the least and now with my current situation
I was in a position to ask for prescription drugs to help me not
feel anything. My condition worsened until I was contemplating
suicide and praying for death to take me. Then, what I have come
to consider divine intervention, happened to me. One of the
requirements of my employer for disability benefits was that I
apply to the Social Security Administration for disability
benefits. Then they would supplement the government benefits to
satisfy the level of benefit provided by my company. Well I had
all the forms filled out and I had my interview with the Social
Security representatives and the decision was that I was to be
denied benefits. When I asked the basis on which this decision
was made I was told rather reluctantly that it was the
determination of the board of experts, that reviewed my case,
that I was going to live beyond the one year life expectancy
requirement, therefore I would be denied benefits from the
government on that basis. I was furious! How dare them tell me
that I was going to have to live feeling like this for more than
a year! I couldn't stand the thought of it. I was desperate. I
called my doctor and told him I had to see him immediately. His
nurse worked me into his schedule and the minute he saw me he
knew that there was something desperately troubling me. I told
him the decision of the SSA and that I couldn't take it. I told
him I wanted to do something about it. I didn't know what, but I
had to do something. He told me that in the emotional state that
I was in he only had two alternatives. One was to increase my
current medication levels; that could of at that time probably
quieted an angry mob or he could refer me to a therapist to see
if I could work through some of these issues with professional
psychiatric assistance. The big part of the miracle was that
something finally told me that the drugs were not the answer.
Something told me that the answer was being offered to me and all
I had to do was be willing to accept it. I took the referral and
went to see the therapist. After my first assessment visit, that
I would discover later was prescribed as death counseling, my
therapist determined that my primary and immediate problem was my
out of control addiction to drugs and alcohol. We set out from
the very beginning to get me clean and sober first and then to
begin to peal back the layers of the proverbial onion to uncover
the true basis for my current state of being. I joined an
outpatient program where I learned about addiction and alcoholism
and I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotic Anonymous,
ALANON, and CODA. These are all twelve step programs that are
spiritually based and work by others helping people like
themselves. I was dying not of AIDS, but of something they call
"Terminal Uniqueness" in the twelve step programs. That is to say
that I felt like I was all alone. I felt as though no one else
knew what I was going through, what terrible thoughts were
passing through my mind, but at my first meeting I felt an
immediate connection to the people that were there to share with
me that they knew what I was feeling and had felt very similar
things in the past, but they had found a better way and the
miracle was that they were more than willing to share that
miracle with me. I stand before you as a person who's life has
made a 360 degree turn since that first encounter with the people
that I have come to feel such gratitude and love for. Since the
fog lifted from my brain as the drugs and alcohol left my body,
the person that emerged is one that has come to cherish a
completely different set of values. My spiritual growth has been
immense. I have found a new and abundant faith from this
experience. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. My
health and my body began to grow stronger as my level of faith
developed and grew. By continuing to work on my issues through
therapy and support groups and learning to take better care of
myself I was able in the course of a year to feel so much better
that I told my employer that I was ready to return to work. All
this took place in the part of the country I was born and raised
in, the coastal regions of Texas. My company relocated me to the
Charlotte area a little over a year ago and it was here that I
truly felt as though I had come to the time in my life to be
involved. To do what I could do to help others that may not know
what I have learned. To be willing to share with others that
hopelessness and despair are but a place where I once was. Today
I treasure things that are much different than before. Each day
of my life is a loving and precious gift from God. My faith, my
family, and my friends are my most valuable possessions and with
them I will never again feel like I am alone. Thank you for this
opportunity to share this with you. God bless and may your angels
watch over and protect you always. Thank you. Davis L. Hawkins

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