Curing Your Spirit of HIV
June 22, 2011
It usually starts with "He was charming ..." then the drama follows. By now, I am kind of used to this soap opera. However, the story of "Toxic" was unique. Toxic is not only a young charming man who is seeking a "soul mate unconfined by the norms of queer culture" as per his profile. He will write love poems to the guys he will meet and will paint pictures of their dreams about the perfect life. Toxic will take you in a walk in the park, and will kiss you under a tree. You will fly with him to the sky of love so fast and once you've touched the clouds ... he will drop you.
And when you ask him about why he chose Toxic as part of his screen name on the dating site, he will kill you with his smile first, then answer: "Because all other names were taken." But Toxic had a secret mission; he was out to date poz guys to break their hearts and cause them pain to the maximum. His goal is to cause the pain, watch it for a day and disappear after leaving a note explaining "it's his promise to hurt poz guys just as his ex-boyfriend cheated him and infected him four years ago."
The case of Toxic made me reflect a lot. This is not simply the stupid childish behavior of a mentally traumatized person; this is an issue of a bleeding spirit that has turned rabid, biting those who come close. I've heard similar stories before about those who infect others on purpose; I didn't trust the story of the poz boogeyman who is out to sleep with twinks who are HIV negative just to infect them. I Hitlerized those who warned of HIV poz people's desire to hurt others, because I couldn't accept the idea that a victim can hurt others. I thought that if you get hurt, you don't want others to be hurt. Big news: I was wrong. Still, this is the first time I'm witnessing a case where the revenge is directed towards poz people themselves.
When it comes to HIV, it's often said: "an HIV-positive person today lives almost as normal a life as anyone else." Almost? Hmm. Which part is causing this "almost"? Is it the health problems? All humans have health problems, it comes with the package. How much did your parents pay to get you? Exactly -- don't expect them to get a super baby for free. ... But back to the almost. ... Is it our one or few pills that we need to take every day as poz people that makes us different? Who among the general population doesn't take some pills, multivitamins or supplements every day? It must be something else. I believe it is the change inside your spirit that really weighs heavy.
Part of the Islamic wisdom is similar to any eastern wisdom. The focus is on the spirit, as a separate and superior being to the body. While today's debate is escalating on how many more years we have before we see a functional cure to HIV, few have reflected on the issue of curing the spiritual scars that HIV leaves on an infected person. The story of Toxic is a good example of an injured spirit. What good is it to have a body treated of HIV, if the spirit will remain sick?
Spirituality is much older than Freudian analysis; it helped nations for hundreds of years cope with hurdles. Today we have a crisis of spirituality; the majority of those living as professionals in the industrial world discard spirituality, or it is hijacked by some lunatic on a TV show, used to justify bigotry and racism to galvanize small ignorant groups to support a crazy political party or movement (would anyone like some tea?).
When the Dalai Lama was asked about the purpose of life, he answered: "To be happy." That could be shocking to come out of the man who is supposed to lead the philosophy of discarding worldly pleasures. However, the Dalai Lama was referring to true happiness. Spirit happiness is not about consumable things or temporary orgasms; it is deep, internally generated and rooted in the spirit.
As a Middle Eastern man, I see the western culture to be focused on the world of the touchable, satisfying bodily instincts; nothing is related to the other dimension, the unseen. For example, in Middle Eastern culture, when you plan to meet someone, people often say Inshallah: "If God wills," I will be there. They associate their will to come with the will of God. Therefore, if an accident happened on the way and they couldn't make it, it is because God's will intervened. This presence of the unseen world in my daily life helped in the past to explain a lot of things as not only the result of my own actions. Did this make me less responsible? No, but it helped lift the weight of blaming myself for every mishap in life.
"It's written," a beautiful Islamic philosophy that indicates, "everything in our life is written in the book of God, our story from birth to death." No way that you could have changed what happened in the past. Do not dwell. This lifts the weight of why you were infected, how and then what. You will become less consumed with questions that could lead nowhere, except injuring your spirit more. Accept it as it was meant to be for something good. Of course your will is still present within the will of God, but within limits: you cannot change the past! Focus on the future.
Remember: Your body is the jar that keeps your spirit focused and not shattered; your body needs to stay strong by the medications to strengthen your spirit in its fight against the evil energy that mirrors the virus in your body.
A Poz Salam
I'm Ibrahim, a 35-year-old professional Muslim man from the Middle East, living in the US. I want to fulfill my big dreams while holding strongly to my culture. My new identity as HIV positive changed my life in a strong way that I am still trying to understand and deal with. By sharing my experience, I'm trying to help myself and others in similar situations to find some peace -- and working on bringing the good change I believe every human must bring to this world. In my attempt to introduce TheBody.com's readers to my part of the world, I won't be taking you far -- I'll start right here, in the US.
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