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HIV+: The Common Denominator

By B. Osten

April 17, 2012

Twelve years ago I resigned myself to the notion that I would never share the rest of my life with anyone other than my dog. Today, I'm in a committed relationship with a wonderful person. I have adopted two other emotional support animals. Not to mention my partner has three of his own. For me, my partner and our emotional support animals were a big part of my recovery from meth addiction and still are in the management of my bi-polar disorder and HIV+ status. If it wasn't for their intervention in ways that I can only refer to as a blessing, I would have been long gone and forgotten.

How my partner and I met can only be explained as serendipity. Later in the relationship I found out that for years we frequented the same clubs and events. Somehow we never crossed paths. Until one Saturday night at a club reunion five years ago. When we accidentally bumped into each other rushing to the bar for last call. We opted out on the drink and took the last dance. For those few minutes the world ceased to exist around me. But, once the music stopped I knew the lights would come on and he would see what I saw in myself. So, I took a chance and blurted out as much as I could in the interlude. In one breath I told him I was HIV+, in recovery from meth addiction, on SSI disability and receiving Section 8 assistance. To tell you the truth, I don't know if I was reaching out to him or pushing him away. Anyway, the music stopped and the lights came on. I felt exposed. He tenderly took my hand into his and whispered into my ear that he was HIV+ also. From the tremble in his voice I could tell it wasn't something he shared lightly with others. I think that was the common denominator until we got to know each other better.

We began dating and exchanged commitment rings a year later. On the first day of Spring we celebrated our fifth anniversary at home watching a movie in bed with our six dogs, all interlocked like a jigsaw puzzle and felt for the first time in my life that all the pieces fit perfectly together.

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See Also
Ten Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being

Reader Comments:

Comment by: poznsafe (newark, NJ) Sat., Apr. 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm EDT
This was so beautiful & really let a person with HIV know that there is hope & love is right around the corner. I'm just waiting for my moment like this were I can comfortably let my status out, I might meet that one like how you did. Congrats & I hope the best years for you & your partner.
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Comment by: AJ (Tampa Bay) Fri., Apr. 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm EDT
Happy Endings....one thing I struggle with is that i am in recovery from meth but that doesn't mean I can have a drink or smoke a joint...I have read many stories and they are all free of meth, but can still party in other ways...this makes my head spin
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Comment by: James (London, UK.) Fri., Apr. 20, 2012 at 6:45 am EDT
Thank you for that short and well-written and very touching report, B. Osten.

Reaching out to others, be they humans or creatures, is the only way forwards.

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Comment by: Megan (Washington, DC) Thu., Apr. 19, 2012 at 9:50 pm EDT
Reading stories like this give me hope.
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Comment by: Dan (New York, NY) Thu., Apr. 19, 2012 at 9:04 pm EDT
What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing and for providing a hopeful light at a very long and dark tunnel. Many blessings to you and your partner!
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Comment by: Mike (Washington, DC) Thu., Apr. 19, 2012 at 6:41 pm EDT
This is beautiful. Thank you for posting!

If someone is living alone, rather then live, sadly, I say, learn to live & love, what life is for you now. It is possible to hear the birds sing and sing along just as happy as they are.

Like you, I openly say, who I am and how I live. I find most, are turned off, even ones with hiv. I'm open to a relationship, it hasn't happened yet. I'm happy with my life. It makes me feel good to hear of such a couple. :}}}}
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Comment by: Mike (Washington, DC) Thu., Apr. 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm EDT
Beautiful. I tell from the getgo myself. Thank you for sharing. I hope, this gives 'hope' to others. :}
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Comment by: m (uk) Thu., Apr. 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm EDT
wonderful xx
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Comment by: Emilio V S (Orlando Florida , UNITED states of america) Wed., Apr. 18, 2012 at 8:44 am EDT
23 years ago I resigned myself to the notion that i would never share the rest of my life with anyone, today im still thinking the same way, i know i will die alone, thank you
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Gregory (Los Angeles, CA) Thu., Apr. 19, 2012 at 3:02 am EDT
I know being HIV positive or living with AID'S can be overwhelming but expressing sarcasim or resentment toward someone who has found some form of happiness is uncalled for.It was a beautiful story.
Comment by: James (London, UK.) Fri., Apr. 20, 2012 at 6:46 am EDT
Emilio of Orlando, I somehow think you need to do the same as B.Osten. You didn't need to consciously decide not to share your life with anyone 23 long years ago. However, all is not lost. At any moment you can reverse that decision, and let happiness and fulfilment into your life. Your life is largely what YOU choose to make it.


Comment by: Jeannie Wraight (Bronx, New York) Tue., Apr. 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm EDT
That was beautiful. I'm so happy that you found happiness.
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Positive Thinking


B. Osten

B. Osten

I've been living with HIV for 26 years. I volunteer at various AIDS organizations in my community in the day. At night I like to spend my time at the observatory. I couldn't tell you the names of all the planets offhand, or what a black hole is for sure. But, there isn't a day that goes by I haven't looked up at the night sky and thanked my lucky stars I'm still alive to enjoy it.


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