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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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