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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Monday Reflection: Being the Best You!

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

April 23, 2012

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

Being honest with yourself is hard. Especially on those things that are not cute. Those things that seem to nag and tap away at you and leave an ounce of insecurity. If we are honest about it, we all have something. Maybe it stems from childhood or maybe it's something that developed over the years, but we all have that one thing and some of us have more, that just eats away at us and when people start touching on it in some kind of way, we get defensive, we shut down, we cuss and we hide. Your personality type typically determines how you react.

Yep, I'm a living witness. For as strong and self assured that I am, I have them too. A biggie is that hoe thing. You know, "She must be hoe because she has HIV and herpes," and my type-A personality gets people right straight with that shit. "Ain't nobody giving away no pussy over here," I say boldly.

Yep, I say, "I was doing it in the name of love," when in honesty, it doesn't matter how you doing it, you are still giving that person a part of you that you can never get back.

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Somehow I've come to terms with it over the years. I'm solid more or less. Maybe because I've shared so much of my dating and sex life with the public, it has had some kind of liberating affect on me. As it stands now, I'll share just about anything and not think twice. So when people go there, I more or less use it as an educating opportunity for me.

Yep, we all have them, those things that will get us hot mad if a person even goes there, even get near there. Now that the sex thing seems to have less of an impact on me these days, the God thing certainly takes center stage; And I get HOT MAD!

Yep, that God thing. If someone questions my faith or even comes close to it, I get them right straight, with my hands on my hips. Now, I understand that my ministry is unorthodox, but God can use anything and I wish everybody could see through my lenses or read some of the heartwarming e-mails I get about how my tweets, my speaking engagements and my blog have touched them, changed them, made them better -- and I'm using their words.

But people don't see those and they tend to judge by their own history and journey. Yep, people say to me all the time, You call yourself a Christian the way you cuss; you call what you do ministry, you don't act like no minster; you call yourself a Christian and you were fornicating, thats how you got HIV.

And truth be told, I'm still kinda sort of fornicating, but not in these days with a broke down vagina and a commitment to only be with men who value me and not just what's between my legs.

I haven't had sex in almost two years now and the last guy I was with, I thought for sure, I would be his wife, but ummm, he didn't see himself as God intended and with that fact, I had to move on with my life.

Yep, some of you will even have contention with what I just said. I call y'all the Super-Saved Christians always putting lifestyle in front of salvation. But I'm not defending my faith today, I'm talking about a larger issue. Moving past your issues, to be the best person for you and each person you encounter. Ok, I'm being honest here and some of you still may have an issue with what I'm saying, shrugs. I'm making the first BIG step of releasing it and maybe you should too.

Let me tell you how I got here:

About a week ago, Sophia, a writer who follows me on Twitter, retweeted one of my blog posts. As a result, I received this tweet from another woman and it said:

This article is powerful. As a health professional I agree. As a Christian woman -- I am saddened. Bless you Rae.

Now it seems like she was saying something nice to me, but I'ma be honest, I didn't understand the Christian thing, like why had she singled that out? So I tweeted her for clarification:

I would like to understand what you mean, "as a Christian woman," because I'm one too.

Then I followed up:

In fact, I'm a minister with a Master of Divinity Degree.

The lady didn't respond, but her daughter did. SHOCKED! The woman Sophia who originally tweeted my blog was the daughter of the woman who had tweeted me. Never know who the heck you tweeting. Yep, just as I was sort of getting clarification to defend my honor, she was sort of getting clarification to defend her mother.

Sophia Tweeted:

Hey Rae you are addressing my mom there. She was simply saying that she as a Christian woman was sad this happened two you.

Her Second Tweet:

Here we go giving our credentials. #SistersHeal good grief -- always ready to POUNCE no one is questioning your faith sister.

Now, I have to also admit Twitter can get you some kinda mad at a person. In 140 characters a tweet can be misinterpreted quickly. So I backed away from it, basically because I like Sophia and, ummmm, this was someone's mother, someone's grandmother, so basically I said, blame it on Twitter not my heart and honestly I didn't take ownership to my POUNCE.

In reality it was a combo of both. I mean this is someone's grandmother, she's not Twitter-savvy like some of us, so what she tweeted in kindness, I interpreted in judgment.

On the flip side, Sophia was letting me know, back off, this is my mother, and at the same time trying to balance what she said with her work around sisterhood. Now, I wasn't totally happy with her tweet either, I played it over in my head what her mother had tweeted and it still kinda had me ruffled up and her thing about my credentials, shrugs. But I backed off and we kept right on tweeting each other.

Then yesterday, I read an article that Sophia Nelson wrote for Essence.com and "Get Lifted Sisters: It's Time to Let The Healing Begin" and I had the BIGGEST Aha Moment. It's worth the read, there is great advice from some phenomenal women. Click here to read.

While I already knew many of the things in this particular article -- in fact, I use these ideas with my Life Coaching clients -- there seemed to be a disconnect in my own life around this particular issue of my faith and my work.

Reading Sophia's article made me face the realization that I had not faced the realization that I have insecurities about how other people see my work. I'm provocative and unorthodox and that has left me at the scrutiny, judgment and even wrath of others and that has left me in defensive mode.

I have threatened to write a many blogs defending my work. I even have one written in response to someone's comment on my blog months ago, but I didn't post it for fear of even more judgment.

I've been harboring all these bad feelings and that is not good for my health. Yep, holding onto how I feel about people telling me that I am "ungodly" and that my work does not represent the best that Christ has to offer.

So, today I'm taking the first step at healing. Sometime today, I will post my one blog that I wrote months ago but never published, about my faith and my work and I'm done. I am releasing this to God.

I want nothing to interfere with how we should truly treat one another. I want to be able to approach this and every topic in a conversation rather than confrontation. Now, that does not mean I will change my methodology, provocative is what I am. But I want to change what's at my core driving the ugly. I want to have a clear heart about all things in my life. I'm trying to be the best me that I can be as I move into this next decade.

I understand that when you are the best you, then that's what you give to others!!!

Post Script: I ordered Sophia Nelson's book today. Can't wait to read it. Yes, I will give you a review ... Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama ... Click Amazon here to order.

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS

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Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

Rae is an active user of social media -- read "Long-Term HIV Survivor Discovers the Power of Twitter," an article on TheBody.com about Rae's social media activities.

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