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A Poem by Christa

April 2010

I was diagnosed in September 1998. I only came out in 2004 to my friends and family, but I began giving motivational talks in 2008. I enjoy helping others who are struggling with the shame of living with HIV.

I Want to Be Free

I want to be free, to be myself.
I want to be free of shame
as I walk, smile, enjoy life handed to me,

I want inner peace.
I want voices to stop. I miss the music.
I do, act and oblige to requests,
believing, hoping acceptance is a given,
but it's not.

I cannot breathe. I don't know how,
how to be myself, or whom to be.
My exterior is fused with an uninvited guest,
covered with shame,
ashamed that I am battling to disclose a secret,
in exchange for some peace.
No one wants to see this, talk about it...
questioning looks, don't you have any shame?
I do.

I am angry. I didn't want this, you.
It was an idea... your idea.
I thought I could be free.
I knew it would be short term.
I thought I could escape, have fun, and it was fun.
Funny that you were not even my final choice,
but I didn't mind.

Anything, just to exhale, to get some sense of release.
I blushed, flirted, smiled, giggled, laughed...
being myself, to some degree.
My toes curled, feeling, tasting your fresh breath resuscitate me.
The excitement reached its peak. I knew I couldn't hold for long.
I was terrified and excited simultaneously.

I could hear my shell cracking, warning me. I was getting closer,
tasting freedom on your lips, tearing the shackles.
I took the plunge, wanting this not to end.
I closed my eyes, let go, and exhaled, exposing my being,
merging the exterior and internal... wounds.

I shattered the shell, hoping you would ignore
the scars, the fresh wounds,
and continue to excite me.
I exhaled, giving in completely. Instantly I was free.
Instantaneously everything stopped. You froze, we both did.
The dark cloud overcame the light. The shock, rejection, pain,
reverberated in the core of my spirit, my soul.
The real me revealed, ruining the moment.

You were gone,
without even making a sound.

What happened?
I happened; I came alive, and killed all the life around me.
I groveled, picking up pieces of my wrecked shell,
calling out to you, to convince you,
It's okay.

But my voice couldn't reach.
I guess the shock and disgust blinded you,
deafened your senses.
Mine were alert, waiting for a savior,
maybe you.

Angels came, consoling, hugging,
and humming away the pain with soothing tunes.
I held on, covering the wounds, taking smaller breaths,
steps, looking over my shoulder hoping
you might return, knowing you would not.
The voices asked me repeatedly,
What were you thinking? Don't you have any shame?
I do.

Months later, back under my solid shell,
rearranging, adjusting. I open the door
to let in the sunrays, relieved
the majority of your footsteps have disappeared.

But you emerge. You...
You, the same you, with no excuse, or explanation, asking for me.
A collage of hurtful memories and excitement plays simultaneously.
What do I do?
If I, would you, maybe, what if, maybe... no answers.
Neither of us is willing to share.
I'm venting. You watch, no apology,
but a caress of my exterior
shatters my shell into pieces, all over again.

I know that touch. It turns me wild
and breaks me in the process.
I hold on trying to hide as you convince me,
This time it will be different.
I missed this, I enjoy this, but is it real this time, will you stay?
I give in, again.

To my surprise, the ecstasy is gone;
it's dull, like touching an old wound.
Delicate, soft and quick touches, with no meaning.
You must be disgusted; I'm disgusting.
Faking the excitement was a rescue, to save us both.
You must be revolted.
With eyes closed and your hands clutched, we lay silently,
fully clothed, bodies apart, only fabrics touching.
I want to be free. I need my home, my safety shell.

Where to from here?
Voices whisper, Give it your all,
before slamming the door shut.
Anything left to say?
The climax is over. There is no other beginning.
Being here or there feels the same. One thing remains.
I want to be myself, to be free.
Can you help me? Do I need you?

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This article was provided by 2010 Poetry Month at


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