Cry Me an Ocean (in the Desert)
By Philip D.
May 5, 2010
When I say that I've cried more in the past two and a half years than I have in the rest of my life combined, I'm not really exaggerating. Since my diagnosis, it seems almost anything can get me going. Though a funny thing happened on the way to the Kleenex box; I discovered that I'd actually been missing out on something that can be as relaxing as a massage, uplifting as Confession and doesn't cost a dime. I'm Philip D. and I love a good cry.
Lucky for me, my man is no stranger to criers. As a cognitive therapist, John has met his fair share but I have to admit, even he is amazed sometimes at what moves me to tears. Oh sure, lots of people let loose when they watch "Terms of Endearment" or "Beaches" and it's not so unusual to get misty at a lovely wedding, but how many people find themselves sobbing while watching "Extreme Home Makeovers" on a Sunday night? Okay, so maybe I did shed a tear or 2,000 at "The Blind Side," but just as often I'm moved because I'm overwhelmed by seeing something beautiful or witnessing a random act of kindness.
The first year there was so much "stuff" that required my immediate attention. Between finding a doctor/wingman, starting meds and becoming educated about my new life with HIV, I didn't have much time or energy to fully "feel" what was happening to me. So last May, I treated myself to five days of camping and yoga, with my friend Darren Main, surrounded by the serene beauty and harsh terrain of Joshua Tree National Park. It was my fourth time on this annual retreat so I was already looking forward to the healing power of the desert. For almost a week, I decided to forgo all the distractions and trappings of civilization (a phone, electricity, my bed, running water, etc.) and trade it for plenty of yoga, warm drinking water, healthy food, hiking and hanging out with some very chill yogis from all over.
One by one, every single inner wall that held all the anger, resentment, fear and shame that I had been accumulating, began to melt away and I started to cry like I have never cried before. In waves that varied greatly in intensity and in volume, all my emotions were being released through my eyes, running down my cheeks, and then dried away by the desert wind. Normally I would have backed off something so intense but instinctively I knew these toxic feelings had to be dispelled if I were ever to heal. Thankfully, I left all that "bad" in the desert that hot afternoon.
Sure, there are times when I think, "not this too, Philip" but then I figure, why not? It has no calories, no instructions, needs no assembly and you can't help but get better at it just through practice. You can do it in the morning or the evening, alone or with friends, at 30,000 feet or in the middle of the desert. It's completely legal, never becomes outdated and aside from the potential danger of dehydration, I can't come up with one single reason why I shouldn't.
A Positive Spin
After testing HIV positive in 2007, I promised myself that I would make something "good" from all that I was handed. From the very beginning, each time I was presented with an obstacle or challenge, I also received some help. Usually in the form of a person, sometimes an opportunity; but I have grown so much, it has made it impossible for me to call the past few years "bad." Although I've never written much of anything before, I have been so incredibly fortunate, I feel like I must pay it forward somehow. Maybe by sharing my experience, it will help those starting later in the game, on the fast track to HAART, or anyone that's feeling a bit isolated or "stuck" with their diagnosis.
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August 24, 2015 - If I Say His Name: A Blog Entry by Philip D.
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January 10, 2013 - Happy Anniversary, HIV. I Hate You. A Blog Entry by Philip D.
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