June 7, 2010
So, it's after Friday night's exchange with my teammate, whose name I shall not use as he asked oh so politely that I not do so. And even though I would be completely justified in ignoring a request that was made so lovingly, I will go ahead and respect the request boxed inside the venom.
I have been struggling hard core since Friday night. Today, I finally came to the astounding conclusion that the voice that I keep hearing, in Dolby Digital Stereo Surround Sound, repeating that I am a piece of shit isn't my teammate's voice, it's my own.
Frankly, I have no power over the opinion that someone else has of me. I suppose if I lived my life in a cubicle and never made any mistakes, small or fucking huge as I have done, then I suppose, controlling for all that, I could influence someones opinion of me. But change it? Nope ... that's not a power I have.
But I can interrupt those tapes inside of me that are determined to keep me kicking my own ass until my motherfuckin' foot falls off or gets wedged somewhere in my colon.
Colostomy, table of one, please.
Now ... considering the voice that has declared that I am a piece of shit is, in fact, a part of my own psyche, which means, technically, I do have control over it, one would assume that one could just flip the off switch and away it would go. Unfortunately, to get to the off switch you have to wade hip deep in the Bog of Eternal Stench, with giant leeches the size of Rush Limbaugh's ass trying to suck the life out of you, as you have to do a back hand spring through a mine field covered in old syringes filled with nitroglycerin and all piled on top of a nuclear warhead that goes by the nick name of Bubbles and is on a hair trigger held by a 98 year old man with cerebral palsy and the DTs.
But if you can get through all of that, well, by all means, turn that switch right off ... and ... while you're at it ... cure AIDS, homelessness, and cold fusion.
So, since I am not Mary Lou Retton inside of a cybertronic Voltron-on-steroids intergalactic gymnastics suit, I get to sit with the mother fucking feelings until I can get a handle enough on them to step outside of my front door.
This weekend I did a lot of isolating and a lot of hiding. I didn't go to the gym. I skipped my softball games, and it took a supreme act of will and effort to go to the BBQ and Hummus parties that I attended. It took all of my energy to put on my happy face and go play well adjusted and normal for several hours at a stretch.
But that's just it ... I'm not normal. No matter how much I want to be, I am not normal. I am a recovering meth addict that is HIV positive. No matter how much I want those two things to be different. They won't be. Not in this lifetime. No matter how much I want to be just like everyone else (well, ok ... even if I were not a positive addict, I am too fuckin' weird to be just like everyone else), but no matter how drunk I get or high I get to permission myself to act like a self-absorbed person just looking for a little human contact without any barriers, I don't get to be that person anymore. This fucking (these fucking) disease have taken that away. And though it is fucked up, foul, wrong, unjust, uncool, and just plain oppressive that people living with HIV are held to a higher, different standard of behavior (ie ... if a straight guy and girl fuck without a condom and the girl gets pregnant, no one gets called a piece of shit ... if two dudes are on a three day meth binge with needles in every vein but neither of them IS or KNOWS that they are HIV positive ... they might get called stupid but they aren't a piece of shit ... if two guys get drunk and fuck without a condom ... and one is unsure of his status or both are and neither knows for sure ... they aren't a piece of shit ... get the picture?) but positive folks ... that fuck up just like every other sexually active person FUCKS UP does so ... we (I) are moral reprobates, intentional bastards, pieces of shit, fucked up, inhuman, demonic (let's pretend this is a MadLib ... insert your favorite negative dehumanizing adjective here), etc., ad infinitum.
There is ill intent assigned to what we were doing instead of asking ... what ... other than a demonic and devilish desire to cause harm ... could possibly motivate someone to get drunk and/or high and have unprotected sex even when they know that they are HIV positive, or worse, lie about their status? Hmmmm ... asking that question forces people to look to damn closely at their own desperate desire to fit in, be loved, be, dare I say, normal.
I mean, I can't imagine why someone would do such a dastardly thing. I mean ... our society loves, values, and in no way stigmatizes HIV positive people, does it? I mean, I have never been in a club and heard folks talking about this or that person that is positive and how they can't believe anyone would sleep with them? I mean, I have never been interested in someone, disclosed my status, and watched their face shut down and despite their insistence that it doesn't really matter, they never call back? I mean, I don't see imagery on TV and in the media about how FAGS deserve AIDS and deserve to die. I mean, I didn't grow up with Fred Phelps telling me that I got what I deserved. I mean, I didn't learn messages that it was ok to have HIV if you got it through a blood transfusion or through a surgical accident (which meant you were to be pitied instead of reviled) but if you got it through consensual, even if stupid, unprotected sex then you got what you deserved. I mean, on top of racism and homophobia, adding being HIV positive to the mix of ones life isn't too fucking much so that sometimes you are willing to do anything and go to any lengths JUST TO FEEL THE WAY THAT EVERYONE ELSE GETS TO FEEL ALL THE TIME ... AKA wanted, desired, loved, valued, beautiful, caring, cared for, and cherished -- even if all those things are found only in a 30 minute hook up with someone, somewhere ... that you never see again.
Silly silly me. Feeling untouched, unwanted, and completely disconnected from everyone around you while walking the streets in a city of almost 9 million people is normal. Right?
But, guess what, I get to change that too. I can't change what I've done. I've said that before. But I can change what I am going to do. I can't change what other people think of me, but I am changing the way that I think and feel about myself.
And I will tell you one damn thing, I am NOT running away. Not this time, not ever again. So, I sent an email to my softball team letting them know that I will be showing up this weekend for the games. And I will show up the next week and the week after. It is going to be, for me, awkward as fuck showing up at our meeting spot for this weekend's games. But I am going. Because if I don't go ... it isn't my vitriolic teammate that wins, it's the voice in my head telling me that I am a piece of shit that wins.
And that motherfucker has won quite enough thank you. It's MY turn now.
This piece originally appeared in Brandon's blog My Feet Only Walk Forward.