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Monday Reflection: Accepting the Bad, for Your Good

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

December 27, 2010

As the year is coming to a end one can't help but to reflect on the last 12 months. For me, it was one hell of a year. There's some stuff I want to tell but I think the best place to spill my guts on that madness is a therapist's office. For Real!

Sometimes shit happens and you get caught up in trying to figure out how the hell you got there. And the recovery from it all is worse than the original fallout. Can I get a witness? From my mess though I've learned a few things. One, I'm stronger than I think. Two, no person or thing is worth compromising your values. And lastly, sometimes God does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves. For Real.

So don't get stuck in the pain of it all falling apart. Sometimes what we want interferes with God's plans for our lives. Grandmama used to say, "God takes care of fools and babies." Looking back, I'm coming into acceptance of this very fact and taking that fact into my new year. I'm remembering the good and acknowledging the bad as a way to move on. And I am moving on!

What's the point in staying miserable another year? One should be able to grow from every darn experience we have. When you get stuck in the mess, it takes on a life of it's own. I don't know about you, but I got enough stuff going on in my life to hold on to baggage that can't be unpacked. So I'm leaving the suitcase with all that shit right on the side of the road and moving on.

You gotta know when to hold 'em, you gotta know when to fold 'em. For Real!

You also gotta come to an acceptance of the things you cannot change in your life. My love life, well I can change that. On the other hand, my health is another can of worms. And this has been one of the worst and complicated years I've had in a long time. My doctor even said so a couple of weeks ago. It's complicated, more so then any man I've ever loved.

My t-cell and viral load is great. So on the surface I should be great, but I'm not. I've had to have IV medication to treat a recurrent infection four times this year. To make matters worse, this problem I'm having with my stomach seems to have a life of it's own. First, it was some kind of viral thing/food poisoning. Then I had to have a drug holiday because my stomach was so sensitive I couldn't even smell food without getting sick and my HIV medication made it worse. At the end of the month long holiday, I still had to have an endoscopy and three stomach bioscopies. They discovered a bacterial infection that required me to take 16 pills a day on top of the 15 pills of HIV medication I already take, for 14 days. By the time I finished it all, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but my stomach was not that much better. Which is where I'm at now; at a stand still.

I have non-stop nausea, no appetite, and when I do eat, no matter how little, it feels like I've eaten 20 times more. I have on and off diarrhea that comes from nowhere. And to make matters worse, I don't always make it to the bathroom in time. The GI specialist is saying that my brain is not telling my stomach what to do, so my GI tract is not working properly. It's called Functional Bowel Syndrome. I had never heard of such a thing. But it's a fact that the stomach and mind are connected. My regular doctor says she's not surprise. I've been under so much stress with my health that now I've become sick as a result of being sick. And if the truth be told, I'm sure all the other crap in my life, on top of my health has only added to my stomach issues. Stress is not good for anyone. It is especially not good for people with a weak immune system. And that's another good reason to leave the bag on the side of the road.

Rae Lewis-Thornton

But back to my health, they started me on some medication, but basically, it is not that cut and dried. Over time, they say I will get better. So with that knowledge I'm accepting what I cannot change and trying to get to a place where I can function. Feeling sick all the time ain't cute, but it is what it is. As always, I will continue to work on my projects. I mean can't change how I'm feeling. I have the best doctors on top of it. I'm doing what they have requested, the rest is up to time and God. No point in adding more stress to something I can't change. Plus, I never understood people who become so miserable because of their health, that they make everyone else around them miserable.

Yep, this has been one year full of difficultly. Let's not even get on the fact that I have had almost no speaking engagements. I don't get it. Speaking has dried up at a time when more African-Americans are even more impacted by HIV. In the larger picture, when I'm not speaking, money is not coming in and my financial stability is threatened more and more each day. I think this has been my worst year financially since I was 17 and homeless. But I'm accepting that too. Adjusting to whatever changes I gotta make. Not spending money I don't have. Move past the shame of telling a friend that I can't afford to go to lunch or dinner. There should be no shame in the truth. I have also learned that you can make it on less than you ever thought you could.

Yep, I have had one tough year! Without a doubt, the bad tipped the scales, but it didn't kill me. I'm still standing!!! And more than standing, I'm living in my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I go into 2011, I'm coming into acceptance about the things I cannot change. Making the necessary adjustments to make the best out of what stands before me. We all should do that!

Tea With Rae

Next Monday, my Reflection will be on my new chapter. Taking the good from this past year and building on it. Accepting the bad for what it is. In the end, I will use it all for a better year ahead. No point in reflecting if you aren't gonna use it to #doBetter.

Don't forget to check out Friday's Blog "Tea With Rae," and enter the raffle to have tea with me at the Peninsula Hotel. Also Tea With Rae Logo T-Shirts are available.

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See Also
10 Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being
Depression and HIV
Feeling Good Again: Mental Healthcare Works!
More Personal Viewpoints on Coping With HIV

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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks

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.

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