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Life Is Not a Fairy Tale

January 4, 2011

Life Is Not a Fairy Tale

I grew up watching all of the Disney princess movies, and dreamed that one day I would find my own Prince Charming. Well, I found the man I thought was Prince Charming, but the relationship did not work out. And he gave me HIV. But when does make-believe ever come true? I am now looking for the guy who is right for me.

I discovered that I was HIV positive seven years ago, in 2003. Since then I have learned a lot about what it means to value myself. Ironically, it's been the information I've learned and the experiences I've had since getting the virus that have caused my self-confidence, self-love and sense of independence to shoot through the roof. All of this started when I began to understand that I have value. Not only do I now have a strong sense of self-worth, but I am proud of the amazingly strong woman I have evolved to be.

Of course, most people assume that because I have HIV, I have not been in a relationship. I can assure you that this is not the case. I have had several takers--men who are HIV positive and men who are HIV negative. But unlike during my pre-HIV days, I am no longer impressed with bling-bling and fancy cars. I no longer believe in fairy tales or fairy tale endings. And I am definitely not desperate to have a man.

Before, men used to think my body was sexy; today they are attracted to my positive characteristics. I used to feel good when the man I was seeing told me he loved me. Now I laughingly say, "You should. What is there not to love about me? But thank you for communicating, baby. Kisses!" I used to get chills up and down my spine when a man told me I was beautiful. Now I answer: "I already know that, but thank you for reassuring and reminding me, baby. Hugs!"

I do not settle just because I have HIV. In fact, I would not dare date someone whom I would not date if I were HIV negative. A man actually had a better chance of getting a date with me before I had HIV. These days, I am picky and have standards, and any man I'm going to have a relationship with needs to fulfill all of them. Since I have come to embody strength, courage, beauty and ambition, why would I settle for a man who is lacking in those areas? I need a man with goals and dreams.

After a speaking engagement, a young woman approached me and asked, "Do you think that when you get a man, he will be jealous that you call the guy who infected you 'Prince Charming'?" I told her that I would only date a guy who had enough sense to know that Prince Charming is a fictional character. Make-believe. He is not real. I need a man whose flaws I accept and whose heart of gold I admire, not to entertain a fantasy about who that man really is.

Marvelyn Brown is the author of The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful, and (HIV) Positive.

More From This Resource Center

Magic Johnson Wants You to Know: He Isn't Cured of HIV

Living With HIV? African Americans Share Their Advice

This article was provided by The Black AIDS Institute. Visit Black AIDS Institute's website to find out more about their activities and publications.

See Also
More Viewpoints on Women and HIV/AIDS

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Evarist (Arusha-Tanzania) Sat., Jan. 15, 2011 at 11:49 pm UTC
Yes, majority women position position themselves as useless- hate themselves, once diagnosed +ve . I would like to advise them to follow your steps
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Comment by: bode (maiduguri nigeria) Sat., Jan. 15, 2011 at 7:18 am UTC
I do not care about your status ,pls i want to be your friend
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Comment by: Ladybug (dc) Sat., Jan. 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm UTC
you go girl, I could not have said it better myself. You know A lot of women think because they have this disease that they dont deserve the same things as a negative women. and I would like to say to them I use to think the same way and it wasn't until I began to be true to myself, start loving myself and being my own best friend is when I realized that If you feel that you are worthy of something you are. So to my lovely sisters. Contiue to celebrate yourselves every day and never settle for less.

Love Ladybug
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Comment by: Miriam Martin (Vancouver, BC) Fri., Jan. 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm UTC
Awesome Marvelyn! I'll share this post with the women at Positive Women's Network here in British Columbia, Canada. Very inspiring.
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Comment by: Hivers Kenya (Mombasa kenya) Fri., Jan. 7, 2011 at 3:57 am UTC
its like she is a mind reader...exactly my predicament and stand! i wouldnt put it any better,,,
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Comment by: Pzk (Salisbury, MD) Thu., Jan. 6, 2011 at 8:22 pm UTC
so inspiring and really can relate to this. I have settled for less than i would have before my status. I have a new self worth and it is so encouraging that others feel that way too!!!!!
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Comment by: Keith (Atlanta,GA) Thu., Jan. 6, 2011 at 4:08 pm UTC
I love what you posted.It came from the heart.I am 15yrs poz,and as I go thru 2011.Lord lets me see 16yrs. It has been hard to find love,But I found myself & God better.What he has for me it is for me.10-25-1995,will always be on my mind.The day my life was changed.I dont take meds in 5+ yrs. At times I forget I have it.Thats the power of JESUS.
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Comment by: Everett H (San Francisco) Thu., Jan. 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm UTC
Amen!!!! You truly inspire me... Thank you! :)
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Comment by: k.c (south africa) Thu., Jan. 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm UTC
I can relate to the article. I have worked hard and dreamed of having a family, be wife to my prince charming, instead he gave me hiv.its been 2yrs living with the disease & I have accepted but I wish to fall in love with a man who will understand my status.I have already accepted that I will never have children. Its hard and I wish god can take my life sometimes
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Dee Dee (S. A) Fri., Jan. 14, 2011 at 3:04 am UTC
In 2008 when i discovered that i was Hiv+, i thought it was the end of everything. My husband would not even have sex with. Everytime i felt sorry for myself, but its no longer the case. I told myself that i won't settle for less because of my status. I have set standards when it comes to dating, and if you don't meet such standards hard luck. So to all of my sisters out there who feels sorry for themselves, is time to stand up and put your heads high, after all its not the end of the world.
Comment by: Jabu (South Africa) Mon., Jan. 17, 2011 at 4:24 am UTC
You can have kids when you are HIV poz, you are in South Africa and truly the options are endless out there. It is possible and by the grace of God too it is possible. My son is 6 years old this year-I learned I was poz when I was pregnant; and my son is negative so was his father who said horrible things such as how I could have ever thought he'd marry me having HIV. I was good enough to have his child but not to be married by him. Nonetheless life goes on and I have found love with a negative man-who is my Gift from God. Time heals all, never kill yourself, I can send you my contact details if needs be. Never feel alone!

Comment by: Anettia (St. Petesburg, Fla) Thu., Jan. 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm UTC
Your story really inspired me, i've been positive now for 10years, and i truly believe that i will to enhance my knowledge everyday, and what God has for me, it is for me!, their is Life even in the Midst of this condition of living with ''HIV'', Thank you again for your story, God Bless!!!
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Comment by: melinda (vero beach,fl.) Thu., Jan. 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm UTC
Right On!You tell em Wonder Woman!:)...I agree with you 100%
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Comment by: Numbe (Namibia) Wed., Jan. 5, 2011 at 8:55 am UTC
this is very inspiring. i am a wellness officer at my work and would love to know how people are coping. i had several people comming to me for advice about their positive statues. i just want to have more knowlege and understanind and most important, acceptance. sharing information is the way forward. this is very insparing
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