There Is Hope in Tomorrow!
By Rae Lewis-Thornton
March 23, 2011
This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.
Yesterday when I left the clinic after getting my IV medication, I was so freaking beat down. I sat in that taxi on my way home and all I really wanted to do is cry. When I arrived at the clinic that morning at 9:00 a.m., I already had a low grade fever, and by the time I finished at 4:00 p.m., I was nauseous, dizzy, fatigued and so weak that walking was an effort. Not to mention, I'm still in pain from the actual infection. My spirit was at an all time low. When your spirit is this low, there is a hopelessness that comes over you.
I want to say that I was able to draw on my Monday's Reflection, "Remember," but I didn't have the energy to muster up an ounce of memory. All I could say was, "I know You up there." And I do know He's up there, but when you're in the midst of it, there is a loneliness that overtakes you. I'm not going to pretend that coping with hardship is easy, it's not. It's hard as hell! Some days it take everything I got to keep it together. But I'm determined to not allow AIDS to take me out of here, emotionally. I can't always control the physical, but the emotional, well that's in my domain. So for me, at different times, I muster up all that I can in different ways so that the darkness does not swallow me up. You should never just have one strategy for life's journey.
I arrived home and there my solitude began. My Sophie met me at the door, wagging that tail a mile a minute, jumping and barking to be picked up to give me all the love she can muster up. Then there is the comfort of my home. A refuge that I have created that speaks peace to my very soul. My art collection is the epicenter of my home and everything stems from there. I started collecting right at the point when I made a transition from HIV to AIDS, and each new piece has been chosen carefully over these 20 years to speak life into me. Your home should be a place of peace, it should speak life into you, not take it away.
I warmed up dinner. Thank God my girlfriend Melanie cooked dinner on Sunday and dropped it off, if she hadn't I would not have eaten. I was too beat and actually warming it up took an effort. I ate, got a cup of tea, and me and Sophie retired to the bedroom.
I gave Sophie a rawhide to keep her busy and I laid back with my pillows propped up with some beautiful agate gemstones on my lap and spent hours designing some fabulous bracelets. With each new bracelet design I started to feel alive again. For me, beading takes me away from the dark place. It reminds me that there are some good things in my life and it helps to bring me back to the light.
Beading reminds me that I'm a gifted, creative woman that has a lot to share with the world and a lot more living. I begin to imagine someone wearing one of my new designs. And that for me means that there is a tomorrow and that there is hope in tomorrow, even if today has been drowned in sorrow.
My bracelet designs remind me that there is a life beyond the right now. And when someone wears my bracelets, I feel as if I have given them a part of me that AIDS can NEVER take away.
So when I'm low like yesterday, I bead. And what's so incredible, I seem to do my best work when at my lowest. I've been beading a lot lately and by the way the designs are simply fabulous! Coming to the website soon. #ForReal.
I'm not saying that the pain goes away when I bead, I'm just saying that I'm reminded that there is a life worth living even in the pain. I'm saying that the beading takes me out of that dark place towards the light. We tend to be hopeless and irrational in the dark, but in the light we see more clearly and that provides perspective for the pain. And with perspective for today's pain, there is hope in tomorrow!
Postscript: Many people seek destructive ways to help ease the pain: drugs, alcohol, sex, overeating and over-shopping. Those are temporary fixes to complicated problems. I remember the day when shopping was my answer for everything. With therapy and a desire to live healthy and a lot of HARD work, I have come to a good place in my life where I find solitude in a way that is healthy. I stopped shopping and God replaced the void with beading and knitting. ... Reading has been a place of solitude since I was a pre-teen. Find yourself a place of solitude. ... In solitude, there is hope in tomorrow ...
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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks
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.
Rae is an active user of social media -- read "Long-Term HIV Survivor Discovers the Power of Twitter," an article on TheBody.com about Rae's social media activities.
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