It might be selfish, or maybe I had medically induced blinders on, but after a long overdue heartfelt chat with my husband, I have new insight into what he goes through just by staying with me.
I had never really thought about how my diagnosis affected HIM or anyone else in my family. All I do is take pills and I do not appear sick to anyone, so my own issues with HIV are mostly mental.
I assumed since he lives with me and I do not need taking care of that to him I'm still ME.
The condom thing: From the beginning he has said no way I'm not wearing them. The mental anguish he goes through just from wanting to have sex with his wife I cannot imagine. From the time before The Real World was out with Pedro Zamora and all we knew about HIV was sickness and death; now he's married to someone with IT and we had no idea when we got married, so we can't say "he knew what he was getting into."
He sleeps next to someone with a contagious, non-curable, sexually transmitted disease. Part of him wants to have sex with her; however, the other part looks at her like she's the grim reaper. He married death with a potty mouth and boobies.
A lot of guys might have run off soon after that, but he did not.
Yes, it has taken a lot of time for us to find a normal, couple-wise, after my diagnosis, my dad's death and becoming new parents all in a few months of each other. He also had his share of shock from the first year of our marriage.
Life takes its toll on all of us differently. Yes, it was my dad who died, but he was there also. He was in the room watching it rip apart a family that not too long before was whole. He watched my brothers, my mother and myself turn into new people. Trying to become a new family while watching our lives become a Lifetime movie was not easy for either of us.
Then he was a father himself and not long after that his own daddy was fighting cancer for his own life in our home. We watched the struggle daily for months. I know all I thought about while taking Papa Ken to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance was how one day this will be me.
The people who stick up for us and stay are part of our unseen strength. He supports me writing, one day speaking maybe to schools to help educate the future of our country to be safe. He tells his friends, bosses and coworkers about me -- no judgement, no shame, just knowledge.
My strength doesn't all come from me; he is my stepping stone, my path, still, through the shit of life.