Monday, June 27, 2005

Revelations and Revisions

Life is often like a staged play. Masks and makeup and shadow puppets. I have been living here on this stage, putting on faces for a long time, but the act is changing, and I am asking that people listen to this final soliloquy.

There are times in our lives where, to put it simply, we need to pick up and move the fuck on. You get kicked in the balls, but you have to get up. Such is life. No one said it was fair or easy, but it is a reminder that you can’t give up. It is a testament to others that you have the courage and strength to continue.

And life has certainly done a lot of kicking in the last few years. I have been beaten done, but risen each time to continue living as life is supposed to be lived. I try to have an optimistic outlook. I keep telling myself if I don’t pick myself up, that I will miss out on something good. Having said that, every year at this time I do feel a bit lost and frustrated. A seasonal mood disorder, if you may, brought on by an anniversary that I would rather not celebrate. An anniversary without much happiness or joy, but with a whole lot of meaning. I become reflective, introverted, introspective and quiet. I know it will pass, but right now I just want to stay here in the darkness, feeling around, looking for myself and waiting for clarity and light to reach my eyes.

I am trying to find that peace again, amongst all the turmoil, rage and sorrow.

I know that I have become a stronger, better person - learning more about myself – becoming more honest and true to who and what I am. Allowing myself to feel and not be ashamed by it. But it’s hard to open your soul and allow the emotions to express themselves when you have repressed them for so long. These last 2 weeks have been tougher than usual and I am doing my best to stay afloat, but so many waves of hurt and pain keep trying to pull me under. I find it hard at times, but just decide to focus on my work and continue with life, nary a person realising what is really going through my mind or heart.

I give a good show a lot of the time, despite the mess behind the curtains.

For three years, I have observed this anniversary by myself. I still find it difficult to speak and share with others for the above reasons. This is the way I have always been, and I am doing my best to overcome my fears of emotional and spiritual intimacy. I have been hurt and betrayed many times in the past, yet I still try to believe in the inherent goodness of people. I believe in that, and it keeps me going. Unfortunately, the unconditional love and support wasn’t always there when I was younger, and invariably I built a defense mechanism to keep people out. It’s tough to change a pattern you have become familiar with, but I know it is destructive to my relationships with others, so I am trying.

It is a working progress.
I am a working progress.

But curtain time is up, and I am taking on a new stage, without the masks, the makeup or puppets. It is time to embark on a different path to more freedom and truth.

This is a story that began, as I said, 3 years ago. The day was June 27, 2002 and this is my story.

There really is no easy way to say this to you all. No way of softening the blow and making it more palatable. So I will just say it. This day, I became a statistic. This is the day that I was diagnosed as HIV+, and I remember it like it had just happened.

The afternoon was humid and the sky an overcast gray. The dank smell of rain permeated the air, but the clouds remained heavy, much like I with my burden and fears. I was riding the TTC Danforth line and looking out the window to the South over the Don Valley on my way to my doctor's appointment. My mind was filled with thoughts of friends, life and my future. Below, cars whizzed by in a sea of green, and I thought of all those people rushing to their destinations – me seeing them, but they oblivious to me. Funny, I thought, how this world looked when you were the onlooker. Time didn't seem to care about everyone's worries. It just kept on ticking and moving forward. I wondered if this was how god saw things, and if he was laughing at the absurdity of our misguided lives.

I remember how beautiful it would have been to be free and flying across that expanse. I was not in any rush to get to my destination and already knew that today was a different day, one that would change my destination and life. I am not a superstitious one, but my dreams the nights prior had foretold that something was happening.

The dreams spoke of change and new paths. A new order and a new me. I didn't understand it at the time, but life has a way of telling you things in remarkable ways, we're just too busy to pay heed to them.

The doctors' office was uncannily still. The music from the receptionists' desk was only an audible blur as I sat in his office. My doctor looked at me, and his expression changed and became as ashen gray as the sky. His voice was authoritative, but soft. He spoke to me and said that he hated to be the bearer of bad news, but that my results had come back positive. His words roared in my head like thunder and my heart raced and stopped in that very moment and time stood still. I sat in shock, hands cupping my face, not knowing what to do or say. His words of comfort fell on deaf ears, for all I could hear was the din of voices repeating that I was HIV positive. I was lost in despair and left his office numb, with no where to go. I walked, feeling the world close in on me. The gray skies calling now, in their thunderous voices and the heavens opened up and the rain began to fall.

Mock tears from heavan, I thought. A god that looked down in disgrace and the irony hit me square in the face, since I had no tears of mine own.

The shock and dryness in my throat sucked everything back in. I walked and got in a cab and went directly to my friend Nomi’s house. The grief and pain was so great, but lodged so deep in my chest, that at the threshold of his door I began to crack. Even clouds can't hold everything in, i thought. And my heart broke and the clouds opened and I began to weep.

I have always believed that a strong person was one who showed little or no emotion. Oh how wrong I was. The stronger person is often the one who can paint a canvas with their feelings with no fear as to how it looks.

Iknow all of this will come as new information to you all. I am truly sorry. I don’t mean to shock and frighten, nor do I want to alarm any one. I am not suicidal. I am not depressed. I am not sick, I do not have AIDS, and I am not on medications. I am healthy. I am fine. I would rather have told each and every one of you in person, but life doesn't always allow us the opportunity to say things when we want and where we want. The fact is that I have decided that I am tired of the lies. Tired of hiding of embarrassment and fear about my status. I didn’t come out of the closet at 15, to go back in it. I have always been an intensely private man, who listens well to others problems, but shares little of mine own. I am keenly aware that if I open my mouth to speak my mind and expose my soul, some may think I am making comparisons of who has it worse. That is not my intention. I am intelligent enough to know that I am lucky and fortunate to have the life I have, and to have a circle of friends that support and love me. I woke on January 01, 2005 this year and knew this year would be different - that I would begin to make great changes and continue on this path of growth to become the man that I believe I can be. This year has had a series of cathartic events and this is one of them. I am for all intense purposes a happy man, with a good disposition on life. I am realising the importance of life with more clarity. There are things you cannot change in this world, and there are things that you can. I have made a lot of bad choices in my life, but I am far more resipiscent now and choose not to dwell on what could have been. I need to move forward.

This is the last hurdle for me.
The last stage of my previous life.

The mask has come off.
And I am not afraid anymore.

It is time to realise what my dreams have told me,

Allow for change,
for new paths,
for a new me.

Thank you to all.

P.S. Please don't worry about me. I am no different than I was 3 minutes ago before you read this, save for the fact that I am more an honest and happy man.


Snooze said...

Epi, thank you for sharing this part of yourself with us, in such a powerful and beautifully written post.

spoonycongee said...

Yes, thank you! I'm glad that you choose to live your life as you. It takes courage to free yourself, and you did it, congratulations! I'm looking forward to getting to know the new you.

Touliadi said...

I admire your courage.

Honestly, this fact doesn't alter in any way the way I see you. You have always been an inspiration for me, the way you live you life, your attitude towards it. Maybe, like you said, this experience is what helped you learn to be the way you are.

To all I say, OBSERVE and LEARN, this is how we should ALL live our lives with honesty and love, living each moments for what they are, at their fullest. Dwell not in the past nor should you live in the future hopes for all this is but an illusion, a dream that only exist in our minds. Your life is NOW.

St. Dickeybird said...

Again, coming out in this sense is both couragous and admirable.
Thank you.
And regardless of the negative aspects of being positive, it has helped to mold you into the Epi we all care about and respect.

Anonymous said...

Sweetheart, I am not shocked, nor frightened nor alarmed. You are still my brave, insightful Epi and I'll always adore the bright star that you are. I wish I could give you a big bear hug right now. ::sniffle::

paddalumpakins said...

I've been trying all day to come up with words that don't sound trite. And then I decided I don't care. I think this is probably the bravest post I've read. I second what Dickey said.

Coffee Dog said...

{{{Ep}}} I think it's a very hard thing to get used to, the AIDS thing. Unlike so many other diseases, this one is viewed differently and it can be very hard to admit that one has it. You are very brave. I have no words, no advice, but I do care and can offer comfort. I have a close friend who has only been pos for a few years like you and I know he struggles with many of the same things you articulated. My heart and love goes out to you.

mainja said...

i just want to find you and give you a great big hug right now. honestly, i'm excited for you. this is a big step, and the begining of wonderful things. i want to find you and run up to you and wrap my arms around you and jump up and down with you yelling 'yay for not hiding! yay for being brave enough to be open! yay for revelations!'

much love and hugs to you my friend, and perhaps if you are downtown tonight i will magically see you through the hoards of people and i can run up to you and hug you and sing your praises to the masses...

No one asked us said...

My Dear
Although I have only met you once, I think that you are remarkable and that this act of courage is beautiful.
I understand the problems of wearing a mask and going through the motions.
One of the greatest moments of clarity I have had in my life was when I realised that there was strength in fragility.
A heart that hurts is a heart that works.

StonedBunny said...

I've known you for over TEN YEARS my friend. Three letters followed by a plus sign changes nothing - never shall. You were/are/will always be a beautiful, charming, sexy man in my mind and heart [and a little lower :-)].

nuff said.

Love always,

Anonymous said...

i'm proud of you and will pray for your well-being.

you've always been an inspiration and this additional piece of info doesnt change anything.

take care!

p/s- i hate to tag anonymous but you wouldn't know who i am anyway! so. yes, i guess it doesnt matter, really.

Sister said...

I stand and proudly applaud your courage and your honesty, and if you were standing in front of me right now I would give you the biggest hug I could possibly muster. I have another friend who is HIV+ and has been for years, so I know from his own trials how absolutely difficult this is for someone to face let alone tell virtual strangers about. Your words are beautiful and inspiring and I am glad you were able to use this forum to open up like this and free yourself of a lonely burden. May you be an example to others. Bravo!

Dantallion said...

Allow for change,
for new paths,
for a new me.

Well, you're off to an extraordinary start, Epi. If this courageous, honest, and beautifully written post represents the beginning of change and a new path for you, then I'd say great things are coming your way.

We should be thanking you.

Knottyboy said...

Regardless of who you are, what we share is our journey together. You're precisely where you need to be; you gorgeous, glorious creature you!!! I'm so glad that another year has passed; none of us knows what these years do to our wellbeing and what it has in store. You've been given a clarity that is raw and real when the rest of us delude ourselves that we're doing ok. I'm so honored to have you here in what ever way we can be together; it shows me how precious our connections are. SO I share in our mortality, you give me hope as to what a beautiful man can accomplish with his very own life.
Hugs from the fields and mountains,

Joel said...

Epi, there isn't much I can add to the beauty of what others have said here. Suffice it to say, I can relate to your words. You are in my prayers.

A little verse of Emily Dickinson's which I have always found sweetly comforting:

'Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all ...'

daelyn said...

*hugs quietly* You are very brave, and very insightful in your comments now and previously. I hope you will keep enlightening us with your perspective.

Christopher said...

I know sometimes it isn't easy. My 3 year anniversary is coming up in September by medical test, but I know I seroconverted in July. So I guess I don't know when to celebrate. But is it because I am wondering if I am relieved or am I just going through life with this piggybacking on me. I understand completely what it is that you are feeling. Ms. Bees Knees kindly sent me this link to you, and all I can say to you that I know what it is you are going through: every minute of every is always in the back of your mind, isn't it? It is always something you feel like you have to watch out for. Finding the strength to not only accept but realize that something within your body that gushes through every cell, is foreign and doesn't belong to you. It is a shitty cardgame, but this is a hand that you CAN play. This has to be one of the most touching posts on the issue that I have ever come across, and makes me regret that I deleted an old blog that had the day of my results and what I felt from it, within. Living with hope, and not fear is such a much healthier way to live but just remember that everything you think, and eveything that you feel is normal. No one can write the script for you, it is all in your hands and you have to remember that you don't have to take a bow quite yet, we're still waiting for your encore. xoxo

epicurist said...

Thank you everyone for your comments, emails and phone calls. I count myself lucky and blessed to be part of a circle of friends (virtual and not) who have rallied behind me and given me so much love and encouragement. There really aren't enough words I can say at this point, but expect to be back soon, once I have a bit more time.

I want you ALL to realise that your words convey so much more than just a sentiment. They are as warm as a hug and sweet as a kiss.

thank you, thank you, thank you.

P.S. I am at work right now, so can't write or say more, less I begin to tear up.


EssentialStephen said...

Without a doubt this is the bravest post I have read in a long time. I often wonder if I would ever have that same strength if I were in that situation and so I admire and respect that in you.

spoonycongee said...

Hugs and kisses!

R.J. said...

Very brave post that I can TOTALLY relate too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and emotions. Undoubtedly it will help others who have to deal with the same issues in the future. You're a good man.

epicurist said...

Essential - Thank you, truly. That was very kind.

Spoony - :)

r.j - Again thank you, and I read your post and was also deeply moved. I am glad to share my life with people like all of you out there.

Aethlos said...

wow, that's a heavy fucking post. excellent. you're a fucking rockstar... and you're platinum in my book baby. xo

epicurist said...

Aethlos - Thanks! You're pretty rock star in my books too! ::wink::