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.