Not By Myself Anymore
Not by myself ever again.
When I contracted HIV, I was so very lost. But two years later, I married a man who was HIV-negative and I had a beautiful baby girl who was born HIV-negative.
I didn't know my worth
I always thought about advocacy. But because I was in a toxic, abusive marriage and had my children to care for, that thought would just drift away. It was like I was conditioned to think that being in an abusive relationship was okay. I didn’t know my worth.
And, I certainly lived a life of being a housewife who could not work because the HIV meds made me very sick. I felt alone, and there was no one at all who lived with HIV that I knew. As I think of what I was going through, I say that it is funny how you are led to do something and not realize it until it happens.
Alone with limited support
For the first 17 years that I lived with HIV, I was basically by myself and it wasn’t because that’s what I wanted. It just happened that way.
I remember how often I had to go to see the doctor. My husband went with me to my appointments only once in the 13, 14 years that we were married. When I became pregnant, I drove an hour for 9 months to see a specialist - alone. I had no support dealing with this virus that I was living with. I did a lot of reading about HIV, though, because I knew that I needed to educate myself on what I was living with.
"Davina, how are you today?"
I had a family of course who didn’t treat me any different, but I still felt alone. I think when the people you love see that you are fine with your HIV, they forget that it can still affect you mentally. I don’t ever remember them asking, "Davina, how are you today with what you’re living with?"
Meeting other people living with HIV
After my divorce, I decided it was time to get my feet wet in advocacy. When I started meeting others who were living with HIV, I felt what was like joy but a joy that was hard to describe. I could not believe there were so many people in the world who lived with a virus that I struggled with for so long.
I said to myself, "Davina, you have been by yourself this whole time and didn’t have to be." Imagine being lost in the jungle and not one person knows that you are there. Not even if you screamed, they could hear you. That’s how I felt being alone and dealing with HIV by myself: I was screaming inside, but no one could hear me.
Finding my space
Today, I have the greatest love from people I never thought I would have in my life. I am no longer by myself and my advocacy will continue because my soul tells me this is my calling. I am happy and would never change anything about my life today.
I want to tell you: you don’t have to be alone; reach out because people who are living with HIV are here for you.
How often do you explain U=U to others?