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From Struggle to Strength: Rediscovering Love

As my boyfriend moved around the apartment, one of our dogs became overly excited. The next thing I know, his laptop hits the floor - hard. I flinch back and hold my breath. I am waiting for the extreme reaction that I am conditioned to expect from my ex-husband, but it never happens. He calmly asks me to hand him the laptop so he can inspect it for damage.

While it has been years since my separation from my ex-husband, my visceral reaction remains the same. It is something that I struggle with to this day. Mentally, I know my boyfriend does not react the same way that my ex did, but I still cannot control the physical reaction and anticipation.

The role of supportive relationships

It is very important to have a safe and supportive partner while coping with HIV diagnosis and managing its impact. The impact of supportive relationships on individuals living with HIV includes emotional support, reduced isolation, and an enhanced quality of life.

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It has been nice to be with someone who encourages me to spend time with my family and friends. We have also managed several vacations together and he sent me on 2 trips to visit my parents in another state. He also pushes me to reach my full potential, including throughout my current career search.

Achieving a new balance in my health

Since living in a household without the stress around overreactions, I have noticed an impact on my mental and emotional health. This impact has included reduced stress and anxiety. I no longer feel the need to walk on eggshells around a partner.

Additionally, my therapy sessions have moved away from household situations and into deeper issues that have needed attention for some time.

This or That

Which type of therapy do you prefer?

When I was first diagnosed with HIV, I thought my life was over. I also felt as though nobody would ever want to be in a relationship with me. This led me to stay in a relationship that was not a good fit emotionally or physically. But this did not last.

My life has changed due to a lot of work with mental health professionals, meeting some inspirational people, and finding a positive love. The transformative power of love and support in the face of HIV is unmeasurable.

Finding love and support while living with HIV is possible

In my opinion, we need to cultivate supportive relationships and remove those negative or non-supportive relationships from our lives. If nothing else, I hope that I am an example of how it is possible to find love and support while living with HIV.

I truly hope that others in unhealthy relationships will realize that they can do better on their own (or single), than in a negative relationship. By being without these negative relationships, you open yourself to the positive people and opportunities that you deserve. I do believe if we can reduce the stigmatization around HIV, fewer of us will feel stuck in these negative relationships.

Everyone deserves a supportive environment to live and grow.

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