Trauma, Love, Relationships, and HIV
Last updated: July 2023
Content Note: This article describes abuse. If you or a loved one are struggling, consider reading our mental health resources page.
I am putting pen to paper to write about something that many of us look for in life and how it has been a hard road, but I have figured it out.
What I am about to share is something I do speak of because it is a traumatic experience, but I know I need to talk about it more, and I know it may help some other women out there - they also get to see a part of my experience.
I will say that finding love or someone to share your life with does not come with instructions and we learn from growing.
This or That
Since my diagnosis, my mental health has _____.
Here we go
So here we go, at the age of 15 I was a homeless teenager because our middle-class family was destroyed by crack and alcohol.
I remember some days when I didn't know if I would eat. A couple of years later I started a relationship with an 18-year-old gang banger who abused me and locked me in the room. There were others around who did nothing to help me.
My second relationship was when I was 17 years old, he was 22. For 10 years, I was hit and kicked by him. It messed with my emotional well-being and mental state. About 4 years into the relationship we had a baby girl together when I was 21 years old.
There is so much more to my life but when I was 27 years old, I decided to leave him and months later I received an HIV diagnosis.
My trauma runs deep
My trauma runs deep and when I feel that things will be okay, I get slapped in the face with something else. Then I start to deal with the thoughts - what if I die? How I will be looked at by others who are looking in from the outside?
The HIV meds were making me extremely ill and that made me turn to alcohol to cope with all of it. After 2 years living my diagnosis, my 8-year-old daughter's father passed away from cancer.
I then met a man who was HIV-negative, and he accepted me and my status.
What does love look like?
You see everyone, we all want love from someone and to feel loved at times is not the love we think it is. It was less than a year when we decided to get married, and this was the beginning of more traumatic events.
The abuse and violence started, along with his use of drugs use. I have said to myself when you give your all and share what you have been through why would that person bring more emotional turmoil upon you if they claim to love you?
Sad to say that I don't know what love is from a man because it looked like abuse to me.
Learning to love myself first
I had to learn that I have to love me first. When a man loves you it shows in how treats you and not how he diminishes you as a woman. I am not a punching bag and I now demand respect, but I have not given up on finding love.
I am now aware of what that looks like for me. Love is understanding and communication. It is accepting the flaws and working that out as a team. Love is peacefulness, a feeling you do not have to explain but know that it is there.
Will you get a flu shot this year?