The Transforming Power of Self-love
July 4th, 1993. I was diagnosed with HIV. My mother and I both. It was my 2nd birthday. My mother had been ill for some years but due to the misconception of who can contract HIV, the doctors overlooked the possibility of her having HIV, therefore, not testing her. After years of no answers, my mother landed in the hospital with thrush and they finally tested her. Giving her only six months to live, she lived another three years. She was a fighter and an advocate for the HIV community. She passed away on June 16th, 1996.
Daily bullying and discrimination
My father and brother were both negative so I grew up feeling like an outcast. Like the burden child. I was always sick. In and out of UCLA hospital. I used to take 36 pills three times a day. Whether by mouth, liquid, or pills crushed into my food or water. The side effects were the worst part. They made my life miserable, along with the daily bullying at school. From kindergarten to 3rd grade I had my own bathroom, water fountain, and corner of the classroom. I was not allowed to play with the other kids and if I spit or bled, I was sent home. I hated school so much, so I would pick my cuticles until they bled so I could go home.
The discrimination shifted once we moved from Los Angeles to San Diego. But not much. Although I was allowed to share space with the other children, every single one of them hated me. I was “Lexi Gibson the girl with AIDS.” They wrote, "Lexi has AIDS" on my science class door. I was booed off the auditorium stage in 7th grade. Tripped while walking down the aisle in class. I was thrown around in shoving circles. Beat up. During class, I would feel paper wads, pennies, erasers, and whatever else they could find, thrown at my head and body.
Every day was a nightmare; from feeling severely ill to feeling emotionally distraught. I felt unwanted, unloved, stupid, like a freak, and so much more. I was told how ugly I am and how I should go away and die. I had no sense of self-worth. My lack of support system at home created me to adopt my own idea of my worth. With being told every day how worthless I was, I began to believe it. Other people’s truth of me, became my truth.
Fast forward, my father dropped me at a group home when I was 14 as he could no longer emotionally care for me. I bounced around for a year, landed in the hospital on my death bed, and miraculously got adopted at 15 by the most incredible selfless woman. Despite my rage, attachment issues, panic anxiety, manipulation, and so much more, she loved me unconditionally and saw through my destructive learned behavior. She knew I only needed love and structure. She helped me get on a new cocktail and supported me through the two-week stage of side effects and three months later, I became undetectable for the first time in my life.
After two years of doing everything in her power to help me get better, I was not doing well emotionally. My belief system was so ingrained that nothing she did or said would make me believe I was worthy. With nowhere else to turn, she made the hardest decision of her life to send me to a therapeutic boarding school also known as, a residential treatment center. At 17 years old, I left Oakland, CA for Layton, Utah to attend Solstice RTC where I would spend the next year of my life learning about the power of thought, self-empowerment, forgiveness, accountability, self-love, and so much more. This was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. To go through every painful memory and come to understand it in a different light, making peace with everything that ever happened to me. Learning to not take other’s actions personally.
Realizing my worth
My grandest lesson was realizing MY WORTH is decided by me and only me. I have the power. I know my truth. I was met with self-acceptance when I removed my OWN stigmas about what it meant to be living with HIV. And then, I was free…
After graduating the program, I went to college to study the mind and behavior because I fell in love with healing and wanted to share everything I learned with others. My passion is to help people realize their worth, heal from their past, and create the life they dream of. Today, I am a life coach, public speaker, writer, photographer, and so much more. I am so excited to share what I have learned with you all. Cheers to ‘The Good Life.’
Interested in sharing your own diagnosis story, treatment experience, or another aspect of living with HIV?
At what age were you diagnosed with HIV?