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Author Topic: Survivor's Guilt  (Read 26443 times)

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Offline CaptCarl

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  • Posts: 1,114
  • Located in the Palinsville subdivision, JesusLand
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #50 on: May 22, 2007, 07:12:25 PM »
Alan,
   Once again you have started a thread that makes me thing hard about my (our) situation. I thank you for it truly. I used to have what we call survivors guilt, but it was in a different perspective. For the most part, I do not feel guilty about living for damn close to two decades while others have not. The type of survivors guilt that I do feel from time to time is different. I feel guilty about outliving just one person, and that is the person that I infected many years ago.
   I had been in a 5 year relationship with someone, Bob was his name. We broke up for a short period of time, and while we were apart, I got infected. Shortly after we got back together I became very ill with what seemed to be the flu. He took me to the hospital, and they could find nothing wrong with me. After talking with the doctor extensively, I was tested for a few STD's. Five days later, the results came back that I had contracted Gonorrhea. It was Bobs birthday, and we had just finished having sex when the call came, and I jokingly said to him, "Guess what you got for your birthday?" We both had a good laugh over it. Two days later we went in for our shots, and that was when the doc said, "If you caught gonorrhea, you could have just as easily contracted HIV, we will need to test you in a few months." I got a very cold feeling in the pit of my stomach. A few months later, I tested positive, and when Bob got tested, he was negative. He re-tested just to be sure, and it came back positive as well.
  We did the best we could, but it was the eighties, and the doc told me that I had between 18 to 24 months, same for Bob. Our relationship foundered, as I had trouble dealing with what I had done, and Bob had serious anger issues with me. Things got ugly, and he never let me forget that I had signed his death warrant. The fact that I had done thins was hammered home with a brutal regularity. We lasted about two years longer before going our separate ways. I had hoped that we could at least remain friends, however Bob was not in the same frame of mind, and so we never spoke again. I tried writing him a few times after I moved out west, but he wanted nothing to do with me.
   In the fall of '95, his sister called me to tell me of his passing. I went back east for his memorial service, and again a year later, when his mother and sister scattered his ashes out at Cape Cod. There are times when it seems unreal to me, like  snippets of a nightmare that cannot be shaken, and never will. Sometimes that chapter of my life seems more like a movie with someone who looks like me playing my part. It's been so long that it doesn't seem as though it were really real. But it was.
   For the most part I do okay with it. I realize fully that I did not know, or even suspect that I was infected. Still though, sometimes in the dead of night when you are lying awake in bed, it can come back to haunt you. Big time. Sometimes I feel so bad about it, and about myself, that Maybe if I had just been thinking a bit smarter none of this would have come to pass. I try not to be that way, but it cannot always be helped. The "what ifs" can kill your soul if you let them.
   That is the survivors guilt that I feel. If I could switch places with Bob, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Yours in Survivorship, Capt.Carl....
The only thing I can do straight is shoot..

Offline kellyspoppi

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #51 on: May 22, 2007, 10:52:51 PM »
capt carl,

i wish i could just reach out and give you a hug man. giving up that story took a lot of courage, as i'm sure each time you think about it, it touches you deeply.

i received my dose of hiv from my girlfriend, who later became my fiance. she got hers from a blood transfusion and didn't learn it was tainted until a year after we had been together. but did it really matter the method she got it? not to her.

on the day she learned she had infected me we were in my office and i was getting the news over the phone. (yes, back in the 80's there was no such thing as pre/post test counciling. ??? :o >:( :'() )

imagine what it must have felt like for her,  knowing my parents and my younger sister worked with me and were standing there now learning that their loved one was infected with this deadly virus and she was the one that gave it to him. i'm sure you know what i mean.

she ran out the back door of the office screaming and sobbing at the same time. she must have been horrified wondering what they felt about her. this could have been such an ugly scene, and i'm sure for most who lived something like it, it was!

but the fact is, as i hung up the phone stunned with the news, a scene was taking place in the back lot of my office i will never forget. as joanne was sloaching there sobbing her eyes out pleading for their forgiveness, my parents were holding onto her telling her it was alright, that they didn't blame her, that they knew she didn't do it on purpose.

and i guess that is the message i would like to leave you with. back then, many of us were innocent victims, and there were many who passed this virus on without even knowing it. you were one of those folks who found yourself to be responcible, but was it intentional? hell no. it was just one of those things that happens in life that can be difficult to accept. like a driver who has a young kid step out in front of him and he is unable to stop. although he knows deep down inside there was nothing he could do to prevent it, the fact is it was he that took that life. where is the justice in that?

so there the both of you were living now with this killer bug. so many paths you both could have choosen to take. she and i were there as well. first we had to find a way to deal with her feelings of guilt. we went to our parish priest, someone we truly trusted with this type of information. he gave her books to read on guilt and one on one counciling.

all i knew was that i loved this woman, and i had no intentions of blaming her. we had a terrific relationship, especially compared to the horrendous marriages we both had come out of. we had hiv, but we had each other. when i told my dad i was frightened about dying so young from aids, he said "son, be thankful you had these wonderful years with joanne after such a sad life with your first wife. my dad always looked for the good in every bad situation.

we remained very much in love right up to the day she died, and i never once felt anger toward what she gave me. i know it is hard to hear me say this but my life has taken on such a more powerful existence since she died and i have devoted my time to aids advocasy and to speaking to others about my life experience with aids. i have found my purpose through this experience.

so your friend was infected by you. did you do it out of malice? i read in your post that you didn't, that you were unaware. he could have forgiven you for that, and the two of you could have worked through it together. and if he had still passed away, you would have at least had the memories of the life and love you shared together. would you have felt this way had it played out like that?

it is time to live and let go.  try to take this time you have left on this earth and make it better for those who live in despair with this disease. let them know it is not healthy to feel that way and you are willing to help them through it. that anger and hate can only lead to sickness and death, and that you have the scars to prove it.  saving one soul will end your guilt and help you to realize things could have been different, if only he had stood at that fork in the road & chose the right path.

i acknowledge your pain and am here to tell you it is time to move on. be the captain of your own ship carl. may you enjoy smooth sailing from this day forward. 8) ;D

kellyspoppi

   

Offline CaptCarl

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #52 on: May 23, 2007, 05:16:59 PM »
Kellyspoppi,
   Thanks for the words of encouragement. It's good to hear them, especially from someone on the other side of the infection cycle. I am glad to hear that you and your late wife were able to move forward with your plans and your lives. This thing frequently stops people in their tracks, and it can take them months or even years to get back on an begin travelling again. Some people, like my ex, never do though. When he died, he was an angry and bitter man. But that was his choice to be that way, never once trying to come to grips with it. His family was very good to me in spite of everything that happened, and when they invited me back for his memorial service, they were exceedingly kind to me. Even to the point of telling a few others in attendance that if they had issues with my being there, as some did, that they were welcome to leave the services at any time.
   For the most part, I don't let it bother me, but like I said, in the middle of a sleepless night, all sorts of demons can come out of the woodwork and wreak havoc in your mind. It's not always easy to exorcise them, sometimes like in a bad storm, you just have to ride it out, and hope that it doesn't get too bad. My life continues to move forward, sometimes a little more slowly than I would like, sometimes not slow enough. But at least it IS going forward, and ultimately that's all that matters. Now if I could just get the damned mortgage company moving a bit more quickly...... :)
   Again, thank you for your kind words.

   Capt.Carl
The only thing I can do straight is shoot..

Offline kellyspoppi

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #53 on: May 23, 2007, 09:20:15 PM »
sail on sailor. smooth seas ahead.

so good to hear his family stuck up for you like that. it had to make your heart feel at ease at such a difficult time.

hope to continue to hear from you capt.

kellyspoppi

Offline Hard Times

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #54 on: May 24, 2007, 12:08:55 PM »
i 'm feeling guilty just reading these threads !!! hiv+ for 9yrs,  i've been depressed for over 7 yrs.  hiv+ really does a number on your brain !!  the positive mind is a scary thing !!!  i don't even remember who i was before i was diagnosed !!!  i am having identiey problems !!!  i dred support groups ,because it got to the point every time i went, someone else DIED !!!!  i greve & say when is it going to be me !!!  side effects do not help the situation eather !!!  guilt is holding back my feelings for my partner !!!   you cant understand ,if you havent been there!
Your Body Is What You Are.
Your Soul Is Who You Are.

Offline hudstar

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  • Posts: 130
  • 2010
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #55 on: May 25, 2007, 12:15:47 PM »
For some reason I don't have any guilt issues with this topic. 

Sometimes, and I know this is perverse, I have a tinge of guilt for not having any guilt. 

Im with you, I have no guilt but feel somewhat guilty for not feeling guilty. I know when I survived lymphoma I was one of two that year that did not die from it. I kind of blocked out those other guys on my ward.... not because of guilt, just because it was and still is too painful to remember I guess.
diagnosed 1988
POZ personals - hudster

Offline AlanBama

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  • Posts: 3,647
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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #56 on: July 05, 2007, 09:38:56 AM »
Just thought I'd post this as an update:

The guy in the incident that prompted me to write this post died last night.   His suffering is over, and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife and sons today.

Alan   :'(
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline dixieman

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #57 on: July 05, 2007, 10:34:33 AM »
Well... to say the least... I can agree with everyone but, I do not have survivors guilt. People come into ones life for reasons beyond explanation... some stay, some leave, and all in all we are our own entity... people live... we bond have friendships... hopefully find love.. care for one another... and appreaciate each one as individuals... and unfortunately people die... its our own mortality... I've lost count at 50... fifty friends passing from various circumstances... from aids, hep, cancer, car wrecks, suicide, murder, missing ... never found, or simply old age...  etc... We never know when its our time... so I treasure and value all people who are in my life even when they get on my last Nerve... but, survivors Guilt.. no thats just not acceptable for me! I believe everyone associated with my life from the past, present and future are CHEARING me on... till its my time.. to join all those who have prepared the way for me...

Offline hudstar

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  • 2010
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #58 on: July 05, 2007, 10:32:16 PM »
Reading these posts it seems some of us have a vivid awareness that we outlived something we thought we would not. I cannot remember any of my doctors telling me "we changed our views, things have changed and you are not going to die" - I figured that one out for myself during the late nineties when attitudes were more relaxed and the "death sentence" talk stopped. I figured the likelyhood of my own survival rate myself. Twenty years on I find it ironic that I have outlived others in my life that have passed away due to reasons other than HIV. I guess the thorn in my side was those that did die from HIV had no sympathy other than from our own circle of family & friends whereas a death of a friend by drowning or car accident  generated sympathy from most. If I have guilt I guess it is for not speaking out loud enough to tell people of the pain I felt when people I knew had died from an AIDS related illness. Then again I cannot feel guilt for being silenced by stigma at a time when stigma ruled every media article relating to HIV.  Today I just put this attitude into a box along with the strange attitudes of people (like when couples freeze you out of their life  when you suddenly become single :) Human nature is a mind field of quirky emotions and I think issues related to HIV topped the charts on that one. Even today with all the benefits of drug therapy and good cell counts I  live my life every day like it is my last.  This is because it was all I knew and it became a part of me.  I do not think of death at all nowadays yet I am fully aware my past struggle formed my attitude and lifestyle I have today. Rather than feeling guilt for surviving I see i am far better equipted for doing things that most would shudder or view as "risky" or "outside the box". I thank myself even more for cultivating a mindset of freedom for myself. As for mourning, - this is my own personal mindset and feelings of grief or sadness occurs in the privacy of my own space. I guess the end result of being HIV is that I do not trust society - even today - to have the compassion to deal with HIV. I can live with that comfortably and without bitterness or questioning - my world is not going to fall apart.
diagnosed 1988
POZ personals - hudster

Offline JeffreyM

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  • 11:11
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #59 on: August 09, 2007, 02:03:40 PM »
I had a lot of guilt over it.  I had to release it.  Along with anger , resentment and regret.  These emotions were making me depressed and sick and actually lowered my CD4 count.  I replaced these bad emotions with good ones, like love, sharing, peace, beauty and light.

It took me a long time to learn, but I had to do it for my health.


Offline AlanBama

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  • Alabama: the 'other' 3rd World Country!
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #60 on: February 11, 2008, 08:58:29 PM »
I'm resurrecting this old thread, because the issue of Survivor's Guilt has reared its ugly head again....

I lost my dear friend Kevin last month; his Mom and sister gave me some of his unused meds.   They would like for me to come over and "go through" some of his things.

I am honored and touched that they want to include me.   But at the same time, I feel that guilt creeping in......and even though his Mom would NEVER say it (and may never even think it) I have to wonder if she isn't pondering the thought "hmm, why did my son have to die but this man is still doing well?  he has had AIDS longer than Kevin did...."

The deaths I went through back in the 80's and 90's were tough; but you know what?  It never gets any easier.   In 2008 it hurts just as much or more, because you have that much more 'history' under your belt with someone.

Again, please pardon the "resurrection" of this topic, but I just needed a place to post this, and didn't want to bring up the "losing a dear friend" topic in 'living with' again.

Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline joemutt

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #61 on: February 12, 2008, 03:24:33 AM »
I'm sorry about your loss Alan. You're right about resurecting this thread.
It doesnt get any easier as we age.
I wonder if everyone has this feeling; it takes me much longer to get over somebody's death than
it used to when I was younger.

Offline heartforyou

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  • I must be a survivor in many ways...
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #62 on: February 12, 2008, 03:50:56 AM »
Alan,

Let me start by holding you... and say that the world is a better place because of you.

Everytime a loved one passes away it brings back the sad feeling of prior losses. Even if we have lived through those losses and sort of put them on the schelves of our heart, they still are present.

Your survivor's guilt just shows that you are made of the right kind of wood Alan.
Remember that we al will go eventually.
And maybe trying to understand why one goes early will never be understood, so you may very well try not to .

I think you have had too much grief in your life and Kevins's passing just tore open the scar(s)....

We have talked face to face about the losses before... and we have seen the pain in our eyes and hearts. So, I understand your feelings.
I am happy you are still alive and have touched my life...

And to Joemutt :"it is the sum of all the losses that makes it harder" : 1+1+1+1+1+1+1++++++++++++++++++ = many

Love

Herman
Diagnosed in 1987 and still kicking
Viread, Kivexa (Epzicom),Viramune once daily

Happiness is the freedom of breathing fresh air every day.

Offline bear60

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #63 on: February 12, 2008, 06:45:28 AM »
Alan
You dont need an excuse to bring up how you feel about your friend Kevin.
It makes you feel better to talk about it.
Poz Bear Type in Philadelphia

Offline sharkdiver

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #64 on: February 12, 2008, 07:36:50 AM »
Dear Alan

Don't feel bad about bringing this up again. In fact anytime is fine. Believe me it will be three years at the end of his month that I lost my partner and I still get down. Sometimes I think people don't want to hear about it anymore and that I'm unloading on them way too much.  I realize now it really shows how much I love him and how much of an impact he had on my life.
I believe that might be part of what you are feeling.

anytime you need to talk about it....
go for it.

love,
Sharkie
« Last Edit: February 12, 2008, 07:41:02 AM by sharkdiver »

Offline BT65

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #65 on: February 12, 2008, 07:57:51 AM »
Sweet Alan, don't feel bad in the least about "resurrecting this thread."  That's what we're here for.

I know that when someone passes from AIDS, it makes the disease just that much more real to me.  Some days I don't even think about it (the virus).  And yes, tear away the scabs it does. 

I think when you wonder whether or not Kevin's mum is thinking the things you mentioned, it's just those "guilt" feelings.  She's probably very thankful he had such a good friend.  Take care, sweetie.
Peace~
Betty
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline AlanBama

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #66 on: February 12, 2008, 10:35:49 AM »
Thanks for your words of comfort, my friends.   It means a lot to me.

If I've learned anything, it is that we need to TELL the people we love how much we love them each and every day, because you never know when it will be the last time.   I wish I had known that Tuesday Jan 22nd would be the last conversation I ever had with Kevin....I would have told him how much I loved him and how much his friendship has meant to me.

So I'm telling you all NOW, while we're all still around, that I love you, and I appreciate the care and concern you always show for me.

hugs,
Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline BT65

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #67 on: February 12, 2008, 11:59:51 AM »
Luv you too, Alan. :-*
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline Iamrick

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    • Daily OM
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #68 on: February 12, 2008, 12:12:03 PM »

  This is something that was forwarded to me earlier today, several times!!
It touched my heart...Thought it belonged here.
Love and Light to ALL!!

"Love Ya!  One day a woman's husband died, and on that clear, cold morning, in the warmth of Their bedroom, the wife was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there Isn't anymore. No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more 'just one minute.' Sometimes, what we care about the most gets all used up and goes away, never to return before we can say good-bye, say  'I love you.' So while we have it, it's best we love it, care for it, fix it when it's broken and heal it when it's sick. This is true for marriage .. And old cars ... And children with bad report cards, and dogs with bad hips, and aging parents and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some things we keep -- like a best friend who moved away or a classmate we grew up with. There are just some things that make us happy, no matter what. Life is important, like people we know who are special. And so, We keep them close! I received this from someone who thought I was a 'keeper'! Then I sent it to the People I think of in the same way. Now it's your turn to send this to all those people Who are 'keepers' in your life, including the person who sent it if you feel that way. Suppose one morning you never wake up, do all your friends know you love them?  I was thinking...I could die today, tomorrow or next week, and I wondered if I had Any wounds needing to be healed, friendships that needed rekindling or three words needing to be said.  Let every one of your friends know you love them. Even if you think they don't love You back, you> would be amazed at what those three little words and a smile can an do. And just in case GOD calls me home ......  I LOVE YA!!!  :-)  Live today to the fullest because tomorrow is not promised."
Happiness  keeps You Sweet,

Trials keep You  Strong,

Sorrows keep You  Human,

Failures keep You  Humble,

Success keeps You Glowing, 

But Only God/Goddess keeps You Going!


Have a Blessed Day Everyone!! Rick

Offline aztecan

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  • Posts: 5,430
  • 29 years positive, 57 years a pain in the butt
Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #69 on: February 12, 2008, 10:51:04 PM »
Hey Alan,

Forgive the tardiness of this response. I know I read this thread and thought I had responded to it. I guess the cough syrup I've been living on is stronger than I thought.\

You were right to resurrect this thread. I think no matter how old we get or how many people we have lost, it never gets easier.

I am sorry for the loss of you friend. I am sure of one thing, he was very lucky to have you in his life.

HUGS,

Mark
"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline oscarbi69

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Re: Survivor's Guilt
« Reply #70 on: February 29, 2008, 07:39:35 AM »
No, your not the only one Alan. For all the years I was living healthy with this virus, and watching so many others pass on, from aids, or other causes, I was having these feelings of guilt quite a lot. I still do at times. I often wondered "why", or "what" makes me continue to go on. Or " what can I say". I was feeling almost freakish at times.

I am sorry about your fellow church goer. Words can be difficult to come up with at times.... I know this too well. Sometimes just a smile and a touch on a shoulder is what someone needs. I know....

                        Well first of all ,we all have a destiny and a role to play out in our lives,so take the strengths of the ones who have passed and applie there love to your existance and honour there memories that way.I have lost many friends and feel I live for them as well as me .This gives me much peace ,try it it will truley uplift your self and your way of thinking positive,Peace   Brad
Ray
Seeking info on lipodystrophy and any advice.

 


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