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Author Topic: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?  (Read 1706 times)

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Offline sdguyloveslife

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When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« on: September 02, 2009, 01:53:42 PM »
I need to vent!  I’ve been so upset about this since it happened.  I was working out at the gym yesterday and a guy was chatting me up and hitting on me.  This guy was really aggressive, sexually suggestive, offered me a massage, and even at one point he told me I was “so handsome and sexy” that he would give anything to kiss me right there.  I told him that the best possibility I could offer was to be a friend.  Honestly, I have NO interest in him for anything else.  He’s a lawyer…doesn’t that say enough?  ( ;D  Just making a little joke…sorry to you lawyers out there!)

At one point in the conversation, he blurted out, “I’m HIV negative, you’re negative too, right?  You don’t look like a poz guy.”  I probably didn’t even need to answer, because he would have just kept on talking, but instead, I hesitated for a minute, lied and just said “yeah.”  He was asking me like it was the time of day, but my gut told me not to entertain the conversation, and while it doesn’t always work, I try to listen to my gut.  All in the same moment, I was kinda ticked off because I wanted to ask him what a poz guy looks like!   

Needless to say, this guy isn’t getting in my gym shorts…ever…so my status is totally irrelevant to him.  But, I still have this incredible sense of guilt about lying – but most importantly, it just adds more fuel to my low self-esteem and self-loathing that has just gotten worse since I got this bug.   

To me this still feels like a “personal” question.  I’ve been very private about my health status – whether it’s my depression or my HIV – I just don’t walk around telling people in the first 10 minutes that I meet them.  I’ve suffered from some pretty severe depressive episodes in my life, but I have never even told anyone in my family, just a couple of my closest friends and ex-lovers.  It’s just the way I’ve always been.  My Mom has always been a diabetic, but growing up as kids, we were never allowed to tell anyone about Mom’s condition.   

Maybe I’m just being paranoid but this guy seems to me to be one of these “social butterfly” types and I just don’t want it to become the latest item of gossip at the gym.  I know several guys that work out there – but they’re acquaintances; not friends that I consider close enough to tell anyway.   

F^#k!  I guess as long as I let it be an intrusive question it’s going to be!  Is “time” the only way you get there?  I’m sitting here wondering what would have happened if I said, “Actually buddy, even though you don’t think I look like it, I have HIV.”   ???  Think I need some self-esteem back before I can get there. 
Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.

Offline GSOgymrat

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Re: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2009, 02:20:09 PM »
I think you have every right to be offended. I would have lied straight to his face and not felt guilty about it at all. The question was inappropriate.

Offline Joe K

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Re: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2009, 02:29:37 PM »
What a difficult situation, but you should have said: "My HIV status is irrelevant, since nothing sexual will ever happen between us".  I say this because at some point, you need to develop a thicker hide, or find out why you suffer from low self-esteem.  Also, you have every right to decide that a status inquiry is private information and if the other person won't respect that boundary, that is their problem, do not make it yours.  I would also be careful about confusing how you feel about yourself, with his perception of what an infected person would look like.  They are two separate and distinct things and maybe your confusing them is creating conflicting feelings for you.

The bottom line to all of this, is what you can do to raise your self-esteem.  I found therapy very beneficial in helping me overcome self-esteem issues and as my faith in me increased, outside influences had much less effect.  I believe you need to understand your personal issues and maybe where you truly need to start is by forgiving yourself, for whatever role you played in becoming poz.  I am not judging you, nor should you be judging yourself.  You are pos and if you contributed to acquiring it, you need to face that and forgive yourself, for a mistake.

Being pos requires walking a very fine line, especially in affairs of the heart.  I think that when you start to address the esteem issues, the other irritants will become much less pervasive.  I believe that we project what we feel and when you consider yourself to be "damaged goods", it colors your emotional interactions.  I hope that you know that you are worthy of love and having HIV does not change that reality.  You have done nothing wrong, nor do you deserve HIV.  That said, you are pos and since that will not change, you need to alter how you see yourself and in doing so, you will alter how you perceive the world sees you.  If you always suspect that people will either use or abuse you, you will never allow anyone to get close enough, to tear down your walls, to get at the real you.

I know this is very hard, but surely you are tired of such feelings.  Feelings that only you can change.

Offline mecch

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Re: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2009, 03:01:51 PM »
I don't think it is self-loathing to lie to a stupid lawyer prick like that.  There is no need to disclose to someone you will see around the gym in the future and who is, as we see, a dick.  Bravo for you. 
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline Ann

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Re: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2009, 03:52:04 PM »
Hi SD,

I'm very open about my status and I've faced this comment many times now in a slightly different format. I get the "but you don't look like you're poz!" or "you don't look like you've got aids!" That's when I tell them that many poz people don't "look poz" and what does a poz person look like anyway? And by the way, I don't have aids. I'm just poz.

And of course, I ask them about their status. If they say neg (and most do) I ask them when was the last time they tested. Nine times out of ten, they never have - or if they have, it was "years ago". "So how the hell could you possibly know you're neg? Is it because you THINK you know what a poz person looks like and won't have sex with them?" The reaction to this is always quite amusing when the conversation started because they were chatting me up. ;D You can see the little wheels turning behind their eyes. "Go get tested, mate."

Yeah, yeah, I know, I can't help myself. I turn any conversation I can (obviously, where appropriate) into a lesson on hiv. I try to get people to test regularly. I try to get people to use condoms. I try to keep other people from joining our ranks.

SD, don't beat yourself up because you're not "ok" with this yet. It takes time. You'll get there eventually, if you work on it.

Hang in there!

Ann
« Last Edit: September 02, 2009, 03:54:09 PM by Ann »
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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

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Offline Inchlingblue

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Re: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2009, 03:55:24 PM »
Do NOT let this get to you. I know it's easier said than done, but you seem to have some sort of "guilt" associated with the fact that you did not disclose.

In your profile on here you stated, "My biggest hangup about HIV is the social stigma that is still attached to the disease." Sometimes life has a way of putting us in the situations we most need. In your case, this experience at the gym could help you get over that "hangup," but getting over it does not necessarily mean having to disclose your status if you are not comfortable doing so.

HIV disclosure is a very personal thing, if you don't want to tell people you should not tell people, period. Maybe at some point in the future you will want to disclose or maybe you won't, it's up to you and it does not in any way reflect poorly on your character if you choose not to disclose. In my opinion this is not a "self esteem" issue.

Disclosure also does not have to be all or nothing. You  may choose to disclose in some settings to some people and not in others. There are no rules, only what feels right for you.

And by the way, if this lawyer guy uses the strategy he used with you to find out if someone has HIV, he will likely be running into many other people who won't be forthcoming. His approach to asking, the way he asks, is so inappropriate that it's likely to result in many "false negatives." ;)  

 
« Last Edit: September 02, 2009, 04:13:20 PM by Inchlingblue »

Offline newt

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Re: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2009, 04:27:07 PM »
well a jerk is a jerk even if he's HIV-negative  :D

To be serious a moment...

You will be okay about this, it just takes time, and it's perfectly reasonable to take time, as much as you need.

People take different amounts of time, and the trigger to realise, yes I have HIV, and yes it's boring me stupid, I gotta do sommat about, it is different for each. HIV opens doors with some people and closes them with others. It is, for better or worse, a reason to get of the treadmill of what's expected of you, and be yourself.

An HIV diagnosis can be a big thing and for it to become a small thing you need to find your own pace and path. There are plenty, plenty hot, considerate positive and negative guys (and girls) out there who are okay with HIV-positive folk, some prob. at your gym.

For me it took 3-4 years, and starting treatment (when I sprung up here) - like "I gotta do this thing called combo and it scares me a bit"...now it's "I gotta remember to do this thing called combo, erm, what am I supposed to be doing, and by the way mr, your have moral shortcomings and I am gonna tell you so stop hitting on me jerk"...

For my ex (still no 1 boy I guess) it was longer...but one day he just woke up an decided he wasn't ill, he wasn't an invalid...he was a worthwhile person and he wasn't taking shit no more or worrying about being HIV-postive, if people didn't like it, tough. He had Stuff To Do.

It's very personal, it seems to me.

Disclosure is a choice, not an obligation in most situations. You don't have to wear a badge. People are not (in my book) entitled to know without good reason, and you need to feel comfortable and able to tell them, feel factual about it.

- matt
"The object is to be a well patient, not a good patient"

Offline manchesteruk

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Re: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2009, 05:51:11 PM »
It's just about 4 years down the line now for me now and I can comfortably say I am ok with my HIV status.  I'd say the first year was rocky for me but I had my final year of University to concentrate on to begin with then finding and starting a job.  It was when all that other stuff had settled down and I really began to think about the future a bit more it became hard for me.  I definitely recommend counselling or sessions with a psychologist if you haven't already. Even if you only use them to get some things off your chest in a confidential envronment.  It really helps.  Keeping it all to yourself is not healthy.

Diagnosed 11/05

"Life is too important to be taken seriously" Oscar Wilde

Offline positivmat

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Re: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2009, 07:04:52 AM »
Hey SD,  I think that your asshole radar works and you picked up on the total insensitivity of this jerk immediately. So you are a caring sensitive guy who is more attuned to the feelings (and non-feelings) of others. I would still cringe at that remark being only 7 months diagnosed, but I think I might have picked up on that one 3 years ago too.
The hurt that you feel inside though should be addressed. I choose therapy but a good friend can help too. There is so much more to us. I was talking to someone recently about my status and they asked me a question about my job. As I answered the question, I realized how truly blessed I was to have my job and my situation. All of the great things in my life started flowing through my consciousness. It turned my status on its head. I was no longer an HIV test result, I was all of me. I say "was" because this early in my diagnosis I don't hold on to that enough but I will, I will. And I hope you do too. In your response to mr asshole is the jewel of you. You are a caring sensitive person who sees through his unfortunate uneducated remark. I hope you can see that in yourself.

Offline sdguyloveslife

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Re: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2009, 01:04:16 PM »
I think you have every right to be offended. I would have lied straight to his face and not felt guilty about it at all. The question was inappropriate.

Thanks Ford!  It's that good ol' "Catholic Guilt" that always seems to pop up at these times...never fails!  I’m wondering though if I DID have to courage to say I had HIV if that would have sent him running and just leave me alone! 


Joe, are you a therapist?  You ought to be!  You pegged me almost exactly and these are issues I work on with my therapist all the time. 

Self-esteem has been an issue for me for as long as I can remember.  I’ve been complimented on my “looks” a lot, but I usually don’t take that in.  (In my "rose-colored glasses world" I want to be loved/liked for who I am on the inside – not for how I look.)  I often think there is an ulterior motive and I usually don’t trust what’s being said.  This probably goes back to being sexually abused as a child.  When I look in the mirror, I just don’t see the same guy that the outside world sees when they look at me.  I want to, but I just don’t!   


Ann, you’re a natural teacher – my nickname for you is The Oracle of HIV on The Rock  :D  – I always appreciate your supportive responses and believe this site benefits tremendously from your consistently invaluable input!  I really do aspire to reach your level of serenity with all of this and one day, I hope to turn something like this into a teaching moment! 


In your profile on here you stated, "My biggest hangup about HIV is the social stigma that is still attached to the disease." Sometimes life has a way of putting us in the situations we most need. In your case, this experience at the gym could help you get over that "hangup," but getting over it does not necessarily mean having to disclose your status if you are not comfortable doing so.
 

I agree with this so much – and even though it is uncomfortable for me, I know that the Universe will keep on putting me in these situations until I am just “OK” with it.  You guys are really helping me get ready for the next time!


For my ex (still no 1 boy I guess) it was longer...but one day he just woke up an decided he wasn't ill, he wasn't an invalid...he was a worthwhile person and he wasn't taking shit no more or worrying about being HIV-postive, if people didn't like it, tough. He had Stuff To Do.


Matt, you have no idea how badly I want that day to come!! 


Thanks everyone for all of your responses and support.  This site is always a great lifeline for me! 
Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.

Offline hotpuppy

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Re: When am I ever going to be just "OK" with this?
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2009, 02:03:04 PM »
A few thoughts:

1) I would have said, actually I am poz.  I would have then turned the tables and told him he should assume everyone is poz and play safe or he will be poz too.  It's impossible to tell someone's status by asking and I would point out that I could have easily lied to him and had unprotected sex with him.  Yes he would have probably walked away... .Who cares.  He is either ignorant or .... well let's just pretend he doesn't know better, even though he should.

2) The problem is that people have this belief "I think I'm safe" and they need to change that to "Maybe I won't be safe if....."  that will get them to play safe.

3) There is nothing wrong with cruising at the gym.  However, make sure you workout somewhere that it is okay to do that.  All gyms have some sexual overtones and cruising going on.  Most of them will throw you out, have you arrested, and cause a big stink.  I work out at Club Houston which, yes, is a bathhouse.  It also happens to be a nice, clean, well Air Conditioned, dance music playing, all gay gym.  It's very competitive vs. bally's and unlike bally's I'm not going to get tossed out for cruising or more.  :)  I also find that many of the other guys who work out there are HIV+ so I see alot of friends there and that makes it more enjoyable.  They do require that you workout when you are there as a gym memeber, and yes they do watch.  It's all good.

4) When you ask if you are going to be "OK" you are on the way.  Fuming about the past produces very little change in the past.  It's good to know where you have been, but it's better to focus on where you want to be. 

5) There is no "right" answer.  Follow your gut feeling.  Your HIV status is a private thing and if you don't want to tell others than don't.  I disclose because I vowed never to be in the closet a long time ago.  Not to being gay, and now now to being HIV+.  That's my choice.  I don't broadcast it or announce it.  I too find pompous, aggressive lawyer types to be annoying.  The Intern soon to be rich doctor type doesn't get much traction with me either.  I doubt I would have encouraged him to stick around long enough to ask me about my status. 

6) Lastly, remember.... information is like playing poker.  Once you put it on the table, nobody can use it against you.  As long as you hold it close to your chest you are vulnerable to rumors and gossip.  When you are out there with it you may have someone gossip, but you are in the position of power.  I personally prefer to let people who have a problem with my HIV status make themselves known.  That way we can discuss *their* problem or I can avoid them and *their* problem.  After all, I don't have a problem with my HIV status.  And fyi, from your post, neither do you.

:)

Don't obsess over the wrong things.  Life isn't about your numbers, it isn't about this forum, it isn't about someone's opinion.  It's about getting out there and enjoying it.   I am a person with HIV - not the other way around.

 


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