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Author Topic: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine  (Read 5911 times)

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Offline cajun74

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  • Posts: 6
3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« on: May 29, 2012, 08:08:08 PM »
Hi all,
Wading in. Long story short, I think I'm entering a new phase of acceptance or lack of acceptance. I seroconverted in Aug 2009, pretty much during the worst month of my life - economy in freefall, job loss, feeling like my life was coming apart. It was either a lying boyfriend I should have had the balls to dump a lot earlier or more likely a dumb mistake on my part on a lost, screw-it-all, wayward night. Either way, I'm realizing how angry at myself I am. I gave the future the finger, and here I am, in the future. Can't change it, right?

Got into treatment immediately, detected it within months. Yay for that. I'm in excellent health and on a certain level, everything is fine. Undetectable, yada yada. But it's not fine.

I've spent the last couple years coping. On the surface, things are good. I found a great new job. Good (if imperfect) new relationship. But I spend a lot of time worrying about my new, "compromised" self. I feel isolated. I feel pretty ok with it myself in a lot of ways, sh*t happens right, but I still feel marked somehow. I'm self-conscious about it when I go out. I have only disclosed to a few close friends, and not my family or colleagues. It would probably be ok, but I'm not honestly 100% sure it would be. Not loving that feeling.

I feel guilt. A lot of guilt. How could I do this to myself? What kind of crap role model am I? I am no longer one of those people who "takes care of themselves."

Yeah, I made a dumb mistake, or I trusted the wrong person. Should've known better in either case.

Just when I started to feel ok in mid-2010, rid of the sh*tty ex, I started to date, or at least live, again. I met a guy, we hooked up while drunk, he was the first person I had to disclose to in that way. I told him, probably not loudly or repeatedly enough, and we hooked up anyways because he didn't react at all. Bareback. When he didn't say anything, I thought he meant it was fine. I should have been clearer, or just backed off. He was mildly annoyed with me the next morning when I reiterated and a little scared. I walked him through the relatively low risk. I gave him a month's worth of Atripla as PrEP. Hell, he liked me, and wanted to date, so we did for a few months, and he even wanted (more) (probably low risk) sex, but I let it taper off. I met my new guy.

I'm sure he's fine. He's still friendly to me and I don't think he's upset with me. He's never said anything. I wonder what he thinks of me. He's a good guy, flawed and sweet. Younger than me.

Anyways, I think about that a lot. How irresponsible of me it was. A shrink told me it was fine, I was still a good person, I was learning how to handle the situation. But the poor guy was my test case. How awful.

So, now I try to disclose to other gay guys upfront even when we are flirting. Of course, I'm in a relationship, so the flirting isn't meant to get very far. But man, the looks of pity and dismay. Not fear or disgust so much, but it's still hard. I don't even want to do nominally safe things (receive a bj here or there without cumming) without telling. And sometimes I do anyways. Bad.

And of course, I did it myself once - reacted defensively. Why wouldn't I? I was in their shoes, not wanting to be an a*shole, but wanting to protect myself. I dated a poz guy for 5 years. After we broke up, I made a new policy of not dating poz guys, because I didn't want to ever worry about it again. What a jerk I was! Maybe I still am. Argh.

And here I am. I feel like I deserve the uncertain treatment, the nervousness, the skittishness. It hurts. Life is sure showing me.

So, I go about my job and my life, holding everything together, while underneath I know that I am changed, thought I'm not sure how. That I am healthy and harmless - except I'm not, not quite, even if close. What am I? Am I fooling myself with the everything is ok self-talk?

Any advice?

Offline mecch

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  • red pill? or blue pill?
Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 08:44:49 PM »
I am not saying it easy not to judge yourself but maybe you should be rather stern and intellectual about this self judgement and guilt.  If that one night of recklessness had given you the clap, and it was cured a few weeks later, you wouldn't be beating yourself up for years and years about some imagined lack of self respect. 

Maybe many in the rest of the world that is HIV- has a lot of bias and prejudice and fear and ignorance about HIV (including your previous mentality and behavior when you were HIV-), but you can't really afford indulging in this emotionalism over reason.

Its just a damned nasty virus. HIV+ people HAVE TO accept that it has no morals.  (That's my opinion, at least.)

Also, if you are in a relationship, and you are not intending to hook up with other guys, why on earth are you flirting and disclosing. ??!!   Very odd behavior you should ask yourself, why??   If you don't like disclosing, then why be a masochist and disclose to some guys you aren't even going to have sex with?

I guess it wasn't evil to give that young man a month of atripla, but it sounds kind of strange, too.  And also a waste of pills if he never took them, since you don't even know if he did, since you said he's never said anything, and you haven't asked him either. The risk and need and prescription for pep should be handled by doctors, don't you think?

You asked if you are OK but your post seems to say you are just going through the motions of being ok.  My take is that there is some masochism there, so maybe you should talk to your shrink about that.
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline Hellraiser

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  • Posts: 4,154
  • Semi-misanthropic
Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 08:54:05 PM »
No advice, but if you're still in cajun country I live in Lafayette.  If you wanna talk to another poz guy about some of this stuff PM me.  You won't be able to PM until you've made three posts however.

Offline cajun74

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  • Posts: 6
Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 08:59:13 PM »
Thanks Mecch.

1. Re stern and intellectual. You're absolutely right, and I usually am. But there are cracks in the armor...

2. Disclosure. I haven't really mastered this. I am in a slightly open relationship with another poz guy, and I still enjoy flirting and messing around with rare others. And in theory, I think they enjoy it with me. But after that horrible first foray, I just want to get it out before any physical contact. And also, I periodically hear remarks about "clean" people, and I am just working up the courage to say...hey, I am one of these "unclean" people you speak so uncharitably of...so it's partly trying to stick up for myself, partly trying to allow them informed contact with me, and hey, maybe some masochism too...

3. The Atripla thingy. What a mess! I agree, not optimal. But after our misunderstanding, it was a panicky thing I did to give him the choice of PeP without buying pills. Which are expensive. He went to the clinic and they said, sure, take the Atripla. He didn't finish the course, which is less than great and I explicitly told him (and I'm sure the clinic did too) that he needed to, but he didn't. He didn't want to buy pills from them. At any rate, I don't think he seroconverted, because I believe he would have told me. He doesn't seem to bear me any ill will at all.

Anyways, thanks for helping me to sort through the tangles...

Offline mecch

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  • red pill? or blue pill?
Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 09:18:34 PM »
I hear you about testing the waters and learning through doing. Maybe you can look at that flirting and disclosing in another light, then, and enjoy being a bad ass sexual outlaw and get that out of your system. You might be kinda baiting these guys, however.  But I think I went through a bit of the same experiences and needs about 2 years after seroconverting.  It sinks deeply in that we aren't dirty and aren't sick and as you say, life goes on pretty normally (what with your good new job and lover). 
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline cajun74

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  • Posts: 6
Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 11:30:30 PM »
@hellraiser - I'm in California but may just take you up on that. Thanks for the offer.
@mecch - lol never thought of myself as a "bad ass sexual outlaw," more of a mild-mannered PBS fan, but maybe you are right.

Thanks  both.

Offline tednlou2

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Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2012, 12:50:22 AM »
Cajun, sorry to hear things aren't going so well.  I wish I had some great words of wisdom, but I don't.  I deal with many of the things you mentioned, besides the dating and disclosure issue. 

I guess all I can say is that we're here to listen.  You can feel free to PM me as well, even just to vent. 

Btw, welcome to the forums and keep in touch.


Offline cajun74

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  • Posts: 6
Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012, 01:40:16 AM »
It's quite a relief to be here. I wish I had done this a long time ago....

Offline sshortguy1

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  • Posts: 118
Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2012, 01:49:57 PM »
cajun i know how u feel but things will pass just b/c u know you're poz and i'm sure poz people out there than u think its the fact you don't know about it

Offline cajun74

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  • Posts: 6
Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2014, 02:29:30 AM »
Here we are 2 years later...things are pretty much the same. I'm fine, although some of my neg friends seem unconvinced of my oft-stated invincibility.

I ran into the young man I described about six months ago. He pretended not to know me. Like right to my face. So that hurt a lot. But who knows what's going on with him...

Offline Cojo

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Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2014, 05:43:44 PM »
Hey Cajun,

I read through these forums almost daily and finally in your post I can see myself in your struggle. I have the exact same feelings.

I got the bug in 2011. Somewhere I screwed up and yes, lightening struck. I started meds pretty quick and have been undetectable ever since. My CD4s can be temperamental and every test cycle brings me on an anxiety rollercoaster, but everything is alright, right?

Actually no. Sure, I have a spouse, great job, travel, house blah,blah but I can't shake two things in particular - IT happened to me, and I am now somehow stained. Please my friends, don't be offended by what I said, it is just raw honesty.

I've been so lucky - no side effects, hardly ever a sniffle and just learning to live with being tired a lot (which probably is just a late forties thing anyhow).

But if I scrape below the surface of being lucky, I find a very anxious, low-esteemed and frightened man. My spouse and I have no sex life. We always had an open relationship, but now this is his sex life. It is probably much less of a mind f@#k for him being with guys who say they are "clean" then be with a "confirmed" pozzies. He gets the science, we've talked about the PARTNER study etc etc, but at the end of the day, our raw, uninhibited, spontaneous sex is now gone and I can't see it coming back.

One may think I can get my own fun with this open relationship then....

I've found that it is just a field of anxiety trying to negotiate that unpredictable and rather cruel world of NSA sex. I already have the age thing working against me (amazing how ageist the gay community is and we all do get older), but now this added strike of poz. If I disclose NSA then there is the risk of my "secret" spreading like a virus itself if not flat and outright rejected; non-disclosure increases shame and guilt and risks all kinds of legal crap. As you can tell, I am not negotiating this well.

At the end of the day, I have got to find the key to rebuilding the self esteem and self worth that this damn virus seems to have taken away. I am great at counselling others, but it just won't sink in for me.

I have vented out a lot of stuff and thanks again Cajun for your honest post that sparked something for me.
May 2011 - Tested Positive
June 2011 - CD4 330   16%   VL182,000 no resistance
Oct 6, 2011 - CD4 300  20%  VL 60,000
Oct 7, 2011 - start Truvada / Isentress
Nov 29, 2011 CD4 280 26% VL 54
Feb 7 2012 CD4 260 25% UD!
Mar 20 2012 CD4 400 28%
June 2012 CD4 330 26% UD
Sept 2012 CD4 450 32% UD
Dec 2012 CD4 310 28% UD
May 2013 CD4 500 32% UD
Oct 2013 CD4 460 33% UD
May 2014 CD4 360 33% UD
Aug 2014 swap out Isentress for Tivicay
Oct 2014 CD4 320 33% UD
Feb 2015 CD4 420 30% UD
Jul 2015 CD4 480 32% VL51 !!
Sep 2015 UD
Feb 2016 CD4 460 35% UD
Aug 2016 CD4 378 33% UD

Offline Since1993

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  • Posts: 108
Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2014, 06:54:15 PM »
I'm 21 years in and I still don't know if I'm fine with "it" or ever will be.  Often thought that lingering pre-HAART "death rattles" burned into my psyche were the cause.  To watch some folks continued uncomfortable reaction upon disclosure, or spending my entire adult life trying to make others understand that I'm just a human-being trying to live a dignified existence as long as possible before drawing my last breath.  I've never wanted to be a Stepford-Homosexual or political troll either.  I just wanted to "be" without any adjectives or declarative remarks.

With or without HIV, if you can find something in your lifetime that you are passionate about and work towards building upon, that makes you happy, then you're fine.  You have won.  Ten, twenty years from now they might find a cure and the HIV epidemic will be discussed in the similar manner that the polio epidemic is today.  So go ahead, have the courage to live your life freely, making HIV your side-bitch and life your wife.

Offline cajun74

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  • Posts: 6
Re: 3 Years In - Not Sure I'm Fine
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2014, 07:26:35 PM »
Thanks Cojo and Since1993 for your comments.

Cojo, I don't like having a "secret" either.  There could be very real career consequences for me if my status was totally public. My company would have my back in a legal sense, but I feel like the "weirdness" would be crippling, both for me and for some of my less-worldly straight colleagues, especially overseas.

I'm less worried about "the gay grapevine," but I feel very possessive of this information. It's mine to share as I choose. Disclosure in sexual settings I finally think I have down. I feel safe sharing on a need-to-know basis, clearly and unambiguously, and ensuring that I have been understood. And so far, so good.

I've convinced myself that everything is normal and, on the surface as you say, it is. Things are actually great. Career, finances, health.

But it's obviously not normal to carry around this highly sensitive piece of personal health information, and to have to make exquisite calculations about disclosure. People with cancer or diabetes can be more open, obtain more support, and receive less judgment.

I've got myself pretty much convinced that I'll be living a normal life with the retirement I'd always envisioned, but there is a voice in my head (yeah, one of those) that says: who are you kidding? I put on a brave face with friends and determinedly say that my life will carry on as planned, but some of them seem a little skeptical. Which makes me feel like I'm fooling myself.

And yet, everything is great. Except for the pill I furtively take with my lunch in the office...  :D I don't like being furtive. And yet, there it is.

They told me I'd get used to it, and I have. Sometimes I feel like the self-awareness and self-compassion it has brought have been a huge gift. It's just strange carrying around this charged secret. And I think a lot about a couple of people who stopped talking to me. I don't really know why they did this...my suspicion is that they think I was stupid and irresponsible. A great fear I  have is that they were right, and I deserve some kind of punishment, but that is just dumb and a train of thought that I can't really afford.


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