Life before HIV… It was never without challenges. I had a challenge that almost every woman battles, loving yourself enough. I was the kind of person who looked outside of myself for happiness. As a result, I ended up in the wrong relationships. I had low self-esteem issues and suffered from depression caused by things I could not even control. I am and always have been a very health conscious person.
I guess this lack of self-love might have influenced my “about other people” persona. Stay with me, keep reading.
As life would have it, I met a guy…I was going through a rough period, in between jobs. Unemployed: YES! Unemployed. LOL
I was grateful for having met someone who accepted me for who and what I was, disregarding the fact that the acceptance should come from myself before it came from anyone else. I grew to trust him, he was like MY HERO. At the beginning of our relationship we kept saying we would get tested together but never made the time and so we tested separately, my results came out negative at the time (I tested at a mobile clinic and did not bother asking for a certificate). We then just discussed the results without either one of us having proof of each other’s status. Big MISTAKE!!! He had gone to his doctor for his test and on hindsight, I vividly remember how low he was after his results came out. When I asked why he was that low, he told me his doctor brought to his attention that he has a liver issue of sorts. He actually started asking me what I would do if I found out he has infected me with HIV, which I found strange but never really made an issue out of, even though I should have. Little did I know that I would find that I have the virus, a few months later!
The interesting thing is that the signs were always there: but like any other person I ignored them because I believed he loved me the best way he knew how and I loved him. I loved him more than I loved myself it would seem. STUPID! I tell you…I nursed him back to health, made sure he ate well and we also exercised together. A month later (after the hospital admission), I left him because he started drinking excessively and I could not understand why he was not taking care of himself. We really need to find better way of dealing with things: Alcohol isn’t it! I kept asking what bothered him but he just continued drinking more than he was supposed to. I had to leave him because I felt I could not take care of someone who could not take care of himself. Sometimes you just have to be selfish: it is a pity I learnt that a little too late. I wrote him a note, packed some of my belongings which were at his house and that is how I left. By then I had started battling health wise: Nothing I haven’t overcome! In January 2016, I did my routine health tests as usual. I told the doctor I was feeling tired most of the time, had hectic diarrhoea, rash everywhere and that is when I was diagnosed with HIV. I was never ready for it, but it made perfect sense to me in my head because I ran into my ex with different women each time after our break-up and felt a bit concerned. This is not to say that everyone that behaves in this manner or has the abovementioned symptoms has HIV. Ok? We clear? Great!J
When I was diagnosed, the first thing I did was pick up the phone and call him because we had broken up, but I was never exposed to risk during the period of our break up and that is why I had the confidence to call him. He ignored my calls, which led to me ultimately texting him and he denied everything and asked that I send him all my previous test results, which off course I did, but when it was his turn to send proof of his results, it obviously did not happen! At a later stage he wanted us to meet up and talk, to protect himself and his identity because he thought I would publicly disclose who infected me, he tried to make amends, but I did not budge. This was after I had gone public through a blog, which he ordered me to delete, but I didn’t because what I have written is merely my story and it implicates no one else. I was also surprised why he was concerned because he claimed he did not have the virus. At a certain point he threatened to take legal action against me for writing my blog in spite of not disclosing who infected me, but I did not delete my blog. It’s still there… Go read it (https://paballoyabathoptyltd.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/thriving-through-trials-and-tribulations-2/). I told him to go ahead and take legal action. That set me back emotionally because I felt angry all over again. I was so angry, cursed him every chance I got but each time I cursed him I felt worse about my status and my situation as a whole and figured I should leave it all to karma. The minute I made the decision to leave him alone, I started investing more in educating myself about the virus and my health. My healing journey began (difficult as it was) and I started slowly forgiving myself and figured I should let go of my anger in relation to my ex. To think we dated just under a year and I ended up with the virus. The thought killed me but in time, I started taking better care of myself and that is when I slowly forgave him. I had to forgive him even though he denied it and never apologised for it. I felt so robbed! But I had to do it for my own inner peace.
I never thought HIV would find me, more so because of my lifestyle. When it did find me: I felt life was not fair. I mean before I met the guy who infected me, I dated a guy for almost seven years and left him because he was cheating on me and I did not want to end up with an infection like HIV, but I ended up with the virus anyway and you know why? Obviously because I did not condomise! I think we all fall into that trap. Once you think you know a person well enough (after 5-6 months), you stop USING PROTECTION, which is WRONG! Wrong, wrong, wrong! Did I tell it’s wrong? Well, I am telling you now! It is just WRONG! I like to joke with my friends and say my ex was just meant to bring HIV into my life and nothing else. Hahaha!
Moving right along: I love running (See what I did there? Move along, run! Never mindJ). I do this gym thing at least three times a week and I watch what I eat, so HIV was the last thing on my mind. Little did I know that it would find me through someone I loved and trusted, a trap most of us fall into. Now I see things differently. “HIV DOES LIVE AND IT SOMETIMES COMES THROUGH OUR LOVED ONES, i.e., WHERE AND WHEN WE LEAST EXPECT IT.” Zibheke tsotsi..