Re-Writing Her Script
Thank you for your contribution to HIV disclosure to sex partners.This story was originally submitted on May 5, 2013 and posted on The HIV Disclosure Project’s Facebook page.To clarify any misunderstandings, Carolyn Moos is not HIV-positive, the writer was comparing her experience in “rewriting her script”, which had striking similarities to that of Ms. Moos.
As Carolyn Moos (former girlfriend of Jason Collins) explained, it is not easy “re-writing the script”. I completely understand, as I am re-writing my own script. As I re-write the script, I have been given the opportunity to do many things I would not have done otherwise. I have met people I would not have otherwise met. This includes the HIV community, where I have the privilege of being an accepted member. It is where I belong, where I feel safe, where I am comfortable, where I can give and receive comfort, understanding and support and never be judged. For the most part it is going well with lots of changes along the way in the script.
It is going well except on those rare occasions these days when I decide to occasionally leave the comfort of my safe and supportive community and venture out to disclose my HIV status to a potential partner. I have examined carefully the possibility that the rejection I experience might be simply due to a lack of interest in or attraction to me. But repeatedly there is an initial attraction and interest, until my HIV status is disclosed to the point where I can predict, with some accuracy, and repeated patterns, what will happen after disclosure takes place. I have tried various techniques and strategies to disclosure but the outcome is always a variation of the same – rejection.
I will describe my most recent venture, which by the way, I continually say will be my last, until loneliness sets in, just plain masochism or nostalgia for the good old days when I had a regular partner, before I had to re-write my script. To summarize, it involved a man who was charming, with a great sense of humour, who was intelligent, mature and stimulating, because he could have an informed conversation on many topics. We chatted on the telephone many times and during our conversations he gradually described some serious health issues he was coping with. I listened, was understanding while at the same time I felt a bit uneasy as I wondered just how fragile he was physically with the near death experiences he described. He did assure me that he was almost recovered, with only one surgery left, and he was anxious to make a two hour drive to meet me for lunch.
I decided for various reasons to disclose my HIV status before our meeting and that is when everything changed. He suddenly had to get off the telephone as he had urgent things to tend to and suddenly the plan to meet on a specific day and time became vague. He wasn’t sure if he was available on that day or whether he was supposed to be somewhere else, although he proposed this plan in the first place. As I listened I thought about the irony of it all. Here was a person who had experienced serious medical conditions who was now in a panic about me, me, who has a chronic manageable illness which is not a threat to anyone. I must admit at one point I I was having nightmarish thoughts about him “dropping dead on the job”.
I ventured out this last time onto the dating scene and heard people describing the sort of partner they were looking for with emphasis on someone who was “clean”, “disease free” with one man who threw all tact aside and ranted – “Chicks with fucked up physical diseases, stay away from me”. I continued, but wondered how we stand a chance with the dating scene being as it is today. I questioned my own sanity as I had forgotten but was quickly reminded of the stigma, bashing and distorted fears people have about HIV. Was I asking and expecting too much? Is the fear of HIV so bad that it causes someone to forget their own serious medical concerns and allow irrational fear and misconceptions about HIV, a chronic manageable illness, to take over?
I don’t have the magic solution to this problem but I have an obligation to make a contribution of some sort to make the future better for young people living with HIV so they can have relationships that will be free of stigma, fear, rejection and in the worst case scenario – criminalization. My contribution is in writing about my experiences with the hopes of alleviating some of these fears.
Thank you to the HIV Disclosure Project for giving me an outlet to share my story, albeit anonymously, yet without a doubt a common story, with common themes and patterns with every person living with HIV who dares to disclose. In the meantime I am retreating back into my accepting, supportive and non judgmental HIV community for some much needed comfort.