[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ecently, a friend of mine (one whom I consider to be a sister) experienced some hardship from her spouse that left her emotionally hurt, even though he most likely didn’t intend or even want to hurt her, especially as severely as he did. But she was hurt. To lead a person on and give them false hope and then instantly take that hope away can kill and/or damage the soul. For some, it can create a spirit of hatred, for others it can starve the chances to ever feed on the ability to hope again; all because of the fear to ever love again.
My sister’s pain was so intense that many of us around her felt her pain, but you could not see her pain. After opening her heart to another person only to once again have it shattered, she had cried out loud in private but only a small group of people knew of this pain; when she went out in public she graciously held her head up high, smiled, and somehow had the strength the encourage someone else even in the midst of her own pain. Why? Simply because she continued to have hope in the essence of love and to shield herself from the fear that comes from a spirit of hatred; she was able to go on only because of that one great gift, the greatest gift of all, that each individual seeks…Love.
Without a “love is blind” kind of love, you can begin to question yourself, the other person, your supporters, and even love. Therefore, you must have a reason to remain in love, to hope in love and to fall in love over and over again. My sister had this deep faith in love.
Her story made me take a step back to look at my own story—her struggle came at a time when I had to make the decision to take HIV medications.
Now, many of my friends consider me to be the strong-willed one. For some reason, they believe that I have it all together, perhaps because they know that, no matter whatever happens, I lean on my faith and hope in my faith to bring me through any and all trials.
However, they don’t realize that being HIV-positive packs its own bag of troubles. For example, I did struggle with the decision to start HIV medication. A decision that I didn’t take lightly. I had many thoughts about how the medications would change my daily activities. Hearing stories from other people taking an HIV regimen had me questioning if it really was worth taking.
Many of us, including myself, may have to force ourselves to get into the routine of managing our HIV/AIDS disease. Importantly, we must have reasons to continue to follow that routine. Taking an HIV regimen is no one’s dream come true, but when you have the ability to access a medication that you know that you cannot afford each month and a medication that some have been denied from obtaining, then that is reason enough to follow the script as the doctor has ordered.
In the end, love and faith overshadowed all fear and led me to make the right decision. Love for my newly adopted son, love for my family and friends, love for life, and most of all, love for myself allowed me to hope for the best. Instead of fearing the meds, I chose to love life and fight to live.
As a mother, I vowed to do all I could to make sure that my child has the best life possible. Therefore, it is my duty to follow the plan because anything less can cause him pain in the end. I refuse to have my child fear the worst when I can continue to give him hope by loving him enough to fight to live.
As a minister of the gospel, you are not expected to have an HIV diagnosis. You are expected to live according to higher standards and expectations. Most often, the people will look at you differently only because you do not meet their expectations, but when you choose to try to meet their expectations by trying to give the people what they want you will also be choosing to lose a part of yourself and diminish a part of your purpose. You must learn to care for yourself (I had to learn to do just that). I made a decision years ago, to not lose a part of me trying to meet another person’s expectations. I am HIV-positive and I choose to love me. You have to love yourself and work hard to fulfill your purpose in life in order to effectively love others and minister to them through their pain (and as an Evangelist, I must continue the work). Ultimately, I had to remind myself that no matter what your position is in life you must love your life and strive to live your “best life.”
In my past, taking an HIV regimen was not the answer. Therefore, I strived hard to do everything I possibly could to keep my numbers up so I wouldn’t have to hear my doctor tell me “that now is the time to consider taking an HIV therapy.” However, today staying alive and being healthy is the only answer for me. It’s the only answer for my son, for my family and it is the only answer for my purpose. Before I cause any pain to those whom I love and love me back, I must do what my doctor suggests in order to be there for my family and to stay on top of the ground.
The one thing that I truly hate about the wait on taking medication is that once I heard my doctor tell me that it is time for me to start taking the medication, it was as if I just received my HIV diagnosis all over again. Therefore, I suggest taking the medication once you have received the news so you will not have to endure a second “Big Bang” in your life.
If you don’t understand your HIV/AIDS regimen, seek answers by asking as many questions as you need to in order to ensure a good and healthy life. There is not one person on earth who can be a good parent to their child if they are not here to be a parent to their child. Fight for your life and for your family but most of all, fight to survive for yourself.
Following my friend’s willingness to love in spite of the obstacles, I walk boldly with my head up high in the spirit of love. Love is going to carry me through every moment that I have to take my pill and love is going to keep me adherent to my regimen.
Love is blind but it is worth fighting for. Just remember, that in order to fight for true love you must know how to administer it to yourself first before you can even think about sharing this gift with someone else.
As an HIV/AIDS advocate and evangelist of the gospel I chose to love by loving myself enough to do what it takes to live a healthy and HIV “POSITIVE” life. I’m determined to live my best life and you should, too.
Tyeshia Alston is an HIV-positive AIDS activist and educator living in Dallas, Texas. Ms. Alston strives to build hope, increase faith, and encourage others to live their best life. Ms. Alston is a mother of a handsome two-year-old boy. She is driven to educate others about HIV/AIDS by creating community awareness programs and providing HIV/AIDS services through her organization, SAAVED INC. Ms. Alston, has traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak with legislators about better healthcare access and how the disease has impacted communities which she serves and has served on panels for National Minority AIDS Council and other local organizations. Lastly, she is known to others by bringing her message to local talk shows and radio stations, working to do her part in ending AIDS. To learn more about Ms. Alston’s work, go to www.saaved.org and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email her at [email protected].