My publisher asked me to 'write about something other than Jesus for a change,' and rather than tell him to go fuck himself, I thought I'd do the Christian thing and be humble and kind. So instead, I asked him, 'What would you like me to write about?' He suggested I spend some time on 'love and the pursuit of happiness regardless of status.' I thought that was a beautiful and noble subject'with which I have lots of experience. Who better to talk about living in a healthy, loving, long-term, partnered HIV-positive relationship than me? So here goes'
Last week I broke up with my boyfriend. He said he was 'scared.'
This, now, is me breathing deeply to compose my darker emotions. This is me resigning myself to being single again and to the indeterminate time of loneliness that comes with it. And this is me sagely relegating the year of off-again, on-again pseudo-relationship stagnation to a lesson well-learned. I guess I should be heartbroken or angry or forlorn. And I am. But not over him; it has very little to do with him. He's just the person I decided to hitch my wagon to, and I knew better. I'm kind of pissed at myself. I played the martyr. I played the benevolent HIV-positive partner willing to compromise and concede on behalf of someone who was ill-equipped, incapable, and terrified to engage in the type of emotionally mature relationship that I required. He was unwilling to risk falling in love with me because he didn't quite know what it might entail'or if he would be up for the challenge. I think I forget that for some people, being in a relationship with me represents a real and measurable danger. And I'm not talking about HIV.
HIV is never the issue'no more than my having green eyes, being unable to watch violent blockbuster films, or having a propensity for public displays of affection is an issue. Relationships are complicated and difficult; they are fragile and rare. And any number of things could be the reason why two infinitely different strangers might not work out as a couple. In my experience HIV has never weighed any heavier than my race, economic standing, age, education, dick size, intellectual capacity, or religious affiliation. HIV is just one out of a thousand reasons why the precariously sensitive balance of a relationship may topple over and crumble into rubble at one's feet.
He is HIV-positive too, newly diagnosed. I think I was the place where he learned to get his confidence back. Where he learned that someone could accept him, disease and all. Where he practiced playing the role of boyfriend and not just anonymous fuck-buddy friend. Where we fleshed out the idea that the true virus is solitude'that loneliness is the pathogen that makes strangers reach for strangers without protection or guard, hoping against hope to find connection on any level. And because so many of us are alone, there will always be others who are also alone to find. Yet if we are willing to be vulnerable and risk the small'but very real'chance that the world will stop spinning on its axis, then perhaps that one special person will be brave enough to accept us'regardless.
Because the alternative is worse. No one wants to be alone.
And so here I am'alone again, a victim of the lonely, searching for another soul who I can help feel less alone, just doing my best'to be continued'