How do I get over the mental aspect of living with HIV? It's been about a year but I still have a hard time dating. I'm so scared to talk about what I have that I end up just not following through with meeting people. I've faced some rejection, and it's one of my biggest fears.
I can tell you honestly that we share a common experience. I used to be petrified about what other people might think about me. I was so paranoid about rejection that I spent the first six months after my diagnosis drinking myself into numbness. I exercised harder than ever, used copious amounts of self-tanner and I fussed over my appearance more that I’d like to admit. I did all of this because I was judging myself on the inside and I didn’t want my outside to show it.
Eventually, I got sick of letting HIV win. It felt as if I was a prisoner, but all it took to unlock my cell was telling people who care about me what I was going through. And believing them when they told me I was still worthy of happiness. It's a deceptively simple solution, but it's one that so many are afraid of embracing because it requires finding your inner strength.
What you are looking for is validation. You want to know that you are still good enough and that you deserve all that you did before. Sorry, my friend, but no one can give that to you. In fact, there will always be someone who will try to make you feel as if you aren't good enough. When it's validation you're looking for, you have to take it for yourself.
You have to believe that you are worthy of the love and respect that you seem to think HIV has taken. No one can take away a damn thing from you, but it is yours to give away. Right now, by thinking that HIV has some kind of a hold on you that you can't seem to shake, you are letting the jerks and the assholes win. Screw them. By showing courage and owning who you are, HIV and all, you aren't just worth as much as you were before — you are worth a hell of a lot more.
There will always be assholes in your life, but if you treat yourself with love and respect, it's pretty easy to sift through the crap and surround yourself with those who love you. The dating game is full of rejections, but when you don’t internalize HIV as being “who you are,” it won’t matter as much when someone isn’t prepared to handle it. If you are truly confident about who you are and what you have to offer, trust me when I say your problems with dating will change from being afraid of rejection to making sure you choose the right guy for you.