Monday, October 21, 2013

PART 2 OF Hello! My name is Zoey, I'm a 27 year old MtF translady #HIV #TRANSGENDER

(Continuing from last night, sorry for the wait!)

When I arrived, both my parents were awake, looks of deep concern across both their faces, which was more unexpected from my father than my mother. Mom followed me outside and I sat on our driveway, looking silently up at the stars, which were surprisingly bright that night.

Time passed, my mom silently waiting for me to tell her what had happene...d. I sighed and let it out. I had been diagnosed with HIV.

Those words, I think, are among the last things a mother could ever bear to hear their child say, right next to “I hate you.” and “I'm being sent to the front lines.”

Her jaw dropped, and she covered her mouth in horror. She just leaned over and hugged me. There's times where there isn't anything that can be said... I suppose that's one of them.

My father, ever the supportive one, didn't have the same sort of reaction.

“Son (twitch), I could have told you that this was going to happen to you. With the way you've been living-”

I think that was the first time in my life I told my father to shut up. I guess there was enough pain in my voice that, instead of an angry retort, he just went back into the house.

My mom and I continued gazing silently at the stars. Not a word was said, her holding my hand as we feared what lied ahead on my path. Eventually, I had to go, for there was something I had to do that I dreaded even more than telling my parents. I had to go and pick up my boyfriend from work, and I had to tell him everything, no matter how badly I feared the reaction.

I said goodbye to my mom, and as she watched me walk back to my car, her expression was one of fear. It was like she thought that she'd never see me again after that night.

As much as I hate to admit it, she was almost right.

The entire drive to go pick him up, I tried as hard as possible to relax, to put it all out of my mind and to be as calm as possible when I got there. As I pulled into the parking lot though, it all came right back. He came out and motioned me over to the door, and I tried to stifle my tears again. I failed miserably, but continued to walk to him.

Him: “Hey, honey, we were really slammed tonight, I'm sorry it's taking so long, would you mind if... if... Are you crying?”

Me: “No, no, it's just my allergies acting up.” (I'm not allergic to anything)

Him: “Honey, what's wrong?”

Me: “Nothing. Don't worry about it, just finish closing up and-”

His hands gripped my shoulders. I looked down. He pulled my chin up and looked me in the eyes.

Him: “I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what happened.”

Fear permeated everything. I knew he would reject me. I thought of leaving him everything I own, of taking just my motorcycle, my handgun and the money in my bank account, and just riding away, either until I ran out of gas, broke down or reached the Pacific Ocean. And then shooting myself wherever I ended up.

Looking back, I wasn't thinking clearly, but that was literally the plan. I knew it had to have happened by someone that I met before he and I were dating, because he had been tested again just before we met. I was certain he was going to reject me.

“I... just tested positive for HIV.”

His jaw dropped. His eyes went wide. He said “One minute.” and ran back into the store. I collapsed. I knew this was it. The door opened again and he shut it behind him.

Then he picked me up off the ground, and he hugged me tight. He said the words that I didn't think were possible. “I love you. This doesn't change a thing.”

The rest of the night was a blur. We picked up buffalo wings and fries for dinner and broke out the vodka. Then we had sex (the last thing I expected, but I wasn't about to turn him down) and went to bed, drunk enough, stuffed enough and satiated enough to not feel the crushing weight of my new life sentence over my head.

Over the next few months, I told everyone else I had ever been involved with. Rumors spread online through a social network and the associated community I am a part of, apparently reaching as far out as Australia. I owned up to them all, even the ones that hurt the most. I even made a few friends for the effort, some of whom have been endlessly supportive, in ways I'll never be able to properly thank them for.

I lived in near constant depression for about four months. My boyfriend wondered if he would ever see me smile again for the most of it. But then, one day, I remembered that I had a life to carry on with, and I was certainly not the only one to have to walk this road ever.

I had looked at this as a personal tragedy for so long, that I had forgotten that it isn't personal at all. It's something that many suffer, exactly the same way that I do.

So, I got back to living, as all of us have to after any life-altering event. I've continued on with my transition, and I've been happier than I've ever been before. HIV, as much of a black mark on the single page of my life as it is, is merely a footnote in my story. No matter what the future brings me, I'm confident enough to say that I'm going to be alright, just like all the rest of us suffering with HIV. It's a curse, and one that I'd not wish on my worst enemy, but it's just another thing I have to deal with. Transitioning is actually much more of a fight for me than living with HIV, so letting things get me down isn't really something I can do.

I'm sure that, by now most of the wonderful people following this page already know this, but you're never alone in this. Never feel afraid to reach out to someone when you're hurting, because silence is as much of a problem in this battle as the continued prevalence of unsafe, unprotected sex in the LGBT community and beyond.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to making many more posts and hearing from all of you lovely people in the future!

Be safe, all~!

~ Zoey Reynard
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