This Is Kayley's Story, One Girl: Two People. The Joy and the Strength out of Addiction and into Care – Part 1

So it IS out. There it is, the book of: "She wore that dress".

I have been an open book, Kayley. I have been through such a struggle of self preservation. I think people can actually all be extraordinary at being themselves. I have been me for forty six years. I have not always liked me, nor liked my actions; looking back I can see

#mypassionrunsdeep.

I have done most of what you heard about me. I have also been that girl your mother warned me about. Yes. She warned me along with you; as did His, Hers, and Mine.

Day 1 spending the day without drugs. So far completed all my tasks, as I am a list girl.

HIV medications have robbed me of my short term memory. At this very moment I am acting as a licensed driver for a fellow non licensed driver. Thus making the minutes in this 24 pass. I am busy. I have done for myself and kept commitments to others. Now as I remember to breathe... The Gotcha Boy keeps disturbing the thought; writers block… anyway, have not used. Gotcha Boy is drinking and smoking weed, and back to what he was doing looking in a storage unit for something. Hope he finds it. He gives me the car and a drink and sends me to run an errand. Second errand and same way riding.

Next morning is here. Where did the day go? What is all this? Yes lost again at the double beat of the drum. 8am eating Mac n cheeses. Wow an ordeal to start today with that meeting I so needed yesterday.

Myself, I will stay focused. I drank at the bar until 3 am. I then ubered to Kaley's home. Today is fresh and I will start it that way. Silence is golden and people are strange. Kaley, you almost had the day so don't beat yourself up. Start today positively.

That girl.... I was called the AIDS girl. WTF Stigma after 35 years? Ugh! Stigma is a daily regimen for PLWHIV.

I AM TOLD I BRING IT UP TOO MUCH. WELL IT'S ROUGHLY STUCK TO ME THROUGH GESTURES AND ACTIONS LIKE THAT FROM A STRANGER. A complete stranger walks past me and says, "You're the AIDS girl". I beg your pardon. Why be so ugly?

To be like that to a stranger is proof your ugly runs deep. This old method of running away to escape say; O, Me. It's old and outdated. Time to update, the words become my shelter, my safe place. A route to find my way home. Outta this hell I call life. I have today again. I am not fighting with anyone except myself. I will totally rely on my determination and fully on my faith to see this through. Today Kayley and I can move mountains or prepare the grave; thus far it's a great day. I am a clean mean--I'm going to rid myself of these vices--killin it machine, and that meeting I needed so much time to go.

I am living with HIV. I am not defined by it or the addiction I battle. HIV has changed me as much as the drugs have hurt me. Life on Life's terms. Choose life. Stay Beautiful you are worth it.

to be continued…

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Jennifer Johnsen, MD, MPH, Managing Editor

Pain is common in people living with HIV. Understand common types of pain, what to do if you have pain, and ways to manage or treat pain.

Our community advisory board is composed of a group of women living with HIV who provide us with their guidance as we develop and offer our programming.

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