Why Healing is Necessary in the Movement

I know I will never forget what it felt like to hear over the phone that my HIV test came back with a positive result. Damn!! Life as I had hoped it would turn out was over. I couldn't see past the diagnosis. Yet the next thing I did feel was an overwhelming sense of loneliness because who could I tell, but more importantly, who could I trust? I thought my mom would end up burying me due to complications from AIDS. I never saw any simulation post-diagnosis in which I would actually recover. Well, my mom's worst nightmare did not come true. However, years later after disclosing to my entire family, my worst nightmare did come true and my mom died without me being there to show her one last time my love for her.
 
As unexpected as my mom's passing was, so much so was the hurt I felt at hearing the news. I was trying to get to her but I was just short of time. I am working through it and slowly getting better at accepting that my source of strength, unconditional love, and guidance is no longer physically with me. At times, it is the hardest thing to deal with all over again, and other times, I think of her and smile or laugh. Still, I knew that in the face of everything that happened, I had to continue to work and keep myself busy. I felt confident enough in myself to go ahead and go to the HIV is Not a Crime Training Academy II in Huntsville, Alabama. I knew I had signed on as one of the moderators of the conference, yet I hadn't prepared on having two trans sisters there who were not physically well enough to take care of themselves. Sufficed to say, on the first night when my name was being called to come on stage, I was in my dorm room taking care of both my sisters. I did apologize the next day, but my decision to do it again would remain the same. 
 
On the next day, I set out to do what I had to do after not having any sleep. I could not in good conscience go to sleep and not keep a watchful eye on my sister who ended up in the hospital for the duration of the conference. So once she was on her way to the hospital, I set out to work. I was on a plenary discussing meaningful involvement of impacted communities in the decriminalization of HIV. I moderated a plenary centering on antiblackness and HIV criminalization. I co-facilitated a workshop with Arianna Lint, The Well Project Community Advisory Board member and A Girl Like Me blogger that focused on the impact HIV criminalization has on the transgender community. I gave video and audio interviews to Mark S. King of My Fabulous Disease and Victoria Law of The Body. I networked with so many fierce advocates and other stakeholders in the eradication of new HIV transmissions, yet on the inside, I knew that I was feeling empty. 
 
It happened again. I was in a room full of people and had their undivided attention. I mean they were hanging on my every word and even told me so after I spoke, yet I felt so alone. Because I was around so many people at any given moment, I kept everything I was feeling to myself, yet those who were around me noticed that I was barely eating. They kept up with the hours I slept and saw that I really needed to take care of me. I knew they were right and I did my best to eat. I tried to rest, but it was in vain. I simply hadn't begun to heal from the loss of my mother and all of the issues that arose behind her passing. On the last day of the conference after having met my obligations, I broke from all the weight of trying to keep it together. I'm actively working through those issues because I know that's what she would have wanted. I continue to feel the warmth in my heart at the thought of her smile. Healing for me comes in many forms, albeit in tears or smiles, because as long as I am doing both, I am still living.

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