First, I'm going to start by telling you the story of a young woman who had no strength, no self-confidence and no dignity. The story of this young woman is my own and it's a story I've only ever shared with one person, oddly enough, someone I had sworn to always be an enemy of mine.
I was only 16, a young woman, impressionable too. I was attending the all nighter at a skating rink, where I met my very first girlfriend. I had met people before and I would share with them my status and although they were not mean, they did not want to continue a relationship with me. She was different, much different. She seemed to understand. Aside from the father of my child, who did accept my status and still wanted to be with me, she was the only other person who seemed to care for me regardless. I eventually consumed myself with her and her "love". I was pregnant when we first met. I hadn't known at the time. I started to realize the changes in my body and once it was confirmed that I was 16 and pregnant, I immediately wanted an abortion. She talked me out of it. She told me she'd help me, we'd be a family. I believed that and in that moment, I was the happiest teenager alive.
Shortly after, it was shown to me while I remained naive, that she just did not really love me. Eventually it got to a point where we would fight, verbally and physically, because of her infidelities, but I still wouldn't leave. Why? I believed her when she would repeatedly say, "You think anybody else is going to want you? I'm the only one who will want you with that s***," or my favorite, "I'll tell everybody you sick, nobody else wanted you, just me." I clung to that, and eventually I believed that. I remembered wanting companionship and not being able to secure it because of my admission of my status. I did not want to feel unwanted, nasty, alone again. So I allowed her to mistreat and abuse me. I would chase after her, start fights with other women because of her. For almost two years I allowed her to control me mentally, emotionally and physically. Eventually I reached my lowest, I was filled with a darkness and sadness that caused me to attempt to take my own life.
For a long time after our break up, I still clung to her because I had still not discovered myself, or my worth. I still felt unworthy but then...
I went to group meetings. I found so much love in myself. I found peace and solace in my child. I eventually found a greater gift in God. It took me over a year to finally move forward, into a brighter day. I could've been bitter, I could've never told any other romantic partner but I did not do that. No matter who I met, or how we ended, I still remained true to myself. I still had faith that I would find the person who would accept me in front of the world, and I knew that would be the one for me. I had to realize that she was not the only one that would want me. I had to understand that what I thought to be my first love was not love at all. I had to know and love myself first, to truly know the meaning of love. Eventually I realized that the right people would accept me, and anybody who did not was not necessarily against me but just was not FOR me. I had to realize that she was not to blame, that I was. I was not strong enough to realize my self worth, possess self-confidence or choose to uphold my dignity and that was my own fault. I allowed myself to be misused and abused, I allowed myself to stay in a situation that was not only bad for me emotionally, but was a problem to my health.
There's a strength in every single person that sometimes goes without showing its presence. Sometimes we do not even realize that we are or can even be strong. Just because you are HIV positive does not mean you are to be subjected to mental, verbal, emotional or physical abuse. It does not mean you have to put up with another person's lack of compassion and respect. Love does not need to come from another; sometimes we just need to love ourselves, enjoy ourselves and find peace with ourselves. Always choose your dignity and never allow your HIV to keep you hostage.
Ieshia Scott <3