When I was about 4 or 5 years old, some nights I used to be awakened by a mysterious swaying of the curtains in my room. Immediately, I would start seeing shapes that scared me a lot: deformed faces, threatening animals. My fear was such that I couldn't even run out of there. I barely managed to feel protection by getting into the fetal position and hiding my whole body between the sheets until I fell asleep again.
One night when the swaying of the curtains woke me up again, I felt extremely fed up. I got up, pulled them open, and went to see once and for all how terrifying those faces could be, how dangerous those animal-shaped creatures could be. I was ready to intimidate them by staring my eyes directly into their retinas.
However, when I drew the curtains I was surprised by a glorious supermoon accompanied by a festival of stars, a soft, delicious, comforting breeze that made me forget the restless nights and returned my smile.
That's how it goes: when our imagination is prey to our fears, when our beliefs are tainted by prejudice, paralysis becomes a ferocious tyrant. And you have to get fed up, you have to make room for the anger without it ruling you, you have to offer space for the sadness without letting it live inside you, you have to look fear in the eyes, directly into the retina and right there, in that instant you can start seeing that little ray of light that is within you, which is you.
A year ago, my vía crucis began.
A routine check-up with questionable results made my doctor recommend that I do more exhaustive tests, among which was that of HIV.
With the peace of mind of someone who's done nothing and so has nothing to fear, I did them. In due time I went for the results, again I took them to the specialist and she only recommended that I eat more red meat and repeat them within 6 months and compare to the baseline. She didn't see that the HIV test result suggested another protocol.
She didn't see it?
6 months later I repeated the tests and it was I who noticed and deduced what that doctor should have.
I immediately went to an infectologist, more inept than the previous one.
The next day I went to get a confirmation test done, a test that takes 1 week, was given to me 2 months later because I angrily demanded it.
They were two months of uncertainty, momentary relief, chilling fear, like those when the curtains in my childhood bedroom felt threatening.
There were days when I went through what my options would be: if it was a positive result, I had to do such and such things. And if it was negative, I would continue my life as it was up to that moment.
But the curtains and that exhausting to-and-fro were stubbornly insisting on giving me no peace.
By January 24, 2022 I was fed up, I called the hospital and demanded the results, almost shouting.
That day I started to draw the curtains, only this time there was no supermoon, no star festival.
They sent me the results by email.
Alone in my house, I cried. I cried inconsolably.
Now the horrendous animal was staring at my retinas, and I was very intimidated.
I started doing what I had already anticipated: I called a support center so they could tell me what to do, but the doubts continued, fear was taking over, it wanted to beat me.
When night arrived I told my husband, strangely I felt calmer. He also had to get tested.
The next day I found a great place, we went and got tested. Unsurprisingly, we received the results but with the luck of being attended by a specialist who clearly and affectionately indicated what we should do.
The time had come to continue drawing the curtains and to realize that it was not just a terrifying animal, but more than one deformed and horrifying creature, which had always been there but had known to be discreet; and it was HIV, impertinent and daring, that came to expose them, to leave them flagrantly naked.
And there was no other option, you had to look at them, acknowledge them, give them a name, look directly at their retinas.
As if battling dragons wasn't enough, it was necessary to face the greatest ogre: betrayal.
There was no place to cover myself with a blanket or seek to protect myself in a fetal position, it was not what I wanted either.
This was my reality and I had to go through it, I had no other choice.
At this point, life had already trained me in battling demons, invoking them, and making decisions, but now I was facing one a thousand times more grotesque and unimaginable, who with a well-aimed kick sent all the game chips flying through the air. The chips of my certainties.
Acknowledging each of my fears, discovering that behind my sadness hid an unprecedented anger, a great rage, a deep fury, frustration.
The impotence felt between chest and back for being part of a miniscule percentage of a statistic that seemed to me unfair, inconsiderate, undeserved, with a bitter taste, of bile, of disloyalty.
Without having anyone to tell, I took refuge in my faith in God as a source of strength that would give me serenity and wisdom to make each one of my decisions.
I had to look at those deformed faces, at the shadowy animals. At all of them, at the imaginary ones and not-so-hidden ones, to give them names, baptize them, invoke them. I had to give space to fear without letting it live with me, surrender to a most visceral anger without letting it kidnap my desire to feel at peace again; so that from the depth of those emotions, that never in my life had I felt so forcefully, I could come out into the light.
It was like giving birth to myself.
One day, almost unconsciously, I drew the curtain and the supermoon surprised me with its festival of stars and, without realizing it, I smiled again.
That's how it goes!