Being an advocate can at times be overwhelming, frustrating, and emotionally draining. Society is forever taking shots especially when it comes to those who fully disclose. The emails, messages, comments from others make you question why you allow yourself to go through such abuse when all you ever wanted was to create a safe place for people to no longer hide from behind their diagnosis and change the perception of societal views of HIV positive persons. We adapt, we seek out self-care and we keep it moving because at the end of the day, we genuinely want to be the change facilitators that are needed to end this epidemic.
What makes the job even harder emotionally and physically is when the fight is not only societal but with those who we believe are along in the struggle with us. Our own fellow advocates. I toyed with writing this blog because I didn’t want to stir the pot, or rattle the fence. It’s time however for me to address the elephant in the room and no longer hide behind it.
I find myself having to defend why I do this work or proclaim some form of allegiance. I refuse to continue to be in a competition I never knew I was involved in or to vie for a spotlight or status that presumably states that on some level I have arrived. I will not fight for the reigns to continue to do this work neither hold on to it when my time is up and be afraid to let them go because I feel like I will be forgotten. I would rather step away and assume another role because what I will not do is have the “crab-in-the-barrel” mentality when there is so much more to be done to eradicate this disease and plenty of room to do the work.
I stepped away, to regain a sense of self, find a new voice, regroup and mend from all of what this work brings. I am still here working fervently behind the scenes. My goal will never change but the road in which I travelled to meet my goals has. I ask you this, what’s more important: Being famous or acknowledged for the work we do? Or being a part of the greater good so that our families, loved ones, or friends will never have to walk in our shoes?
Today I choose to be used for a purpose instead of being misused and abused for a status that I never really wanted in the first place. And although I am honored by where my advocacy has taken me, I would gladly give it back if had known that I would have to fight for a place at the table that is big enough for all of us to sit and break bread!
Peace and Love