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Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

snap1309043 Today, my disease is incredibly angry.

It wants me to be sick. It wants to put me in compromising positions. It wants me, quite frankly, dead.

I spent several hours yesterday in a waiting room at the Gay & Lesbian Center (God bless them and the work they do) after having what seemed like gallons of blood drawn, before finally being summoned into a counselors office where I was told that the test for HIV antibodies had come back negative.  While I’m not out of the woods completely on the HIV front (a more definitive test that was also done…one that tests for the presence of the actual virus…will not yield results for approximately two weeks), it’s still a very good sign.

Today, I am filled with gratitude that there’s the possibility I’ve been given yet another reprieve on the health front.  I am so grateful for my beautiful friends, for my wonderful “prayer posse,” and particularly my beautiful friend Le Maire, who prayed with me on the phone before my appointment, helping bring me into alignment with my Higher Power, the same Higher Power I lost touch with weeks ago, prior to my relapse.

So, my disease is furious today. All that work it did, all those machinations designed to trick me into destroying my sanity, my spirituality, my health, my very existence…were most likely for naught.

And by surviving, yet again, I’ve gained further insight into its devious methods. I’ve come to understand where the weaknesses are in my walls of defense, and I’ve begun the work needed to shore them up against future attacks.

A week ago, I felt isolated. I felt like my sanity was gone, perhaps forever this time. A week ago, I was filled with self-loathing and self-recrimination.

Last night, I spent several hours with a group of beautiful human beings, and heard others share stories of their own battles against their own disease, stories that were painful to hear but so very similar to my own. I was hugged, I was loved, I was told explicitly that I was amongst family, and that I was missed while I was gone.  I sat between friends who held my hand, and who embraced me after I shared my own story of how my disease snuck up on me, and the damage it did to me in such a short amount of time. I spoke of how I had stopped praying at some point, how my conscious connection to my God had gradually slipped away without my even noticing it, until it was too late.

Today, I feel optimism seeping back into my bones. Today, I feel loved and to a small extent, worthy of that love.

I can not let my disease have any sort of victory, ever again. Each time I allow it to advance, it does so with even more anger, more viciousness, more commitment to seeing me degraded, humiliated….and ultimately, dead, once and for all. No do-overs. Gone.

It’s biding its time, having been forced into retreat, gathering strength in its dark fortress, waiting to blind side me again and finally achieve the sick, sad victory it’s been chasing for eleven years.

With my Higher Power by my side, however, I am invincible.

So very , very grateful today. Thank you to all my friends and family, sober or otherwise. Thank you to my Tuesday night recovery family…you truly light a Burning Desire in my heart to stay sober and see the beauty in life. Thank you to my sobriety “guru,” Jonathan…just seeing you fills me with hope.  Thank you to my amazing trudging buddies Phillip and Mykee, who I believe quite literally saved my life. Thank you to everyone who sent messages of love and support. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read these postings, because writing them helps keep me sane. And sober.

Love and thanks to all of you.

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Testing Grace

So, the personal wreckage cleanup begins again. Does anyone have a backhoe I can borrow for a few days…or weeks…perhaps months?

I wonder how my husband tolerates this.  I know there must be those (myself included), who occasionally view him as one of those residents of Tornado Alley, post-devastation,  scrunching their faces against grief on the TV news, vowing to stay right where they are and rebuild, dammit…while the nation watches and wonders just what the fuck is wrong with his logic. Why would you stay and rebuild…haven’t you learned yet that the odds are pretty darned good another twister is gonna come along and fuck up the very foundations of your existence?

Yet, he keeps loving me. He sees something lovable in me that I’m unable to see myself at this moment.

This morning, this man of incredible patience and tolerance accompanied me to the Gay and Lesbian Center here in Los Angeles so that I can be tested for STD’s and for exposure to HIV.  Throughout my 11 years of off and on drug abuse, I’ve put myself at risk numerous times, and somehow my higher power has protected me. I am a rare creature, a hardcore meth and sex addict who has somehow managed to avoid HIV infection. It would be ludicrous to expect that i’d have escaped the virus one more time.

Unfortunately, perhaps because it was the first day of resumed testing after a long, holiday weekend, the waiting room was a mob scene, and I had to reschedule my appointment for this afternoon.  Disappointing and a little nerve-wracking, because I really just wanted to get it over with, but also grateful because it gives me more time to pray. Not for a negative result, though that would be wonderful. But for the strength to handle the news should it be bad.

One of my dearest friends…one of many friends who has loved me unconditionally… the singer/songwriter Maria McKee once sang on her beautiful song My Girlhood Among the Outlaws ( from her album titled You Gotta Sin to Get Saved, appropriately), “I took a leap of faith, and I stumbled…I tried to live outside Grace, and I was humbled.”   That song is what I’m listening to right now…though it’s a romantic love song, I’m listening to it in a different way:  as love song to my Higher Power, to God.

My girlhood among the outlaws was salty, bittersweet 
The things I did, ah I could just kick myself now 
Through nights of lousy dreams 
As visions gather in my head 
I find it hard to live with the things I did and said 
But for you my friend, I’d live it all again 
And love you in the end 

Anything for you baby anything for you 
If it took those years to get me here 
I’d do it again for you 

Took a leap of faith and I stumbled 
Tried to live outside grace and I was humbled 
But I’d like to bet if I’d lived to fear regret 
Then we never would’ve met 

Anything for you baby anything for you 
If it took those years to get me here 
I’d do it again for you 

So here we are and I don’t know what we call it 
‘Cause love is such a funny promise 
Commitment is impossible and forever is a lie 
But that still leaves you and I 

Anything for you baby anything for you 
If it took those years to get me here 
I’d do it again for you

My appointment is at 4:30, and I am not expecting good news. But I am expecting to handle it with grace, knowing that my God is not a punishing one, and that He will give me the strength to deal with whatever needs dealing with.  He’s kept me alive through these dark years, and He’s even shown me a way to live that is so bright and shining I have to squint in the glare of it.  He’s given my husband the strength to keep loving me, even when I’m unable to love…or even like…myself.

After the appointment, I will go to my primary recovery meeting, in a lovely backyard in Hollywood filled with tiki torches, votive candles, a bonfire and so much recovery and  lovingkindness it is absolutely impossible to let self-loathing surface.  Regardless of the news I get, I know I’ll be surrounded by at least 80 human beings, all struggling themselves one way or another, who really do love me and want only the best for me.

Back inside the arms of Grace. I want to stay there this time.

I know what needs to be done, and I’m going to do it. I’ve learned some things about myself, I’ve admitted some things to myself I already knew but didn’t want to confront.

And if this relapse is what it took for me to finally address these issues…and if being HIV positive like so many of my recovering brothers is part of that lesson, so be it.

If all of my struggling and falling and climbing up and falling again is what it takes to get me to a place of true recovery, a place of brutal honesty with myself and those in my life, so be it too.

If it took those years to get me here….

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