"Will I ever be okay?"
When I was diagnosed HIV positive, I was shocked and scared. I wondered about my future. I worried about how long it’ll take before I developed some sickness or “started showing signs”. Thinking about it gave me sleepless nights. But, in the midst of it all, I had some kind of reassurance that I would be okay because I had my boyfriend. We would support each other and go through the journey together. Since I had made the decision that I won’t tell my family, he was the only person that would understand how I was feeling. Suddenly, after a few weeks, things seemed to go back to normal. I could laugh and not think about what was going on inside of me. I, sometimes, even forgot I was living with HIV.
It wasn’t until a few months later when my boyfriend left me for another girl that reality hit. I had to come to terms with the truth. I was HIV positive and I was lone. Abruptly, all the emotions I had tried to suppress came back to suffocate me, I couldn’t breathe. My mind was not in sync with the rest of my body, I was sure I was going crazy. I had severe heart palpitations, my chest was in constant pain. At the time, everyone thought I was going through “normal” breakup. I wanted to scream every time someone said, “You’ll be fine. We’ve all gone through it. Once in our life, someone has broken our hearts”. Every fiber of my being wanted to retaliate back and tell them that this was not “just” a break up. He infected me with HIV and left. But I couldn’t. I continued to let them think I was angry because of a break up.
Things were so bad that I struggled to get up every morning. I had to have serious conversations with myself and evaluate why it would be worth it that I got up in the morning. Was it worth it that I lived? I remember calling my brother to tell him I was going nuts. He didn’t say much. He listeined. When I had finished venting. He said, “Do not rush the process. Do not avoid the pain. When you feel like crying, do that. However, do not get comfortable in that zone. Do not cushion your pain. Work towards getting into a better place”. He might as well have spoken French because I didn’t understand what he was saying. In fact, I felt he didn’t understand how I was feeling. He didn’t understand how my ex-boyfriend did me wrong. I didn’t need his philosophical words. I wanted him to acknowledge that the guy did me wrong and I had every right to feel the way I did.
You may be going through something similar. Someone has done you wrong. They messed you up and left you behind to pick up the pieces. You often wonder if things would ever return to normal. Will you ever be the same? Will you be okay? Today, I want to share how I eventually came back to myself. How I fought for my life. How I returned back to a place of sanity.
He didn’t ask for forgiveness
There’s nothing more powerful than when you have to forgive someone that hasn’t asked for your forgiveness. I delayed so much of my healing because I was waiting for him to come back and apologize for what he did. At first, I thought he needed a few weeks. Weeks turned into months, and then years. He still didn’t come back. He continued with his life and seemed genuinely happy. And I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why God would allow him to be happy but leave me in despair.
While I was waiting for him to come back and apologize, I eventually realized that I was not moving with my own life. Time was passing by, but I was in the same place he left me in. That’s when I understood that I could either be stuck there or make a conscious effort to get my life in order. In essence, if I was waiting for him to come back, I was still giving him power of me. I was letting him control my life.
So one night, while reading my devotional book and bible, I started writing. I started writing everything I ever wanted to say to him. I wrote about my pain. I wrote about how I was coping. I opened up about my fears. Would I find someone that would make me happy? Would I have the chance to start my own family? But most importantly, I told him I forgave him. I told him I wished him well. I basically took all the heaviness I was carrying around and left it on that letter.
Forgiving someone else is just as important as forgiving yourself. For a long time, I played the blame game. I was blinded from what I did wrong. It was all on him. When I started my healing process, I started following several HIV networks. One of those networks is Good Stories. Usually, they posted a lot of “coming out” articles; people sharing how they were living positively with HIV. I was able to relate and see that I was not alone. But it was one post that shook me and left me paralyzed. Someone wrote:
“But then there’s another side of the coin where you have to take responsibility for your actions, where you need to evaluate your decision process and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself because you never did enough to protect yourself, where you were irresponsible and made the wrong decision. The moment you accept that you played a role in the situation that you find yourself in, it is easier to get out of it. It’s easier to take that step forward and continue to live your life”.
I had to ask myself some tough questions. Did I do everything in my power to protect myself? Did I push hard for him to use a condom when he insisted on not using one? Did I ask him for his HIV results before we slept together? The answer to all the questions was no. I didn’t. I lived in a bubble. “I’ve been good all my life, the last thing God will allow is for me to be infected with HIV”, I often thought.
So when I read the post, I realized I didn’t only need to forgive *Sbu, but it was important to forgive myself as well. I took responsibility for my actions. I accepted what happened. I understood that no matter how much I wanted to change the situation, to turn back the time, I couldn’t. I would only drive myself mad thinking about “what could have been”.
There’s a lesson in every story
Once you have forgiven the person that did you wrong and forgiven yourself, it is now time to look deep to understand what did God wanted to teach you. While reading my bible, I came across the story of Joseph. His brothers sold him to be a slave in Egypt. The King of Egypt, Pharaoh, kept having dreams but no one was able to interpret what they meant; no one but Joseph. As he continued to assist the King with his dreams, he gained the Pharaoh’s trust. He trusted Joseph so much he placed him in charge of collecting and storing food for the whole of Egypt. Next to Pharaoh, Joseph became the most important man in Egypt. Years later, Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt to beg for food. When they came across Joseph, they didn’t even recognize him. Eventually, Joseph tells them who he is. They become ashamed of themselves. I love what he says next. “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50 verse 19 and 20.
I’m one person that never learns anything when I’m happy. It is through pain I get to full comprehend the fullness and grace of God. With this crazy story, I knew God wanted to use me as a vessel. Initially, I resisted. Why did He have to choose me? But you know when you often hear how traditional healers get sick when they don’t adhere to their calling? It was the same with me. My soul was restless. Everything I did would come back to my story. And when I dared to tell God that I wasn’t ready, he reminded me of Moses in Exodus 4.
Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
Even when Moses insisted God should send someone else, He didn’t move. He knew His plans and knew Moses was the right person for the job.
With this, I pray you get to understand that nothing that happens under God’s watch is an accident. He’s very intentional with everything. As my brother said, “Trust the process”.
For more on this topic, follow my Youtube Channel on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jozOjaaobro&t=3s
Nozibele Qamngana Mayaba