Living with an HIV Positive Partner

Living with an HIV Positive Partner can be challenging if you let your fear run your relationship. Fear of losing our partner is a major dread for anyone who is in love, but if your partner is Positive, you actually have something upon which to focus.

We may all fear that our mate got run over by a truck when he is late. This is an irrational fear and something you know is extreme. You can actually laugh at yourself as he walks in the door complaining of his commute.

Watching your partner waste away, day after day, week after week, month after month is something at which you cannot just laugh. It creeps up on you as roll over in the night and reach out to hold him, touching a hip bone which juts out like a dorsal fin on a shark.

You pull away in horror, just as you would if you had touched a shark’s dorsal fin and then you realize . . . this is the person I love most in the world and all I feel is fear when I touch him. You lie awake for hours, tears slipping from your eyes . . .

You scream at God, you scream at his doctor, you scream at him and finally you scream at yourself because you can do nothing to stop this disease that robs you of your mate a bit at a time.

So what if you did a switch in perspective? What if you only saw your mate as strong and healthy? What if you focused on his good days instead of his bad? What if instead of fearing his demise and your loss, you spent every second of the day enjoying his love? What if instead of crying and screaming alone, you laughed and sang together?

Celebrate the little things. Celebrate the five steps he walked instead of the 25 you had to carry him up the day before. Cheer when he eats a whole egg instead of half. Dance when he sits up in bed for a couple of days and plays cards with you.

Laugh when he stumbles. Laugh so hard you both wet your pants. Hell, laugh when he does not make it to the bathroom and wets his pants. Remember it is all perspective and as long as you see something as bad, it will be bad. Laugh and you will take a dire experience and elevate it to one of humor.

When my grandmother was dying, she made us laugh one day until we cried. She had always been extremely prim and proper. She never had a hair out of place in her entire beauty-shop-visiting existence.

A few days before she passed, my sister and I were visiting grandma in the nursing home. A man was screaming down the hall, “Nurse, I need to use the bathroom.” He repeatedly screamed, while our grandmother who also needed to use the bathroom sat quietly chatting with us.

Finally, he yelled, “Nurse, I am going to shit my pants.” My grandmother who had never said ‘shit’ in her life, looked at us and started laughing, “I think I already did shit my pants.” The horror of the moment for she had in fact ‘shit her pants’ disappeared in the humor.

Grandma laughed and laughed and my sister and I had no choice but to join her. At that moment, I knew her to be the bravest woman on earth. Her dignity in a moment that should have held revulsion turned to one of pure courage. I now know how I want to leave this planet, filled with humor and courage. This most likely is what your mate wants as well.

You are responsible for your end of the relationship and in putting out the positive and celebrating and cheering and laughing, you will own the day and he will feel better no matter what he is enduring.

Fear is something we all have to balance, rational, irrational, justified, or absurd; it scares the hell out of us. The only way to balance fear is to embrace it, own it, accept it and release it. Talk it out and let it go. Yes, you may lose your partner. The situation sucks, but if you enjoy his life, you will stop focusing on his death.

You will move into a place of peace and joy and that will be a place in which he and you can heal and live a fulfilling life. Seeing health instead of sickness will inspire health. Being a beacon of light instead of a dark, fear-filled hole will allow him to see the light and move towards the joy that you exude.

When he is gone, will you have been a part of his joy or his sadness?

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By Maria Etta Anabel