After facing and admitting That I had a fatal disease called addiction and devoting twenty-four challenging months of self-examination of both the negative and positive aspects of myself, I finally passed through to a point in my understanding that I didn’t have to accept defeat but discovering there was hope and strength within myself to change my life. Then once again I was smashed by life when I was diagnosed with HIV, a clear death sentence at that time. A slow and painful death stripped of all my dignity as a human being before my last breath. I would die alone because who would want to be near me in fear of catching this horrific disease. It was the worst news I could hear but the last thing on my mind was a drink.
I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, stuck in a swirling house alone and looking out the window. There flew by the white picket fence, the beautiful children, and the perfect husband I was dreaming of. My friends passed by waving goodbye and having a good time without me. I had no control over anything, this disease would just take over my life.
That was thirty-four years ago, and I have a life I never imagined today. After being devastated, I got angry, real angry. I stayed away from my friends and isolated because I thought it would be easier to push them away then to be rejected by them. They gave me my space but didn’t go far. Then I decided the anger wasn’t doing me any good, so I decided to make friends with my disease. I sat in a room and had a conversation as if it was sitting across from me. I asked it what it wanted from me, and I waited for an answer.
That day, I decided to live my life to the best of my ability for however long I had. I took my medication religiously and started to meditate. I decided that this disease may take me out physically, but I can create my own world mentally and spiritually. The last thing I wanted to be was scared of death, so I started creating my own journey towards it. Everyone dies eventually, right?
I started to see the world differently. I kept a gratitude journal and wrote in to daily. I took walks and tried to notice the little things. I relished in the sound of children laughing, fed the ducks and bought myself flowers regularly. If I got into a dark place, I would buy myself a card and mail it to myself. A few days later I would be in a better place, forget about it and get it in the mail. It definitely put a smile on my face. I stopped punishing myself for something I could not change. Maybe this was a gift and not a curse. Elizabeth Glaser started speaking out and became my first role model. Reading Elizabeth Kubler Ross books helped me find a peaceful place to create my own death, should it come sooner than later. I became a Reiki Master originally doing it for myself and then deciding to share my gift to whoever was open to it. Having traveled to places as far as India and as close to moving to a new borough I was meeting some amazing people.
My goal today is to live abroad for a few years to experience a new culture on a daily basis. My disease helps me to see things in life that are important, one of them being me and to find the riches in life that cannot be bought. My priorities are different today, I want to make memories instead of money and I want to make a difference before I leave this life.
It took what was once a terminal diagnosis to wake me up to my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything!