It’s Caring Enough To Want To Take Care Of Yourself
Do you have any idea what it’s like to have no teeth?
The most impactful decision of my life happened in a split second the day I decided to shoot up meth for the first time. It led to my addiction and the reason why all my teeth fell out. I’m also HIV+ because of it.
Whenever I was getting high, I was having a lot of anonymous, unprotected sex with other men. Using condoms isn’t something that comes to mind when you’re high, and even after I found out I was HIV+, getting high was all I cared about. It allowed me to feel free being gay, and I wasn’t so stuck on my hang-ups. Meth may have temporarily relieved my discomfort with my self-acceptance, but in the long run, I paid a very high price of not only losing my teeth but having to live with HIV for the rest of my life.
I didn’t care about myself, which is why my retention in care was such a challenge for me at that time. I didn’t care about taking my HIV meds regularly. I didn’t care about seeing a doctor. When I was arrested and sent to prison on serious drug trafficking charges, I realized then that I needed to be clean and sober in order to stay in care for my HIV. A miracle happened the day an ankle monitor was fastened to me, and I was released from prison to work on my addiction.
Being able to work on my recovery helped me to work on my self-acceptance and stop pretending to be somebody I wasn’t. It allowed me to re-establish a connection to the community in a healthy way. More importantly the longer I’ve stayed sober, the more I care enough to want to take care of myself. And this has allowed me to remain in HIV care for 7 years now!
The whole experience of abusing drugs was to avoid feeling, but today I’m able to feel it all and appreciate the beauty in everything! I’ve been living with HIV for 26 years, and I’ve been lucky to have such an amazing life with no health complications whatsoever. People care about me. I care about them. And that’s what keeps you sober. That’s what keeps you clean.