My A.S.S. (AIDS Survivors Syndrome)

After reading a startling honest and fresh blog entry by Leslie L. Smith this morning, (Why A.S.S. Is About So Much More Than Guilt), I was unwittingly startled into an acceptance I am in a period where the forces at work in my life are joining together to take me beyond the troubles of the last decade and to help me solve a major creative problem:  what to do with about 30 short stories I wrote two winters ago.  I used to facilitate a health enhancement course called the L.I.F.E. program (Learning Immune Function Enhancement) at the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod.  It was a perfect fit:  my background was not only in teaching, I was HIV+, with an AIDS diagnosis, and currently working in the Prevention and Education arm of the agency.  One requirement of our MA grant was to provide some sort of health curriculum to agency clients. The only downside was that I never had the opportunity to actually take the course.  I was relatively newly positive (about 5 years) and hadn’t had much opportunity to process with other HIV+ men.

You see, I’ve been saying I used HIV.  That’s my survivor’s guilt.  I’ve been saying that in a path of self-destructive behavior, I was ‘chasing’ HIV.  And in a way, I was.  This piece isn’t about that, so I’m going to stop right there.  What this piece is about and what Leslie’s blog piece helped me see, is that all those stories are somehow based on my HIV.   I have struggled trying to figure out where to take them, how to join them, how to tie them together so that I can move on to something else.  Because I haven’t given my chance to step back from the story I have been telling for the past 10 years, that I used HIV, I’ve been anchored in one spot unable to unfurl my sails and let myself glide to a new destination.  I have been stuck in my story, with my 30 short stories, unable to to move on.  Reading this article helped see that I need to look at these past 10 years as a THEN, not a NOW.  As soon as I read that today, it all came together.  The outline, the order, the themes of a collection of short stories.  I felt the anchor lift as I egged the boat forward over it, felt it give way, and I am now pulling for my life.  Afloat, gliding, sailing on.

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