Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"Results" Results

I need to know how people who have followed any of my recent life personally or bloggerly responded to my Saturday post "Results" It would really help me if anyone would answer any of these questions:

Where you so statistically sure that my "friend" would be HIV- that you didn't think his telling me a whole day after he knew that he was OK was that big a deal?

Did you think from his email that he does not take transmission risk seriously - or take my response to the results, or our situation, seriously?

Did you think it was wrong for me to post the emails?

Did you think it violated his privacy for me to post them even though our worlds do not cross over and the very few people we know in common don't know I write at all?

Did the whole situation make you uncomfortable? Was it too directly real? Too private?

Do you not understand my need to write all this out in this format because I feel so invisible, taken for granted, and alone with all these feelings?

Did you feel relief with me?

Do you not understand my anger towards him from what you know?

Do you judge me for the transmission risk in the first place?

Are you not involved enough to care (I'm not judging - just really asking)? 

Is this too far away from your realities to relate?

Are you just very busy and forgot (- for people who know me).

Did you who did not respond not respond because you were unsure how to respond to transcriptions of emails rather than to my directly speaking about it?

Did you think I don't put my soul into the writing and need some real response back? - when it's important - not all the time - I understand people travel and live busy lives, and are not all bloggers. I'm just talking about when it really matters.

Do you have any questions for me? (besides Merelyme's which I apologize I hadn't answered until now -)

These were the questions she asked me first thing:

Are you mostly relieved he was negative?


Are you angry about his relationship with another?

No. We have had this relationship for over ten years where we have intense, very real, very honest, very realistic romantic week or two week interlude every year or two when our lives and lacks of other relationships have coincided. We respected and did not discuss each other's other relationships, and we made no promises to be broken of any kind. We used to both have relationships in between times. I haven't in the last six years (minus one bad two-night stand [see posts "Risk and Disclosure"]. This is the first time, we have had unprotected sex which was the most unexpected redeeming, humanizing, normalizing, good, exciting, beautifully close experience I have had in the last 21 of my HIV+ years. For him I guess it was just good sex - I am the only person he has up to now been safe with. He hates condoms. What I am mad about is that for some reason he decided, maybe because we did feel closer that he had the obligation to tell me the specifics of a "legitimate relationship" he is going to all the way to Afghanistan to "test out." I am mad that he didn't respect that he has no exclusivity obligations what-so-ever and has in the past respected my natural human feelings by being private to me about the relationships he can be public about. (I am a secret).

Merlyme then commented that it would seem I have a lot of conflicting emotions.

I have a lot of conflicting emotions. This is the most excruciatingly intimate time he could have chosen to suddenly disclose specifics, when she is the only one who needs to know specifics (about me) if he is not - and probably won't - be safe with her.

Merelyme lastly asked: At this point in your life... what kind of relationship do you want to have with someone?

I want what we had. My life is extremely high maintenance psychologically, psychiatrically, and physically. I can pull it together, with a lot of effort for about a maximum of two weeks at a time - to be my best - to be myself - to be who I would be able to be without all these problems. And we were very compatible and equal in the islands of time we shared. I don't want someone taking care of me.  Knowing name and specifics about another who can be compatible in real life for longer or maybe ongoing spans of time before I even know how he is? I wanted it to continue the way it was - or end with the dignity of time. Not punctured like this.

The only other kind of relationship I would want would be with a long-term survivor with proclivities, and problems similar to mine. Equality matters to me.  But there is no HIV/AIDS community to meet people in if you're not gay, and the POZ Match dating services are great, but I don't feel comfortable meeting anyone that way, and the only ones I have either had extreme (especially sexual) boundary issues problems, or addictions I'm not up to dealing with, or were gay (openly or implied) - who wanted families (which is great but my sexual identity is too wounded to go near that), or are actively Catholic which I don't trust - maybe wrongly - for the same reason.

If it doesn't speak for itself, this photo is here because I wish we could be seen at the same time. And I wish that I could feel that way again.


DirkStar said...

Since you asked...

I think posting emails is wrong.

If you asked first it would be one thing...

I would never trust you after reading this blog.

It is one thing to share your own frailties and another to share those of someone else.

Your blog seems self serving, self absorbed and self justifying to me.

I did not see much self reflection or the taking of self responsibility in your blog...

My guess is that you have severe anger issues and I'd never want to cross you.

+PHc said...

I was really, seriously asking... Not self-justifying.

I respect your thinking posting emails is wrong - but I do want to clarify that he lives and works on the other side of the world, and our social worlds don't cross (I am a secret which hurts) and if his anonymity were in jeopardy I would never have said so much, and now that he is probably OK and on his way, my grieving will be "self-absorbed" in that it will be about my own frailties. (And I'm not sure he has been "frail" through any of this? so I don't understand your accusing me of writing about his frailties. I have been frail, and am, and envy his strengths and freedoms, and the strengths and the abilities of the woman he wants to have a "legitimate" or "real" not secret relationship with) It was too much to handle for me alone and I am guilty of being mad that my family and people in my life weren't taking this seriously when I was terrified of having maybe permanently hurt someone I love, and it was too conflicting and confusing for me to handle alone. And I am alone where I live, far away from family and close friends. And blogging is a new community I'm not sure of the "rules" of yet.

AND I DID ASK!!!!!!!!! He said write whatever about this would be helpful to you for one month. And this is maybe really all I needed to say about it these couple of weeks waiting.

It's OK if you don't trust me, although I believe if you knew me better you might.

About sharing the frailties of another - Yes it is a conundrum for me because so much of the pain I'm trying to heal here has to do with the private issues that in my life for the last six years have been manifested only through this sporatic [I don't know how to spell that word], intense relationship.

My blog is definitely self-serving. I have spent all my working life serving the needs of gay men, and the less AIDS feels like and emergency the more I have felt invisible and the more I have been truly inarguably discounted in the service community I believe I for a long time contributed a lot to, and trying this blog has been my way of trying to share my isolated part of the world of living with AIDS right in the heart of it (of this country).

The "self-absorbed" part - I think it would be more apt to say "self-centered." It will be about me again once this crisis with him has waned, and I hope that something about sharing my life can be helpful to someone else, and that my comments on other people's blogs can be supportive in good ways too.

I hope that writing here will help my ability to self reflect, and that constructive, honest comments will enhance that process.

The self responsibility part I am going to disagree with you on, and I think anyone who knows me would vehemently disagree with that - maybe not in my blog - I don't know - but in my life, I tend toward the opposite in the extreme, feeling like thing that have nothing to do with me are my fault.

You are accurate that especially right now I am trying to find constructive ways (like writing) to deal with SEVERE anger issues I don't want to live with, or cross anyone else with.

I am going to ask for Merelyme's,and Whimsy's, and my brother's, and maybe Polar Bear's response to your comment (maybe not Polar Bear because she's having an especially hard time right now), but my asking them is for the purpose of self reflection - not crossing you.

Merelyme said...

dirk....please don't do this. i am going to ask you nicely as a friend to not do this.

i will be back later to comment more.

Sarah said...

Hello. I'll answer what I can here. I knew your friend's risk was relatively low (low-viral-load woman to man)but not zero. I was sending my blessings but not counting days. I was relieved for you both. I wonder if posting such personal e-mails will make others hesitate to communicate with you. I'm glad you're writing and think your writing has significance for others and great benefits for you, independent of anyone's responses. With love.

Merelyme said...

hello again. there is so much to digest i am not sure where to begin.

first of all...i love this photo of you...you look great!

if anyone takes the time to get to know you...it is clearly evident that you are not "self serving." you have lived your life in duty...trying to educate as well as help others when you sometimes barely have the resources to help yourself.

i think you are a seeker and are genuinely interested in what people think and you just wanted to present all the information in this instance. perhaps the only bit of information that your readers may have benefited from was...that your friend did give permission to reprint his letter here.

i would encourage anyone coming here to really take the time to get to know you through your writings past and present as well as all the things you have done to help others.

this is a little difficult for me as dirk is my friend from the blogworld and he does have a good heart and also he will speak his mind as honestly as he sees things. we have disagreed on many things and will continue to do so...i imagine. in this case...no i do not agree with his assessment, but i do agree that he has a right to say it.

i will say that...you are asking for feedback here and publicly so...sometimes you might get what you ask for. (feedback) i am more than understanding myself now that...blogs...especially here on blogger are so public. and...you have to always bear in mind that judgement and criticism may find their way here to your comments.

i personally think that you are just trying to survive and figure things out the best way you know how. but more importantly than what your readers think is...what do YOU think? how do you feel about your writing and sharing? it is more about how you feel about yourself which is the most important thing.

the other thing i am learning from blogging is...discernment. you do have to discern which things you want to share publicly and which things are going to be better said to special friends. when you want and need unconditional acceptance then friends are the people to share with. if you are ready for the risks that public exposure brings and you think that the pros outweigh the cons...then post publicly.

these are just some thoughts i had and there is no right or wrong. and again...i think you are helping people here and yourself too. just make sure that the blog is a good thing and doesn't end up causing harm to you. you need to protect your mental health.

this is long enough but just want you to know...you keep writing and i will always read. and if any time you would ever like to email...my email address is posted on my profile.

thanks for letting me babble. :>)

Phraw Tayre said...

Forgive me for not going through each question one at a time.

I work with many fascinating people who come from other countries. We often converse about their perspectives on international and domestic issues. Particularly cultural observations. One favorite recent observation was that Hindu religious stories and characters are so outrageous that all observers can see the metaphors and lessons. Unlike with Christianity, there is no danger of falling into desperate literalism. There is no argument among the faithful about how many arms a goddess had or the ability of animals, as gods, to speak.

In many ways you are now from a different culture, and your ability put into words the nuance and importance of happenings and scenes from your world is amazing. We have walked through ward 86 with you, through your blog, and not only learned but felt some part of your emotions. You are a gifted writer.

Some of my relationships with my coworkers extend beyond business and lunch conversation. We are close friends and at times we discuss family and other emotional issues. This also is made more interesting by the differences in worlds. How is trouble with in-laws affected by the fact that the marriage was arranged, the family is across an ocean, or the husband has formidable extra responsibly only because he is the eldest son?

We are all interested in not only each other’s well being, but in how different our experiences are. Sometimes we can support each other because of the difference in perspective. I feel the same about understanding your experience of your personal world. Not just your community.

If one of my friends pulled from his or her jacket an important letter from a lover or spouse I would absolutely refuse to read it.

Even though the sharing was limited to only me, the author did not intend the letter for my eyes. I would listen to my friend about their troubles and would talk with them if I thought I could help. But yes, to me there is a boundary crossed regarding the diverted message. I would be more able to comment on your recounting of this difficult time than on unintended correspondence with partial context.

The eyes that you use to tell us about your world have been turned inward understandably. For the last weeks you have been surviving a relationship crisis that has superseded your long-term health battle. While your focus is on this personal relationship, I can only wish you well and hope that the time of such discomfort passes. I don’t want to insert myself into your relationship or offer judgments of his behavior or yours which seem like my only options in commenting on your posts and his correspondence.

I, and I imagine other readers, are hopefully waiting for your eyes to turn outward again. I know that this is unfair to you. You write what you feel. And your feelings are bound up in this turn of relationship now. I believe your readership will grow based on what you offer. You are the only one in the world that can lead us through your city, our society and our healthcare system from the perspective of a long-term surviving woman. A million bloggers would like to lead us through their relationships and loves and the pain that comes with them.

Unfair or not, when you feed your audience the things they can get nowhere else, they must read and they will bring others to you.

I can’t get to your blog every day, and I may not always comment. I do care and love. I did worry what a positive result would mean to you and him. I am glad he is OK. I can understand so little of the relationship you have had with him because it is so different from my own. I hope your blog continues to serve you and that good sleep and even better wakefulness is around the corner. I would send you some peace if I could figure out how to get it in a box.


+PHc said...

Thank you Sarah,

Thank you for sending blessings, if not being aware of how much the days it was taking was eating away at my ability to reason clearly. I didn't understand why he didn't do the same-day response test, and it made me scared the way things used to be when you had no choice about waiting so long. And I wanted more support from people (understandably busy people) close to be, and it felt like what has affected my life more than anything else wasn't taken seriously at all when it concerned someone I care about this much.

When you say my writing has significance to others, I'm not sure what that means. I was hoping family would know more what my days are like, and I would love it if they had blogs I could watch to see how theirs are. I would especially love a window into the growing up of my only nephew. They all keep in closer contact with each than with me, just because I live so far away, and my life is so different. I thought if they understood the differences more it would magically make us closer, and blogging creates the effect of feeling that way to me whether it really does or not.

As far as having significance to strangers... I don't know. It is really important to me to believe that sharing who I am matters somehow. And I think most people feel that way themselves and have their own families or some other vehicle for sharing who they are... and that that need is what drives all kinds of artists... It's not just me. And I don't understand it but I just have some very strong kind of faith in this blog that sharing my life, and who I am matters somehow - the good and the bad, the dark and the light, the way-past, past, and present. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think it didn't matter somehow, even if if it does help myself in the process. And I am trying to find independent ways of helping myself so that I don't need so much from others. I'm sorry if wanting feedback was needy.

+PHc said...

There is a lot to respond to.

But you say what I have to offer is walking people through my city and culture and health-care system as a long term surviving woman as if I haven't been doing that all along? _I am not going to list how many ways. The Ward 86 paper was written years ago and posted in memoriam for World AIDS Day Remembrance. My rare and gone love, my relationship, this situation is not integral to what it means to be a longterm surviving woman whose sexuality is totally obscured by this disease and discounted by the culture I live in, that is inundated by services I have supported designed to help gay men with their relationship issues... (workshops on how HIV affects their body image that I can't go to because of my body, workshops on their healthy ways of meeting each other, of their HIV-status disclosure issues, their intimacy and the value of their sexual identities!!!!!!!!!! That that is what anyone can write about? THAT is not what is significant as an HIV+ woman!!!!!!!!!!!!! No that is it. That is what mattered to me to get across. That that intimacy matters and is wounded beyond repair and is not like the variegations of HIV- relationships. That I don't have something to say about that, TOO. That there is no way to express those things withut being personal and I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO OTHER THAN TO PUT IT OUT THERE EXACTLY THE WAY IT IS (which I did have his permission to do) and that it is still invisible even to you? And not to be discussed when it is discussed all around me all the time. THAT is the anger Dirk was discerning about whether he knew it or not. My sexuality and the way HIV has affected my entire adult life matters OUTLOUD as much as men's.

+PHc said...

That last comment was to Phraw Tayre. I didn't address it and I am hurt that he wouldn't already understand it. But I want the feedback because I want the truth even if it makes me feel alone. So thank you.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I'm sorry PH. I tried to comment earlier but my computer crashed and then I had to go to the Red Cross.

I think your friend waiting a day to tell you was cruel (intentionaly or not). He knew how worried you were.

It doesn't seem that he takes transmission risk seriously.

If you had his permission then you had every right to post his emails and you did not violate anything.

I don't know if uncomfortable is the right word. I felt bad for you and it made the issue of AIDS more real to me.

I use my blog as therapy I can certainly understand why you need to. I say go for it. It helps a lot.


I think your anger is understandable.

You didn't know you had it at the time did you?

I can sympathize but I can't quite say I empathise. What I went through was curable. What you are going through is not.

Sometimes I am at a loss for words.

Dream Writer said...

I don't think emails should be posted in blogs..that is just my personal opinion. I wouldn't want anyone to post me emails even if I lived in Tim Buck To.

But to each your own.

We know our friends better than anyone else, right?

Hope you are feeling good. Is that a picture of you? You look great:)

+PHc said...


I know that I want my sharing of my life here to include criticism as well as judgement and prejudice that exist in my my life, because my life is complicated and those things are definitely part of it and I want that out there visible too.

I do believe dirk has the right to put me down however he feels, and I am confused by the "self-absorption" "assessment," because I know that some other bloggers who write completely about themselves and don't even ever comment in return are still very helpful to me if there is care in their content. And I should be saying this to him, not you, except that I appreciate your not agreeing with his assessment, I am confused about feeling accused if I right about others at the same time I'm accused of writing about myself.

Thank you for liking the picture. I wish it could be of his eyes too, and that I could ever feel that way with him again.