I discovered at a lot in a little time. I discovered porn, sex, abuse, alcohol, drugs, guns, gangsters, drug dealers, pimps, money, but most importantly I discovered how I can never feel anything ever again.
I discovered the joys of hurting myself, taking away the emotional pain, by slicing the skin on my wrists. I would watch as the blood trickled out of my veins. It hurt so good. The pain unimaginable. I didn’t want it to end, but I no longer wanted to continue. Life has a funny way of continuing to keep us stagnant. The chains that held me down did so for a long time. My chains are the same as yours; we simply use different material. Rope, fire, knives, it’s all the same. It’s was an excuse to damage the life Id been given.
I dreamt of death and destruction. I needed it to fill a void in my life, in my heart. My chains were made out of stigma, abuse, loneliness. I was 16 when I lost my virginity. I knew in that VERY instant that the connection of intercourse would be my addiction. The intensity I felt when my body was contoured to fit another. The pleasure that rushed thru my veins between every stroke, every breath, every caress was unimaginable. I never wanted it to end. I had to seek out this feeling. I had to find it no matter what. After my month with L.O.V.E. that feeling faded. It no longer felt magical. It no longer held my interest.
I needed to up the ante. I started sneaking out, finding older men to seduce, lying about my age, fishing for compliments. Continued to up the stakes. Thought I had tried it all. It was never enough. My hunger for that passion turned into hatred for myself. Turned my mind to the dark side. I was contemplating death. If I could not find this feeling I’ve been searching for then what is the point of living anymore. This relentless search went on for about two years. Until…
I discovered something even better than intimacy and sex.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL.
Now I had been drinking since I was 13 so it was nothing new to me. I had also been abusing prescription medications since I was 14, but when I turned 18 and I was finally released from the chains that bound me to “childhood” I discovered the power of combining my three favorite things.
Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol.
I no longer wanted to end my life. I had found a light at the end of the tunnel; or so I thought. I started with a little bit of pot which turned into trying ecstasy. Neither of those substances lasted long for me because I wanted MORE. The first time I linked up with the Meth Monster; it was like heaven in my brain. I knew I was hooked. It felt similar to when I had lost my virginity. I had found it. I had finally begun to feel that intensity again, but like all drugs users that feeling began to fade. For me, however it didn’t fade quickly. Instead it followed me thru several jobs, several other addictions, relationships, etc. It was the only constant in my life. It made the demons in my head finally go away. When the high finally went away, & I was no longer in love with it I needed to fill that void again.
This time with self harm, and “dirty” sex. I would sleep with men that I knew were HIV positive. I wanted, or better yet I NEEDED to die. I thought of nothing else except for my eventual death.
I viewed HIV as a death sentence, but in the back of my mind I also viewed it as a right of passage. As a way to connect, as a way to belong. I am what many people in the LGBTQ, HIV, MSM, community would call a seeker. I wanted the virus. I wanted to become a person with HIV. Notice I didn’t say a person LIVING with HIV. I wanted to die from this thing. At the time sex was the only thing that helped me feel like I belonged. Men don’t care whether I laughed or cried. They didn’t care weather or not I wanted it safe or raw. They don’t care whether I was positive or negative. They didn’t care about what music I liked, the color of my skin, what food I ate. All these men cared about was getting off. In return all I cared about was being loved and wanted. I never knew or understood what those feelings were. So I wanted to feel something, ANYTHING. Just a taste, a little nibble. A sense of belonging, being wanted, having someone care. It didn’t matter to me that they didn’t see me. That was fine as long as I wasnt judged. I self medicated with Meth in order to feel even less and to fall even deeper into the arms of these men that showed me the least bit affection. I stopped using condoms when I was 18 years old. I thought I was old enough to make my own decisions. YEA, I knew the risks (I told myself several times over the course of a few years). YEA, I’m still being safe (only hooking up with men that were “safe” meaning they were negative), although I never saw a single test, never formed a single relation with any of these men. Still had multiple partners. When I feel into the claws of meth (when the occasional use, turned into an addiction) I stopped caring who my partners were all together. Still, I thought I was smart enough to beat the virus. I was hooking up only with people who were undetectable. I didn’t even know what that meant at the time, but it sure sounded like the correct thing to do. I still didn’t care. When I feel even deeper into the hole of meth, I needed a secure way to get higher and higher. I started dating my dealer. Who had recently become HIV+. When I first met him I didnt know him or his then partner were both HIV+ and guess what I did. Yep, you guessed right slept with both of them right off the bat. Lucky for me, my dealer found out he was positive a few months later and broke up with that guy. Now it was my turn to get tested. Scariest moment of my life. I had been getting tested since I’ve been having sex, but for some reason this felt different. This felt like the end. This felt like sudden death. Go in, blood drawn, wait to hear the results, foot tapping, im negative. Sigh of relief.
Then why do I go back? Why do I return to that place of despair? Because now I’m stuck. I’m stuck with no more feelings left. The only thing I have that gives me any sense of “hope” is Meth and HIV. I go back to sleeping with my dealer, who has not started ART because they are so distraught by the lies of their ex. I go on to sleep with other men that have said they were HIV positive because I figured I was going to have it. It was only a matter of time. So, why not secure that position in life. I still remember the last person I had sex with. He was living with end stage HIV, also known as AIDS. I knew he was sick, I knew that it would drastically increase my chances of obtaining HIV. Ask me, “if I cared?” SImple answer. NO. Long drawn out answer. Of course I did, but I didn’t know how to make myself act upon my desires to quit. Quit this lifestyle, quit using drugs, quit these men. About a month after sleeping with that person he had passed away. Another month passes. I go to donate plasma because I needed the money. About a week passes and I get a phone call from the Las Vegas Health Department.
Took me 6 months to return that call.
Took me 6 months to start any form of treatment
Took me 6 months to accept the fact that I have altered my life forever
I had thought about that moment for years prior, or so I thought. I had actually just given up hope and stopped caring. I needed something to make me feel whole again. That thing just happened to be HIV.
HIV saved my life. It made me take action in my own life. Forced me to choose between drugs and living. A part of me wasn’t ready to give up fighting yet. I had a new path opened up to me. The path I now had to walk was that of an advocate; was that of a partner; was that of a friend, son, brother, HUMAN.
This is a message to any other LGBTQ person out there that feels like they don’t belong. That feels they are worthless. That is made to feel inferior for whatever reason. I understand & I’ve been there.