Sero-concordant is the term used to describe a couple in which both partners are of the same HIV status (i.e., both are HIV positive or both are HIV negative). Serodiscordant couples face numerous issues not faced by sero-concordant couples, including facing a decision as to what level of sexual activity is comfortable for them, knowing that practicing safer sex reduces but does not eliminate the risk of transmission to the HIV negative partner. There are also potential psychological issues arising out of taking care of a sick partner, and survivor guilt. Financial strains may also be more accentuated as one partner becomes ill and potentially less able or unable to work. Then you have to think of planned parenting. How will the child be conceived? At what risks are you willing to take physically, emotionally, financially? Do you find a surrogate to carry the child? Do you adopt?
I’ve been putting off writing this blog for some time now because I didn’t want particular people taking my blog personal. This is something that has been on my mind for quite some time and I think I’ve finally got it together to put it into black and white.
When the subject of dating comes up in my life, I’ve been asked several times, ‘What are you looking for?” "Why are you single?" To that I usually reply with a hesitant smile or a shrug of the shoulders because I don’t really like answering the question. I always feel as if the person inquiring is looking for some certain answer to make them feel good and I want my answer to be conceived the same way it is given. I don’t want my answer to be taken as though the person that is asking me has to immediately meet my standards or requirements and if they don’t they will no longer get the time of day. As Steve Harvey has said many times on his show how women always settle and they end up in situations where they are unhappy because they don’t state their requirements. Some people like to know that they are measured at some level or that they have something to strive for. Well, at least in my opinion.
So, for some time, I’ve been thinking… while I know my worth and I know my place as a woman in a relationship, there are things that I believe should be taken into consideration prior to me establishing my heart and soul firmly in that position. I should be bringing things to the table as well as my potential mate. I should be willing to succumb to certain conditions as well as he. There is no 50/50 in my eyes, it’s give all and take all. Some would consider this unrealistic, but I’m a old fashioned romantic and it’s what I expect, what I require. We should be partners that balance each other, compliment each other. My peanut butter to his jelly, if you will. (Strawberry, if you’re feeling fresh!)
So what am I looking for?
I am looking for someone who is secure enough in themselves to love me at my worst so they can really appreciate me at my best and someone who is secure enough to let me see them at their worst and not always their best. I want to be with someone who appreciates the quiet so when I get loud and want to get loose, they will have the time of their lives (it happens). The person that I need to be with has to be someone that is willing to be in a sero-discordant relationship because I am a woman that openly speaks about being HIV positive, I pass out condoms, I hug drug addicts and I see a doctor every three months. One day, I night be on medication. One day, I might want another child. I give a lot of myself and I do not do so to compensate for some psychological trauma where I feel as though to give is the only way to receive love. I give and want my mate to understand that my love is boundless and intertwining with all man (not MEN, but mankind). I want someone who believes in fighting for what is right, not just because it makes you feel good, but because it’s right and you aren’t afraid of the changes to come. I see me being with someone that can embrace me for all that I am and still maintain their own crazy, sexy, cool… does that really sound impossible? No. It sounds like something that takes faith, work, communication, time, open-mindedness, willingness to laugh at yourself, the ability to show weaknesses, accepting that you are two people that are human, that are bound to make mistakes and to be comfortable with one another when the mistakes happen. That’s what I’m looking for. Can you handle that?
Why has it taken me so long to write this? Because I’m a single mother who has had her share of heartbreaks and has caused others she loved (loves) dearly pain. I am a woman who lives on the edge of not wanting to accept what life has given her and I fight through it daily because I know what God has promised me. I am a human being who is saddened at the thought that one mistake I made could cause me to not live long enough to see my daughter. That sadness sometimes keeps me from getting out of the bed. Can you handle that?
When I get proposed to, when someone wants to be with me that I deem worthy of the above mentioned things, I want them to know that this is what they are saying, “I do” to. It’s not just about the rings, the bridal party, the honeymoon, the living together, it’s about accepting each other BEFORE the joint accounts, before you get the dog… it’s about having the late night conversations, surviving the fights, the in-laws, the haters, the financial upheaval and the let downs. It’s about knowing that there are times you can’t fix everything but being there for each other does count for something. It’s about getting a chill twenty years into the marriage because the spark has never died. Come to think of it, I don’t even want a spark, I want an inferno… but should the flames die down, I know my best friend, my lover, my man will understand that things that can warm me again. It’s about being real with each other. Can you handle that?
I want my future husband to know that there are some days I am so sure in every decision I make and all that comes my way and there are days where I have to remember to tell the storm how big my God is because I just can’t take anymore and don’t want to bring those I love into my turmoil. I want my future husband to pray with me. I don’t mean quietly in his own time, I mean get down on his knees and confess sins, profess glory, give honor and praise to God with me. Can you handle that?
I always tell friends who have been through rough patches, bad break-ups and whimsical flings that the reason we go through our bad times is so that we can truly appreciate the good times. If things were all good all the time, we would completely take people in our lives for granted. We’d take for granted the tender moments where we feel like the most special person in the world. So, you have to be appreciative of those times when you wonder why you ended up with such a loser or why you wasted your time on such a gold digger. When you meet the one who knows your worth, you will know it. It won’t be a temporary feeling. It will be one that will stick with you like that piece of gum you stepped on in the parking lot at the mall and you didn’t notice until you stepped on your freshly mopped kitchen floor. Yeah, like that. LOL
Seriously, though there are times I wonder if I live in a fantasy land, I sit and make lists of realistic characteristics that I believe help a relationship thrive and the things I’ve mentioned are on that list. So perhaps when it’s all packaged together it seems like something that doesn’t exist, but I wait patiently because I know that my God knows the desires of my heart and knows what will break my heart. So I trust in Him to bring to me what is supposed to be in my life. I’d like to think that my list in comparison to who God is preparing for me doesn’t do him any justice. I'd like to hope that the man I receive in my life will exceed all that I ever hoped for.
I say all of this as a woman with HIV who once thought that love forgot all about me and would never know me again. I thought I was destined to be a pill popping-toilet hugging-rocking chair sitting-old maid who would only be touched by a nurse practioner (and what a cold touch they have sometimes)! But I have had to come to terms with things, stop just going through life and GROW through life. I now know that despite it all, I am worthy to have what my heart wants. Some would say a lot of odds are against me. I'm a single mother (who has a normal relationship with the baby's father - no animosity), I speak out publicily (to educate others to keep them from feeling isolated or that it can't happen to them) and I like country western music.