Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Changes in climate, altitude, landscape and perspective

It has been a long time since my last entry. I won't apologise, because the past few months have been life-changing, mind-blowing, horizon-expanding and at times refreshingly mundane, but I will try and share with you some of the reasons for my hiatus from this blog and contact in general.

Just to backtrack a little, since the diagnosis of my husband (then still boyfriend) in 2006, there had not been a day I have not thought about HIV in one way or another. Sure, it didn't help that I subsequently took on a job in paediatric HIV clinics, where it was unavoidable, but in general, I kind of had the feeling that it was something I, as a partner and loved-one, needed to face head-on. And for a good while, that was the best thing for me; informing myself, confronting my role in this (or what I thought it was), adjusting, supporting and seeking support. But then it kind of got a bit out of hand, I somehow had the feeling that I was destined for this work - I was good at it, life had somehow prepared me for it (looong before my husband's diagnosis I had worked around the topic 'HIV' in my studies, Honours and Masters theses). And it got to the point where I felt I no longer had a choice.

So I lived with HIV besides me like an imaginary friend/foe you can't ignore and whose presence you are constantly aware of, thus affecting your decisions and plans at every corner. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but you somehow adjust your life around it. And I figured that was just how it had to be.

In the last three months I have travelled across Argentina, Brazil, Peru and have currently reached Bolivia. Apart from the significant changes of climate and landscape from temperate to tropical, from sea level to 5000m altitude with snow and storms, floods (which I narrowly missed), sunburn and fresh breezes something also shifted within me. It was gradual at first, nothing groundbreaking but I started to get a different viewpoint on things. And one day, during a full-day hike, after completing the last little bit of a difficult climb to see the breathtakingly beautiful Laguna de Los Tres at the bottom of Fitz Roy mountain, I realised I hadn't seen my imaginary friend in days. That is not to say I didn't think about my husband, not at all, but HIV as that little mind-blocking, thought-occupying truth-and-perspective-blocker had not featured in my thought processes for a while.

For some time after that I began to think about different possibilities and opportunities in my life. Possibilities which had always been there but which I, having been blinded by my supposed destiny and responsibilities, was unable to even begin to consider. Like the fact that my life doesn't have to revolve around HIV if I don't want it to. Don't get me wrong, intellectually I totally knew that, (and I am aware it may sound bizarre, being the seronegative magnet) but deep down I just never believed that I had any other options, if that makes sense. And contrastingly, at no point has my husband's life revolved around his illness. It has neither stopped nor slowed him down from striving to achieve his goals professionally or personally. No, that was just something that I managed to make up for myself.

So over the following weeks I really just enjoyed my new found 'freedom' and checking my emails or blogging some more seemed like something I was not yet ready for. I was afraid that if I immersed myself in the HIV scene again, I would lose the clarity I had just so recently gained and I needed to have some conversations with myself (some out loud, I admit, while no one was listening), enjoy some unusual things (like eating llama and guinnea pig), meet new people (that did not know my connection to HIV, or anything else about me for that matter) and generally challenge myself in other ways to see that I am able to retain my insights through tougher times. I think I'm getting there.

Soooo, at the end of May I will be making my way to the US via Montreal and I look forward to meeting some of you along my roadtrip through the US in June, exchanging experiences and hopefully a few laughs as well. My road trip will take me from the East coast to the West (in other words I will cover a lot of ground), so those of you who get in touch I will contact within the next couple of weeks, to see how we can meet up as well. Afterwards I will spend some time in Vancouver as well, so if you're from there, the same applies to you.

Looking forward to it!

Magnetic Mama

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