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Building Walls


            I recently experienced a loss of a friend after 9 years of knowing him. The good news is that he has not passed away but the bad news is that our relationship reached a place where it was decided he no longer wanted be friends. I know we had a disagreement but not one that would end a friendship. It ended by way of Facebook which is now the tool people use to end relationships. Unlike days past where matters were discussed to resolve conflicts or misunderstandings, it's now a simple click of the 'unfriend' button and relationship is over. In this age of online friends where we can have 2,000 friends on Facebook in truth one has only a handful of people in our 'real' life we can truly call friend. The loss of a friend can be hard as living with HIV he was someone I could count on to be part of my support system. So what does one do when a person you value enough to share your status and your life decides to part ways? And when it comes to health how important is a support system?

            I know for myself as a sense of pride I made the claim that it didn't matter we were no longer friends. Besides I can always make new ones and with my personality it wouldn't be that difficult. I also didn't want to have the feeling that he ended it and in essence won, so to counter that perception I told myself it was mutual. In that time since our friendship ended I have met some great people yet right away I noticed a difference in the new relationships I was forming. I noticed that much of my interactions were guarded. I wasn't sharing as much and was providing only a surface look at who I was. My reasons was not that I thought I would be hurt again but it was more of a feeling of why bother. Why make another investment where you felt that the return was going to be null and void after a few years. Why be an open book and have someone decided they had enough and close the book and move on. And if a relationship can end suddenly after nine years with no warning why go through that situation again?

            Building walls is what I started to do. It was a wall to keep and control what and who came into my life. I think that after living with HIV for so many years you become a master builder at building such walls as you live a life where rejection unfortunately comes with the virus. I'm not saying that was the reason for my previous friend ending the friendship but past rejections steels you from being hurt once more. For me it was drawing on past relationships that ended suddenly because of my disclosure of status or the feeling of abandonment of family. So when it came to someone giving rejection, one  find yourself falling back into the role of placing those brick into place and making a motto to yourself formed of two words that sounds so familiar, 'never again"

            There is a price for such action though and I call it the cousin of rejection, its called isolation. The truth is when you build walls although you're protected from others you also create a scenario where you're behind those walls alone. Your day to day is one of simply staying to yourself. I admit I was guilty of this. It worked for me and I figured this way I don't have to go through all the work of maintaining a friendship or relationship. Isolation is a great thing at first as you can decide where to go without negotiating with anyone. It was handy if I decided to eat at a particular restaurant with no care how others felt or go to an event that others may not like. You're in that great space where you don't have to negotiate and coordinate times or dietary restrictions. Yet by making friends with isolation you realize that even that comes with a price.

            The truth is that isolation and the concept of holding yourself from others hurts not only your spirit but also your physical being especially when it comes to HIV status. The trickle down effect of isolation is that it has a string to depression which as we all know can have a negative effect of your health. It's been shown that depression has a link to your immune system and with an existing compromised immune system it doesn't help matters. Also depression has that funny way of making you revisit bad habits that you have been able to overcome. Bad habits in the way of unhealthy/excessive eating, substance use of drugs/alcohol and for some unhealthy sexual practices which can affect your health long term.

            Yet as someone in my forties I have come to that conclusion that the older you are the harder it is to make true friends. I think that's the wicked draw of Facebook as in the space of being connected in truth you're becoming disconnected to the true social of in person interaction. True friends are again not the thousands you have on your social media site but the ones you can knock on the door or call and just know that they have the time for you. So what I have done is look at the friends I have and rather than look at the absence instead look at the greatness of those who call me friend. The loss of my previous friend has to be looked as an action of not taking away something but giving space for others to come into my life. Yet I know that they'll never get in if I continue to make it difficult for them to do so and scaling walls I've built will make that task harder.

            I have allowed myself to cry and not pretend the loss of the relationship doesn't hurt. The sad truth is that from the day we set our feet on this earth and until our last steps we're going to be hurt and disappointed by others. The true testimony is what we do with our steps while we're here. I find comfort in the fact that friends are here to travel with us until we come to a certain road in our journey upon which we find others who walk with us for the other leg of our travels. And at least I have the memories of past enjoyment so I can reflect on what makes a true friend for those days when it seems the clouds want to take over.

            So I step back into the game of life and not simply as a calculated way to manage my HIV status but to recognize that life is more fulfilling when you have others to share in that joy. For my brethren especially those with HIV who live behind the walls you've created simply ask is it working for me. Am I finding the joy I was seeking or is it a false promise? Is living in isolation creating for me a healthy perspective of life or is it affecting my health and overall well-being? Am I truly safe? I had to ask myself the same questions and know that I will start dismantling my wall and to those I've been holding at arms length, welcome them in. I find comfort that this is moment in my life where I'll look back and remember this sad instant and celebrate how I was able to walk into a brighter light. So here we go again, walls down and arms are open, I'm ready for love!    


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Comments on Aundaray Guess's blog entry "Building Walls"

very touching bu that we face every. physical and emotional insecurities. It's an encouraging piece. thank you for sharing your experience and giving hope to those who face different challenges, be it work, school, business and so on. The truth is there is not as good as been sincere and honest to others and most importantly to one self.
Wish you all the best in you en devours especially in making new friends.

A very poignant and well-written story...I, too had cut people off, due to a "friend" who messed with my head when I got high, and left me with a paranoid approach to meeting people; I wouldn't trust anyone. Since then, due to compassionate, true friends, as well as meditation, which helped me put things in perspective, I have pretty much snapped out of it. It is good that you allowed your emotions to express themselves; it will be easier to relate to people without having to guard your feelings. Good luck to you and thank you for sharing your experience.

Wow I really needed to read this divine intervention lead me to this article I usually go straight to the dating log in not anymore I've been hiding 4 years telling no one about my HIV status just my daughter on AIDS day 2013 She cried saying you've been going through this alone for 11 yrs and I didn't know I told her not to feel bad because she kept me fighting to live wanting to see her achievements Now she's 24yrs old on her own Lonely I joined the dating site I met someone 4 the first time I could break down my wall but he only wanted sex not a friend so he stop answering my text although the friendship was a lie I cried because I didn't realize until now I'm lonely and I need open relationships so tired of hiding I feel like I lost my bff..Thank You for helping me

Just as I was reading over the article and at the first few paragraphs thinking NO NO NO you are allowing yourself to be hurt to the point of closing up and lying to yourself. Why cheapen the wonderful realationship you built with your friend ... you are hurt, let yourself have a time of mourning and healing. I realized that is what the public forum of the column was all about. You get to preach to the choir. How wonderful that you are discovering that in everything the answer becomes open your arms wider. I am goinng to be 57 ... my saving grace in the gay community is that I look 43 (lol, and this has been said by others so it's not necessarily my ego speaking ... or by the fact I bring it up - is it? ... another lol) Never-the-less, I have found that it is always with a quiet mind and a open heart I can look for the love in all things. When someone else makes a choice I find hurtful I can look to see where their brokeness exists and their hurt may have been actually been meant to have been given to me in love. It is a difficult task but it is my goal. At times I may only be able to see that they are broken and extend my own love but this is rare. The first and always though is self care so I can spread joy to others. In so doing they are able to live and I am free. I am sorry for the pain that you went through. You are right that there are few friends and it is so important for us to have that support group of friends. How wonderful you hold the wisdom and courage to embrace the wonder and awe of life to comntinue to do so.

Thank you so much for your kind words and never give up on love!!

It is just amazing how we ALL share a common thread with or w/out HIV...I know that feeling of buildings walls to the sky blocking everyone and everything out! I really miss just spending time and making memories with close FRIENDS...its like I just cant find friends...not nsa not fwb not lovers not partners JUST friends. I am really working my brain to see what I can do to start up some type of group to do this. One pos person to the next. Where u can be urself no judgement no frowns just true genuine friendships and conversations! I wish u the best and good spring is upon us maybe time to start fresh and start knocking down the walls!

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This page contains a single entry by Aundaray Guess published on March 13, 2013 2:26 PM.

Viral Stigma was the previous entry in this blog.

Spring Cleaning is the next entry in this blog.

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