Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Testimony (Why I am So Very Thankful)

As I look back over the past year I am amazed at what I have been through and have endured.  But I didn't do it all on my own, and on this evening before Thanksgiving, I want to give you my testimony, share with you the incredible journey that I have found myself on this entire year.  I am sure that each of you will be inspired and amazed at what we can endure, what we can learn, and most importantly what drives us on in the face of tremendous odds.  This blog has been an extension of who I am at this phase of my life, I hold nothing back and reveal my entire personal life here.  It has been a blessing for me to share those things with you.  Be patient with me, some of this stuff might be something you have heard before, if you have been reading the blog religiously.  However, as with all my writing new things are always revealed.  There are always lessons to be learned, heard and found in everything I write.

I am going to start with today and work my way backward in time towards the beginning of the year.  This morning I woke up at 5:30 am which is highly unusual for me.  I am normally not a morning person at all, but for some reason I have woken up early for the past three days.  I have to tell you that in the morning I am usually non functional, it takes me sometime to get myself together and motivated to start the day, however for the past three days I have popped up wide awake, and filled with the most amazing joy and believe it or not a song in my heart.  This morning I got up and immediately started listening to my new favorite song "Restless", I actually played it three times singing with it each time, and as I sang my heart and spirit just soared.  Before I knew it I looked up and it was 10:30 in the morning.  I had done my traditional Facebook good morning and greetings to my friends and associates on Facebook and had planned to just sit on the new couch and chill for a little bit.  I had decided that since it was the day before the holiday that I was just going to relax and wasn't going to worry about the open enrollment for medicare today. That I would take care of it next week.  To my utter amazement I got on my laptop in the living room and before I knew it I was looking at medicare plans in my area.  I actually clicked on a link and it took me to a page that compared all the different plans in my area.  I looked over the information and got an idea of what I was looking at, was sort of undecided when my cellphone rang and it was a lady from the company who hosted the website, my information was routed to her and so she called me.  We talked for a few minutes and I explained what I was looking for, and she started pulling up stuff on her end and talking to me about all the different plans.  Now during our conversation a lot of information came out about my various medical conditions and concerns that I had that needed to be addressed by whatever new plan that I got.  The woman's name was Marcia, and she stopped me and told me that she just needed to tell me that I sounded so upbeat and positive despite everything I was going through and proceeded to tell me what a pleasure it was to talk to me.  How, just by speaking with me and hearing the positive attitude and happiness in my voice had made her week and was going to make her Thanksgiving that much memorable.  This actually touched me in a very deep way.

See we never know where any casual conversation we have with someone else is going to take us, how our words, confidence and happiness can be heard through the phone line, and how that is going to affect or influence another person.  How just being yourself and having a smile on your face can carry through your voice and be delivered to the person on the other end of the line.  See we never know who might be looking at us, watching us, and finding inspiration from us.  Eyes and ears are all around you, and we may never know how many lives are touched and influenced just by our passing by them.  Which is why I tell you to live as you believe, let your light shine around you, and let your joy and happiness wash out into the world.  Remember that even though you might not see them, they can see you.   As I have told you this has been a long year, full of difficulties, encounters, connections, crossings and even a couple of brushes with death.  It  has taught me that there is so much in the world that I don't understand yet, and so much to learn, but on the opposite side of that coin there is so much to teach, talk about and put out to others.  I have learned that nothing is ever truly what it seems and that miracles do exist and happen in our daily lives, and if we are too busy to notice they may just pass us by unnoticed.  There is beauty and majesty in everything around us, there is wonder and adventure in every encounter we have, again we might have to look for it, but it is there. Every new day brings lessons and understanding if we are open and receptive to hear them.  Nothing you do is transparent, you aren't as invisible as you might wish you were.  People see you, interact with you, listen to you and might be inspired by you. You just never know!

I learned the trouble of misconceptions and preconceived notions about others, I learned that some people can be biased and judgmental and never give you a chance, because they think they know you, and you might do the same to them.  I learned how if you are not paying attention to those around you, how easily it can be to miss the hand of love and acceptance they are extending to you.  I also learned that if you don't listen carefully to what someone is saying to you, and really hear the words they are speaking you might make the wrong assumptions.  You might be surprised at something someone says to you, and be even amazed and full of awe at the love they have for you and it was there right before your eyes the entire time.  I also learned that if you aren't careful with your feeling you might misplace them in the wrong person, and how during a simple conversation the truth will be revealed if you are listening with both your heart and your ears. The heart is hard to fool, trust me it can hear the words that are spoken and translate them into honest feelings if you let it.  Let me explain this too you and maybe you can understand what I am saying by this.  I met someone last fall and I really cared about that person and for most of the year I thought that me and this person were going to be together, get to know one another, and build a relationship together.  I moved from Atlanta to Ormond Beach in February and was talking to this person and trying to get him to come down with me.  But, every month there was another excuse, and a reason why he couldn't or wouldn't come.  He knew what I was going through and told me that he wished he could be here with me to help me go through my surgeries and illnesses but never came.  We hadn't talked in several months due to circumstances beyond both of our control, however during our first conversation when we reconnected recently, he asked about my surgery and when I explained that it didn't work out as was expected and that I would never be made whole again like I had hoped. He said isn't there something like a bionic colon or something else that they can try?  I grew quiet, he didn't ask me if I was alright with it, didn't tell me he was sorry to hear that it didn't go right, nor did he say anything like it's okay, don't worry we will make it through this together, nothing like that.

Now, let me talk to you about the other person in my life, my ex, when he found out how sick I was, which I sent him an email in March, the same time that the first person said he was going to come and then didn't, my ex called me immediately and this is what he said to me.  Oh my god Bryan and I am sorry to hear about what you are going through. I don't want you to go through this alone, let me find out what I can do to get there.  I will call you on Friday and see if I can't be there that afternoon.  Mind you this is Wednesday afternoon when I got the call.   When he called on Friday I explained to him that I appreciated that he wanted to come and help me but that I was staying with my father and that there just wasn't room.  We stayed in touch since that day. Mind you I kept talking to the first person up until July when it wasn't possible any more, and my ex both during this time.  However the more my ex and I talked the more he revealed to me that he loved me and wanted me in his life.  He said to me that with all of the stuff medically that we had been through and how close both of us came to dying this past year, that he realized that he wanted to spend whatever remaining time we had left together whether it be a week or 20 years.  That we owed it too each other to be happy and that I truly understood him and made him happy.  Then in June when they tried to operate and the procedure failed and it became evident that I was going to be physically impaired for the rest of my life, he told me look it is okay, that he loved me anyway, he didn't care about all of that other stuff and that we would work through it together and not to worry.  Now keep in mind that I have been hurt in love before and I wanted to be sure.  Honestly, when he told me that he loved me I thought it was in a friendship sort of way, I actually  thought he was interested in someone else.  It took him several months of talking to me to convince me that I was the one that he wanted.  His words didn't sink in, we had both inadvertently hurt each other last year in Atlanta and when we separated I didn't ever think we would get back together much less talk.  However, when he reminded me of the events of the last day that we spent together, and what had happened and what was said and done that honestly convinced me that he wasn't bullshitting that he really did love me and cares for me.

I would say that I was conflicted and confused because I was interested and having feelings for both of them.  In a way I still do, however, my eyes have been opened to the difference between the two, and I know in my heart that I have love for both of them, I also know that there is only one that I am "In Love With".  It is through this revelation that I learned just how great the human heart is, and I am amazed at the abundance of love that it can have for others.  I have learned that everything we go through and endure makes us stronger and more able to deal with other things as they come up.  See, I moved back to Florida for several reasons, first, I had lost my apartment in Atlanta because of bad choices I had made, the drugs I was doing and the company I was keeping, and as a result of those decisions not only was my apartment lost, but my car was stolen, I ended up loosing all of my clothes, jewelry and possessions and my two beautiful dogs were taken from me and put to sleep.  I was devastated and living on the streets and if that wasn't enough I developed kidney stones and ended up spending a lot of time in the hospital.  Where it was revealed to me that I had renal disease, my kidneys were totally impaired by my HIV Drug regimen, and that if my condition didn't change I was going to need dialysis.  Second, was when I told my dad about my medical condition and all that was wrong with me he asked me point blank did that mean that I was dying.  At that point all the doctors and evidence pointed toward that as fact.  I had been told that I probably wouldn't make it to see next year.  So my dad and step-mom told me I could come and stay with them until I got on my feet.  Literally I left with just the clothing on my back and nothing else.

This my friends is just the beginning of the amazing journey and adventure that I was about to embark upon this year.  I wasn't here in Florida a week when I started urinating blood and running a fever, made several trips to the emergency room, and in March, keep in mind that I got off the bus from Atlanta in Daytona Beach on February 3, 2012, I ended up in the hospital and my colon ruptured in two places, and I was rushed into emergency surgery, kept in ICU for 9 days and wasn't released for 20 more days after that. I learned during that time that there was so much of my life that I needed to share with others, that I had been given so many lessons and that there was work for me to do yet.  I was delivered by God from death, and inspired to continue my work helping others, but this time from a safer distance and through a talent that had laid dormant long enough. I started my blog in April and have been writing ever since. I have met some very interesting characters, friends and acquaintances on this journey. Plus my time on the streets of Atlanta had taught me some very important lessons and survivor skills that I was lacking. My friends and family encouraged me to write my experiences, my lessons learned, and thoughts as well as the wisdom I had picked up during my life.  I had never imagined that it would take off like it has, I am read by over 400 readers a day, and my blog is translated and read in 27 countries around the world.  On top of that I get emails, phone calls, comments on my blog and on Facebook daily about how my life has been an inspiration too so many, that my words speak directly to some, and how easy it is to understand and comprehend what I write about.  But my friends there is still more, I am just beginning to understand life a little better with each passing day.  I comprehend more and see more now that my eyes have been opened toward the world and those around me.  I now understand that there is so much more to be seen and learned that lies just beyond the surface.  That new lessons are presented to me each day, new challenges that I have to rise too, and that nothing or no one can make me feel anything other than what I want to feel, if they do, then I have given them power over me and that isn't always a good thing.

Never in my life have I ever truly been on my own, I have always been in relationships or had others living with me.  This is the first time since I have moved out of my parents house at the age of 17 to join the Navy that I have truly lived and been on my own.  Now, I mean physically alone, I know that I am never truly alone that God and the Angels are watching over me and are always with me.  But, I have never had to entertain myself or lived without someone sharing the place with me.  This is new and it is interesting.  As I have learned more about myself and the lessons of life, I have begun to see the world and others differently.  I have begun to see just how different I am from others, that my positive attitude and sense of humor affect and infect others and how just being confident in myself and strong in my desire to help others has moved me into a whole new world.  After my failed operation in June I joined the Positive Champions Speakers Bureau and the Partnership for Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Planning. I have met some great individuals with the same background as I have.  We stand united against the fears and stigmas of HIV/AIDS, we strive to educate and inform the public of the misconceptions and myths surrounding the disease, and we speak out in public and support the LGBT community and Positive people everywhere no matter of their sexual orientation.  Despite my illness and constant visits to the hospital they have welcomed me and made me apart of their group and family.

But most importantly I have learned that there is life after being diagnosed with terminal illness, that their are ways of compensating for limited faculties and disabling conditions of illness and disease.  That no matter what the doctor's predict about your mortality and time left, that it is just a prediction.  That with a positive attitude and outlook your whole condition and sense of being can be transformed.  In spite of all the illnesses I have, which at current date I have 6 terminal illness all serious with no cure, nothing and no one gets me down for long. That my attitude and outlook are helping countless people and inspiring others to do things they never thought they would be capable of doing.  I live my life as an example, so that others might take hope and benefit from those things I have gone through.  Even though I live with constant pain, I can still give joy and laughter to others, that I can help bring some light into an otherwise darkened world and show people that hope and love still exists.  Since I have gotten sick and became outspoken and vocal about my illnesses I have seen a host of different reactions, some pity, others fear, others revulsion, others awe and wonder.  But, through all of this not one of them has turned away from me and left me.  When I asked a person who told me they were revolted by the fact that I was HIV Poz why they just didn't walk away and stay away, he told me because he soon discovered he was wrong, that he had made some assumptions about me and that the more he learned about me the more he couldn't deny the enthusiasm and joy that I had, and when he heard my story how everything he thought shattered in the face of truth.

As I told you earlier there are people out there that have these notions they think they know you, they think that they have you figured out and when the truth hits them, their whole image of you shatters and they are forced to accept the real you at face value or move on.  In his case when he found out that I had inadvertently infected myself with HIV by using a dirty needle that my one lover had used to shoot up his drugs and put back in my box for my vitamin shots.  His perception of me was changed.  See he thought that I was promiscuous and had slept around and that I had contracted the disease from having sex.  You just never know do you!  Looks can be deceiving and you have to give others the benefit of the doubt. No one can tell just by looking at you that you are ill, or might be dying.  It is through this young man's confession to me that my outlook about others changed as well, and I realized that even I was guilty of looking at others and pre-judging them.  So I stopped doing that literally, I simply now take everyone I meet at face value and I embrace the challenge of getting to know them, and understanding their story.  Because behind every mask, and we all wear one, is a story that is just waiting to be heard, everyone longs to be understood and accepted for themselves on their terms and loved unconditionally.  God has chosen to keep me around a little bit longer and for that I am eternally grateful, he has brought into my life once again a man that I love very dearly, who through every turn and every opportunity has displayed grace, love and acceptance, who always knows exactly what I am feeling and exactly the right words to encourage me, or inspire me.  He has taught me about myself too, he has given me hope and something to live for.  He has proven to me that he wants to spend whatever time we have left together, he turned away from his old life and old ways just because I showed him a different way to be.  He inspires me to be more than I am and encourages me to reach higher than I ever thought I could.  When I talk with him there is nothing I can't do or accomplish, and he accepts all of me, my strengths, weakness, my anxieties, my fears, and my limitations.

Lastly my readers and friends I want to say thank you to you.  For your devotion to reading my blog, for sending me the letters of encouragement, for using your voice on Facebook and other mediums to tell others about me.  I thank you for your prayers, and your wishes for my continued health.  I have never thought I would ever find the sort of acceptance that I have discovered this year.  Everyone I have met and continue to meet constantly tells me that I am such an inspiration.  But it is because of all of you that I am.  It is because of you telling others about me that my popularity has grown.  It is because of you that I have the strength and the ability to continue writing.  It is because of all of you, and the support and love that you have shown me that I am truly grateful, and because of you I don't feel alone.  You have heard my voice both the literal one and my written one and the message that it gives you of hope and inspirations is what drives me forward with compassion and passion to help make the world a better place for all of us to live in.  I am here for you, feel free to write to me, tell me what is going on in your life.  Don't be scared, don't live in the dark, if you don't want to talk to me talk to someone about what is going on.  Trust me when you do the weight and the pressure you are feeling will be lessened and you might find some unexpected advice and help when you least expect it.

Thank you for being my friends, readers, listeners and support network, it is through you and with you that my message of love, acceptance, and friendship is truly being spread.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B