The power of one's mind is absolutely incredible. I am a firm believer that attitude and mood has a direct effect on not only emotional and mental health, but physical health as well. I also believe in the ability to brainwash or convince yourself of something that may or may not be reality. No, I'm not going to write about the "Mormonism Cult" and how we've all been brainwashed into believing that it's the one and only true religion. Blah Blah Blah. I'm not opening that can of worms. HA! But I do want to write about how for years I lived in complete and total anxiety and fear and had completely convinced myself that I had HIV/AIDS.
The first time I can really remember the reality of AIDS entering my mind and life is when I found out my gay Uncle, who was living in Ft. Lauderdale at the time, was dying of AIDS. This was in '95; he was 38 and I was 16 at the time. My gay promiscuity hadn't even really begun at that point (my encounters were still pretty innocent) and I admit I didn't even really know much about AIDS. In fact, I didn't even know my Uncle was gay. I guess you could say I lived a very naive and sheltered childhood and adolescence. At that point, the only thing I really knew about AIDS was that it was an incurable disease, usually transmitted via drug abuse and sex, and that the person's death was horrifying and painful.
Over the years, I have learned that my Uncle contracted HIV when he was living in Los Angeles. I don't know when or how long he lived with it before his death. I don't know if it was from a one-night stand or during a long-term relationship. I wish so bad I could talk with my Uncle and find out more about him, why he was the way he was and what kind of gay lifestyle he lived. Was he like the seldom few gay men in the world that truly want love and companionship and don't give a hoot about getting in each other's pants during the first date or encounter? Was the reason he contracted HIV was because he was simply with the wrong person at the wrong time? Or was his gay lifestyle more like mine...the anonymous, filthy, unprotected gay sex in bathroom stalls, cars, and gay nightclubs, spas and parks?
Whatever the case, he contracted it and it eventually killed him. And his death was not pretty. It's interesting how I can feel more compassion and depth of feeling and understanding for an Uncle I didn't even know very well just because we deal (dealt) w/ the same issue. This is something that my family or others could never really realize.
I remember after my Uncle died in Nov '95 by Dad and traveled to Florida to box all of his things and send them home. We spent a lot of time w/ his partner (who also had HIV) and met a lot of his friends (again, many were HIV+).
One day we went to the beach and I walked a ways down by myself to one of the beach bathrooms. I found a USED condom just outside the bathroom on the sand. I took it into the bathroom w/ me, I drank the semen out of the USED condom, then I put the condom on and jacked off into it myself. Wow. Wow. Wow.
My next and first personal encounter w/ the reality of AIDS was after a sexual encounter I had had w/ an older guy during the summer after I graduated HS. I remember engaging in anal sex w/ him (I did him) and the condom broke. During sex I also noticed he had a weird lump in the middle of his back, almost the size of a baseball. Bizarre, I thought, but I shrugged it off. Anyhow a few weeks later I was taking a walk w/ another gay guy I had recently met and my encounter w/ the other older gay dude came up in our conversation. He told me that the other guy had HIV. I'll never forget feeling the blood leave my head, heart, and gut and sink to my feet upon hearing that. It felt like somebody had dumped ice water down my neck. That was the beginning of my self-deception and persuasion that I had got "it." Looking back I wonder if the younger guy was just jerking me around b/c I wouldn't have sex w/ him (um, YUCK) and that was his way of getting back at me. Or perhaps he really did know the other gay guy and he really did have HIV. I'll never know the truth for sure and have no idea where the two of them ever ended up.
Nevertheless, despite my fear and shock, I could never bring myself to get tested and I continued having many, many, MANY anonymous sexual encounters, sometimes safe, sometimes not. I know, it was so, so, soooo stupid, careless, wreckless, selfish, and prickish of me. I started feeling really mentally weird ALL the time (I thought it was a symptom of the illness) and out of it like I was high all the time. I also started having regular panic attacks, which I had never before experienced. During this time I was going to school and living in Pocatello by myself and was also working during the summers in West Yellowstone, MT. I was experimenting w/ pot, alcohol, and was smoking regularly as well. My life and mental state was, to say the least, tumultuous and deranged.
I remember lying in the tub one night in Pocatello and I started getting freaked out while looking at my naked body b/c I thought I was getting too skinny (another symptom/side effect of the disease). I was constantly looking and obsessing about any sign or symptom to crop up, from white things in my mouth and throat to night sweats; I consumed myself with any and all physical changes or abnormalities.
I began donating plasma, which was a way for me to have my blood tested, though it wasn't an official "HIV Test." And again, I was in constant fear that one day I would receive a phone call or letter in the mail that something was abnormal in my blood. And yet I continued screwing around! Perhaps it was my way of trying bury or forget my fear or fixed reality.
In 2000 I decided to go on a mission for the church. I told myself that everything would be ok and all my physical tests would come back normal if God wanted me to go and if I changed my lifestyle. Sure enough, they were and I ended up going. But the constant, nagging fear and anxiety that I had AIDS remained. I had still never had an official HIV test - never and had had 100's of sexual experiences, some major others minor.
It was during my mission that while looking in my mouth one day I had weird white things on my tonsils. Again, the blood drained from my head and ice water had been dumped on me. Here was another sure sign and indication that I had "it and that "it" had been simply hiding. I was so, so, so upset and scared. I eventually got up the courage to tell my Zone Leader I needed to visit w/ the Mission President's wife about seeing a nurse. I was a nervous and emotional wreck, but I couldn't tell him why. Finally, he got the truth out of me and told me, "dude, chill out!" He asked if I had ever had a severe strep throat. He asked me if the white things on my tonsils resembled cottage cheese curds and stunk really, really bad. Finally, he said it's no biggie, he had the same thing going on. It is simply bacteria that builds up in our tonsil pockets and holes and eventually comes out, or we can squeeze them out ourselves. Yea, pretty nasty, but you can imagine my relief and the peace I felt.
If you've been a faithful reader from the beginning, you already know my mission did not end well. I ended up having sex and doing everything else inappropriate and evil on my mission and was sent home after 20 months. But even after coming home and being disfellowshipped and even while dating my future (now) wife, I continued screwing around w/ guys, though let me just write here that the last time I engaged in anal sex with a man even to this day was while I was on my mission.
Anyhow, this is the part when any shred of positive view you may have of me will go completely out the window. For you see, prior to getting married, I still never got an AIDS test, or any other STD test. Yep, I know, I am a complete and total sick son-of-a-bitch for that. At that point, my wife knew I had same-sex issues, but she had no idea about any of my AIDS-related fears or how promiscuous and unsafe I truly had been. I'm a fucker.
After marrying, I did not physically mess around, touch or be touched by men. I continued cruising the parks and bathroom and would have encounters w/ gay guys and I would watch them act out on themselves or each other, but I was playing it safe, myself. My wife and I began having kids and building our life together, but I was still never convinced that I was clean.
I remember finally coming out to my wife and telling her the God-awful, hellacious fear that had plagued me for (at that point) 8 years that I had HIV. I just knew I had it! I was going to be the special case that despite having had had sex w/ her hundreds of times and even after having healthy, normal children together, I would still have "it" hiding deep down inside me and eventually, someday it was going to rear its ugly head. I had been too bad; too vile; and had gone too far.
As the years passed my fear finally began to subside, though it would never be relinquished completely. For whatever reason, God had kept me safe through all the years of my dumb-fuckery, but I knew I wouldn't be so lucky the 2nd time, should I return to those behaviors and start screwing around w/ dudes again and committing adultery. My HIV phobia actually kept me from going completely ape shit and start acting out w/ the men I was having encounters with.
I remember going to a gay bathhouse in Los Angeles in 2008 and I was not wearing thongs or shoes and was walking in drips of cum and what not. And I was getting into the hot tub that only hell knows how much cum and stuff was in there! Barf! This is when my HIV fear began slowly growing again! What if I had had a cut or sore on my foot or heel when I stepped in the semen? What if there had been cum in the whirlpool water and it had entered a cut or something somewhere on my body? Constant, nagging, worry and fear that I continued to push down into the recesses of my mind.
This is why I am so fucked up today - years of bullying, anxiety, fear, hurt, sadness, anger that I have pushed down and never dealt with. This is why I have a hard time dealing w/ the complexities and realities of life. I cannot stand seriousness and scary things and responsibilities that I have to do or face. In a way, I am completely and totally mental!
In 2011, I FINALLY came to the knowledge that I'm a pretty fucked up sex/lust addict and began attending regular SA meetings as well as meeting w/ a group therapist. Right out of the gate, the therapist asked if I had ever had an HIV test or been checked for other STDs....again, the ice water down the neck feeling...why was she asking me this? Is it a sign? Has everything been culminating to this? Is it too late for me? I told her that I hadn't any anal or oral sexual encounters since I had gotten married, but she urged me for my own peace of mind self victory to go to the District Heath Dept. and have the whole gamut of STD tests. Believe it or not, after all those years I did end up getting the courage to go and take the tests. Especially the 'biggie!' I was so scared and nervous. You can't even imagine the relief and the peace and warmth that flooded over me when everything came back ok. FINALLY! I had confirmation that I did not have AIDS and that I was going to be ok. I told myself I would never, EVER do anything that would put myself in a situation that I would ever have to worry about fucking AIDS again.
Well, as you've read from my posts over the past 2 years, I have slipped and sunk lower than I ever have since I got married. I have engaged in frequent mutual masturbation sessions w/ strangers and have even descended to giving and receiving oral sex. Obviously fear couldn't and didn't overcome my perpetual wanton lust and sex addictions. :P
I did end up having to have a thorough blood panel for my being a possible bone marrow donor for a lady in need, which came back ok. But I still wonder. I know that HIV can be in your system for a long while and still come up undetectable in a test. My last sexual encounter w/ a guy was Dec 18 and my blood draw and test for the bone marrow donation was Dec 19. What if I had a small hangnail and some of the guy's cum made contact? What if I had a small cut on my penis or inside the tip of my penis and he had a mouth sore or blood from a cut in his mouth or on his gums that got inside me? What if I had a tiny cut or canker sore or something at the time and some of his pre-cum got in it?
If I really sit down and think deep about it, I will again begin to convince myself that AIDS has conquered me. I will die the safe, horrific, awful death my Uncle did. And I can't blame anybody but myself. Do you see why and how keeping God's commandments and staying faithful in a marriage keeps one truly free, at peace and safe in every way? Why do I continue to put myself (and my wife) in these awful situations and compromise OUR health, our future, and marriage? I know I'm an asshole and I've already lost my church membership on account of my stupid, wicked, riotous choices. And I know as sure as anything that next it will be my marriage and family that I lose and then lastly, it will be my life (physical and spiritual). I pray I can continue in the path of righteousness and stay far away away from any and all things dark and/or evil. Please stay away from me.
From Mormon.org: "Like our parents growing up, God gives us commandments to help keep us focused on what is most important and how to stay safe. All of His guidance is meant to keep us safe, help us stay close to Him and, in the end, to give us more freedom and happiness. The word "commandment" might make us think of the Ten Commandments—a list of "Thou Shalt Nots"—God does not only tell us what we should not do, but He also tells us what we should do. His greatest hope is for our eternal happiness, so we can be sure that His commandments are not restrictive rules, but they are divine guidance meant to protect us from harm and lead us to better ways of living."