Living the Questions

BY Tyler Helms

April 29 2011 6:30 PM ET

 We each can probably recall those life moments that at the time seem like the end of the world. And I suspect many of us shut them away, denying ourselves their influence, denying others the chance to be involved. For years I have not fully owned that day, and I have dismissed that person out of anger, fear, embarrassment, and sadness.

The truth is, that situation and person that led me to that brisk day in May 2007 would teach me so much about the fragility of the human mind. It shaped my approach to future relationships, to trust, and helped redefine my understanding of love. It showed me the power of substance. It forced me to understand the importance of making the choice of when to say goodbye. It defines me, he defines me. The same could be applied to HIV and all that has come with my disclosure. It has made me more compassionate, forced me to be more empathetic, and made me mindful of everything that works against tolerance. Another unfortunate circumstance, but with very fortunate lessons. HIV very much defines me and continues to each day.

Too many times pride and privacy creep in to protect our fragile egos and we fall back on a carefully crafted safety net of politically correct, socially acceptable definitions of who we are and what defines us. These do nothing more than look good on paper. The reality is, we are each human, life gets messy, and mistakes are made. And most of the things we say don’t define us are at the very top of our physiological dictionary, for better or worse.

Just think if we all were a little more candid about what truly defines us — the decisions gone awry, the addiction we just can’t shake, the secrets we fight to hide, the chance we took on love, the mistake we live with every day — perhaps we would better understand the impact our actions have on defining others. After all, we are all at some point part of someone else’s definition. Because as cliché as it sounds, I am finding more every day if you really want to know the answer to “What defines you?” you need to look beyond yourself, to the answers of others.

So each time you choose not to share that unfortunate moment from your past, dismiss that person who doesn’t meet your definition, or hide that unfortunate disease, understand that doing so might just be the missed opportunity to redefine the world around you.







Tags: HIV & AIDS

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