In my quest to heal others, I often forget to let myself heal. As my light brightens, and it becomes increasingly important to me that I do fulfilling work, I find myself taking on more than I have the emotional capacity to maintain. At first the craving derived from my need to create work that truly reflected the intersections I represented as a Black, HIV-positive gay man in America. Growing up in Detroit, I know firsthand what oppression feels like when white hands use black batons to cripple Black bodies. I also know what it feels like to be forced to inhale stigma’s staunch odor, simply because of your serostatus. You become associated with a positive sign that carries negative weight. I knew that in order to grow, I must plant seeds of community in every person I encountered.
As a treatment adherence counselor, I maintain a caseload of 30 HIV-positive individuals combating more than just their HIV. Unchecked mental health disparities and internalized hatred often define them. The invisible “S” on my chest remains well after I leave work for the day. You see, it’s not that easy to take off the tragedies of your clients after a day of listening to stories that would make even the toughest soul, weep. If you are passionate about the work, you realize that you need your clients more than they need you. You become invested in their success and territorial of their truths. They are now a living, breathing memory to you. But as I successfully helped my clients along the continuum of care, I neglected to make healthier choices for myself.
To be an organ and blade is the heaviest cross to bear because you’re forced to feel everything while simultaneously not wanting to feel anything at all. You’re afforded the ability to heal others through your transparency, yet you unintentionally cut those around you with your broken pieces. I was forced to learn, in my pursuit to educate, that when you break it is ok to hold your heart outside your body for days, months or years on end until it heals. I refuse to just band-aid the pain away. No, I let it bleed until it stops, cry out when it hurts and treat it with care until I no longer feel the pain.
One day, you’ll be forced to remember everything you’ve tried so hard to forget. That’s when the real healing begins. Superman must know that he, too, is worth saving. When I finally discovered that I was worth saving, I decided to document the euphoria I felt. Sun Salutations was birthed through that discovery. Read it below.