11 - LOVE
When I found out I was HIV positive, I had just met a boy, D.
My friend P was the reason we met: I discovered D on the Facebook profile of one of P's friends and instantly fell in love... with a picture.
"Go ahead and write to him, you have nothing to lose."
P had encouraged me to come forward to this stranger and of course I had followed her advice. D replied relatively quickly. This was followed by two weeks of long messages where we discovered each other, asked questions, exchanged music, readings and films. I have a hard time finding the right words to describe what I was feeling at that time, but it was very strong.
D came to see me in Paris very quickly. When I saw him in front of me, everything was confirmed. He was beautiful. He had this way of looking at me... Nobody had looked at me like that. It's incomprehensible, but we had this connection from our first message exchanges. It was an intellectual connection at first, since I loved his way of writing, which was confirmed by his physical presence: love at first sight. D lived in Caen. We never took this detail as a pretext to ask each other questions. Quite the contrary. That was the way it was and we would live with it. A few weeks later came the moment when we decided to get tested. We were both on cloud nine. We fell from a great height.
He met me the next day (or the day after, I think) in Paris. We cried a lot. To be very honest, the first few days after the announcement I wasn't really myself anymore. I was completely stunned. I went to Caen for a fortnight to stay with him to absorb the news and take a step back. We were both immersed and I let myself be carried away. I remember that things were simple at the time. D was a medical student. He spent a lot of time revising, learning, reading... I had taken on some habits with him: reading a book, making tea, occasionally walking behind him to give him a big hug. Those few days were very sweet. With him I discovered how to love with the virus.
That first time we had sex after I found out my HIV status was very difficult. I didn't enjoy it at all. I knew that I had to do it and above all that I had to trust him. I was terribly afraid of infecting him at the time. He taught me to understand and accept my illness. Without him, I think I would have developed a trauma. Who knows, I might never have had sex again. He helped me not to lose my confidence completely. Having him by my side for almost two years helped me to structure myself towards this new life. It's all very well to say that it doesn't change anything, but at the time it does.
When I was invited to accept the famous contractual termination that I mentioned in my previous story, I found myself without a job. Very quickly D suggested that I come and live in Caen. I needed to rebuild myself in a quiet place, far from Paris, and I felt that I could only do so if I got closer to him. I have no regrets. I think this period was necessary for me. It did me a lot of good. For nine months we built a reassuring bubble with his family and friends. This bubble saved me.
When he left me, I lost everything: my lover, my best friend, my doctor and all the people we had. His family was very present for me during our story. Losing them to him was very painful and I don't think I'm wrong in writing that it was mutual.
In the days following our break-up, I returned to Paris, found an incredible job, a flat share in a sublime flat, and all this without any difficulty. I was certain that I had to move on and everything was falling into place for me to do so. My friends played an important role in this moment by welcoming me back into their lives. This new job, this new flat and this return to the capital were the opportunity to move forward quickly and not to look back.
D came to live in Paris just a few months after we broke up. He found a day job in the street where I worked. He came to see me from time to time without warning. From then on it was hell. I had done everything I could to forget about him and he clung to me. I think it must have been good for him, but it wasn't good for me. We saw each other two or three times. Our encounters went far beyond the friendly framework.
This last time we had sex, the way he looked at me was nothing like the way he had looked at me before. He was consuming me as he might have consumed someone else. Our story was well and truly over. He had used me to move on and mourn, but gently, keeping me under his thumb, because it would be less violent than not seeing each other at all.
That last evening after our last intimate moment, I went home devastated. The next morning I woke up for work feeling like my body was nailed down and couldn't move.
I wanted to stop living. I was scared. I texted my friends and D's to tell them I didn't have the strength anymore. I spent about ten days in a psychiatric centre, of my own free will. No TV, no people, no phone, no distractions. I needed to be alone.
In retrospect I didn't want to die, but I had to try to do it for D to understand that he had to leave me. I couldn't tell him, I couldn't push him away. But finally I understood that if I wanted to be happy again I had to stay away from him.
We met again two years later for dinner. Then last year after many years without news. It's terrible but that last time we saw each other I felt very sorry for him. His light was completely gone. We became strangers.
"Would you like to go to a movie sometime?
These were the last words he said to me.
We loved each other very much and made each other suffer just as much in return. Nevertheless he remains the person who helped me keep my head above water at the worst time of my life and I am very grateful to him. There are unspeakable encounters. I have had them regularly and not only in the sentimental field. There is no such thing as chance. I am convinced of that. I know that having D by my side really helped me to become the boy I am today.
Our story was marked by the discovery of my HIV status and it is probably an event that has changed us both forever. In the end, it doesn't matter if you are HIV positive or not, when love comes your way it doesn't judge you.