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Living the HIV Life

Through this blog I will be telling stories from my life. These stories will be about everything from my HIV status: what came before I was diagnosed and what came after. My sex life and the freedom and confidence in it that I now feel….and anything else I feel like writing about in-between.

I’m doing this because I’ve been told on more than one occasion that my life is like a soap opera, I thought might as well find some therapy in writing about it.

Along the way I hope to entertain, educate and inform you about what it is like contracting and living with HIV in 2018. From a point of view that you probably won’t have heard before.

I hope you find my stories helpful, educational and entertaining. Please comment if you liked a post or have a similar experience to share.

Follow me @poz_woman87

 

 

 

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Poz Woman and the sex club.

So a while ago I decided I wanted to see what a sex club was like. I had been told stories by D of the saunas that he used to go to if he was bored and horny and I had a friend who told me that she liked to go to sex clubs. From both of their reports it seemed like something I would be into.

How it actually came about was quite spontaneous. I had arranged an evening with someone, who decided to ghost me at the last minute. I was frustrated, I had already done the prep work and I was wearing something new, so I searched for a club. I found one not too far from me, about a 45 min drive which on the pictures looked not totally hideous, and as a bonus single women got in for free.

Pulling up I was nervous, like so many sex clubs this on was on the edge of an industrial estate, very dark and grim looking from the outside. I sat in the car for a few minuets deciding if I wanted to do this.

The cloak room woman was pleasant and noticed that I hadn’t been before she called the owner to show me around. He showed me the bar, the range of public and private play areas, voyeur windows, the dungeon, the showers, the hot tub (closed for maintenance unfortunately) and the changing rooms. As I went around I felt a bit like the new kid at school, everyone sizing me up, noticeably a newcomer. The dress code was underwear, sex wear or a towel. Most of the men adopted a towel and most of the women were in sex wear. Id say men outnumbered the women maybe 4:1 and I was probably the youngest there, the main population was 40-50 yrs old and mostly couples.

I got changed into something dress code appropriate and headed to the bar. I could’ve done with a drink but as I was driving, I ordered a soft drink and chatted to some women. They were exactly they type of women I’d expect to meet in a sex club, loud, crude and over the top. While I was at the bar in quick succession 4 men approached me asking if I wanted to play. I thought it would feel awkward to turn down peoples advances but I actually felt very comfortable and safe to do so. The men were respectful and just wondered off when I said no. I wasn’t enjoying the conversation with the women and I went to check out the sauna area where I got chatting to a man.

He was only a little older than me, with a young face, average body and a nice looking dick. The first man to start a conversation and not ask in the first few sentences if I wanted to play (always a good start!). We chatted and joked, we got some water and decided to play a game of pool with two other guys, one of which he told me was his cousin ( I found this a little odd, but they said they’re used to it) after a game he asked if I wanted to go to one of the play areas to which I agreed. His cousin asked if he could join us. I pondered this for a moment and thought, why the fuck not? so said yes. Apparently the cousin enjoyed watching. We did this in one of the private rooms as I wasn’t quite ready for the flock of men watching that comes with playing in the open spaces ( I’d seen earlier when a couple started having sex). The room was dark with a laundry basket, it had anitbacterial wipes, paper towels and sheets to put down on the “bed”. There  is a certain noise the pleather wipe down “beds” make which is not attractive at all. Some annoying, over produced, straight porn was blaring loudly off a screen in the room which I turned off. The sex was enjoyable enough but distinctly average, as we were getting into it he told me he didn’t eat pussy, something I would’ve liked to have been told before we started anything!

We left the room and I felt a little more relaxed (I’m not sure why as he made no effort to make me cum). I wanted to try an open play area, it was kinky being watched by the cousin and it felt like this would be my only opportunity to do something that people could observe. I sort of already knew I wasn’t going to go back to a sex club any time soon, this one was definitely not my scene. It was getting later and the place was getting busier, more single men had arrived.

I played a little with some men in an open play area. It was fun to begin with, the men watching were keeping a respectful distance. They asked to join and didn’t complain when I said no. This was all cut short by an uninvited woman deciding she could eat my pussy without permission, who when I asked her to get off me accidentally scratched my bits with her fucking horrible, talon like fake nails.

This angered me because if a man had done what she had done 1) He would’ve been stopped by the other men because I’d not given consent and 2) He would’ve been thrown out. Because it was a women they didn’t stop her joining like other men before and nothing happened to her after I told her to get off me. They all seemed a bit shocked I was pissed off. I’m not sure why the club owners and the other patrons thought that consent didn’t apply to women wanting to join in fun?

Its a shame really that the people were so off putting. I would’ve liked to have tried the dungeon.  Another reason I didn’t like the place was because I was told by the owner that they don’t allow MM fun in the public areas…..what?!?! I cried. Here’s a little transcript of how the conversation went.

Me: Why not?

Owner: It makes some people uncomfortable, they’re allowed to do whatever they want in the private play areas.

Me: Oh, so same sex fun is only allowed behind closed doors, for women as well?

Owner: Well girl on girl is allowed anywhere.

Me: Right….. why?

Owner: Because people are comfortable with that.

Me: Can you see how that’s hypocritical?

Owner: *looks confused*

Me: Ok then….

It was immediately after this conversation I left. I did not enjoy their archaic views of sex and sexuality, I certainly did not want to be a part of it. Can you imagine if I’d said I was HIV+?!  I reckon I would’ve been chased out of there with torches and pitchforks! I won’t be returning to that sex club or any until I have proof that it is a truly inclusive space for all to enjoy their sexual preferences and kinks without having to hide anything. The whole experience put me off a little.

Finding my Motivation

7ish weeks ago I wrote a post about hunger. This was an emotional response to some bad news about my weight. This prompted a change in me, and I’m not really sure why. Being told I should lose weight is nothing new to me, I’ve had lots of people tell me that over the years. I don’t quite understand why this time, over all the other hundreds (or probably closer to thousands) of times I’d vowed to myself that I’d start a diet and lose my excess weight I have managed to stick to it.

So far I’ve lost 1stone 6lbs, or 20lbs, or 9kgs….whichever you understand the most.

I am extremely proud of this. I have never in all my life been able to stick to any sort of weight loss routine be it healthy or extreme crash diet. Almost all routines were broken within a few days.

I read a lot if body positivity stuff and I almost feel a bit ashamed of how proud I am. They tell me to love myself at any weight, and I do, to an extent. But part of me knows I’d been happier with myself at a lower weight.

And I am proud. I feel like my best self, more than ever before. And it’s been easier than I expected.

I can share no wisdom on why I have managed to stick to a routine this time. All I’m doing is eating less and moving more. Exactly what people have been telling me to do since I was 15 years old, but this time I can. I can do it. I have gone “off track” I have eaten too much or the wrong thing on several occasions. What’s different is that I have moved on, if I’ve eaten badly I haven’t shamed myself, I haven’t told myself I’m a failure and packed in the whole thing. I’ve just drawn a line under it and carried on.

I think it’s something to do with my positive self talk. I no longer have that horrible voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough. I have a voice telling me I’m doing a great job. Every time I step on the scales and I’m another lb down, I smile and high five myself in the mirror.

But I’ve hit a bit of a rut. This week is the first week in 7 that I’ve not lost. I don’t know how long this will last. I hope tomorrow I’ll regain the strength to limit and monitor my food intake. I was very scared at first. I didn’t tell anyone, I was too frightened to set myself targets. Now I have all my weight ins from the clinic since 2016 to see what weight I was at different times. I’ve set some targets to aspire to. I’m excited and hopeful about becoming fitter and loosing weight for the first time ever, by my own efforts and not by HIV ravaging my gut.

Contracting HIV and loosing around 6 stone in a few months was certainly easier, it required no effort from me and I was happy with the results. I’m hoping this time I will lose at least a good portion of that slowly and healthily.

I’m getting very excited to fit into the clothes I bought a couple of years ago but grew out of very quickly. I can’t wait for my next mirror self five.

Fem Men

I went to see ‘Everyone’s talking about Jamie’ recently. When my friend and I booked it she said “that’s right up your street” and she was right, it was! I love the musical for all it’s parts, it was fun and moving.

But towards the end (spoiler alert) when Jamie wears the prom dress as himself and when the cast sing together for the final time and Jamie is himself in typically “fem” clothes I was attracted to him. It made me think about things. What’s the difference? The entire time in the show he’s been wearing heels/dresses etc and I’d not been attracted to him. There were other men in fem clothes and I’m not attracted to them, so what made it different? Its  him in the clothes but not drag, I’m not attracted to men in drag (so far anyway).

It’s pretty niche I’m attracted to men who wear clothes that are typically more feminine, maybe with some minimal makeup but that are still presenting themselves as male.

Im not attracted to men wearing a lot of make-up, that’s quite easy to explain because I’m not a fan of a lot of make-up on anyone, including myself. I had my make-up done once for a photoshoot by a professional and she did a great job but I simply didn’t like the way I looked in heavy make-up. But I love it when men wear some make-up. A little to cover up, enhance or to add some fun colour or shine to their look.

The first man I remember looking like that is Julian Clary, on his late night show in the early 90’s. I used to go downstairs when my parents were watching TV and sit on my mum’s lap for bit and watch with them. That and Mark Owen in the Relight My Fire video and that crop top!

Frankenfurter from Rocky Horror is another one, I used to have a crush on Eddie Izzard, really could go on, honestly it’s a shame I was only a baby during the whole new romantic era.

I think that a big part of it is an attraction to confidence and humour. Most men in the public eye who dress and present like that are usually sharp, funny and clever.

My celebrity crush at the moment is Esra Miller because of the playboy shoot and him in that baby doll, bunny ears and lipgloss (omg!) And his passion to non conform when it comes to gender and sexuality.

Unfortunately for me, whenever I’ve met any men like this irl they’ve been gay. Which I think may have lead to me being attracted to gay men by association. The last person I dated did not dress in feminine clothing but was a fan of the tighter, deep v, shorter shorts type of clothes which I enjoyed.

I know there is much more to a man than the way he dresses. I’ve been attracted ot lots of different men who are not feminine in anyway really, non of my long term ex’s were. But it totally sparks my interest, gets my attention and makes me want to approach and talk to them. I wish more men would embrace this type of look.

Shame

Shame, shame, shame, shame.

We all know the reference, Cersei taking her walk of shame. That’s where my head goes when I face a rejection because of my HIV. Like I’m doing a walk of shame.

About this time last year I wrote confidentiality that I would easily be able to handle rejection if it was directly because of my HIV. Turns out, it’s not so easy. I go on a shame spiral. Agonising over every detail of the conversation, analysing, should I have told him then, should I have worded it differently, should I have waited until we met in person…. It just goes around and around.

New guy super liked me on tinder, and commented he was very glad he did. I’ve put a link to one of my articles in my profile and ask people to read it. So if they’re at the point of messaging me I assume they’ve looked at it. New guy is a nurse in an area of women’s health. New guy messaged me this morning at 7.20 saying he had woken up thinking about me. New guy messaged me as soon as he was on a break at work with a smiling picture. We had planned to meet this weekend, new guy said he was so excited to meet me, said I was in his thoughts. New guy likes big curvy girls. New guy is a fan of kink. Today during the break time conversation new guy told me he had worked at a women’s HIV treatment and assessment unit in Uganda. I was so happy, could this new guy be any more of a fit for me? I asked new guy if he’d read my article, he said no.

My stomach flipped, he doesn’t know.

I’d assumed he had. I assumed that as he worked in health care he was just more educated on the matter and it didn’t concern him. Maybe I was being naïve, how could someone possibly know and not ask me about it.

New guy asked for the link again, said his phone wouldn’t let him copy and paste it. No turning back now. I sent new guy the link at 11.16. he replied he’d read it on his lunch and message me then.

It’s 20.00 new guy has not read the two (casual, light and agonised over) messages I’ve sent. One at lunch, one after work.

Shame shame shame shame

What is it going to take? When are 3 letters not going to stop the conversation. every . single. time.

My friend said to me “he might still reply”

New guy won’t. New guys never do.

I’ve seen it before, I’ve walked this path before and its like I’m in last night’s dress, smeared makeup, hungover and everyone can see.

Hunger

I’m hungry. Its 13.09 and I haven’t eaten breakfast or lunch. At first this was not intentional, it was a product of a child refusing to get dressed and an early appointment I needed to attend. But now its very much intentional.

My appointment was my 6 monthly check up. When taking my weight I noticed that it has risen to what it was before I was sick. I swore to myself that I would never be back at this weight, and the disappointment in myself washed over me. Followed by the shame and the guilt of having letting the me from three years ago down, that and it may be effecting my blood pressure now.

3 years ago me was at a healthy weight. The HIV had ravaged my gut and caused a dramatic weight loss. I was a size 12 and secretly, I loved the way I looked. But I didn’t really let myself love it because of how I got there. Also because I was still seen by some as fat I didn’t appreciate the massive change my body went through.

Now my body seems like it is more fat than anything else.

I know that a successful healthy lifestyle doesn’t involve being to anxious to eat until the hunger overtakes and you eat shrouded by shame at being a failure for letting the food pass your lips. But I don’t know how else to be.

Because that’s what it feels like when you have a problem controlling your intake of food. Every bite comes with guilt and shame. So much so that it starts to not matter what that bite is of. If its a bite of a healthy refreshing apple or a fattening, salty packet of crisps, the way it feels to eat them becomes the same. The only difference being that if you eat the fat and the sugar and the salt afterwards you feel comforted for a while, where with the healthier food, you still feel hungry. But the shame is there regardless.

I don’t think people who don’t have issues with food can quite understand how it feels to get that anxiety every time food is around, which in case you haven’t noticed, is all the time. When I’m around food I get the same carousel of negative thoughts, if I take a second biscuit at this meeting will people be judging me? Everyone else has eaten more than me so its OK for me to eat now. If I eat at home no one is going to know what I eat so its safer.

When I know I don’t have something comforting to eat at home I panic, I get anxious and can’t think straight. This doesn’t stop until food has been bought or eaten.

I was upset by the weight gain for letting myself down. I no longer believe that my weight is a measure of my self worth. I know there is much more to me than that. I know that my weight does not hinder my sex life, there will always be people who don’t find fat people sexually attractive, but everyone has preferences including myself, so it doesn’t bother me. I don’t want my weight to have negative impacts on my health that influences my quality of life.

I feel heavy. I feel weighed down burdened by my fat. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to food. Nothing brings me more comfort and nothing brings me more shame. I want to be able to replace my hunger with something else.

Friends

I know that this blog is now not completely anonymous, its linked to my public twitter and I sort of knew people I knew would read it. Recently its made me question whether I want to continue writing openly like I do about my personal life, feelings and the sex that I have. I’ve been wondering if I should delete it, or move the content to an different anonymous name. Then I thought fuck it, writing this helps me and the positive feedback I get from it informing and helping others is all the encouragement I need to carry on.

Anyway to the theme of this post. Recently I told a friend of mine that I need to stop hanging out with gay men as I fear its hurting my love life. However if I stop hanging out with gay man it would severely hurt my social life. Since my split from D I’ve noticed that I have a small amount of friends. I love my friends and my closest ones are my family and what keep me going day to day. However they are also mostly mums and married or attached. I don’t have a female friend locally who is single and no one who is a single mum. I find it hard to find someone to talk to who I can relate to.

The only people who have offered me their friendship since my  divorce are gay men and to those I have become friends with they have given me something I desperately needed, friends who wanted to know me and me alone, which I was never sure of before with my husband. I’m very grateful for them. Through my volunteering work and online I’ve met a lot of people, some who I’ve become friends with but not many. My friendship circle before my ex-husband and I split up was almost exclusively friends we had together, with whom I’m mostly not in touch with anymore. The thing is you know who gay men tend to hang out with, more gay men. The more I expand my social circle the more gay men I meet. I don’t expect every interaction I have to be a way to meet a eligible men, but my opportunities are generally thin on the ground and not getting any thicker!

When I go out and am in LGBT+ friendly spaces I generally feel like an outsider, I went to a queer party recently and felt very un-welcomed by the people around me. When I’m in “straight” spaces I don’t feel I fit in, like I have to hide a big part of me and my interests. Like I’m not gay enough for the gay spaces but not straight enough for the straight. I wish that the two sides of my life could merge a bit more.

This is all creating a bit of unrest within me. Now I’ve made it no secret on here that I’m generally more attracted to Bi men, if I’m in a room full of people more often than not I’ll annoyingly find the only gay man and fancy him and plan our imaginary life together before I realise that he’s gay. I’m starting to think this attraction is more than just a product of circumstances.  I fancy gay men because they are unattainable because if they are unattainable from the start then I can never be properly hurt by them. Sure it sucks pining over someone who will never want you, but that’s easier to deal with than someone not wanting you.

I don’t want to limit myself and not put myself out there to make friends or seek romance because I’m scared of being hurt again. But its hard to know where to begin. Maybe I should join a club of some kind. I work away from home so often now and when I’m not working away, I have my daughter. I feel I need to be more proactive and make better plans, get out of my comfort zone.

You know when people say “I have plans with the girls tonight” I want that, I want lots of fun plans with the girls.

Ghost Town

“This town (town) is coming like a ghost town….”

The more I reveal my HIV status to people who I’m interested in dating the more isolated I feel.

I’ve talked often in other posts that I haven’t faced any stigma once I’ve revealed my HIV status to someone but the longer I’m single, the more I face. When I look at it realistically I wasn’t open about it at all when I started dating again. I can only talk about online dating as it’s the only kind I do, I never really meet new single people to ask out in any other circumstances. Let me paint you a picture of how it usually goes. We have a few flirty introductions followed by some typical getting to know each other questions. This is when the conversation takes one of three paths 1) it fizzles into nothing as there was not actually any real connection there. 2) They ask me if I want to fuck. 3) We get on and continue to chat and flirt and exchange numbers.

To be honest its right at the start of a spark with someone I start to think about when I might bring up my HIV. I wholeheartedly wish it didn’t play on my mind like that, because I believe that it shouldn’t matter. I believe that it shouldn’t matter when I tell someone about it, I should do it when I’m damn well fucking ready to. But my experience tells me otherwise. Anyway I digress…

Scenario number two I’d have to say is the most common occurrence, followed by number 1 and very rarely number 3. I’ve been trying something new recently, once numbers have been exchanged and we have arranged a date I’ve been steering the conversation towards my status. It’s not that difficult, I usually bring up work or ask what they like to do in their spare time. In both circumstances so far they’ve always then asked me back and I bring up my HIV work or my volunteering. That’s when I usually tell them. In the one message I say my status, that I’m on medication and undetectable and that being undetectable means I cannot pass it on. I say that I’m telling them because I want them to know about my life and not because I feel under any obligation to. I send a link to an article I did which tells my story and that if they have any questions to please ask me.

So far I’ve always been met with silence. We’d have been having a flowing conversation with almost instant replies then nothing. I leave it for a while then later on or the next day I ask them about it. I still haven’t had anyone be openly rude, I’ve had a few passive-aggressive comments such as “well I’ve always been really really careful” but nothing worse. A few have asked questions, a few just avoid the subject all together, but they all have something in common. They all seem to become incredibly busy after finding out my status. No longer do I get instant replies, I get the double blue tick but no response that or a cursory “yeah” or “lol”.

I have been careful to tell this information after we’ve established we’re looking for more than a hook up and have arranged a date, so I know that they’re actually interested. The date never happens. Like I said, they get really busy. I’ve never actually met up with anyone I’ve told about my HIV when it has been in a dating situation. I usually ask if they still want to meet up and they say yes, but they can’t do the original date we planned, and they’ll let me know when they’re free again. I attempt conversation again over the next week or so but it never goes anywhere. A couple have arranged a date then ghosted me on the evening it it was supposed to take place. Like the title of this post suggests, ghosting is what I receive after I tell someone about my status.

I’m well aware that people get ghosted all the time, I’m not the only one it happens to nor do I think my HIV status should offer me some kind of special treatment. But I suppose my little experiment was testing the waters to see what kind of reaction I’d get. I know I don’t have to tell people about my status but I want to, I want to normalise it, I want to have those conversations with people, to quell some fears maybe lessen some stigma. It’s not in me to hide that part of me to a potential partner. But telling people is so isolating a part of me just wants to keep it quiet for longer so at least I’d get to enjoy a date or two before they ghost me. To be honest I don’t know which is worse, all I know that its pretty shit the way I’ve been doing it currently.

Friends and acquaintances  like to offer their opinions of “better off without them” when I talk about this. I know deep down that it is a good filter, to find out who’s decent. But so far no one is, no one I’ve spoken to is willing to see past it. People who once said things like “you’re lovely”, “I can’t wait to meet” and “We’re going to have a lot of fun”. People who have read the articles and researched what U=U is. People who are smart and educated, people who describe themselves as “open-minded” and “liberal” won’t see past my status.

And I still get so angry. Angry because its not ignorance, its a choice. I’m angry because people are choosing to hold onto their stigmas. Choosing to not accept facts. Choosing to not meet me after revealing my status because they believe that by having HIV somehow makes me not worthy of their time anymore and I’m sick of it. Just sick of explaining myself over and over to only to be rejected as a result of being open.

There’s no nice conclusion here. I’ll let you know when I come to one.