HEALTH / HIV

Rude Awakenings
Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation
9/5/2012

Obviously, life is unpredictable. It is certain that unexpectedly good or bad things small and large are going to happen to us every day, month and year. Many events are outside of our control. But rude awakenings are something different. A rude awakening is something that you thought would never happen that does. It truly catches you off guard.  

When you are in a dream, as you sleep, you don't know that it is not real. Suddenly you wake up, and for a moment you aren't sure if the dream was real or even whether you are still asleep or awake. If it was a beautiful dream, you wish that you could go back to it. If it was a nightmare, you are relieved that it isn't actually happening, especially when it seemed so real. But it can get stuck in your mind and hang over you for a good while.

The fully awake rude awakenings are often born of denial. You don't think about the bad things that can happen because it would paralyze you if you did. Sex and love are the ripest field for rude awakenings. 

I wasn't thinking about what diseases I could contract when I was hooking up with Tom, Dick and Harry. I was thinking about how much fun it was. I felt flattered that such an attractive guy wanted me. All of a sudden I was infected and taking pills; I was addicted to cocaine; I was in an abusive relationship and it was all a rude awakening.

 I thought he was really into me—he wasn't. I thought I was really into him—I wasn't. I thought he loved me. I thought I loved him. I thought it would last for a really long time. I trusted him. I thought I could handle it all. I couldn't. Rude awakenings all.

A life with few rude awakenings isn't much of a life. A life with too many is hell. 

But the worst rude awakening of all is that you keep making the same dumb mistakes over and over again, and that you can't seem to break the pattern. But rude awakenings can be learning experiences—a sharp jolt that really makes you think and reassess. So if you are being tossed about by rude awakenings like a sailboat on rough seas all the time— it is probably you. It is not just circumstance, and there is probably a lot you can do about it. Take a step back, look in the mirror, confide in a friend or family member and listen. A victim of circumstance usually suffers from a self-inflicted wound.

president@aidshealth.org, aidshealth.org


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