Community

Hazel’s not home tonight. It hit me when I came through the door and she wasn’t at my feet to say hello. To cap off the worst week I’ve had in quite a while, I had to take her to the vet this morning for her surgery before I went to work. It pained me to have to leave her there on top of everything else I’ve been dealing with this week. The surgeon called this afternoon to say that she came through it fine and that she was in the recovery room. She’ll be there until Sunday for observation. They are also sending the ear canal they removed for a biopsy to see if there are any lingering cancerous cells because if there are, she’ll need chemo or radiation. I’m so praying she doesn’t need any more treatment. This has been traumatic enough so far. I miss her. I had a crying jag over that guy on Wednesday night as I lay in bed. Hazel had been lounging by my feet but when she heard me crying, she came over and meowed, as if to say, “What’s wrong, Mommy?” “Mommy’s in a bad way, Boo Boo,” I said. She then nuzzled next to my shoulder, trying to comfort me. She’s a really sweet cat who really doesn’t deserve this to happen to her. The vet did say that I can visit her tomorrow after 10 in the morning after they do rounds. I intend to go as soon as I’m able to.

Due to all the crap that’s been happening this week, my hair hasn’t been a priority. I did wash it last night, but I didn’t really do much to it. I didn’t have the inclination. I just put slapped on some Shea Moisture Voluminizing Conditioner, their Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Ecostyler and put my hair into 8 big twists and took them down this morning for a curly fro. I didn’t take a picture today but here’s what a curly fro usually looks like on my hair

I’ve been thinking about communities today. Namely the natural hair and STD communities. Neither have anything to do with the other but I am part of both. I initially joined hair boards in order to gain support and confidence over wearing my hair as it naturally grew out of my head and found a warm, amazing community of women. I also got valuable information on how to properly care for my hair, as knowledge in caring for my hair type isn’t widely taught, due to “straight hair tyranny.” The thing is though, I’ve discovered that while I’d still need the information on how to care for my hair, I could get by without interacting with others in the natural hair community. I live in a place where not a day goes by that I don’t see at least several naturals on the street. I get validation for my choice every day, so I don’t feel isolated as far as my hair goes. There are other black women who need the hair boards more than I do because either they live in communities where the other inhabitants don’t look like them or they live in more conservative places where just about everyone else is permed or weaved up. So You Tube and the boards are an immeasurable resource for them where they can get the support and validation that they may not get in their everyday lives.

When it come to STD’s, I’m at a loss. I actually took part in a discussion today on a board where the subject was how many sexual partners was too many. My response was that the number of partners is irrelevant. There is still a double standard for men and women regarding the number of sex partners you have and there are different moral judgements regarding the amount of partners you have for each sex as well. The more partners a man has, he’s considered a stud and that’s considered a positive thing. Yet a woman is considered a ‘ho or a slut if she has sex partners, period. The amount of sexual partners that people think are “too many” for women is arbitrary and differ with each person. In our patriarchal world, denigrating women for their sexuality only serves to keep us in “our place.” So I rarely use the terms slut and ‘ho to describe a woman’s sexual behavior. That isn’t to say that there aren’t people out there who have sex for dubious reasons, such as to get bling or because they’re just seeking attention. However, it’s not the sex itself that should be at issue, it’s the underlying behavior that should be at issue and other terms should be used to describe the behavior, not the terms denigrating the people themselves.

In relation to this, since there is a stigma when it comes to STD’s, a lot of people think that only “certain kinds of people” can get them-translation: sluts or ‘hos. A lot of people also think that those who get them deserved it because if they had been virtuous, they would have kept their pants zipped and their legs closed and been spared.  I’ve lived with an STD for nearly 4 years. I wasn’t promiscious at all. I rarely even talked about it until now because of the stigma and blame attached to it. I have no idea who gave it me. The virus I have can lie dormant for months or years before it becomes active and shows up on tests. Also, there aren’t any tests to detect some STD’s in men, so a lot of men are carriers and aren’t aware of it whatsoever. You can’t look at someone and tell if they have an STD. If you saw me in person, you wouldn’t think I’d be the “type” of person to have one. There are people who get STD’s after only one sexual encounter.

It’s funny, but it wasn’t until this issue with that guy that I’ve fully experienced the HPV and realized how hard it would be to start dating again. For awhile, I was in total denial. Then when I got to the point where I at least acknowledged the condition, I still put it in the back of my mind and continued to live my life. Since I’ve been dumped, I’m just now  feeling all of the anger, guilt and shame that I’ve been suppressing for all this time. I hadn’t even told my friends about it until recently. They can try to comfort and console me, but unless you have an STD, you really can’t understand how I feel. I don’t know of anyone in my circle that has it. I know it’s possible that someone else does but they’re unaware of it or they haven’t disclosed it to me, but as of right now, I don’t know of another soul IRL that has any STD.  I can put faces on natural hair every day. Supposedly, anywhere from 50%-80% of the population are carriers of STD’s or actually have the condition, depending on the source. Yet, I can’t put faces to these staggering numbers because no one talks about it, which is extremely isolating to me. Right now, I feel like I have a scarlet letter “X” on my head. I’ve dealt with low self-esteem and depression for a good part of my life and I’ve often felt like a freak for one such thing or another. I was in denial over HPV for so long because it just felt like one more thing that set me apart from other people and made me inferior. Over the last couple of days, people have told me that the guy who dumped me did me a favor by showing his true colors so soon as he spared me bigger heartbreak down the line. I am getting over him and it does hurt less today than it did on Tuesday. I still feel my decision to disclose my condition was the right one, as it gave him the choice on whether or not to take the risk of contracting it. That same choice was not given to me. My fear is now about the future as I know there are plenty of other people out there who are ignorant about HPV and STD’s in general. I really don’t have high hopes about dating other people, especially those with non-STD’s. I mean, how many people out there would really CHOOSE this, even though for the most part it’s not life threatening? If I had been given the choice, I’m not sure I would’ve wanted to take the risk. As it is now, I have to go to the doctor every six months for pap smears and colposcopies, as I have a high risk strain of HPV and they have to check to see if cancerous cells develop. This is what I have to do for the forseeable future in order to stay healthy and it’s possible I’ll have to do this for the rest of my life. I’d rather do other things with my time than spend it at the doctor. Yet there are people out there who’d say that this is what I deserve for having pre-marital sex, or for having a number of partners that they deem were too high. My STD shouldn’t define me. It’s just something I have. I’m still the same person I’ve always been. I’ve even feared even putting all this online, as I know I’d be judged. I figure some people have been uncomfortable the last few days reading about all this. But writing has always been my outlet for working stuff out and I’m not about to change that about myself because I’ve now chosen to take it public. If anything, the stigma about STD’s persists because people don’t talk about it. If by disclosing my condition makes other people more comfortable in talking about it and it helps someone out, all the pain I’m feeling now will have been worthwhile.

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One Response to “Community”

  1. […] to hear that the virus is still active four and a half years later. As I stated in an earlier post, since HPV really isn’t discussed that much, there’s a lot of stigma surrounding it. […]

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