Monday, May 10, 2010

HEP C ~ FINDING THE SILVER LINING

Recently, it occurred to me having Hep C is the best thing that ever happened to me. Odd as this sounds, this is why:

The majority of my life has been spent thinking about the sexual abuse which I was a victim of starting at age 11. Until I was in my early 30's I had never told anyone what had taken place. The abuse was not a single event and went on for most of my teenage years. During this time, I had been victimized by at least six different pedophiles, did not live at home; choosing the streets in Vancouver instead. One of the evil things about sexual abuse is the victim, being me, tends to blame themselves for what took place. As a result, from the time the abuse took place until I was in my 50's, I did my best to bury myself in drug and alcohol abuse.
I never told anyone about the sexual abuse until I was in my mid 30's after attempting suicide. After the attempt and during my stay in the hospital I was lucky in speaking with a nurse who encouraged me to attend community counselling which I did. I would like to say counselling "fixed me" - this was not to be the case though. Yes, the counselling did help to an extent, but my abuse of various substances, soft and hard drugs, continued to the day I discovered I was Hep C positive in 2007. Having Hep C was a milestone in my life and I finally turned the corner and stopped drinking and doing drugs.

I had to face the fact I had been living two separate lives for many decades. One, was my working life - somehow even with the substance abuse I had managed to build a successful career. The second life I lived was spent thinking about and trying to forget what had happened to me. I had next to no friends over this time - I was married once and then divorced two years later. Socially, I was very inept. I simply felt like I did not fit in anywhere and avoided social interaction as much as possible. I realize now I had allowed myself to become a victim. Because of this, my inner voice was entirely focused on past events and I spent next to no time thinking about my future. I simply drifted along pretty much following the path of least resistance. When I had no alternative and had to attend a social event, I often got drunk or stoned enough to make a fool of myself. This of course amplified my self-isolation even more.

So why, at age 52, was discovering I was Hep C positive a good thing? First, it ended my cycle of substance abuse. Second, I learned for the first time in my life who I really was and that I did have value as a person. During my first, Interferon / Ribavirin treatment to try and kill the virus, I discovered a local Hep C support group. Sitting in a room with others dealing with Hep C was one of the most energizing experiences of my life. I found I wanted to help others and in turn wanted to help myself as well.

I volunteered with a non-profit Hep C society focused on the education, prevention and peer support. Since I was not working, I was able available as a volunteer much of the time. My inner voice changed, I began thinking about ways to help and further support others. My focus shifted to the future and how best to spend my time as a volunteer. I found this so energizing and really the final step in turning my life around. I've met some great people - who I want to spend time with. I no longer feel like I am being judged negatively by myself or others. In short, being positive for Hep C has helped me to want and develop a positive inner voice.

Brian

1 comment:

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