Change is very difficult for me. As is self acceptance but I'm trying…little by little. I've built up a wall around me after so many years, I've become accustomed to being alone. Although, I do wish to change that. I no longer go out to bars. The last time I went out to a bar was about a year ago and, Good Lord, it was loud! I couldn't hear myself think!I didn't stay too long, maybe because of the headache I was getting but at least I had gone out. Once,I even went as far as putting an ad out on Craigslist. Nothing sexual. My ad was straight forward: looking for friends who are also HIV+. I got two responses. We ended up emailing back and forth…then they stopped returning my emails. Ok…well, so much for that.

I've also been staying away from any negative people in my life. Unfortunately, that was everyone I knew! Even a friend I've known for over 20 years. She was a bad influence on me. Our friendship even got to a point where we couldn't even have a conversation if we weren't drinking and that's something I simply do not need in my life. A couple of years ago, she asked me to pee in a container for her because she had needed to do a drug screen the next day and she knew she was going to test positive for pot. Being the good friend I am, I did it. I've never done any kind of drugs. Alcohol was my weakness. There was a good time span where I drank every weekend. When I would drink, I was more relaxed, more sociable. I'd actually go out!Of course, I probably sounded like a blubbering idiot but since I would be drunk, I thought I sounded just fine! Alcohol would make me be the person I want to be. Instead of being the quiet guy that would sit in the corner and not make any eye contact, I'd smile, look around, flirt with people, talk to people. Alcohol was my liquid courage.It's been about three years since I stopped the constant weekend drunkeness and I've stayed sober more often. I admit, I still drink but not as frequent as before. And I do not go out when I drink. I'll stay home, have myself a cook out, turn on some Oldies, Classic Rock or Salsa music – I don't understand what the songs are about but the rythm and the beat to Salsa music is so….infectious, I love listening to it!

I recently went to Las Vegas to see Janet Jackson in concert. By myself. I had never gone to a concert by myself and, to be honest, it was very uncomfortable and lonelyfor me. I was so uneasy sitting alone in the theater before the concert as people were arriving. I'm sure I wasn't the only one there by himself but from where I was sitting, it sure seemed like it! When the concert was over, I didn't feel much like walking around. Mainly because there were so many people outside and on the sidewalks, I just wanted to get back to my room. It was a Friday night, Easter weekend, so there were a lot of drunk people walking the streets. Some of them reminded me of me when I would be in that state. Thegood thing was that I didn't have one drink when I was in Vegas, something I'm proud of. But I wouldn'tgo to Vegas by myself again.

It's difficult for me to make friends but that's a change I need to make. I need to push myself to change. I know it's going to be a long process but, hell, I'm not going anywhere! May as well try to break down my wall and take a peek as to what's on the other side. The hard thing is finding someone is patient enough who wants to stick around long enough and get to know the real me.

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