I think that for the most part when we as human beings are faced with the impossible we surprise even ourselves with our ability to overcome. Today was just such a day.
When I was Diagnosed in 2008 my entire life changed. My family turned their backs on me, I lost my job, Well really I lost everything. For the longest time I thought that I had contracted the virus while treating a patient. When the individual responsible for giving me HIV finally came forward and told me they knew they were positive before hand things became interesting.
At the time I could do nothing about it considering my circumstances. I chose to let them walk free at the time knowing that I was making a mistake. As a result everything I held dear was taken from me in the most brutal way…slowly and surely the entire time I was aware of what was happening to me. Ignorance is bliss as they say.
I spent the last two years rebuilding a certain semblance of life from the cold ashes of what remained. Coming to peace with myself, to terms with my status, and finding a little bit of humanity to call an identity again. I never dreamed the day would come where I could redress the wrong and confront the person who gave me HIV.
For two years I tried to forget. And for two years I thought that one day I would forgive them for what they knowingly gave to me. That time came to an end today but in the most unexpected way. Not the way I thought it would end at all.
I had recieved a call from the person who infected me a few months ago. They wanted to come up and see the part of the country where I live. After a month or so I agreed. I thought that I was ready to finally forgive them. Well they arrived. and I realized that I was not ready. Not ready by any means to forgive them. They had not come to apologize.
So after about a day I sent them off to Seattle to see the big city. When they came back they told me that they had slept with people unprotected and didn' disclose their status. I lost it. It was bad enough my life had been changed forever by this individual. I could not let this continue.
So I took the plunge and took them down to county health. County health read them the riot act. I was asked what I wanted to do about them considering that the individual had originally infected me. I was asked what I wanted to happen. I could have sent them to jail for they had done. I was well within my rights by any measure of the law. Their life rested in my hand and I discovered that I do not possess the ability to destroy another person's life even though what they did to me warranted it.
For a moment I almost did, but then I looked over at them and all I could see was another human being afraid and in need. At that moment I chose mercy rather than judgement. As they looked up at me I realized that I could not make the choice I wanted to make. I could not send them to jail for life. Even though what they did deserves it and always will.
In the end I chose not to press charges. My life may be changed forever, I may have lost everything, but I did not loose one thing as it turns out. Compassion and empathy. This individual may have changed my life without my consent, but, I can not destroy another's life even though what they did to me is the worst thing anyone can do. Revenge even late never has a sweet vintage regardless.
So As I spoke the words "I will not press charges" I realized that in some small way I can forgive. Justice is tempered by mercy and the true measure of a human being is to see past their own hurting soul and to lay to rest the wrongs done by others"
After speaking those final words, I took the person who infected me out to a bench in the park nearby and told them this:
"Today you walk free for the second time. The only reason you are not being put behind bars for the rest of your life is because I chose not press charges. But I never want to see your face again. It will be a worse punishment by far for you to live with what you have done and know that I spared you your freedom even though you gave me this virus. When you can actually apoligize to me for giving me HIV–it will be too late. I will never see that day, but you will have to live for the rest of your life and remember this day."
Now that they have left I feel a strange sort of peace. In some sense even though I didn't get an apology from them Choosing mercy over vengance was the better choice for my heart and my soul. I can only hope that I made the right decision and that they will realize that what I did in not pressing charges was a very hard choice to make, but even harder was the choice to close that chapter in my life by walking away with an olive branch of peace extended to uncaring hands.
Do I still want to cry: Yes. Every moment. I realized today that I stil have the ability to forgive another. I realized today that I am still as fragile and as human as everyone else. I realized today that the soul and heart can mend only if we show mercy to even the worst people.