A few weeks ago, someone challenged me to dream about the woman I wanted to be. It did not seem like much of a challenge because I felt the answer was obvious: I want(ed) to be a rich, healthy woman. Simple! But it was not going to be that easy . Or that short. I had to dream about her according to specific guidelines: what she would wear, eat, watch, read, do, etc. I had to actively imagine these things in detail! It has been six weeks and I am still working on the document, not because I cannot dream, but because for a long time, I would not dream. Why? Because I had become afraid to.
I used to dream a lot. More like imagine. I lived for the things I could dream about and for many years I got out of bed in the morning because I hoped these dreams were real. I dreamt of travelling around the world, being swept off my feet by love, working at a high-flying, important job, relocating temporarily to some far-flung country, being relevant,being necessary, being happy, being adequate. I was able to glimpse the beginnings of the actualisation of a few of my dreams, I traveled, I did one or two exotic jobs, I was almost self-sufficient, almost happy…then life happened.
The dreams didn’t go instantly, they just down-sized. I stopped dreaming about touring the world and started hoping for just a single room in a house that I had rented myself not someone else’s as has been the case, dreams of a high-flying job were replaced by prayers for a source of income/ a means to put at least one meal in mine and my daughter’s belly, love was restricted to being relevant to my daughter, and feelings of adequacy just had to wait….My dreams became utilitarian, necessary only for survival, limited in scope and use, like those bite-sized or travel-size packages manufacturers produced for expediency. It was with this mindset that I had been asked to dream.
I stumbled upon this post on Kitchen Butterfly’s blog and, suddenly, something sad and unpleasant finally hit home. In 2009 at the onset of all my issues, I had to pack up my property and deposit them in a friend’s house . Those things stayed in that house for 3 years! Everything I had ever worked for was at the mercy of someone else, and/or going to waste. At the same time I spent the next 2-3 years living out of my suitcase, in different conditions. Naturally, I lost a lot of stuff when I finally came went to retrieve my property: some had been stolen, appropriated and/or damaged. This jarred me a lot more than I knew because, for the year I had a place of my own, a lot of my property was still in boxes- and there they are till today. The post made me remember that I had never really turned any house into a home other than the one I was in before I got pregnant, and even that, not so much. It made me discover that I was afraid to unpack or make my living conditions comfortable, because deep down, I do not believe I will ever find stability, nor do I trust that I will not be unceremoniously uprooted from any place I call home. More importantly, it made me understand why I had been having difficulty dreaming: I had forgotten what was possible and I had lost faith in what was achievable. I was too scared to ‘unpack’ my aspirations once more.
So I began to force myself to acknowledge what I feared, to desire what I felt was impossible. I always wanted to relocate temporarily just to experience life and work outside the country,but while I thought the dream died because I definitely could not afford to fund it I realised that my concerns about being HIV positive killed it. This same reason was why I never allowed my my dreams drift towards going for international certification in my field. I was literally too frightened to write it down. Who was going to give a student visa (and temporary residency) to PLWHA? And how would I know where to go for check ups (and treatment if necessary). Even as I write I am apprehensive about even thinking it a possibility. I had always wanted a nice-looking place, decorated in my own quirky way with the art I had managed to procure over the years. The art, my pictures, any decor I had, never made it out of the cartons due to all my upheavals and I just believed there would be never be any reason to change the situation. I remember wanting a romantic relationship when I was younger-I probably wanted to be someone’s wife I don’t even remember now-all that became buried under years of disappointment, abuse, dishonesty and finally HIV so much that I am embarrassed to admit that I, in all my brokenness, desire male companionship.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”
A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.
So I have begun to dream again,to allow my mind drift unfettered by doubts, my imagination create as much magnificence it can muster. And gently, oh so gently, I have begun allowing myself take small steps that may help actualize these dreams. And the Universe, God, is stooping to meet me. And, for once in my life, I feel the stirrings of hope and faith.
There are some things I know for certain; my living with HIV, and everything else I have experienced, is for a reason. I am here to give hope to a lot of people who feel trapped in this situation. And more than ever before I feel I am so close to making that happen.
Love, Light and Dreams