So it is the 1st December again. For many, and for me for a while, it was just like any other ordinary day, a day that never really held much significance past the point of a fleeting acknowledgement of something that now has significance.

Usually for me it is only during the final run up to the climax of the year that I start to look at things retrospectively. Yet, here I am, just before I head over to the vigil in Manchester, I find myself not contemplating the different and various modes of raising awareness or their effectiveness on the general population or whether anyone without a connection to the day has noted its significance. No, Instead I find myself realising yet another year is almost over and with it I have another set of moments and memories that will live with me forever; another set of regrets which will haunt me for some time to come.

And yet while another twelve months has almost past me by, I feel nothing much has really changed. I still find myself in the same place I found myself this time last year. Feeling something is missing; so obvious its absence, yet what exactly it is I have yet to find. I can’t put my finger on it. What exactly is it? I don’t feel whole. I haven’t for sometime. I thought I did, for a while, but not anymore.

Maybe it is the culmination of a recent change in personal circumstance together with the realisation that a personal goal has almost come to its inevitable conclusion, and with such, reopens doors I had subconsciously closed off only a few months ago. Is change in the air? Maybe. All I know with any degree of certainty is that for me to feel whole again something has to.

I look onwards at 2012 in the same way I viewed 2011 this time last year; in the knowledge that all too soon I will be looking at it with the same retrospective eyes that I now look back at 2011 with. With it I’ll have a new appreciation for the complexities of life – the little dramas, the daily routines, the high points and the lows. The people we meet – those that remain and enrich our lives, and those that will fade-away and vanish without ever truly knowing the impact they made on us. For the most part I will acknowledge that seldom does change happen; although I appreciate life is anything but predictable at times. And I think that therein lies part of the problem.

I need to find myself again. Without realising it, I lost a part of me along the way and it took me until now to realise it was gone. I need to find that part of me again. I need to put all the parts back together. I don’t think the events of the last twelve months can be blamed for this, in truth, I think I’ve felt a part of me was missing for a very long time now. However this year, the events that occurred have help me to open my eyes, made me realise a lot about myself I had chosen to ignore or hide, made me realise things need to change and only I can make that change. To find what I lost and to go some part to putting it all back together again.

I promised myself this time last year that 2011 would be different, and to some degree it was. But the change that 2011 brought was not what I imagined. I fell in love. True love. The type I never thought was possible – the unconditional kind, the kind without question – I never expected it. It just happened. It was the type that makes you smile in the morning at nothing and the sunshine, oh how the sun shine’s so much brighter and warmer and makes you feel warm inside, alive. Makes you feel complete and whole again. I don’t think I’ve truly fallen in love with someone before. I thought I had. I thought it was love. Yet now I realise it wasn’t – it never felt like this before. But the love that is there is now being clouded, overcast by the shadows of a growing bitterness that gives spawn to resent and hate. I’m seeing new sides to me – sides I never really knew I had. How I can love someone yet hate them with the same degree of passion is not something I thought I could do. I never realised I could hate; it’s not really in my nature. I’ve disliked before and no doubt will again, but I’ve never truly hated someone; I’ve never truly been hurt before. Not by someone I loved. Not to this degree. I’m just not ready to forgive that. Not yet.

My health is as it was then – I’m still not on medication – although, like before, I suspect I soon will be. My counts this time round are much lower and I still have the same apprehensions, but I am slightly more reassured over my fate by the people around me; their experiences and strength gives me strength, and I concentrate on that rather than allow the dark echoes of what plays in my mind to take seed and grow. I’ve almost succumbed to that before, in darker moments. Allowing it to take root and bloom, to consume me, when I felt weaker than I do now.

So as the year has played out I’ve confided in more – opened myself up to some in ways that still surprises me. I’m still cautious about who I tell; when and why, but overall I find it almost empowering. To tell people I’m HIV and I’m still me – I’ve not changed – only their perceptions of me based on a virus. But HIV has changed things. The way I look at life now is different. I find I grow weary of things quicker; I now see the futility in the empty words and actions of others clearer than before. I cannot act so much on impulse as I used too; although in some respects that is probably a blessing in disguise. But my friends, I always return to my friends and how I love you. Some are much stronger and some of the faces I now see, I know I will see forever. They may not be constant; they may not be with me all the time, but they will always be there when I need them the most and knowing this, deep down inside, I can start to feel the warmth of the sunshine again, and it helps me, it helps me to start feeling whole again.

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