Guest Post — Rob Quinn from openlypoz.com
[box_light]It’s always an honor for me to be able to have the opportunity for others to share their stories, insight and lessons from their journey living with HIV. This guest post is another example of that opportunity and blessing. Enjoy! – Josh Robbins, imstilljosh.com[/box_light]
Hi, my name is Rob. As an openly gay, HIV-positive individual and HIV/AIDS activist and blogger, I strive to put a face to HIV/AIDS. I believe that by talking about it, we can lessen HIV-related stigma and make sure silent voices are heard. Much likemy peers living positive, as I travel along my journey, I continue to encounter HIV/AIDS and life’s hurdles. Some of these hurdles include coming out twice (first as gay, and years later as HIV-positive), encountering HIV/AIDS, the loss of my father, depression, addiction, a suicide attempt, morbid obesity – mainly the result of excessive alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, and my loss of will to live, ultimately my 4 R’s (rock bottom, recovery, resiliency, and reinventing myself), gratefully aging healthily with HIV, and much more – sometimes struggling, sometimes succeeding.
My story is much more than the daily challenges of living with HIV/AIDS. It is a story of fostering hope and resilience inmyself and others. It was the positive outcome of that first experience of hitting rock bottom that my 4 R’s have since become my mantra, my guiding force in clearing even the highest hurdle I encounter as I move forward on my journey, and celebrating life each and every day.
[pullquote_left]R⁴ is based on multiplying the four instances of R together. So: R⁴ = rock bottom x recovery x resilience x reinvention.[/pullquote_left] In order for me to move forward in the process, I have to clear the previous hurdle, or R, which in turn strengthens my confidence and determination to ultimately clear the highest hurdles.
Rock bottom was my feeling of despair, defeat, of giving up. That “I cannot do this anymore” hopeless kind of feeling. Well, I am here, happy, and healthy, to share that I have cleared many hurdles.
The first step, the hardest, is my readiness not to stay where I am. Next, I have to take ownership and accountability for my actions. This means looking into the mirror, and I mean looking, and seeing Rob. I have to revisit dark places and learn the art offorgiveness, both for myself and others. People often ask me, what is your greatest regret? My answer is I have no regrets. All of my life’s experiences to date have made me the person who I am today.
Recovery is my journey and not my destination. I have learned to slow down, pace myself, and really appreciate life’s little gifts and treasures. I am happy to say that I have been clean and sober since February 14, 2007. Essential to this continued success are the words trusted, consistent and OCD. First is my trustedsupport network. These are the people in my life who I can trustblindly and who are there consistently, coaching and cheering me on during the challenges and celebrating the triumphs. These, combined with my OCD attitude, enable me to clear the highest hurdle that I encounter. And no, that’s not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but rather my Optimistic, Confident, and Determined attitude.
Resilience is my ability to spring back, my capacity to recover from difficulty. This is a period of real empowerment, my time to reboot. Taking time to reflect on where I have been anddeveloping a vision of direction of where I want to go. Often that direction is not immediately clear. What is clear is my desire not to stay where I am. This is the point where I have to remind myself that it is okay to pat myself on the back for mastering the first two R’s.
Reinvention is the point where I have cleared the hurdle and once again have both my feet on the ground, the point wherefour more R’s come into play. Those being: relax, recharge, refocus, and reinvent. The opportunities are countless. Reach for the stars. In the words of Lucy Wheelock, the founder of Wheelock College, “Many causes will solicit your interest and aid. Which will you serve?”
I have reinvented myself and in 2012 applied my professional child life skills and personal challenges and triumphs to the launch of my blog OPENLY POZ. The mission of OpenlyPoz.com is to empower and support my peers who areliving positive, as well as others affected by HIV/AIDS, through sharing my personal stories and experiences of clearing HIV/AIDS and life’s hurdles. In addition, on September 1 I wasappointed to the Consumer Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Office of HIV/AIDS. The mission of the Advisory Board is to provide advice to the staff and senior management of Office of HIV/AIDS about policies and programmatic issues affecting the lives of consumers, like me, and individuals at risk.
My continued success and personal growth is a direct result of my readiness, trusted support network (led by my mother Patricia Quinn), health care team, and OCD attitude. My journey back continues to be truly a gift. Countless opportunities have come my way without searching. In my speaking engagements, I frequently share with others that as difficult as it may be to stay on track during life’s hurdles, it’s a lot harder to fall off and try to get back on. I truly believe that we can all overcome and grow from obstacles when we learn to see them differently.
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