Refusing to forgive adds more misery to life

One of the most visible characteristics of people living with HIV is an unwillingness to forgive.

One of the most visible characteristics of people living with HIV is an unwillingness to forgive.

The courage to forgive or lack thereof is critical in determining the wellbeing and or demise of any individual who is infected with this largely sexually transmitted infection.

The reality of life for any person who has experienced a traumatic incident in their lives is drawing an indelible line between the incident and what the future can be.

Many people whom I have met, especially those who have succumbed to the devastating blow of HIV-Aids, have the inclination to hang on to whatever horrible experience they have gone through.

It is imperative for all of us to realise, accept and understand that there are things in life that we cannot change and other things that we can.

The wisdom to know the difference is of paramount importance if we hope to keep our infected heads above icy water.

This truth, yours and mine, transcends all forms of injustices that we have incurred and will continue to be subjected to in our lifetime.

I want to share the story of a 16-year-old young lady whom I had met about a decade ago. She had been brutally raped, beaten and left for dead. She was traumatised and brutalised and she still bears the scars of that unprovoked and unforgivable act of cruelty.

A few days later, she called to say that she had decided to forgive her attackers unconditionally and she had decided to spiritually cleanse herself of the paralysing pain that was inflicted on her. Most importantly, she had made a conscious decision to move on with her life.

That call has had a profound and lasting effect on my own life because many of us carry the burden of untold misery, blame and shame.

Another man from Alexandra has been in and out of hospital for many years. His wife died of HIV-Aids related complications a year before I met him.

I did not recognise him when we bumped into each other in a lift at the Rosebank Mall two months ago.

I kept his letters, desperately asking for help to forgive himself for "killing" his wife because "I continued to sleep with her without protection", even though "I knew by then that I was infected with HIV".

In fact, the man from Alexandra had fathered five children outside marriage - with different women.

His own recovery, much to my amazement and obvious delight, was intertwined with the simple yet powerful philosophy of acceptance, taking full responsibility for his sexual indiscretion, infidelity and the general recklessness with which he lived his life.

There are many such miraculous lessons of recovery I have learnt in my own life, and in other people's lives, that I hold dear. They will continue to be relevant and meaningful as I struggle with my own weaknesses and my own mistakes.

I sincerely hope that you are able to cross this line as you begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as dim as it might be, in your own troubled life.