I want the world to know

In May 2014 I finally told my secret; I published a note called ”The Hidden truth” on facebook to inform everyone about my HIV. I had been thinking about coming out of the closet for many years and that day I was ready to share my reality and prepared to face a storm of reactions.

Before coming out I told a few friends, neighbours and parents of my kid’s friends. Why did I do that? I was creating my small safe haven, in case the world would turn its back on me. So I was assured that these people would hold my hand and support me! 

Back then I was not sure what reaction I would be getting, but in the end I received a lot of supportive responses. Some people called me, others wrote messages calling me a strong and courageous woman, thanking me for sharing, telling me they love me, and reassuring me I would still be the great dancer and remain who I was.

Then Hello Gorgeous, a Magazine for people living with HIV, approached me if I wanted to share my story as a HIV talent. So in the 2014 autumn edition I became a cover girl for that magazine. I decided to use the magazine cover as my facebook profile picture.

This is when the troubles at my kids’ primary school started;  a parent went to tell the director of my HIV. He asked me to remove the picture, he said ”You scare the parents!”. I told him that if parents have questions, they are welcome to ask me. I added that I could change my facebook profile picture but that the truth would still be out there, in the magazine and online!

That’s when I handed him a copy of the magazine. He looked inside and saw me posing with my Indonongo and said ”You look happy and strong!” I said “That’s exactly my point! Have you ever seen me unhappy? I came to this school with HIV but I did not tell you. There are other parents with secrets as well. I am out of the closet and please don’t tell me to hide again!”

But some parents did not give up yet! A few days later a teacher told me “Mrs Becks, I am sorry to tell you that parents are very worried that your son is going to infect the whole classroom”. I was furious and asked “ Are you seriously thinking that my son is going to infect your classroom including yourself?”

To my surprise he answered that he was afraid that was going to happen. So I told him that first of all he does not have HIV and secondly even if he would have it, how is he going to transmit it to you and the other kids? Is he going to have sex with you all, is he going to breastfeed you or is he going to inject drugs and share a needle with you? By now he was begging me not to be angry, and said he needed to ask this so he could answer those parents.

I was like, well you got your answer. But since it is HIV you are trying to push me and my children down. I will NOT allow it! Tell those parents, whoever has a question, to come to me and we will talk. Shame on you as teacher, not making an effort to look for basic information on HIV. And you are hiding behind the parents while you are afraid yourself.

You all thought this would be the end of it, right? Well, things just got started… Very soon after this, teachers started reporting to us that one kid was suicidal and the other was uncontrollable and was continuously hitting other children. So all of a sudden they had mental issues? But as the school already reported this to the social care system, we were now labeled a dysfunctional family thanks to this school. This unleashed an army of social care ‘specialists’ towards us. I can tell you, there is no way to keep them out of your door and you are guilty until proven innocent!

So, we went through a very stressful period of observations by psychologists, dozens of talks with social caregivers, and hundreds of forms/ tests to fill in. All this to discover if my husband and I were evil. Guess what? They found nothing! And all we got from the school was a simple apology for the misunderstanding…

I felt really down for suddenly being treated as a bad mother, whilst I have always been so active for the school helping them out with many activities including making music. The moment I came out, all went down the drain! That period in 2014 I had to stand tall and fight tooth and nail against this bigotry. But I showed them that no matter what kind of box they tried to force me into, I did not fit!

My secret was out, and nothing was going to stop me now! Luckily my safe haven did its work. Of course, some parents were fully understanding and to date my kids are friends with many of their children.

It is not easy to fight stigma and discrimination, and when it comes to my children I will do anything to protect them. In the end the drama caused by school and the army of caregivers stopped and we walked free after our long fight!

I am glad I came out and I did not regret my decision!

Peace,

Eliane

Healthy New Me

You may wonder why I chose this title? And why I believe this will be my 2021 slogan?

As I shared in roller coaster, as a long term diabetes survivor, I have been dealing with many health challenges alongside HIV during the difficult year 2020. Most of that year I also suffered heavy menstruation, related drops in my iron level and anemia. Because of this I could not exercise regularly, losing confidence when doing simple things like walking or cycling. Sometimes I thought I was about to have a heart attack!

So I gave up the only sport I really enjoyed before Corona came into our world. Do you know what it is? WALKING. Before these health issues I would walk 5 to 7 km daily and 15 km once per week. I liked walking, being in the nature, smelling fresh air and giving me inspiration.

I became really unhappy about my health and I started fantasizing about walking on the road again and wishing that I got rid of the extra weight gained. And on top of that, my diabetes became worse and I needed to increase my medication which was already a lot.

When they told me that I would finally be helped with my bleeding problem, I could not wait to get on the operation table to get control over my life back. Before I entered surgery on 19/11/2020, I promised myself that if I would come back safely and start walking everyday the moment I would be allowed to exercise again.

So, the day after I got the green light from the hospital, I kept my promise and started walking again. I set myself two goals: 1) Get rid of the extra diabetes tablets and 2) reduce weight so I can fit my wedding dress again. Every single day since the green light, I walked at least 10 km and I increased it to at least 15 km per day during the weekends!

Two weeks into my push to regain my health and confidence, I got my first check-up with my diabetes doctor since my surgery. She was very surprised when the results came in, asking me “What did you do to make your diabetes go down so quickly?” I said “walking 10-15 km everyday”. So she told me that I could immediately reduce the number of tablets and that if I would continue to improve, I could even take less.

I was so happy to see the immediate positive result of my hard work and that I am already on my way to achieve my first goal. I can’t wait for the day I am ready to find my wedding dress and start trying if it fits!

Achieving these positive results, makes me more motivated than ever! I am losing my weight, I am gaining more energy, my sex is great, and my husband is happy 🙂

I love the Healthy New Me, with a positive mind doing positive walks.

Peace,

Eliane

De volgende generatie

Ik blijf me steeds beter voelen sinds ik open sta over mijn hiv voor mijn kinderen. Zaterdag was ik uitgenodigd voor HIV-positieve vrouwenactiviteiten in Sittard. Moeders mochten hun kinderen meenemen. Ik dacht dat het iets zou zijn voor heel jonge kinderen van 0 tot 8. Ik vroeg of het oke was om mijn jongste zoon van 10 te brengen. Natuurlijk is hij welkom, was het het antwoord. Dus was het mijn beurt om met mijn zoon Akira te overleggen of hij geïnteresseerd was om met mij mee te doen.

Hij had 3 keuzes:

  • De eerst was om met zijn grote broer Rio en zijn vader om te gaan trainen in de Lage Zwaluwe
  • De tweede keuze was om te gaan spelen met zijn vriend
  • En de derde was om zich bij mama aan te sluiten bij de hiv-activiteiten voor vrouwen.

Raad eens wat hij koos? Hij wilde met mij meegaan. Ik vroeg hem of hij zeker is om naar Sittard te gaan, 2 uur in een trein te zitten en deel te nemen aan de buikdans. Zijn antwoord was: “Mama, ik wil je ondersteunen bij veel dingen die je doet met het bestrijden van stigma. Ik schaam me niet dat ik in het openbaar om je heen ben, jij bent mijn moeder en mijn mooiste en moedigste moeder die ik ooit heb gezien in mijn hele leven “.

Nou niet dat hij heel oud is … slechts 10 jaar. Maar dit bracht tranen op mijn wangen. Toen vroeg hij: “Mam, ben je aan het huilen? Heb ik iets verdrietigs gezegd of heb ik je beledigd? “Ik zei:” nee mijn liefste, dit zijn tranen van vreugde “. Ik weet dat alle energie die ik in dit gevecht stop niet voor niets zal zijn, want zelfs als ik niet in staat zal zijn om verder te gaan, zal je oppakken wat er nog over was.

Dus gingen we met onze trein naar Sittard. We hebben geweldige mensen ontmoet, ik had een leuk gesprek.  Sommige vrouwen kenden me alleen via mijn Facebook-positieve berichten. Sommigen hadden mijn verhalen gelezen op Hello gorgeous en waren zo blij om elkaar persoonlijk te ontmoeten. Dus omhelsden we elkaar en lachten we samen. Wat gebeurde er met mijn zoon Akira?

Wel, hij heeft al 3 kinderen ontmoet die hij kende tijdens het Positive Kids Family weekend. Dus ze waren samen aan het spelen, en soms kwam hij langs en gaf me dat ‘ik hou van je moeder kus’ en ik zou hem en andere kinderen horen piano spelen.

Ik was opgewonden om de buikdans te doen. Het is iets heel anders dan de Afrikaanse dans die ik als een professionele danser gewend ben te doen. Ik keek ernaar uit om het samen met positieve vrouwen te leren en contact te maken zoals ik altijd doe wanneer ik dans.

Wat een geweldige dag, ik heb genoten van elke minuut. De kinderen waren net als hun moeders gekleed in een buikdansuitrusting. Ik dacht dat Akira misschien niet mee zou doen of de outfit zou aantrekken. Het bleek dat hij er veel plezier mee had. Hij vindt het leuk om te dansen, denk ik, iets dat hij van mij heeft geërft. Hahahaha.

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We hebben een leuke tijd samen gehad. Na de dans aten lekkere oosterse hapjes en toen gingen we naar huis.

Tot nu toe heb ik er geen spijt van mijn kinderen over mijn hiv-status te hebben verteld of Akira met mij in de vrouwengroep te laten doen, omdat ik geloof dat wanneer we de jonge generatie sterker maken we een kans hebben om het hiv-stigma te bestrijden en infecties te verminderen.

Eliane