I remember calling him in tears, begging for an explanation, when his response threw me into a different universe: he started… laughing hysterically at me. He laughed and laughed, I can still hear him cackling away in my head if I close my eyes. He called me a whore, stating that Karma had given me what exactly what I deserved. And for what? He claimed it was for cheating on him with the old man. Only I hadn’t cheated once. Plus the entire reason I’d gotten tested was because of what voice-mail message said. My head felt like it was about to explode.
Not once did he express any concern for me that night; not once did he express any concern for himself being infected either, which was odd. There seemed to be no worry in him whatsoever – instead what I saw was pleasure that he seemed to derive from my shock and disbelief. It was the most horrific moment ever, and one I wish I could forget.
He spoke with such certainty that he wasn’t infected, he said he’d just been tested, and was HIV-negative. He could not and would not consider anything but that to be the truth, instead insisting that it was my punishment for cheating that I’d never done.
Nothing that I said to him, replaying his voicemail, telling him I’d take a polygraph test even, nothing would convince him otherwise. I felt like I was in the twilight zone.
After his initial nastiness, he started treating me with kindness, albeit strange kindness. Above, he attempts to laugh off my new HIV-infection like it’s no big deal at all, just 2 days after his first vile message, he writes to me, “I’d marry someone with aids…” I don’t have fucking AIDS, I’ll never having fucking AIDS, I have HIV. And it was such a shame that after all his abuse, that the “ordeal with [me] and the HIV” along with his backache had left him feeling alone. At that moment in time I was about to eat the nearest bullet I could find, it was just sickening.
Then weeks later he contacted me to say he’d tested positive for HIV; only he was insistent that Steve and I had worked to intentionally infect him with the virus. Pardon my french, but what the fuck was going on here? Was he suddenly stupid and blind? Was he suddenly brain dead? How the hell could this actually be my reality?
I won’t even touch his smear campaign now, I’ll get to that later. Just having to endure listening to him nonstop accuse me of shit I knew was 100% nonsense made me want to put my head through a brick wall.
Yet I kept trying to rationalize with him, believing that his mind had to see facts as facts, just like mine worked; only little did I know his brain operated in different manner that prevented him from seeing any responsibility being placed on him.
How was this scenario even remotely possible? I couldn’t stop asking myself this, I couldn’t stop feeling as it I’d lost the jackpot. How could I fall in love with someone only to have them transform into the complete opposite? This was inconceivable to me. It turns out the joke was on me, and this joke was all over me as it would be forever.
My life was a farce, it was pathetic, it was no longer believable. The person I had always been, the man I was supposed to be, the person I was to become in the future, they were all now lifeless thanks to this relationship and subsequent HIV.
I, the HIV specialist, the poster boy for safe sex, ended up being that 1 in 100 that got poz’d in his town. That’s some bitter fucking irony if I say so myself…
Within my own demographic group, me being one of the most educated guys on this matter, with a lame ass sexual history to boot, I ended up being the 1 in 11 to acquire it.
Adding more insult to my injury, this happened just WEEKS before the results of the IPREX trials (that led to the approval of PrEP) reassessed its blood samples and discovered that PrEP was essentially 100% efficacious. I got to witness all these guys I knew who’d thrown caution to the wind now being rewarded with a magic HIV prevention pill. Meanwhile I’d been working in HIV research for my entire career but managed to be awarded with the goddamn virus. I hoped at any moment Ashton Kutcher was going to jump out of a bush and say, “Punk’d!” But no Ashton for me; there was nobody for me, I now harbored the universal deal-breaker, so nobody would ever want me, not like anyone had ever wanted me before all this anyway.
Yes, I know, life isn’t fair, but this – this – is fucking ridiculous.
And he didn’t stop there. He went for everything imaginable (and unimaginable – his imagination for destruction proved to be insatiable), he would stop at nothing to see me break down completely or kill myself if he had his way. I couldn’t anticipate his next move as they were so outside my frame of thinking, but one thing I was certain to expect: whatever he did, he’d hit below the belt.
Mentally – how this was even possible, having to accept that it was real, that’s something I could blog about for 10 + years.
It would be months after meeting my next “love” interest before I stumbled upon two words that seemed to answer every single question I’d had regarding what I endured:
These were words I’d heard a million times before (,maybe minus the malignant prefix before narcissist), yet I never knew exactly what they meant. Reading up on these subjects were like reading his biography, or an autobiography about our relationship. Only now I could see the explicit, red flags flapping in my face from day 1. He’d been telling me all along what he was doing, too, only in a way I didn’t understand.
In time as I learned more about the words narcissist and psychopath, and their relationship with other words used to described similar psychological constructs like sociopath. I’m not 100% certain which word best describes him, but they all hit the needle on the head. They all certainly came close; although I’m not sure if he was as refined as a psychopath, so perhaps he was a sociopath, only… it all starts to get muddled together to be honest. These individuals all present remarkably similar at times, they can fall on a spectrum as opposed to presenting with absolute black and white characteristics across the board.
Making matters more complicated, they all lie pathologically, they all use their charm to manipulate others, and they all are adamant about not being labeled by one of those words. So how one can even do an accurate assessment on another with these conditions seems quite difficult or nearly impossible, as during the entire encounter, the subject is acting, lying, and using each action as a means to manipulate. In hindsight I’d say my ex most definitely had had traits of both Narcissistic personality and Antisocial personality disorders, so whether the term psychopath or malignant narcissist is most appropriate I don’t know. But regardless of the label, the take-home lesson is that he was toxic, he was evil, and there’s nothing good to be had from someone like him. If only I knew this even existed before meeting him I think I’d find myself in a much different predicament today, I’d be a much happier, healthier man than I am.
With time I’ve come to realize that this wasn’t the worst experience imaginable; something far more sinister was yet to arrive, but would do so down the road maybe 6 months later…
In March 2015, he called me from a blocked number and said, “I have a confession to make.” He went on to inform me that our final summer together he’d slept with 7 guys with HIV without protection, and “lied to your face to get revenge” on me and his ex’s non-existent fling. But he added, “There’s no way I gave it to you, not with the timing. You know that 3-month thing, you insisted on that with the testing, so it couldn’t have been me!”
He was referring to the “window period” after infection, before the body produces enough antibodies to produce a positive HIV (Elisa) test. It has nothing to do with infectiousness. The virus begins to replicate immediately and someone with a negative HIV test can easily spread HIV, in fact, nearly all domestic cases of HIV transmission come from someone infected within the last 12 weeks, someone who’s HIV test may very likely be negative.
It wasn’t until recently that I discovered the below text messages. I wasn’t just throwing around the word psychopath, either…
The following texts are in reference to his “confession.” I still didn’t know what a psychopath was at the time, but I knew he had certain traits I had to work around or else he’d explode – like an inability to accept responsibility for anything or consider he was incorrect. I chose my words carefully otherwise he’d hang up and give me the silent treatment for however long he decided, and I wanted answers. The following texts are all authentic; I retain the originals. The only editing done was the removal of personally identifiable information, i.e. phone numbers or names, to maintain anonymity. The lack of editing can be noted in his poor grammar left uncorrected. If these don’t scream psychopathy, I don’t know what does.
- Pathological Lying
- Lack of remorse or guilty; callousness, lack of empathy.
- The narcissist / psychopath coined the term “soul mate.”
- Sexual promiscuity, impulsiveness, need for stimulation.
- No remorse, incapable of accepting responsibility for own actions, callousness and lack of empathy.
- Deflection; projection; blame-shifting.
- Pathological lying
- They “hate drama,” but yet are always surrounded by it.
This couldn’t be, this couldn’t be possible, only… it was.