Sober = Fun. Really! Find Out Why…

“Recovery is not all about work, it’s also about having fun. It’s a balancing act, and that’s been one of my biggest challenges over the course of my four-and-a-half-year sobriety. And making the decision to become sober was a complete lifestyle change; besides quitting drugs and alcohol, I had to make a commitment to change who I spent my time with. Our friends and social circles have a tremendous influence on how we live our lives, especially when it comes down to our entertainment choice. Since I made the conscious choice to leave behind many people whom I felt were having a negative influence on my health (including my modeling career), it was not an easy transition, but it was a worthwhile one. For a long time I was extremely lonely; all of the people and activities I once filled my schedule with were no longer there and adjusting to the new way of life was painful. How was I going to spend my time sans drugs and alcohol?”

Read more on Clinical Addiction Recovery Institute.

Kelly’s Story: Beating HIV and Loving Her Life

Kelly Gluckman is a truly inspiring and beautiful woman inside and out. I had the honor of working with her at Mondays at the Mission at Union Rescue Mission. Together we helped to instill life skills and values in young people on skid row and now Kelly is telling her personal story across the United States. I was blown away by all of the struggles she has been through, and yet she continues to hold her head up high and encourage others. Thank you Kelly for contributing your story.

So I’m dating this guy, right? And it was so awesome because I had just come out of an abusive relationship that lasted two and a half years. This one however, Adam, I considered my best guy friend for a year and a half before we even started dating. He and I would go on hikes, do P90X in the living room, go on jogs around the block, and go to the Venice boardwalk to enjoy the beach and the crazies. He even helped me move…twice. Everyone knows thats the real marker of a good friend because moving furniture sucks. The point is that we had a strong foundation of mutual respect and I was SO happy with him. We talked about everything and had great communication. I felt like I was breaking my cycle…that I’d finally found my companion and it was HEALTHY.
One day, we were talking about intimacy, and about not using protection anymore. I had been tested just a couple weeks before we started dating, and I was given a clean bill of health. I was the girl who got tested every six months even though I used condoms every single time, and even dragged my friends in with me to planned parenthood to get tested with me, so I knew I was good. I was the responsible one. I asked him when the last time he’d been tested was, and he told me that it had been about two years, but that the last two girls he’d had sex with were both tested recently, and they both came out totally fine. I trusted him completely, and believed him. He made it seem like he didn’t have very much sex, so we stopped using condoms (against my better judgement).
Six months went by and I decided it was time for us to go get tested together, just for safety. We woke up at the buttcrack of dawn, and dragged (ourselves) into planned parenthood, because everyone knows you have to get there early to not waste an entire day in the waiting room. We got there, signed in, and sat down. After about an hour, he was brought into the office for ten minutes or so, then came back out. I was playing words with friends on my phone the whole time with my legs swung up over the chair next to me. They almost immediately asked him to come back into the office, and he came back out and told me he’d tested positive for HIV. I thought he was joking at first…that was the kind of relationship we had…we would constantly just be talking (crap) and telling jokes. It was something I loved about our relationship. Without looking up, I said “yeah, OK”. He didn’t respond, and he hadn’t sat down, so I looked up and saw that his face was white. He looked like he’d seen a ghost. He handed some sheets of paper to me, and I saw that there was information about HIV/AIDS on them. I was like, “OH, he’s not joking.” Scenes flashed in my mind from the last six months, and I knew. We had had way too much sex for me to even try and hope. I accepted my diagnosis right then and there.
Now, I grew up in the LAUSD school system, so I had gotten the puberty ed class in fifth grade, the birds and the bees sex ed class in seventh grade, and the big girl sex ed class in eleventh grade. I had even taken a health class in community college, so I was pretty well educated on what was out there. Up until that point, I knew what HIV was, how you get it, and that I was never going to. I thought HIV was for hyper sexually active gays, drug addicts, and sub Saharan Africa, and I didn’t fit any of those categories. I remembered being taught that once you get HIV, it takes five to seven years until it turns into AIDS, then you die. So I read the pages my boyfriend handed to me, but nothing I read was registering in my mind. I was searching the pages for when I was going to die.
It was taking them way too long to call my name, so I went up to the window, and asked very nicely for them to open up the door so I could ask them a question. They buzzed me in, and once the door to the waiting room closed, I looked over the counter at the receptionist and said very firmly, “my boyfriend just tested positive for HIV, you need to bring me in there as soon as possible.” It took them fifteen more minutes to call me in, arguably the most stressful fifteen minutes of my life. I finally got back there, and they started poking my fingers for the Western Blot test, which works similarly to a pregnancy test, but instead of pee, they use blood. All the blood rushed out of my extremities. They had to go through three tests and poked three or four fingers seven or eight times before they could get enough blood to administer the test. They also drew blood from my arm and collected a urine sample, then sent me back to the waiting room. Fifteen minutes later, they called my boyfriend and I back together and confirmed what I already knew. I was HIV positive.
They brought us into an office, and sat us at a desk, then tried to give us hope by telling us that it was only 99% accurate, and it could be a false positive. While that was nice of them and all, I looked at them like they were idiots. There’s no way both of us have a false positive. They handed us some pieces of paper with a list of clinics we can go to for care and medication, and then sent us on our way.
We walked back to the car from where we were in the Third street Promenade, and drove home in complete silence. I get asked a lot whether I was pissed at my boyfriend. I think I might have asked him who he had been sleeping with or something while we were walking, but it really didn’t matter. I immediately took personal responsibility. I knew that we should have been tested before we stopped using protection and I knew my sexual health is my responsibility. I figured it had to be hard enough for him to know that he had given this to the girl he loved, I didn’t want to make it worse. As far as I was concerned, it was he and I against the world. I didn’t care where he had gotten it from, it was just nice to have someone on my team. We got home, I parked, and we sat in complete silence. I looked over at him after five minutes or so, and he looked defeated and scared. Pathetic. All of a sudden I got really angry. I still don’t know where it came from, but I looked at him and I said “NO.” “We are not letting this take over our lives. We are going to go in there, do research, and find out how to beat this thing. (seriously, I gave him a coach pep talk and it was pretty awesome). We’re going to learn about medication and what it does, we’re gonna look at possible homeopathic ways of taking care of ourselves, diet, mindset. EVERYTHING. We will NOT let this beat us! Look at Magic Johnson! He’s cured. Watch. In one year, we’ll be HIV negative. One year!” (I seriously thought this was possible…I saw it on South Park, so it must be real, right?)
Anyways, so we go into the house and the very first thing I did was Google “Is Magic Johnson cured of HIV” and of course I didn’t even have to write the whole thing because everyone and their mom has heard the misconception that Magic is cured. The predictive text filled in the rest of my question, and the answer is no, website after website told me no, he’s not cured. Magic Johnson takes medication just like everyone else living with HIV. So then reality set in. I was really going to have to deal with this. My boyfriend and I had made plans to hang out with our friends later that day, and I didn’t want to go after just having my dreams crushed, but my boyfriend was like “Kelly, remember what you said? We’re not going to let this take over our lives. We’re gonna start fighting it” My partner in crime. So we hung out with our friends, and took the curtain off our window that night so we wouldn’t wake up in darkness.
I spent all of my free time after diagnosis doing research like I said I would. That was my coping mechanism. I researched everything I could find, and I actually kind of became a little bit of a nerd. HIV fascinates me. How it replicates, what the life cycle is, how the medications interrupt the replication cycle. I stumbled upon HIV denialism, which is insane. I joined an online forum and started talking to other people around the world who are also living with HIV. I got a book and read what I should do in the first year after diagnosis. My mom always taught me that knowledge is power, and I felt like I could gain back control of my situation through learning what was going on. I also talked to friends and coworkers about it. I was never the kind of person to keep a secret. It makes me feel better when I talk to people. I don’t feel so alone.
My boyfriend took a different route for coping. We lived in Venice at the time, and our neighbor was Buddhist and he chanted twice a day. We would always walk by his house to get to ours, and we constantly heard the chanting coming from his apartment. The energy coming out of there was so positive and resounding and my boyfriend was drawn to it. He started visiting and chanting with our neighbor. One day, my boyfriend came home after chanting and he was FREAKING OUT. He told me that our neighbor was HIV positive too, and that he’d been living with HIV since 1986. That was before we were even born! Gerald had been living with this for twenty some odd years (which is a lot longer than Magic Johnson, and he wasn’t rich like Magic Johnson). Gerald was robust. That’s the best way I know how to describe him. He was one of the happiest, healthiest people we knew, and we thought that about him well before he told us his status. Just knowing that someone like him existed made us feel so much better. All the sudden we weren’t the only ones we knew who had it, and we could live at LEAST twenty something years.
A little over a month after diagnosis, I was approached by our coworker, Mike, whom I had known since before he started working with me. I considered him a friend since we had hung out outside of work several times and we always had fun together. I noticed that Mike had been acting weird for a couple weeks, but didn’t think anything of it. He pulled me aside while I was on a shift one day, and says to me, “Kelly, I am so sorry. I am so sorry.” I was confused, what was he sorry for? I hadn’t talked to him in weeks. Mike says, “I slept with Adam.” I looked at him like he was crazy, I didn’t believe a word. I said, “No you didn’t, there’s no way.” He said, “Yes, I did. Why would I be telling you this, I have nothing to gain from it. That time we all hung out, and you went into the house because you were tired, Adam, my boyfriend, and I went to a hotel. When my boyfriend left to go to 7-11 for snacks and beer, Adam came on to me and asked me to have sex with him. He was actually pretty aggressive about it” He continued to tell me that a couple weeks ago, he had heard from Gina (another coworker of ours who I had confided in) we had tested positive for HIV, and he freaked out and went to get tested. He was afraid that he had been the one to give it to us. It turns out that his test had come back negative, and he showed me the results on paper for proof. He hadn’t given it to us.
It all started to make sense…this is why Mike couldn’t look me in the eye for two weeks. Until now, I had no idea my boyfriend was sleeping with men and this guy decides to tell me while I’m still on a shift, working with the public. I started freaking out, as you can imagine. I was wailing crying in the back of the restaurant. Screaming crying, throwing myself into things. Mike tells me to calm down, tells me he can be there for me as a friend. Tells me I deserve better. He mentioned that the Gay and Lesbian center in West Hollywood had a great clinic, and that he would go with me and that I was not alone. I was not thinking straight at this moment, so I just nodded, calmed myself down, and went back inside and finished my shift.
I biked home after work and confronted Adam about it. He seemed shocked at the accusation at first. He denied it for like forty-five minutes saying, “Are you really going to believe him over me?!” He was a pretty convincing liar. I was on and off the phone with Mike confused, not knowing what to think. Finally, I decided that there’s no way Mike is lying to me…why would anyone lie about having sex with someone’s boyfriend? I went back into the house and sat down with Adam. I said to him, “I’m already gone. If you want any glimmer of hope as far as keeping me in your life at least as a friend, you’ll tell me the truth right now.” We were such good friends before we started dating and we had several conversations about how we wanted to make sure we stay friends if things didn’t work out. He gave in and said, “Yes. I did it.” It was silent for a little and I finally said, “I have to go.” I had committed to Hanukkah at my parents house that night.
I stayed with him for another nine months, but hear me out. Seven days after diagnosis, our room mate had given us a thirty day notice to leave. I begged her for thirty extra days, but she refused, even though I told her about our diagnosis and that money was tight. She didn’t like living with Adam. I was a server and Adam was a part time cook, so I carried us financially to our next place. Just to go over the timeline real quick to make sure you’re following. We got diagnosed on October 25th, November 1st we got our thirty day notice, December 1st we move, and the very next day, December 2nd, Mike comes up to me and tells me he had sex with my boyfriend. I was financially and emotionally drained. My relationship with my mom had been extremely tumultuous since I was a teenager and at this point, it was in a particularly dark place. I was not about to break down and ask her for money and certainly not to move back in. I hadn’t even told her I had HIV yet. I didn’t plan on telling her until I felt like I had everything under control so this was definitely not the moment to do that. I was well liked at work, and had a lot of friendly acquaintances, but there was no one who I was close enough with to feel comfortable asking for help. It was just Adam and I, and I loved him. To me there’s no such thing as “unconditional love” because love IS unconditional. I honestly did not care that he had slept with men. I would have still loved him and been with him if he were honest with me from the beginning. What I cared about was that he lied and cheated, but I was really scared and needed my partner.
Over the next few months, I asked him questions and we talked about it, and the real story started to come out. He initially said he had slept with maybe four guys total, but eventually admitted to having slept with at least twelve guys and a few other women in the year before we dated (some protected, some not). He had no idea from whom he had contracted HIV. He made no attempt to contact anyone he had slept with, that was really big for me. I started to see who he truly was and how deep the lies went. I knew I had to get out, I just didn’t know how I was going to do it.
I was getting my medical treatment at the Gay and Lesbian Center that Mike had told me about, and they hKelly_Gluckman_Nikki_DuBose_Beauty_Projectad free mental health services, so I took advantage of it. I found a great psychologist and went to therapy every week for twenty-six weeks. I also found a woman who I now get to call my best friend. She recognized my call for help when I told her my story and convinced me to move out from my apartment with Adam and into hers for a month while I regrouped and found my own place with a roommate. She saved me, to be honest.
Since then, I’ve been presented with opportunities to tell my story, and I’ve taken every single one of them. I do this because what I’ve been through is completely preventable. No one should have to go through this, and if I had known someone like me before I made the decision to stop using condoms, there’s a very good chance that I would not have stopped using condoms. The number one means of transmission of HIV globally is heterosexual sexual contact. HIV is a human disease because sex is a human condition, and anyone can get this. HIV does not discriminate.
Today I’m on medication, and what’s called undetectable, which by the way is what Magic Johnson is too, living a healthy life. I look forward to living into my 80s, which is what my doctor tells me I can expect, given I don’t get hit by a car or cancer, and I honestly wouldn’t change this for the world. Through this process, I’ve found my strength and my purpose, and I’ve learned to forgive and love myself. I feel truly lucky to have access to effective medication and I’m truly excited for what the rest of my life has to offer.

It All Starts With Love

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Sapan Karecha is an artist, photographer and musician living in New York City. He has personally seen the harmful effects that eating disorders can have, as a couple of people in his family have been affected. Sapan is a proud supporter of our Artist Initiative Team for the Los Angeles NEDA Walk, and has even created a special art piece to be printed on T-shirts for the walk! We are honored to share his story and find out what his artwork represents.

The art piece I created for (The LA Artist Initiative Team) features four words written on the iris and pupil of an eye: hope, healing, happiness, and central to it all, love. Finding harmony in our personal lives and contributing to harmony as members of a greater community comes from non-judgmental love and compassion. We must always look at ourselves and others with loving, compassionate eyes, because this is how the seeds of hope, healing, and happiness are sown. It all begins with love.

I decided to become involved with (The National Eating Disorders Association) because the two women whom I love most are survivors of eating disorders. Having seen first-hand what eating disorders can do—the physical and emotional ravages they wreak—this is an issue close to my heart. NEDA provides valuable resources and education to those who seek help, and is a beacon of positivity, awareness, and prevention. I support NEDA, and I thank NEDA.”

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

 

 

One Year Later: Remembering Nana

thenikkidubose.com Nikki DuBose supermodel read me 2013 Nana January 31

One year ago today, Nana passed away while I was shooting in the Dominican Republic with a very sweet crew. I never thought that in just a few months I would lose my mom and my mom’s mom. I have all the Faith in God that His Ways are Higher and that they are in a better place. We love and miss you Nana and Mommy. Here are some photos I took the day Nana passed away when I was in Punta Cana. She was one of the most influential people in my life and her passing has greatly affected me. She will forever live in my heart and soul. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

January 31 4 Nikki DuBose thenikkidubose.com Nana Punta Cana Nikki DuBose supermodel writer editor in chief SQUA.RE SQUARE LUXURY

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thenikkidubose.com Nikki DuBose supermodel read me Nana Punta Cana 2

thenikkidubose.com Nikki DuBose supermodel writer editor in chief SQUA.RE SQUARE LUXURY Nikki DuBose nana

The Hope Diary: Step Four, Coming Clean of My Deepest, Darkest Secrets.

Now that I had one, admitted I was powerless over my addiction, the biggest step towards recovery I could ever take in my life, I then had two, allowed that God could restore me to sanity.

As I have discussed in my earlier Hope Diary entries, this was a journey that took a couple of years to walk down. I was constantly battling with myself, thinking that I was my own god and my pride is what kept me bound to my eating disorders during that time.

Third, I had to finally give in to God and just say, “Lord, Your Will be done, not my own.” I learned that every time I found myself in a tempting situation to give into my addiction, I would surrender to God and pray that prayer. Many times I have failed and slipped into the addiction like a bad habit, and on those times I know better that as a Child of God I do not have to listen to the lies of the devil that I am a failure. I get right back up, learn from my mistakes, and do my very best to not repeat them from that moment on. I see myself as a victorious person now, not as a broken person like I did most of my life. That victim mentality is what used to hold me back and bind me in my addictions. It doesn’t serve me anymore.

The fourth step is one that I see many people afraid to take. It is where we take “a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” (Life Recovery Workbook). We go through our entire life, even our deepest, darkest secrets. We list all of the people, places and things that we have fears, resentments, angers and sadness against. We look at our own character and evaluate our defects. What about ourselves do not add up? Are we selfish? Angry? Corrupt? Do we use people? Steal? Lie? Cheat? We go by a recovery program workbook and disclose our information with a trusted sponsor, friend, pastor, or someone that we feel we can go to in total anonymity and confidence. We understand that what we share will never be revealed to anyone else and that this is to help mold us into better human beings. We also take a look at our strengths, because it is not healthy to just mark our weaknesses. We seek to become stronger and wiser as a result of this process, even if it is temporarily painful.

If you feel that you would like to get started with your Step Four Inventory, but are unsure as to where to go to begin, I have provided The Life Recovery Workbook Inventory to help get you started. There was a great quote that was shared with me from the AABB that says, “We are only as sick as our secrets”. When I heard that, I realized that a lot of the shame and guilt that I was trying to bury all of these years was dying to be set free. Once I began to share my deepest secrets with my sponsor, I received God’s forgiveness and was truly able to allow for healing to start flowing through my body, starting from the innermost parts of my soul. I had never experienced such Grace and rawness before. It was as if I was free to be the person that God had created me to be! What a glorious concept. No more hiding!

Thank you to The Life Recovery Workbook for the following questions:

Coming Out of Hiding
Genesis 3:6-13

1. When and in what ways have I led a “double-life”, looking good on the outside while full of shame about my addiction inside?

2. By hiding my problems with image management, how has my shame taken root and grown in my heart? Am I fearful to admit what is there?

3. Am I ready to deal with “the dirt”, to wash the inside so I can live free? What holds me back?

Facing the Sadness
Nehemiah 8:7-10

1. What painful memories keep me from going forward in writing a Fourth Step inventory? Describe them.

2; What have I been afraid of facing?

3. What role has shame from past mistakes played in keeping me from starting and completing an inventory?

4. Does pride tell me that I don’t need an inventory? Have I told myself that others who are in more dire straits than I am are the ones who really need it?

Confession
Nehemiah 9:1-3

1. What behaviors over my lifetime have been offensive to God?

2. What destructive habits need to be identified and confessed to God?

3. What blocks and resistances do I have to being honest with God about my wrongdoings?

4. What consequences from past wrong choices am I living with today?

Family Influence
Nehemiah 9:34-38

1. Are there people in my family of origin whom I have blamed for my life situations and resulting addiction? If so, who?

2. What resentments do I carry toward them, even if unrelated to addiction?

3. What truly brought me into the bondage of addiction and dependency (what is my responsibility, my part in it)?

Finger-Pointing
Matthew 7:1-5

1. Is it easier to look at the faults and shortcomings of other people in my life, past and present (such as bosses, coworkers, classmates, church members, pastors), than to recognize my own?

2. What is the “log” in my eye, the blind spot that has caused me trouble and given rise to pride, finger-pointing, and eventually to addiction?

3. Where and when have I stepped on people’s toes and invited retaliation? Have I been proud, blaming, or tearful?

Constructive Sorrow
2 Corinthians 7:8-11

1. In what ways have I avoided facing my sorrow about how my addiction has impacted my life and the lives of others?

2. Am I willing to set aside time to grieve and allow humility to grow in me? When? What is my commitment to myself, my growth, and my recovery?

3. Am I bent on self-condemnation? Am I now willing to let God’s mercy go with me as I examine my faults and their impact on others?

God’s Mercy
Revelation 20:11-15

1. Taking a moral inventory of ourselves here on earth will help to prepare us for the life to come. Is anything standing in the way of my taking action, such as pride or fear?

2. As I trust God in Step Three, am I able to let go of pride and fear in Step Four and allow His Will to be expressed through me? If so, write out a prayer of trust and willingness to complete Step Four.

3. Write down a list and description of resentments, fears, wrongdoings, and character flaws such as pride, jealousy, domination of others, self-centered needs/wants, etc. (Use extra space if necessary.)

Fears:

Resentments:

Wrongdoings (i.e., what actions have I committed which oppose my own and God’s morals and values?):

Character Flaws (remember that honesty and humility are character strengths that we are building here, so be as thorough and honest as possible to move toward long-term recovery):

Where have I acted out of pride, vanity, or a sense of superiority?

Where and when have I tried to dominate others (e.g., at work, home, marriage)?

What makes me jealous, envious, or covetous (wealth, good fortune, successful kids, functional families, jobs, and/or positions of others)?

Where and when have I demanded that my wants and/or needs come before those of others, especially those of my spouse, children, or coworkers?

4. After careful self-examination, am I more convinced than ever that I need a Savior every day, not just for salvation, but to walk in freedom from addiction and sin? If so, write out a prayer to God that expresses your complete dependence upon Him for salvation and freedom.

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose