My name is Niro. I am a woman who has lived through a powerful, and life-transforming experience. In November 1985, I tested positive for the human immune deficiency virus HIV and was diagnosed with AIDS-related complex (ARC). I had been infected by my lover, Nado, who was unaware that he was carrying the virus.
While I had been completely denying my condition, the symptoms of this disease of our time had already been ravaging my body for at least a year. In reaction to my diagnosis, I vacillated between deep numbness and extreme rage. Ultimately, I surrendered, and accepted the unacceptable: death. In that instant, I recognized that I could no longer pretend that I was not personally accountable for my physical condition. I will always be grateful to my doctor for admitting that there was nothing he could do, because his honesty forced me to take responsibility for my own life.
I realized that I had a finite number of days left to live – approximately five hundred, if I was lucky. Each day was now very precious, so I rearranged my priorities, and put myself on the top of the list. Up until that point in my life, I had always denied my needs, playing the role of the caretaker to my parents, my husband, my children, and even my spiritual master. Having nothing left to lose, I decided to use my disease as a final opportunity for learning and growth, instead of being victimized by it. I embarked on a journey to discover who I am, not in relation to the world outside, but in terms of my true essence within. It was the beginning of the most important journey of my life.
By May 1986 I was symptomless, and in full remission from ARC. To my surprise, I even tested HIV antibody negative, and have remained so ever since.
I feel as though I have lived a miracle, and I am still deeply grateful to the mystery of it. The true miracle of my healing is that I never tried to heal myself. Back in 1985, due to the hysteria of the media and the medical community, an AIDSrelated diagnosis was a death sentence. It is my belief that it is because I totally accepted that I would die, and began living in the moment, that I am still alive today.
I am often asked what specific exercises I did to heal myself. First of all, as I have said many times, I did not heal myself; it was an allowing, not a doing. I allowed my body to heal itself by listening to it carefully. Some of the specific ways I did that were:
- I learned to live in the moment.
- I reprioritized my life, putting myself on the top of the list.
- I learned how to be committed to myself, and created healthy boundaries in my life.
- I slowed down my pace, and learned to say yes to the precious gift of life, as it was offered to me moment by moment.
- I become a disciple of life, instead of my neurosis.
- I meditated daily for a minimum of one hour, sometimes for up to three hours.
- I developed a dialogue with my inner child, and learned to embrace all of her.
- I trusted my healer within.
- I used visualizations and affirmations.
- I exercised daily.
- I changed both my physical and my mental diet, consciously choosing what I would eat, what I would read, and what I would watch at the movies or on TV.
- I carefully chose whom I wanted to spend time with.
- I created an honest and supportive relationship with my doctor, and trusted my intuition to abstain from any medication. (That was my personal choice and I don’t necessarily advocate it for anyone else.)
- I made sure everything around me, including the dayto- day details of life, measured up to my own personal standards.
Excerpted from Why I Survive AIDS by Niro Markoff Asistent with Paul Duffy, forward by Elizabeth Kubler Ross, 1991, A Fireside Book, Published by Simon & Schuster. Decades later, Niro is healthy and continues to thrive. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org