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Theresa was, and that she deserved respect and that, if she respected herself, which Tania thought she did, then she should stand up for herself and not let this guy get away with this behavior. She had to tell him directly that she wanted him to make a commitment to her, to recognize her as his woman. Also, if there were these kinds of issues, she had to deal with them out in the open and couldn’t let them just fester, where she would get angrier and angrier. She said, “If you continue to get this angry, you’re just going to hurt yourself, you’re going to get sick, and eventually you’re going to threaten your recovery.” Theresa agreed that this was going to be a problem for her. While Theresa presented a very real and painful problem, she had still not focused on her AIDS, even though she said at the start of the session that she wanted to. I was conscious of this as I tried to explore why she had accepted the current situationwith her boyfriend. I was making what Schwartz (1961) had described as a “demand for work” and what I have called a facilitative confrontation (Shulman, 2011, 2012). It was a gentle demand in which I asked
Theresa to examine her reasons for not pursuing the issues. I asked Theresa why she let her boyfriend back off when she asked him to talk about his losses and her AIDS. She said, “Well, he told me it was hard to talk about.” I responded, “Well, you could have asked him what made it hard. Why do you give up when he resists conversations with you?” There was a long silence, and then Theresa’s face softened and she said, “I guess I really don’t want to hear.” Everyone in the room nodded their head in agreement. I said, “Good for you, Theresa. Now you’re taking some responsibility. What are you afraid you’re going tohear?” She went on and said, “I’m afraid I’m going to be rejected.” Jake jumped in at that point, with a lot of emotion, and said, “That’s the problem when you’ve got the virus. People reject you.” He went on and talked about his own family and how he’d gotten in trouble with the law over a fight, and he was in court and nobody knew him in that court. He said he was about to get released without having to do jail time because of the fight. He said, “My own mother was in the court and she hurt me deeply— she really pained me— when she stood up and told the judge that I was HIV positive. Well, that changed everything.These people got real angry at me, and they didn’t want a guy getting into fights who was HIV positive, who had the AIDS bug, and they said: ‘Go to jail.’” He said, “‘I couldn’t believe the rejection I felt from my mother. I tried to explain it to her later, and she didn’t understand that I didn’t want her telling people I had HIV, not in those circumstances.” He then turned to Theresa and said, “So, I can understand why you’re afraid of that rejection.” He said, “I think we’re all afraid of what people will do once they know we’ve got the virus.” (At a later meeting, Jake told us the fight was with a drug dealer who had murdered his sister and had successfully avoided arrest.) Tania had been very quiet, although I could tell she wanted to