One of my greatest sources of inspiration is Nick Vujcic – a beautiful soul who was born without arms or legs. This young man has taken something that he could have (and did, for many years) seen as something that could make him unlovable and a non-productive member of society, and turned it into a message of inspiration and hope.
I often have people who are coping with a new Herpes diagnosis say: “But it’s not FAIR! I don’t sleep around. All my friends are having one night stands and they didn’t get it! WHY ME???” They can only see the negative. They buy into the stigma, convinced that they are suddenly dirty, unlovable, a slut, a leper. They can’t see that this virus is, by comparison to what *could* happen to us in life, a pretty minor inconvenience. They become hopeless almost overnight, convinced that their life is over and that they are destined to be single, sullied, and unable to be “like everyone else” ever again.
My answer back to them is always “Life ISN’T fair. Shit happens. It’s how we react to adversity, how we grow from life’s challenges that matters”.
We have a choice: We can curl up in a ball and quit, or we can get up, look at all that we DO have, recognize that we are valuable and that WE have the power to change not only our view-point, but that we can use this experience to help others.
“Don’t put your life on hold so that you can dwell on the unfairness of past hurts.”
― Nick Vujicic
Some people get Herpes from a lover who was unaware that they had Herpes. Sometimes their giver knew they had it but were told by their Dr that they don’t need to disclose as long as they don’t have sex during an outbreak. Some accepted the status of their H+ lover and just got unlucky. Others are victims of rape or of a malicious person who knowingly exposed them to the virus.
There is no “better” way to get Herpes. Recently someone on the Herpes Opportunity Forum asked if others thought it would feel better if they got it from someone who loved them because she had got it from a brief fling. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter where you got Herpes… you have the choice (again!) to accept it and move on, or to live in the past with regrets and pain and suffering. I don’t think there is anyone who would say they would go out to get Herpes on purpose … noone WANTS Herpes, but once you have it, it will serve you better to accept what life has handed you than to obsess on “how” you got it. Dwelling on how you got it keeps you entrenched in the past.
How To Turn Adversity Into Opportunity
“Have you ever felt trapped in circumstances, then discovered that the only trap was your own lack of vision, lack of courage, or failure to see that you had better options?”
― Nick Vujicic, Life Without Limits
Every day, beautiful things happen to us and around us. When we focus on our pain (physical or emotional) we often miss those things and if anything, we focus on all the negativity in the world.
A great practice is to start a Gratitude Journal. Some people have a Journal book or pad where they write one or two positive things that happen to them, or something they are grateful for, each day. I have friends who do a 30 day or even a 1 yr challenge where they put an entry in their journal or even on Facebook or Twitter every day. Sharing what you are grateful for with others can be very powerful because it helps to raise each person’s awareness of what is positive in THEIR life. All too often we get so taken up with our own suffering that we forget that everyone is fighting an inner battle, however big or small. And by the way, a large part of the population is fighting the SAME BATTLE that you are. Gratefulness can be for friends or family, or for the beauty of a sunset, or just that you got through the day without thinking about your H status. See what you can notice each day to be grateful for, and write it down. By writing it you make it more “real” and you put your focus on the good instead of the bad.
Another way to turn things around is to help someone else. Look around you. There are sooooo many people who are FAR worse off than you are with this virus. Volunteer in a Soup Kitchen. Find a program where you can read to someone who is unable to read. Help out in a Battered Women’s shelter. Go to a Pet shelter and volunteer to walk the dogs. Find a cause that you can be passionate about and get involved. You’d be amazed how small your problems become when you help others with theirs. 😉
Pass it Forward: Get on a Forum and share how you are coping with controlling the virus (and you will soon see, you are FAR from alone!). Share your new knowledge about how Herpes and other STD’s are really passed with your friends (you don’t have to let them know your status, just say something like “I read an article recently on STD’s and realized how out of date my knowledge is, so I started researching it and I learned that …“) and tell them odds are they have not been tested and odds are, neither have most of the people they have slept with, and let them know that condoms will only reduce their risk… and point them to a good source of information like the CDC Website and the Herpes Opportunity site. Join a Herpes Support Group in your area and help organize meetings and informational talks.
We all have the ability to touch the life of another. We all have the possibility of helping someone else in ways we never would believe are possible. Herpes doesn’t change who we are. If anything, it challenges us to become stronger because it’s all too easy to buy into the stigma and the shame that we *believe* is part of our diagnosis. It’s easier to blame everything that goes wrong in our life from that point on on this sneaky little virus, and to forget that many others are fighting their own (often FAR worse) battles.
Get up. Get out. Look around you and look for the beauty and the joy that surrounds you. Extend a hand to another. Because when you pull another up and help them out of their own pit of despair and hopelessness, you may find that you are also pulled out of YOUR darkness as well.