Brokenness is really an illusion with the purpose of creating great beauty – Dr Habib Sadeghi
I just replied to a post on the Herpes Life forums that sadly is all too common. Usually, I hear this from someone who is relatively recently diagnosed, so they are just reeling from the shock and upset of the diagnosis. However, this member has had Herpes for several years. She has bought into the stigma, hook, line, and sinker, and has yet to find her way out of her her belief that Herpes has irreparably broken her. Essentially, she wrote:
I feel the shame because I am reminded how completely unattractive, how repellent having a virus on your genitals is to other people. It also disgusts me…… I will always be infectious. Its vile.
My response was:
So tell me something…. do you find ME “unattractive … repellent … disgusting … vile”? Or Adrial? or *another member*? Or anyone else on here? Or is it just you? And if it’s just you, WHY? What makes you so different that H makes YOU vile but not the rest of us? You see, there is something, probably a LOT deeper here, that is causing you to allow Herpes to convince you that you are not lovable. You may have been popular in the past (and even now to those who don’t know) but as you are living a lie right now, I wonder if the person you were pre-herpes was hiding some other hurt but had learned to act in a way that fooled you into believing you were just fine?
You see, if YOU are all those negative things, so is 20% of the population … 80% or more if you include those with Oral Herpes. 100% if you include all STD’s (because the CDC says that we will ALL get HPV at some point in our life tho we may not know it). We are ALL “damaged goods” in some way or other. Very few people manage to escape life without *something* that they could (and many do) latch onto and believe that the “damage” makes them unlovable, dirty, unattractive, or vile. Rape victims. Anyone who has lived with abuse. Addictions. Accidents. Dysmorphic syndromes. We are ALL dented, scratched, and patched together from our negative life experiences.
There is a Japanese Pottery Art called kintsukuroi – it’s the art of repairing broken pottery with gold. The philosophy is that breakage and repair is part of the history of an object, not something to disguised. It ties into the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi … embracing the flawed and imperfect. This art form sees and celebrates the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.
I say this over and over. LIFE ASSUMES RISK. I have to cross a busy road every day from where I park to where my office is. Some days it’s so busy it’s like playing chicken to try to cross to the other side. I nearly died years ago from an Ectopic Pregnancy. I have a client who caretakes for her 40-something year old husband who is paralyzed from a freak accident. I lost a beautiful 32 yr old friend to a car accident 2 years ago. The more you LIVE LIFE, the more you risk being hurt…. physically OR emotionally. However, to not live life to our fullest… to not risk happiness, love, injury, disease, even STD’s, would mean to lock ourselves in a sterile bunker away from everything and everyone. Even that is not an answer, because it’s been proven that to be removed from the stimulation called life (ie, in solitary confinement) will cause people to go mad over time.
Most of us with Herpes got it while searching for some form of connection (physical or emotional) with another human being. And that doesn’t make us a bad person.
Often with hindsight we made an error of judgement about who we chose to be with. Sometimes it was someone who just didn’t know they were a carrier. A few got it from someone who knew but who were to ashamed to be honest because THEY bought into the stigma.
It really doesn’t matter how we got it. We were LIVING LIFE and we got unlucky and got an STD. That’s all. It doesn’t prove that we are a slut, or dirty, or whatever. It just says that we are HUMAN and we were seeking connection with another human being through a physical manifestation, and a virus did what it does and used that moment to make sure that IT lives on through you. The virus is in Survival mode…. just like we are.
Herpes forces us to look at out insecurities. It challenges our social beliefs (that someone else taught us are the “right” way to live). It makes us look at ourselves in a different way …. and we can either choose to take the negative road, and see ourselves as broken and shattered, or we can use the experience as an opportunity to pull ourselves together, to repair the cracks and breaks (many of which were there before the diagnosis… we were just ignoring them!) and come out stronger and more beautiful than before, just like the Kintsukuroi bowl.