Tag Archives: Herpes

Rejection: It’s All About Perspective

Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.  Harvey Mackay

One of the main fears that seems to surface with the people I coach after Herpes diagnosis is the dreaded disclosure talk and the corresponding fear of rejection. Suddenly any other reason that might cause a potential partner to reject them goes out the window and the whole focus of their being goes into the mis-guided belief that Herpes makes them dirty, unlovable, tainted, or whatever, and that NO ONE will ever want to love them.  I can tell you from coaching many people and seeing them grow and face their fears that it’s just not true. We have several  Success Stories on the Herpes Life Forum every week … and interestingly, far, far fewer Rejections! I have yet to ever come across any proof that Herpes will keep you from finding love. Yes, it may add one extra speed bump to the process, but my observations have been that many people feel that when they DO find love with H, it’s deeper, more fulfilling, and better than any love they have ever experienced…but that’s a whole ‘nuther blog! Continue reading Rejection: It’s All About Perspective

Disclosure: It’s Not Just About Herpes

Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.      Jane Austen

I went on a date this last weekend with a gentleman who I met on an online dating site for people with Herpes and other STD’s. It’s sort of ironic that this potential partner is H+ because I really don’t pay much attention to that dating site and I’m much more active on the “regular” dating sites like POF and OKC, and because I counsel the newly diagnosed all the time about not limiting yourself to H+ potential partners. Suffice it to say that in the last few years of dating, I’ve only dated 2 H+ guys. So normally the “Disclosure” conversation at the top of the list is about Herpes. Why do I say “Top of the list”? Because I had a huge revelation last night around a conversation that I had with this man about online dating profiles. Continue reading Disclosure: It’s Not Just About Herpes

Driving Yourself Crazy: A Reality Check About Sex and STD’s

To walk across the street is a risk.     Mikhail Baryshnikov

So often I see people beating themselves up for acquiring Herpes. The majority of the time, they were just plain blissfully ignorant about the risks, about the fact that we are not automatically tested for H in the STD panel, or they just plain got caught up in the moment … (Damn Hormomones!!!).  Many get HSV1 from oral sex because they didn’t know that cold sores could head South (and their “giver” often didn’t know either and/or didn’t know they had the virus because they got it as a child). Others are told by their partner that they are safe as long as they are not having an outbreak,  because that is what their Doctor told them. The vast majority of Herpes transmissions are a result of inaccurate information combined with the fact that 80% of the population has no idea they have H. Then, once they get Herpes, they obsess (understandably) about passing it on. Even when you point out that with anti-virals and condoms, the risk falls to about 1-5% (depending on your gender), they are deathly scared about getting in a relationship and passing the virus on to their new partner. So they vow to either become celibate (also perhaps to punish themselves for being so “stupid”), or to only date someone who has H. The problem is, they have forgotten that if you are living life, you are ALWAYS living with risk. The secret here is that once you are educated, you have the power to reduce that risk to an “acceptable” level. Ignorance, as we H+ folks know all too well, is the cause of the vast majority of new cases of Herpes. The following is something that I tell people all the time who are obsessing on the risk factors of passing Herpes on, or who are beating themselves up for having acquired H. Continue reading Driving Yourself Crazy: A Reality Check About Sex and STD’s

Blame: The Millstone Around Your Neck

Blame: A way to discharge pain and discomfort

Brene Brown … from http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame

Often when someone is first diagnosed with Herpes, the first thing they want to know who gave it to them. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out, other times it’s more complicated because the virus is a slippery little devil and may have been lying dormant for some time (and through multiple partners) before it rears its blistery little head. It’s a normal reaction … we humans always want to know if we can make some meaning about how it happened: Did the person know they had H? If now, why not? Did they give it to them on purpose? How long have they had it? How on earth did they not know they had it… Etc. Continue reading Blame: The Millstone Around Your Neck

Toilets, Towels and Touching, Oh My!

One of the more frequent fears I come across is from people who are scared that they will pass the virus on to their children or loved ones. I am saddened when I read a discussion where the OP is convinced that they will have to quarantine themselves from their children, that they have to bleach everything after they touch it (especially toilet seats and bathtubs), that they can never kiss their children or snuggle in bed with them on a Sunday morning. And it’s all untrue.

The simple answer is that if you follow common sense and normal sanitary habits you can lead a completely normal family life.  For the purposes of this blog, I’m not including your sexual partner in these scenarios. Continue reading Toilets, Towels and Touching, Oh My!

Dealing With Your (Uninformed) Doctor

One thing I have learned over the years. Doctors don’t know everything. And the more broad their scope of practice (Family Doctor vs Neurologist, for example) the less deep their knowledge in what we expect them to know. Now that’s not surprising when you think about it but we tend to believe our Doctors are Demi-Gods who should be able to wave their hands and make us better. Our modern medicine society tends to support that to an extent. But the truth of the matter is, if you are not presenting with very clear symptoms your average doctor may well not have the knowledge to deal with it.

If you have done your homework you have learned about Asymptomatic Shedding, and that just because you can’t “see” or feel anything doesn’t mean you can’t pass the virus on. You have learned that if you have HSV1, it doesn’t protect you from HSV2 and visa versa. You understand the facts that half of all new Herpes cases are HSV1 acquired from oral sex. You know that a condom only cuts Transmission Rates in half. You know full well that you *could* be carrying the virus if you have not specifically asked for the Herpes test in the past. So when you go to your doctor to ask for anti-virals, or for the Herpes test, you need to be armed with the indisputable facts that they have somehow managed to miss in the 50,000 pages of medical journal stuff that they go through every year, because sadly many doctors are woefully behind the times when it comes to Herpes facts and information. Continue reading Dealing With Your (Uninformed) Doctor

When Should I Disclose?

The question of when to disclose is a very personal thing. Some people don’t tell anyone (not recommended… you need to know that you ARE accepted with H!), some tell their best friend or their mother, and a few, like me, are totally “out”. There is no right way to be around this. You know what is right for you.

One of the most terrifying aspects for many newly diagnosed is how they will tell someone, anyone, about their condition. They can’t imagine that anyone would still love and respect them now that they are “tainted” and “dirty”. They allow their perception of the stigma to convince them that there is no way anyone will understand.

So first of all, think of it this way. Suppose your best friend came along before you got Herpes and confided in you that they have Herpes. How would you have thought about them? Would it change how you felt about them? If you are a true friend, it wouldn’t change anything. You may think they were careless or that their partner choices were questionable … but odds are you would still love and respect them and support them as best as you could. Continue reading When Should I Disclose?

Patience Grasshopper: Surviving and Thriving The First Year With Herpes

Pretty much every day I read the same plea on the Herpes Opportunity Forums where I am known as the Forum Mom …

“I was diagnosed 3 weeks ago…. when is the pain going to stop? When will I get back to normal? When will I be happy again? My life is OVER!!!!!”

Now, I get it. For many, the day you got the news that you have Herpes was probably one of the most stressful, painful, and frightening days of your life. And I know that some people have some pretty tough primary outbreaks. But lets put this into a little perspective:

The average person will live about 4,000 weeks. So 3-4 weeks, or even 3-4 months, is basically a speed bump on the timeline of your life. Or as one H (Opp) member put it so well…. Continue reading Patience Grasshopper: Surviving and Thriving The First Year With Herpes

Using Herpes As Your Wingman

This is a blog that I wrote for Adrial Dale’s Herpes Opportunity website. H (Opp) is an amazing resource for anyone who wants information and support (the FORUM is a safe place where you can go to ask questions, get support, rant, and send anyone who needs Herpes info), as well as to print out Handouts and E-Books for anyone who could use a quick factual reference.

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I know you may not be able to imagine this right now, but Herpes really CAN become your Wingman in both your dating and regular life.  The definition of a Wingman is “… a role that a person may take when a friend needs support with approaching potential partners. A Wingman is someone who is on the “inside” and is used to help someone with intimate relationships.” (from Wikipedia)

However, I’m going to extend the definition of a Wingman to being someone who can help you to attract good people into your life while also helping you to detect and remove the negative and toxic people around you. Great you say… so how the heck can Herpes do that for me?

The Fear of Rejection and How  it Controls Us

Every time we disclose to someone, whether it be a friend or a potential mate/lover, we put ourselves at risk of rejection. That fear of rejection is what keeps most people from talking to anyone about their condition. It’s what forces so many people into the “Herpes Closet” where they live in fear and shame. I’ll tell you, a “Closet” is a lonely, unhealthy place to live.

So let’s look at rejection. Rejection is a very powerful emotion. In fact, it’s one of the most powerful emotions in the animal kingdom. It’s what keeps herd/pack/group based animals in line. It’s what keeps the majority who are lower position in the pecking order from breaking the “rules” of the group. It’s what certain societies/group use to manipulate people into behaving. Just think of the Quakers and how they employ “Shunning”.  Anyone who breaks certain Quaker Laws is kicked out and their FAMILY is forbidden to talk to them or me in any contact with them. Talk about manipulation of the psyche! AND, it works very well!!! Many who try to break free go back and submit themselves to months or years of doing “repentance” to work their way back into the group.

The fear of rejection from a friend, from family, a potential lover, or society in general is what keeps people in what some will call a “Closet”.  As Ash Beckham said in this Ted Talk: “A closet is just a hard conversation that you need to have”.  So fear of rejection is essentially what is keeping you, and most of the people who have Herpes, from opening up and talking to ANYONE about a condition that is, in essence (and according to any doctor you will talk to) a nuisance skin condition in an awkward place. How crazy is that?

The emotion of rejection has had a lot of press lately. It turns out that rejection elicits a response that actually causes us to FEEL pain because it stimulates the nerve pathways that communicate pain to the brain. Studies have actually shown that taking an Advil or similar can actually reduce that physical response when someone has been rejected.

So try this on: Have a conversation with someone where you talk about something that physically hurt you like an accident or an operation. Note that you get NO physical response/reminder of that pain. Now, tell them about your most recent break-up or fight with someone you care about. Note if/where you feel a physical response in your body. Odds are you will have some physical feeling ( a knot in the gut, tearing up, holding your breath, etc) that you likely get in those situations even though the event is in the past.

That is how powerful rejection is to us. The fear of rejection keeps us attached to people and situations that are toxic and unhealthy for us long after we should have walked away. And, knowing this, we can learn to change our behaviors and thought patterns so that we end up surrounding ourselves with amazing, loving, emotionally healthy people and relationships. Pretty cool, eh?

So, you ask: “How does this help me, and how can Herpes become my Wing-man?”

First, you have to understand that when people are or say ugly or nasty things in response to anything about you, that it’s not about you, it’s about them. It’s about their judgments, fears, ignorance, insensitivity, or need to control you or a situation. Learning to not take things that people say or do personally is a huge life lesson that almost everyone I know needs to learn to some extent.  And this is where Herpes can become your Wing-man.

The “Disclosure Talk” can become your practice session to help you weed out someone who might be controlling, judgmental, ignorant (and not willing to become educated) from your life. I mean, really, who wants that kind of person in their life anyway? If someone talks to you or about you to others in a nasty way about your Herpes (or anything else for that matter), they are likely saying and acting like that about all kinds of other things “about” you. And it so is not about you … it’s their judgement and negativity and jealousy that cause them to act that way. When you really, really get that to your core, life suddenly becomes a whole lot easier and less stressful!

So I am going to challenge you to try this on. Pick one friend… the one person you feel really has your back, but that you have not disclosed to. Ask them to come over or meet you for coffee or whatever. Get yourself properly educated beforehand so that if they have questions you can answer them. If you need “notes” then have a copy of the “Disclosure Handout” from the H (Opp) site with you. Start by telling them that you are entrusting them with information that you would appreciate that they keep to themselves (because right now I get it that you don’t want the world to know). And then practice your disclosure talk on them.

Now, there is a small chance it could backfire and they could get ugly and even tell everyone. But I’m willing to bet that 99% of the time they will be loving and understanding and supportive of you. And now you have someone you can talk to while you become more accepting of yourself… because a good friend will likely be more accepting of your situation than you are being right now. Once you have done it one time, you will find it gets easier with time. AND you will find that becoming accepted WITH Herpes by your friends will help you see your situation differently. The Herpes Stigma is ONLY as big as it is because we (H+ people) as a group have allowed ourselves to be convinced that we need to hide our condition because of our fear of rejection. The more positive conversations/disclosures that we have, the more the stigma goes away.

But what happens if they react badly? What happens if they call you a slut, tell you you are dirty, or go tell all your friends? It can happen. And you have to be ready for it. So I want you to think of it this way. If the person “rejects” you, that is a pretty good indication that, as Patty Stranger of the Millionaire Matchmaker says, “Your Picker is off.”  It’s Herpes way of telling you that you are surrounding yourself with people who you really don’t need/want in your life.

And yes, if that happens you may find yourself in a fast-track education about who your real friends are. In the long run you will be better for it. Knowing this can happen and being mentally prepared for it will also help the dust settle a lot faster. If YOU are confident about yourself and if you are ready to prune the “ugly people” from your life, then Herpes can be your litmus test of their friendship and their worthiness to be in your life and your inner circle.

So what about Dating and Disclosure? How does Herpes act as my Wing-man there?

It’s pretty much the same thing, except that you will eliminate those people from your life that much quicker and before you have developed emotional ties with them. How someone reacts to your initial disclosure will tell you a LOT about them. They are likely not emotionally tied to you (or they may be just starting to get there) so it IS easier for them to walk away.

So here’s the deal. You will likely get one of 3 reactions:

1) The Runner:  They can’t get away from you fast enough. The Runner doesn’t want to be educated, and is likely VERY undereducated about STD’s. To the point that there is a really good chance that they have one (and don’t know it) OR they will get one thanks to their ignorance. OR, they are a Class 1 Germophobe/Hypochondriac. Either way, good riddance. Odds are those are the ones I tell many people on the Forums that were not into YOU, they just wanted to GET into you. Anyone who is looking for a really solid, loving, long term emotional relationship will at least slow down long enough to listen to you and get educated. Which brings us to #2 …

2) The Listener: This one will at least give you a chance to talk, will ask questions, and will be interested in getting educated. Now, it’s no guarantee that they will stay, but it DOES tell you they are a decent human being. This one may have to go off and think about things…they may even disappear for a few says because most people have NO idea about the reality of what Herpes is and it CAN be scary. Give them time — and again, don’t take it personally if they choose to walk away. Odds are it was just as painful for them to walk as it is for you to hear their “reasons”. In the end, the truth of the matter is that they will walk for one of two reasons: Either they realized that they really are not that into you and that it isn’t fair to lead you on or that the chance of getting Herpes is just a deal breaker for them. And this is when you really have to understand that their choice is not about you! It’s their boundaries of what they are willing to live with. I for one won’t date a smoker or someone with kids. I’ve had several very wonderful potential partners come into my life who I have walked away from, not because they are disgusting for smoking or undesirable because they have kids. It’s just something I don’t want to have in my relationship … it’s about ME, not THEM … See?

Now, if the Listener eventually decides to continue the relationship, TRUST THEM that they are okay with taking the risk of contracting Herpes from you. Don’t sabotage the relationship by constantly fretting and worrying about whether they will suddenly change their mind. Just do what you can to protect them and ENJOY this wonderful person who accepts you AND your condition! This one has turned into a #3 …

3) The Keeper: This is the one who scoops you up in their arms and tells you it doesn’t matter about what you have, you will work it out and they will love you, blisters, Valtrex, and all. And THAT is what we all want in the end, with OR without Herpes! Someone who loves us unconditionally.

So you see, your Herpes Wing-man will eliminate the potentially unsuitable partners from your life a LOT faster than your “Picker” might do for you. By doing so it immediately opens you up for “The Keeper” to come along. And that is a beautiful thing. And along the way, you will become a stronger, more powerful version of yourself as you learn that when people behave badly towards you, it is NOT a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of THEM.

Peace Out

Shame: The Swampland of the Soul. Brene Brown Ted Talk

If you put shame in a petri dish it needs 3 things to grow exponentially – secrecy, silence, and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame into a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.           Brene Brown

In Brene Brown’s words, Shame is the Swampland of the Soul. It sucks you in, holds you back, and keeps you from moving forward. For many, the first reaction to their Herpes Diagnosis is Shame. In an instant they see themselves as dirty, unlovable, and disgusting. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the virus that can create more pain and anguish than the actual symptoms of the virus itself. This Ted Talk by Brene Brown is a powerful conversation about what shame is, how it affects us, and what we can do to let it go.