Tag Archives: shame

Article: What It’s Like To Tell Guys That You Have Herpes

Inspiring doesn’t even start to describe how I felt when I read this beautiful blog/article on Women’s Health Mag online.  Written by a beautiful young college student by the name of Ella Dawson, it tells of her experience of living FEARLESSLY with Herpes.

Starting with her diagnosis where she quickly that despite feeling very alone, she was FAR from being the only person with Herpes

When I looked up the statistics on how common herpes is, the math didn’t add up: If one in six people had genital herpes, how was I the only person I knew to do the ultimate walk of shame from the student health center clutching a stack of STD pamphlets? Further Google searches opened my eyes to the powerful and invisible stigma associated with sexually transmitted diseases.

To her resolve to push herself to be ok with saying “I have Herpes”

I was sick of making myself small because I had herpes. Six months after my first outbreak, I started dropping the “herpes bomb” into conversations casually. My logic was that every time I told someone, “I have herpes,” the words would get easier to say.

To her favorite disclosure

My favorite disclosure happened when a guy made a herpes joke while chatting me up at a party. He offered me the rest of his expensive beer and said with a wink, “Don’t worry, I don’t have herpes or anything.” I had a choice to make. I could laugh his comment off and pretend it didn’t hurt, but that would mean laughing at myself. Or I could steer into the skid and stop being so afraid of what people thought.

“That’s funny,” I said, with as warm a smile as I could manage. “Yeah, that’s really funny. Because I have genital herpes.” His face crumbled. Not because I grossed him out—I could practically see the wheels turning in his brain as he realized he’d made an ignorant joke at someone else’s expense. The guy started apologizing profusely.

Isn't she a cute as a button? But in reality this girl is one Bad-Assed Chick!
Isn’t she a cute as a button? But in reality this girl is one Bad-Assed Chick!

Ella has hit the nail on the head about why there is so much stigma surrounding having Herpes and why we need to learn that when someone makes a joke about Herpes, it’s not personal (see my blog about Herpes Jokes for my POV on how to handle them)

The thing is, this stranger wasn’t intentionally making fun of me. He wasn’t making fun of anyone because most of us don’t associate herpes with actual people. …….. I had seen in the flesh what a simple “I have herpes” could do when said fearlessly, without shame. Because when a real person—a woman you know and respect—casually mentions having herpes, it stops being a punch line and starts being someone’s reality. The more I saw that understanding dawn on someone’s face, the less fear I felt. I wanted herpes to have a human face, and I wanted it to be mine.

I think I cried a little when I read that, because I work every day with young women (AND men!) who have bought into the Herpes Stigma and who have gone from confident, radiant souls to someone who now believes they have to “settle” for anyone who will love them … and that is soooo far from the truth…

Ella’s last statement echos my own experience with being out and confident with my H+ status

Every time I tell someone that I have genital herpes, I run the risk of it being the only thing they remember about me. But when I tell them on my terms, with confidence and cleverness instead of shaking hands and shame, I am immediately positioned to get a better response.

And finally, I couldn’t have put it better…

When you disclose having herpes, generally whomever you’re disclosing to follows your lead…….

Amen sister! Please, read this blog … it may well change how you look at Herpes – whether you have it, or you know someone who has it ..

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-relationships/dating-with-herpes

Peace Out!

 

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

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.