Just over a year ago, I hit a wall and an epiphany at the same time. Previously, like most people with herpes, I had approached herpes with the alternating depression that I would have to disclose and the fear of being rejected. After 35 years with the virus though, I had finally figured out a few things:
- That rejection was not about me.
- That most people are woefully ignorant not only about herpes, but STD facts in general so their reaction told me a lot about who THEY were and whether I really wanted them in my life anyway.
- That I wasn’t ashamed of having herpes.
- That I no longer wanted to hide in a closet of shame and fear.
- That I wanted to just be my fully authentic self.
- That I was tired of the stigma.
Continue reading Dating Online: My Personal Experience With Being Out and Proud
Sometimes the things we cannot change, end up changing us
Awhile back, one of the members of the Herpes Life Forum wrote this beautiful passage:
At one point or another, we are forced to confront our authentic selves. For a while we can try on different masks, goof around, fake it. We dabble in this and that, float here and there, even if it doesn’t agree with what’s in our soul. Eventually, though, something happens that snaps us awake, tells us to stop fucking around, and brings us back down. Makes us honestly question ourselves.
No more do I have the luxury of sleeping with whoever finds me attractive. My sexuality is no longer a curtain that I can hide behind, no longer a “fall back” for feeling insecure (or worse, bored). I have been forced to face myself- the raw, ugly, vulnerable part of myself. I have had to find value in the parts that I kept hidden, to become aware of things I did not want to become aware of. Continue reading Finding Your Authentic Self With Herpes
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: Continue reading Kintsukuroi: Celebrating in Your Brokenness
Wait! What? I’m hearing you over here. Yeah you! I know you read that Blog title and you are now thinking “WTF is she SMOKING?” LOL … it’s ok! Read on.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, one of my themes here is learning to look at things from a different perspective. A POSITIVE perspective (Fancy that!). Because in the end, we have the choice in the end to stay attached to the negative and to feel miserable, or to look for what we have to learn from each life experience and to figure out how we can grow from it. So below you will see some of the “Positive” things I and others have gained from being H+ : Continue reading I’m Positive, and That’s a Good Thing!
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
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?
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
Don’t deny the diagnosis …. try to defy the verdict ~ Norman Cousins
So you just got the call from the doctor …. the one you’ve been dreading to hear for days. Or maybe it was totally unexpected. You just went in for your STD tests as usual and you decided to ask for the Herpes test because you heard that it wasn’t normally included in the STD panel of tests…but you figured it was just going to be another hit to the wallet and nothing more. And you heard those three little words: “You have Herpes”. For many, the world seems to come crashing down in that moment. One moment you are skipping through life, dealing with the day-to-day stuff that is thrown at you (or so you think), and now suddenly, your life as you knew it is OVER … you go from being a wonderfully beautiful person to a dirty, unlovable, disease-ridden person who no one will ever love or want to be with in that instant. Or so you think…… I’m here to tell you that Herpes can actually bring you more and better love than you can ever imagine possible. I know it sounds like I’ve been smoking some really great stuff over here …. but with time, counseling, and a bit of work, you have the chance to change your perspective from one of “my life is over” to “my life is sooo much better than I ever imagined could be possible”. I see it happen time and time again with the people I counsel on the Herpes Opportunity Forums (check them out….it’s the BEST place for support and information). You see, Herpes acts like a magnifying glass on all the crap we have swept under the carpet and ignored. All the things we believe (though we won’t admit it) about being unlovable, not good enough, not pretty enough, etc can come screaming out at you after diagnosis, disguised as the belief that this little virus is completely to blame for everything that doesn’t work in your life from now on. And it’s ALL A LIE that your brain is fabricating because somewhere along the line you bought into the belief, the stigma, that says a STD, especially Herpes, is proof that the person is dirty and “loose”…. someone who you would NEVER associate with. So stop for one moment and look at the facts:
- 80% of the population has Herpes (HSV1 or 2)
- 80% of them don’t know they have it
- 15-20% of the population has Genital Herpes … and 80% of them don’t know it
- HSV1 (cold sores) is now making up 50% of the new Genital Herpes diagnosis … because of the mis-guided belief that HSV1 won’t head south combined with that 80% who are unaware that they even have the “Cold-sore virus”.
- 60% of all young people will have HSV1 by the time they are young adults because kids are walking petri dishes and they love to share all their bugs …. or maybe Auntie Sue kissed them with a cold sore and didn’t know it was highly contagious at that time.
Odds are – several of your friends have Herpes too. Some may not know it…. and some are hiding it from you because they believe you will think less of them if they told you, because THEY bought into the stigma too. For now, be gentle on yourself. Get on the Forum and reach out for support… from a trustworthy friend (who may well tell you they know 3 other people with it!), your family, or counseling. Whatever you do, don’t try to go it alone.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ~Maya Angelou