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EssieL

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  1. Ever since I got my diagnosis, I have been afraid for people to find out that I have herpes. I was afraid of their judgment. I was afraid that they might talk about me behind my back. I had so many fears that people wouldn't want to sit too close or they'd be afraid to use the bathroom at my house. So, I've mostly only told partners and a few trusted friends. But now, I think I'm just getting tired of keeping it a secret- because I'm giving herpes far more power than it deserves. So, a few weeks ago, I finally told my immediate family. I said it as casually as I could, didn't make a big fuss, and answered any questions that they had. And everything was fine. I won't lie- I still worry that people won't like me. And I'd rather be the one to tell another person that I have herpes, rather than someone else. But I think I'm finally starting to be OK with herpes. Just thought I'd share :)
  2. I totally know how you feel!! I was talking to some friends about something similar the other day. It's like I'm happy for all of my friends who are getting married, starting families, etc. But all I think to myself as I'm congratulating them is "I'll never have that." So, I throw all of my energy into my career, because that's the one thing I feel like I can control. But somehow, having herpes has shattered my already fragile self-confidence; so I doubt my hard work and convince myself that I'm never going to be at the same level as anyone else. Having herpes only plays a small part in it from day to day; but I think it's the major event that propelled my sense of self-doubt. It's sad, really, because one should never give a subtle virus that much power; but sometimes we can't help ourselves. Hope you come out of your rut!!
  3. Aw, thanks Nigella & Dilemmagirl :)
  4. Four years ago today, I was diagnosed with herpes. It's weird, because it feels like I was diagnosed a decade ago. For better or worse, herpes has become so ingrained in my life, that it's hard to think back to a time when I didn't have it. It's just a part of me now. Today, I've been reflecting on what I've learned and how I've changed; and I thought I would share some things. So, here it goes... Sometimes, herpes was just an excuse... For a long time, I blamed herpes as the reason I didn't get out there and date people. I would basically ask myself "Why would I voluntarily put myself at risk for someone's judgment and insults?" When that didn't work, I would ask myself "But aren't I deceiving people if I don't tell them right away?" (After all, we disclose everything else on the first date. We talk about our insecurities, student loan debt, weird sexual fantasies, gross habits, and perpetual Facebook stalking. NOT.) And then- even when I joined a dating website for people with STIs, I still found a way to talk myself out of actually going on a date. Suddenly, the aforementioned questions changed to statements such as, "I don't have time," or, more commonly, "My looks will only disappoint..." Around that time, I began to realize that I had bigger problems than herpes. Herpes was just a nice, succinct way of closing myself off from relationships. But that wasn't the only issue. Guys were using herpes as an excuse to not be in a serious relationship with me. How do I know? Because they were still willing to sleep with me multiple times, despite my "condition"- which tells me that they either didn't know that sex puts you at risk for herpes (unlikely), or they just wanted sex to begin with (likely). The answer seems so simple now; but believe me, when you see yourself through stigma-colored glasses, you'll believe someone who tells you that you can't be together because of herpes, but they don't mind having a physical relationship. It's really strange, the comfort I felt when I had this realization. "It's not herpes...it's just my personality that they don't like!" Herpes slowed me down, but in a good way Before herpes, I was on the fast track to being ashamed of myself. It wasn't because of how many people I'd slept with; or the contexts in which I was sleeping with people (for the most part). No- I was on the fast track to being ashamed, because all too often, I had sex with people for all the wrong reasons. I would sleep with guys with whom I had nothing in common, simply because I felt bad about myself and it felt good to be wanted. I would sleep with guys who didn't care about me, because I thought that sex would change their mind. Sex was seldom a way to connect on a deeper level. It was often a way to fill a void that I either didn't want to fill in healthy ways, or didn't want to acknowledge at all. Herpes slowed all of that down to a screeching halt; because no matter how minute a problem it is in the grand scheme of things, it's a vulnerable topic that I refuse to broach with just anybody. There are some pretty spectacular people out there with herpes (you're probably one of them) When I was diagnosed, I felt alone. I didn't know of anyone else who had herpes; and it's kind of like being the only person in class to get an F on a test, while everybody else made an A+. You can't help but think that you're the biggest failure and everybody else has their act together. But it couldn't be further from the truth. This forum alone is full of spectacular, warm, beautiful and comforting people- people who aren't afraid to be vulnerable or ask questions- people who give praise and/or tough love when needed- people who also happen to have herpes. If you don't believe me, meet Adrial in person. When you're done picking your jaw up off the floor at his stunning good looks, you'll see a kind, intelligent, fun-loving guy. Why? Because herpes doesn't keep you from being spectacular, unless you let it... All in all I honestly think that herpes allowed me to learn more about myself than I ever could have otherwise. It has forced me to re-examine my relationships, my choices, my insecurities, and my desires. It's hard to be sad about something that opens you up like that. I won't pretend that every day is amazing and that I skip down the streets in jubilation over herpes; but I will tell you that four years later, I have far bigger problems than a silly little virus. If I had to sew a scarlet letter on all my clothes, it most definitely wouldn't be the letter "H."
  5. EssieL

    x

    Wow, I feel as if I just looked into a mirror! While I've never thought of having "herpes" before finding out I had HSV, I realized some time ago that herpes wasn't the real thing holding me back from a relationship. It was all of the other things about myself that I felt needed fixing. Self-acceptance is so very important, and in its own weird, beautiful, scary way, having herpes can help one realize that. Thank you for your post.
  6. Hi mithrandir! Thank you for opening up about your story and being so honest. Disclosing takes a lot of courage, and I'm happy that you felt comfortable enough to share so much with all of us on this forum. Also, I want to applaud you for seeking help when you noticed symptoms of H. Believe it or not, a lot of people will avoid going to the doctor, even when they have outbreaks. As for disclosing to girls that you sleep with, I would say that this is a really important step, and one that you should take if you want to lessen the chances of passing herpes on. Believe me, I know it can be difficult- most, if not all of us on this forum have had to tell someone. And I won't lie to you, sometimes disclosure leads to rejection (for a lack of better words). But there are so many times when disclosure leads to a strong and loving relationship. Because, believe it or not, telling someone you have herpes shows that you 1) care enough about yourself to go get tested and 2) care about the other person enough to keep them as safe as possible. Think about how you were before you got the news...If the girl who slept with you knew that she had herpes, wouldn't you have wanted her to tell you? It may or may not have influenced whether you went on to have sex with her, but at least you would have known what you were opening yourself up to. Perhaps you would have taken more precautions? That's why it's important to tell someone- because it allows them to make an educated decision about whether or not to sleep with you. When you sleep with someone and you don't tell them, you are creating the possibility that they too will get it and then be left with the same dilemma that you are experiencing now. What's more is that they could pass it on to their partners. So, to answer your question (which I'm sure you can tell where I'm headed with this...), I think you should tell the girl you love. Part of loving someone is being honest and disclosing herpes is honest. And you never know, she may surprise you and not care. It's happened before! If she isn't able to accept it, you'll have us to help you get through it. Either way, you shouldn't have to go through this alone! This website has a free disclosure e-book if you want to check it out. I wish you all best!! -Essie
  7. ugh! I love the Mindy Project, so this breaks my heart a little :( I really wish there was a way to write the people behind these shows and movies that make fun of herpes and tell them that they're only contributing to the stigma... Harlow, I think you're totally right about what would happen if jokes about HIV/AIDS were being made. Unfortunately, if herpes organizations jumped on these issues, they'd become a laughing stock. It's ridiculous really.
  8. funlovngrl, I can definitely see your point there, and you might be onto something. Making a more public revelation could deliver the message that you have nothing to be ashamed of and also that H isn't a big deal. I don't see anything wrong with that ;) As far as manipulating the outcome is concerned, maybe it could be considered that- but I don't think of it in that way. I look at it as matching the intensity of the disclosure process with that of your condition. Why not make the disclosure process seem less scary? After all, herpes isn't that scary once you learn more about it... Just my two cents :)
  9. Hi Leslie! I personally prefer an intimate setting. For one, it allows me to control the environment better. I don't have to worry about strangers interrupting or the person I'm talking to getting distracted. Furthermore, I value privacy to a heavy extent when I'm talking about issues such as these. I don't like the idea of an open area where just anyone could walk up. Granted, there are some neutral places where that would be less likely to happen (e.g., somewhere out in nature); but on the whole, I find the privacy of one's home to be best. Some of the advantages you mentioned of disclosing in a neutral area (such as opportunity to ask for space and feeling less pressure) can be found in a private domain as well. I think those aspects of it are rooted less in the disclosure location and more in your tone, word choice, and body language. That's not to say that neutral locations are bad. I'm sure there are many people out there who prefer it. But it's not for me :)
  10. Thanks, Adrial! I think you're right about people attempting to feel better about themselves. It's strange to me that anyone with an STD would pass judgment about another STD. They all get spread the same way!
  11. I agree with Lively about being comfortable near home. That way, if things were to go south (though hopefully they won't!!!), you wouldn't have to deal with a long drive home. That to me, is one of the hardest things. I can see the pros and cons of disclosing over the phone. The nice part is that if things were to not go well, nobody wasted a trip to find that out. The downside, however, is that there is more room for misinterpretation on either end. For example, you might feel like he is rejecting you when in reality, he's just thinking...I have disclosed both ways and have found no real difference. Good luck and let us know how it goes!!
  12. So, lately I've noticed an interesting phenomenon among my friends with HPV. A couple of them seem to judge herpes more harshly because their HPV has "gone away" and herpes can't do that. Now, we all know herpes isn't a big deal and that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, but placing that argument aside...is it true that once HPV "clears," that's it? There's no chance of giving someone that same strain of HPV a few years down the road? Should people who had HPV a few years ago still disclose after a normal pap reading? Now, I know this is more of an HPV question than a herpes question; but I see that there are some regulars on this forum who have experienced both. And I'm just trying to get an understanding of why people look at HPV as a non-issue compared to herpes. From a physical standpoint only, is one "better" than the other? Personal anecdotes appreciated, scientific evidence is welcomed too :)
  13. Thank you so much, parky!! Stories like yours give me hope :)
  14. LiveNLearn- I have sooo been at that point where you wanna scream "well, you know what?!? I have herpes!" Of course, I never do, mostly because it's none of their damn business :P Like many others have said, it really is an ignorance thing. Thankfully for me, the profession I chose enables me to talk about sex and STIs quite regularly; so when given the opportunity, I educate people. I usually only make this effort, though, when my audience seems mature enough to listen and take it to heart. The one issue that I have run into, though, is feeling like people will figure me out if I let the situation seem too personal. To be honest, though, I'm not even sure why people figuring it out bothers me. It's not like I was even going to date any of them, lol. If I'm around people who I don't really want to "school" on the subject, but I still want to make herpes seem like a non-issue, I respond to their little comments by shrugging my shoulders and saying "whatever, I don't care about herpes...like 90% of the population has some form of it...my cat even has it" (true story, my cat has herpes- she got it when she was a stray kitten). Usually they leave it alone after that. The one time I really do wish I had spoken out a little more was when someone made the statement "that's because herpes is nasty..." in response to something I had said. I didn't argue with her and just remained silent. In retrospect, I should have taken more time to educate her. Anyway, I totally know how you feel- and believe me, we have all been there! I think the reason herpes is the butt of every joke is that it's the only noncurable that affects men and women equally that isn't extremely serious. Neither HPV nor HIV fit all of those criteria. HPV isn't always that serious; but it doesn't affect men and women equally. HIV affects men and women alike, but it's something so serious that we don't want to make jokes about it. That's just my theory. Doesn't mean jokes should be made at all, but in the grand scheme of things, I'm not at all surprised that herpes is reserved for humor. I actually commented a while back on a Perez Hilton post about the whole Rihanna and Chris Brown herpes thing. I couldn't help myself. And I think I'm going to continue to comment on those posts as I see them online. I'm not quite comfortable to confront everyone I know who makes those comments in person; but when it comes to the internet, I'm fearless :)
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