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Hello, Friends! 😊 First, I want to say I came across this website during a panic attack, and immediately I felt a rush of calmness over me. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories and hopeful advice-- it really means so much to me and so many others. God Bless You All! 😇 My story consists of a few odd variables. I have had anorexia since I was 14, and although I am physically recovered, it is a mental illness that stays with you basically forever. I still have my struggles and I have anxiety about food and exercise, but it is not as bad as it once was. After intense therapy, it seemed my eating disorder was directly related to my abandonment issues of my father. My feelings of being "dirty" and "unclean" also came from this, but more from a memory of having an inappropriate encounter with a male, whose identity I do not know. My anorexia coupled with my OCD, which resulted in counting obsessively, having to do rituals for everything from eating and chewing a certain number of times, to how i brushed and flossed, to how I said my prayers at night. It caused me to be late for school, gain unwanted attention from classmates, and interfere with my friendships and family relationships. As a started to date, I noticed I would cry at the sight of a penis because of the childhood experience, which obviously was both embarrassing (although I laugh at it now) and made me uncomfortable with sexual relationships. However, I dated many people for company, as my mental health issues made me feel sad and isolated, and I craved connection. Although a lot of people don't like to admit it, having "daddy issues" is 110% a real thing, and as I look back on my teenage self, I see that I was trying to fill so many voids through boyfriends. As I entered college, I found myself struggling with my eating disorder and OCD, and now family stress issues. After problems with my family home led to me moving back home at the end of freshman year, my mental health drastically lowered. At 19 I started dating this guy who was about five years older than me. He was basically the exact opposite of me in every single way; politically and morally, he drank and smoke while I did not, etc. He was a "bad boy". My family did not approve of him so we dated in secret, which made me feel guilty and wrong, but I did it anyway, because I felt that maybe through this relationship, I could achieve something. One day while we were having sex, he took out his phone and started taking photographs of me. I immediately covered myself and told him to stop, but instead of stopping he laughed at me and held my wrists so he could continue taking pictures. A week or so later while having sex, I told him to stop because I felt a horrible pain in my vagina. He begrudgingly stopped, and then a few moments later asked if he could finish. I declined because I was in so much pain, but instead of accepting my answer he asked again, and then just decided to put his penis back inside and finish. I was confused and a little shocked. The next day I woke up with about thirty red boils all over my outer and inner labia. After two painful days I saw a doctor who told me I had herpes, later tested to be HSV-1. The doctor told me I had sores inside my vaginal cavity, too. I explained to the doctor that my boyfriend had no symptoms, and that he said he didn't have herpes. The doctor explained that he was my sexual partner, so he had given it to me regardless of what he said. I told my boyfriend the diagnosis and he told me it was my fault from probably sleeping around with dirty people, and he became angry and said that I better not have given him anything because he had "come into this life clean and was going out clean, too." He refused to kiss me goodbye for fear of me giving it to him orally (which we all medically know doesn't make sense) and I went on my way. For about ten days I had excruciating pain when walking, sitting, going to the bathroom, and dressing. I felt embarrassed walking to and from college classes like a waddling duck, and it interfered with my job, too. Another "bonus,"... I got my period the day I got the sores, and I had a sinus infection... so needless to say, I was a hot mess. Eventually I broke up with the jerk and confronted him about his actions. Dating with herpes is difficult, and I have been rejected so many times for having HSV1 on my genital area. I always explain it to people right when I meet them/first date, and a few men have been very accepting. I appreciate when they ask questions, because it shows they actually want to understand it and are not immediately judging, and because they care about health and safe sex. When I got my next outbreak, only about three sores, I cried, not because of the sores but because of how I got the sores (from the cruel and disgusting ex-boyfriend). Already feeling dirty and unworthy because of my childhood-related trauma and addy issues, I felt even more dirty and disgusting, and my OCD kicked in on overdrive. Until about a week ago when I found this website, I was constantly paranoid I would give my genital HSV1 herpes (and COVID, of course) to my family members just by touching a shared object with my hands. I am afraid to prepare food, wash dishes, and touch anything that my family will use/touch. Although I know that HSV1 on the genital area can only be passed through skin-to-skin contact with my genital skin area, I still was convinced it was just all over my body and would hurt a loved one. There is so much mixed messaging about herpes, and I have found website saying herpes can pass through food, through towels, through a handshake, and other say the exact opposite! I love this website because it provided guidance from those with herpes; who can relate and share the realities of herpes (which really helps combat my OCD fear and anxiety). I am happy to say that I am learning to peacefully coexist and make harmony with my OCD, anorexia, past memories and hurts, and herpes. Yes rejection hurts, but I don't let it slow me down, because I deserve someone who is kind and understanding, not judgmental and only focused on my physical body (remember-- you are MORE than your body, too!!! SO MUCH MORE!!!). ❤️To all those out there who think you are ugly, worthless, dirty, or are ashamed... just be and live as you are, because you deserve to be happy, well, and in harmony with your mind, spirit, body, and soul. It will get better. You are beautiful and strong! God loves you and made you, and God doesn't make mistakes. You matter and the world needs you! ❤️❤️❤️