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Letting it all move through you.

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10 years and counting. That's right; I was diagnosed at age 30, in the Spring of 2002. I was dating a guy who--on the spot-- when I told him the test results, said: "Well, I'm not going anywhere." I was also doing a play--off-Broadway--in which I played a young club kid who seduces his straight roommate; the script called for kissing and a simulated sex scene where I bottom for the guy. Imagine the pressure! Imagine having to turn to a new love interest on week #3 and inform him that you've been granted involuntary membership to the H club... imagine confessing this to your co-star! Well those were the immediate circumstances I faced when I learned I'd been infected with HSV2. I'm not good with emotion--yet I'm an actor--but acting is not about feeling, is about creating the illusion of feeling; actors are fakers. So I went on a faking binge. I did tell my co-star... his response was mixed, at first warm and compassionate, yet all that turned cold as we were faced with intimate scenes on stage. The guy I'd been dating also began to drift away after he stated he wasn't leaving. Within the first 30 days after diagnosis, I felt more rejection--the stinging, lasting kind--than I ever felt at Casting offices.


The faking binge I refer to was: denying what I was truly feeling. I knew a little bit about H--my mother has oral HSV1--and so I knew it was forever, but I could not accept that a young, talented, VGL actor like me would be reduced to this. In my case, narcissism kicked in hard, blinding me. I am guilty of isolating and loathing myself--drinking a lot--which lead to a handful of one-night stands. I slept with a few guys to whom I didn't disclose my status until the deed had been done. A great part of me was resentful, disgusted with gay men, with my careless actions, with God... How could this have happened to me? Clearly I'd been a naughty boy and deserved punishment... so after an argument with a guy with whom I'd had sex but had not disclosed to, I decided... To hell with this! And quickly turned a cold shoulder--in fact, my entire back--to the gay bar/club scene.


At once, something occurred: acting gigs starting pouring down on me like sweet nectar, and I plunged into each role with a tenacity I didn't know I had. I also became a Fitness Instructor and that put me on a health kick which I still maintain. Career-wise, I nabbed a couple of awards. Still, under the facade, a rage brewed... a rage against gay men, the sex-crazed lifestyle that most NYC guys follow, the incestuous nature of our relationships: really we've all shared the same guy. My success on stage and my social distance gave me a feeling of importance, it fueled the victim in me. I was justified; I was even being rewarded for being the beautiful man to whom an ugly thing had happened...


10 years later, something has shifted. That sweet wave of success curled and crashed onto shore; financially things got so dry I had to relinquish my lease and move in with family... I had to pack up my belongings and go; and it all fit in just a few boxes. One night, standing alone in my new space, seeing as if I had nothing to gain, I also realized I had nothing to lose. I realized I am not the stage gigs, the awards, the residuals. Strange things manifested; soon my body started acting crazy... I developed a painful rectal infection--not sexually related, which added to the mystery--and so I feared I could be developing colon cancer... then my right foot started to hurt like f--k (plantar fasciitis). I had two surgeries within a 6-month period. Luckily there was no cancer, and the foot injury--although chronic--is healing well. And that's when it dawned on me: I am not my body either... I am not a disease, or an infection, or chronic pain. I realized that somehow... by using the power of suggestion, I was inflicting pain upon my self... and that it was manifesting--pouring out through my body.


I don't know if I'm making any sense here... I'm going stream of consciousness. Yet the point I want to make is that HSV (be it 1, be it 2) cannot be this consuming; it cannot hold such power over me; it cannot be so big a demon that cannot be tamed. As an actor, I've had an easy ride in the love department; I've gotten more sexual attention than I needed from both sexes. Self-love has never been something I needed to work on... what for? THEY were doing it for me.


But for the past 2 years, as I've moved closer to 40, and I've seen my world do a 180... giving up so much, relinquishing so much, letting go of things that oppressed me, I see... I see... that I am the one; that happiness is in my own hands. HSV, among other forces, has been a path toward self-realization and the ride is nowhere near its end. I once thought about suicide--I admit--but today I chin up and think: "No f---ing way; I wanna know how this thing ends."


I hope this note brings you hope, or at least make you laugh.

Best regards.

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Carlos, I'm so happy for you. I'm 41 and I'm right there with you.


For the first time, I feel like I'm getting to the good stuff inside me. I've worn myself trying to get the love I've needed to give myself. I don't know how to love myself very well yet. It's a struggle for me and tonight I'm having a hard time. Your post made me cry.


I miss all the ways I used to be able to numb this ache. When my kids were little I could pull them into my lap and snuggle them up and read stories to them and feel their bodies grow heavy with sleep. I have to corner them to get a hug these days (they are teenagers) and if not for those hugs I wouldn't be touched very often. It's lonely.


But I don't want casual. I want love. And I know I need to love myself first. Or get a little better at it at least.


It sounds like you are learning who you are is worth loving. Worth fighting for...and you're right. Stay strong.


I saw this art piece earlier this week that had the word hope as an acronym. H(old) O(n) P(ain) E(nds). I like that.




P.s. don't google self-love. Lol

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Hi Carlos,


I love so many of the things you write, you write beautifully. I still go back to your response to one of my posts about needing some advice on disclosure, and makes me feel stronger and more confident in myself, regardless of having h or not. You are a wonderful example of someone who is not letting something rather small affect your life, and I see from your story, in many ways h has changed you for the better. You've got to know yourself a lot better from having it, which is a great thing in itself.


You seem like a great guy, thanks for writing your story and sharing. I'll keep looking out for your posts, I love what you have to offer on this site!

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You have all answered my posts and so beautifully, and I love what you have written here - if you were closer would invite you to all my cafe and make you one of my delicious cakes and a great organic coffee (or herb tea ;-) ). I'll send you hugs from afar instead!

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