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Feeling hopeless: My struggle with herpes disclosure and its aftermath

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I have had HSV2 since 2016 and I have been ok with it for the most part but a couple of years ago my husband and I separated from each other. I moved to a new town and I started talking to someone whom I thought I could trust. It got to the point where I felt comfortable enough disclosing my status to him and he said it wasn’t an issue and he didn’t think any differently of me.

Fast forward a couple of months later and we had a falling out. At that time he told everyone I work with, which is multiple agencies about what I have. I work in the public eye and being new to the town from a big city this was a huge scar on my reputation. No one took me seriously after that and I heard whispers and have basically been joked about ever since. This was 2 years ago.

Fast forward to now. Things seemed to quiet after a while because luckily the person who told others about my status was known for being a liar. So I felt that maybe not everyone believed him. About a year later, one of his friends who he had a falling out with as well started talking to me and we connected and he had asked me if it was true about what I have. I was honest with him because I trusted him and he said it didn’t matter and we became intimate. From that point on we were intimate on multiple occasions for over 9 months. After 9 months he became distant and basically ghosted me. We got into a few little arguments and I found out later that he had told everyone I work with that we hooked up one time and I told him AFTER we hooked up that I had something. You can imagine how I felt. Betrayal and everything. I even helped him get a job with us and he slapped me in the face by telling everyone that very personal thing about me. And then lying about it/not telling the whole truth. Now I am being talked about and joked about widely again (by 20+ people). My mental health has suffered greatly. I have stuck it out at my workplace but I cannot hold my head high any longer after all of this. 

At this point I feel the only option is to leave and find a place to start over where I trust no one. I have definitely learned a lot from this experience. I was in a vulnerable position recently separating from my husband and I trusted too easily. 

I feel totally defeated. I guess I just needed to vent.

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I'm really sorry to hear that you're going through such a tough time, and I can't even imagine how challenging it must have been dealing with all of that. It's heartbreaking to see how people can betray our trust and share such personal information without any regard for the impact it can have on our lives.

Feeling defeated and hopeless after facing such a betrayal is completely understandable. Trusting someone and then having that trust shattered can leave deep scars, and it's okay to vent and share your feelings here. You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, and it's unfortunate that some people failed to see that.

Starting over in a new place is certainly an option. It might provide an opportunity to surround yourself with new people who will genuinely support and uplift you. While trust may be hard to come by now, there are good people out there who will appreciate you for who you are, beyond any label. 

On another note, if you decide to stay and face these challenges head-on, there's an alternative perspective worth considering: Choosing to not be bothered by those people who would judge you for having such a common STD (2/3 of the world has HSV-1, 1/6 of the world has HSV-2). When you see those who would judge you without actually knowing you (based on hearsay), you can also look around to see those who will see you for who you actually are, gossip be damned! It can be an empowering thing to choose to accept yourself in the face of external ridicule, but to have all of that make you internally stronger and more resilient. Because you know who you are. They clearly don't. If all of what they judge you about is based on either complete unfair herpes stigma and/or an outright lie (that you didn't disclose to him before hooking up), then you know all of their judgments are based on a rickety premise at best. Surround yourself with people who truly know you and can mirror that back to you. 

As you might imagine, after putting my story out there, I've had my fair share of ridicule from people who don't know me other than "That herpes guy" ... and for the most part it's absolute projection, putting all the negative stigma onto me as some sort of representative of a virus that gets a bad rap. (But important to mention: I’ve received soooo much more connection and love than ridicule!) But one day, I had the chance to face the stigma directly, in an unlikely place (my best friend's fiancee). I tell that story here: 

In the meantime, know that you have a community here that cares about your well-being and is ready to listen and offer support. Your mental health is essential, so don't hesitate to seek professional help if you need it. Remember, you are not defined by the actions of others, and you have the strength to overcome this challenging situation. Take things one step at a time, and be kind to yourself throughout this process. Sending you virtual hugs and support! 💕

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Note: This is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis.
I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

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  • mr_hopp changed the title to Feeling hopeless: My struggle with herpes disclosure and its aftermath

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. I have never really reached out or been involved in a community like this and it is just simply nice to know that I am not alone in my struggle. I am on suppressive medication and have not had any issues in over two years so aside from being bullied and ridiculed for it, I mostly forget that I have it because I have no symptoms. I believe starting over is best so that’s what I’m going to do. 

To know that someone out there who doesn’t even know me cares enough to reply and reply in a well thought out and empathetic manner brings tears to my eyes. Thank you so so much. I will overcome this and be better for it when I recover. I want to live a life of dignity and respect. I am not my diagnosis. And none of us chose this! That’s what people do not understand. They also don’t understand that it’s not something people get from being promiscuous. My number was very low when I got it and the way I got it was crazy. Education is important. I knew nothing about it. It hurts when people joke about it because I used to be one of them but now I know it’s not something to joke about. I don’t wish this on anyone. Thank you for listening and caring. 

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OH my God, are these people 14 years old! For crissake! The problem with them mouthing off around the work place puts that person at a disadvantage for dating others. Those "others" may feel like he can have an "issue" too. Stay true to yourself. Stay strong and know that your Herpes does not define you. Those folks are obviously bored and anyone with any morals and respect for others privacy would not have done what they've done to you. So damn childish! I'm at a loss here, as you are as well. I'm so sorry for your betrayal. 

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Thank you dear. The sad part is they are all like 40-50 something year olds for the most part. It’s pathetic. That’s the problem about a small town is they are so closed minded and immature. They have their own little small world and anything or anyone that doesn’t fit into their norm is discouraged and disregarded. I appreciate the kind words. I am starting over somewhere new and am going to keep my thoughts in this forum. Much love to you. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Catwoman Im sorry you had to experience such a devasting betryal. I experienced a violation of my Hippa privacy rights and had a devasting effect on my personal and professional life as well. I also live in a small town and the rumors, jokes, and whispers continue to this day although it was 17 yrs ago. My mental health has continued to suffer. I was unable to leave the area due to numerous reasons but truly believe I would be in a much more peaceful state of mind if I did. I wish you all the best on your nre journey. 

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I’m so sorry you are going through that still. Wow 17 years later. That is truly ridiculous. You are a human being and you are worthy of the same love and life of dignity and respect as everyone else. None of us chose this path willingly. Sounds like we have gone through some of the same things and I hate that for you. You are welcome to reach out to me any time you need to vent or just need some support. I wish you could move to a new town. I recently moved and it has helped my mental health to get away from that situation all together. I truly wish you could do the same but for now you just need to blanket yourself in support and take care of your mental health as much as you can 🖤

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