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8 Years Of Fear & Denial


jojo

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When I found out I had herpes I was 22 years old. I remember getting back into my car and thinking, well, what was I expecting? I slept with him without a condom. And I went skipping along to more drinking, occasionally accompanied by cocaine, and always looking for love in all the wrong places.

 

I'm still not sure if I got it from A. or J. I never told J. because we didn't hang out after our initial romp. I told A. and he took it well and said he had it too. We had a sick, empty and draining "relationship" for a couple years and that was that. I just never thought about it. We went on with our dysfunction, sleeping with other people and each other as though nothing had happened.

 

After I finally told A. to leave me alone I met R. a few months later. We had sex with a condom and I didn't tell him. We hung out almost everyday and things were going well. All except for the fact that I was keeping a secret from him that could potentially affect the rest of his life. Alcohol eased my conscience until I finally couldn’t take the guilt and I told him. I lied and said I just found out I had it and he was upset. He even cried. I remember thinking, what a pussy! I was angry. Why was he being so childish? Its just herpes. Take a pill and get over it. Of course I didn’t say this to him. I just stayed quiet because I had no idea what to say.

 

I was in shock really. I couldn’t believe that it bothered him so much. We were 23 years old, where the hell had he been? But underneath the wave of accusatory thoughts was the steady truth. This is a big deal. It terrified me. It stung me. This guy was suddenly scared of my vagina. As if I wasn’t insecure enough, now I was dirty. I was “damaged goods”. After that night he became distant and I withdrew. I couldn’t handle the pain of rejection. He didn’t want my goodies. I panicked and broke up with him.

 

I just partied and met potential soul mates every weekend until I met I. He lived 3 hours away and I met him while on vacation with a girlfriend. I was trying to live honestly so I didn’t sleep with him, just fooled around. He stayed in contact and came to visit me often. One time we got wasted and I slept with him without a condom and without telling him. The next night I told him, while we were both naked and ready to get it on, and he got upset. He went to the bathroom and I just started crying. I got on the phone with someone and was dramatic as usual, making it about my plight without ever considering my dishonesty. In the morning we talked and he decided he still wanted to see me. We dated for a year and used condoms while I took acyclovir. No outbreaks and as far as I knew he never got anything.

 

We broke up; once again I sensed it was coming so I bailed first. Now it was back out to the open waters where I would have to disclose once again. How many guys was I going to be able to sleep with and then tell afterward? Apparently quite a few. And each time I got away with it I convinced myself that it was the last time and that I would do it right the next time.

 

Fast-forward to today and I am still in the same cycle. I’m coming up on 6 years sober so the sexcapades have ceased but the disclosure is still difficult. I just stay away from sex because I don’t want to tell someone this vulnerable truth about me. What if they decide I’m not worth the risk? That’s devastating to a 30-year-old woman who feels like a 17-year-old girl whose self worth is wrapped up in the approval of men.

 

I f*#@ed up again and that is why I am here. I realized after this last debacle that I am not in complete acceptance of this. I can’t even say it. HERPES! I’ve managed not to create wreckage by being honest and upfront with the guys I am seeing. So I barely see any guys. And when I do, the fear comes up and suddenly I don’t want to hang out anymore. I can’t just date someone casually and see where it goes anymore because I have to tell him.

 

I tried it 4 years ago. I asked a guy if he wanted to just hook up and he said yes. Until I told him I had herpes. He decided not to hook up with me. After that I didn’t try it again. Then I dated someone and told him before sleeping with him and he was worried which I took as a rejection and walked away. These 2 incidents happened back-to-back making me anxious about ever disclosing again.

 

Clearly I have not dealt with this in the best way. I just haven’t had sex in years. Well, up until last weekend. I’d been hanging out with a guy who I had known to be a flirt. He picked up on girls with ease so I didn’t trust him. He’s also 4 years younger so I figured he was out every night sleeping with 20 year olds. I liked him enough though and he wanted to hang out so I thought, what the hell. He’s cute. Why not? I went out a few times with him and decided he was bad news and just stopped talking to him. Then I ran into him a year later and we picked up where we left off. I wanted him bad and we went for a walk one night, stopped at a park and had sex. No condom!

 

I hadn’t had sex in years and here I was having unprotected sex in a park! I went home feeling strange. I called up another guy to see if he wanted to hang out just to numb myself out from what just happened even though I was in pain because it had been such a long time. What was I thinking? I just panicked. I ended up coming to my senses and going to bed. The thought of herpes or pregnancy hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was more worried if he was going to ever call me again than I was about the fact that I had just had unprotected sex.

 

It finally hit me one morning that I had to tell him. We had plans to hang out and I wanted to tell him before I saw him again, that way I could f*$# with a clear conscience. (Still wasn’t getting it). I figured he would be upset and get over it by Friday and all would be well.

 

But I am here telling my humiliating story to anyone who has time to read this lengthy memoir because it did not go as planned. He was very kind and mature about the whole thing, which made me feel like an even bigger piece of shit.

 

He thought he might have had it so he went to get tested. Turns out he is in the clear for now, phew, but he decided he didn’t want to see me anymore.

 

I’m still hoping he will change his mind after awhile but either way I learned a lot from his reaction. He was very well educated on the subject himself because it was his second time dealing with this. The last girl he dated had herpes too and didn’t tell him until after. Ugh. I realized I try to tell the facts that minimize herpes. “I never gave it to anyone and I wasn’t having an outbreak and the chances of you getting something are close to none when I’m not having an outbreak.” He said, “There’s always a chance you can get it. A lot of people don’t even know they have it. I would have liked to be informed. If you would have told me before I would have worn a condom and at least known.”

 

So now I’m going to seek out support in accepting that I have herpes so that I can inform potential partners in a way that I can be proud of regardless of the outcome. I got sober with the help of other people, now I need support to get through this too, which probably means not only checking in after shit hits the fan.

 

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First - welcome.... you are among friends here. Many of us will be able to totally relate to part or all of your story.

 

I'm needing to get other stuff done so I can't write as much as I would like (gotta pay the bills.... how tedious!!!!). But I hope you will read all the great stuff Adrial has on here and read back through some of the froum conversations so you will see that you are truly not alone in this and that there IS hope and love beyond Herpes....

 

First step is to read and print these out ... it's a great quick reference for any conversations you may have in the future ;)

 

Handouts:

http://bit.ly/h-opp-diagnosis-handout

http://bit.ly/h-opp-disclosure-handout

 

Disclosure e-book:

http://eepurl.com/b4IPP

 

It also sounds like you may be a GREAT candidate for the online workshop that Adrial is about to publish... I hear that will be ready very soon ... more info to come :)

 

I'll be back to comment more but for now, big fat (((HUGS))) and love to you...

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Jojo we're all here for you. If you need love, support and acceptance, you came to the right place. I feel for you, all the fear and insecurity, wanting to find love and safety in the arms of a man I know that all too well. Your honesty is overwhelming, it takes so much courage to be open about your past mistakes like you are. Six years sober? Congratulations on that amazing accomplishment, you are a strong woman you'll have the strength to conquer this too. There is nothing we can do to change the past, the fact that you're here today wanting to do the right thing is all that matters. I give you so much respect! Don't give up, know that you are not alone, and keep moving forward. We'll be right beside you. *hugs*

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I want you to know i see i big part of me in your story and you're not alone and you're still a beautiful person. Sometimes when i read posts about well I've only been with one or two guys I'm like well damn i must have been living life in the fast lane cuz I'm breakin out of usin hands to count my partners and usin toes ha. First i want to say there's nothing wrong with a woman enjoying her sex drive and life. That's what we were doing. But i think were we got it wrong was somehow we that we could use our body as a gambling chip to win love. Sometimes it worked for me sometimes it didn't. The lesson i learned is a man will love who he will and sex doesn't even have to be involved first-hand. You and me we're lucky that life threw us the curveball of herpes instead of the demolition derby of a deadly disease. But whether a woman's been with one man or twenty we are all the same in that we just want that one guy to make us feel pretty and to give our all to. I also had alcohol problems when my first daughters father passed away. So i relate to you on that issue as well. I drank very much for a few months after that and was putting my daughter off on my mother in law or mother every weekend but herpes aside. I've learned that there is goimg to be someone whether its ur kids or ur parents or a friend that is gonna love you unconditionally. I may drink every few months a few times a year now but its always social and i never drink alone anymore. And there is nothing wrong with living life to the fullest and enjoying life. There is nothing different from a man sleeping with 10 women feom a woman sleeping with the same amount. What I've taken away from herpes is not to just go wwith the flow anymore when it comes to sex. Take precautions. Be careful. We may like to play with fire but it we don't like to get burned lol. All your past mistakes your regrets just forget about them. Only remember the lessons you learned and don't beat urself up. It is not about the person you were yesterday. It is about the person you are today and the peraon you want to be tomorrow.

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i read your story and understand to some degree about how horrible having this is.At the same time, im in this position because of someone like you. My ex gave it to me. He knew for years he has oral and genital herpes. He has destroyed my life. in fact there are plenty of women he has done this to. What right did he have to take my right of choice? What right did he have in expose and infect me with an incurable disease that permanently alters my life? Its a crime in my state. Im taking him took court. We are going to Civil court. the DA will decide whether to press charges. he will provide for mu care for the rest of his natural life and if he dies before me, his estate will continue.

 

I beg you to be honest with your partners. They have the right to know. its only been 3 weeks or so since I have learned I have it. the devastation i feel is un measurable. I dont understand how someone can knowingly do this to another person. he is sociopath so i will never know from him. sociopaths aren't capable of normal feelings, empathy, etc. some how someway i will campaign to make it a crime in every state for withhold a communicable disease. it is in about 36 states even if a person does not infect. I also want to start a campaign for people to know its a crime so victims like me can put a stop to the senseless, needless spread of this horrible devastating disease.

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Hi Baffled,

 

Welcome to our forums. Please read my reply to your post ASAP.

http://herpeslife.com/herpes-forum/discussion/1860/newly-diagnosed-with-herpes-devastated-my-story/p1

 

I want what's best for you. I hear your anger and I feel you. My heart goes out to you with all of your hurting and deep anger. It's all perfectly deserved, but is it helping you to feel this way? Is it helping your own path toward healing? Or is it ripping the wounds wider open? I hear that you think this is a "horrible devastating disease," but please know that this is a perspective and opinion that you're holding. It's not the absolute truth. It doesn't have to be horrible and devastating to YOU (or anyone else, for that matter). That is the stigma speaking. Ultimately it is only an annoying skin condition with a stigma that should be disclosed before having sex. That's it. Please be aware that a focus of these forums and the Herpes Opportunity is to not spread the stigma, but to instead spread knowledge and self-acceptance. A natural byproduct of self-acceptance with herpes is that we do disclose to all partners. Shaming people for fucking up doesn't promote change. We all have that fear on some level of disclosing herpes to potential partners, fear of being rejected. We've all fucked up in our lives in one way or another. It doesn't make it okay and commendable that we fucked up, but it does make it absolutely human. And the more we can love and accept ourselves and one another, the easier and easier it is to disclose herpes, because it's coming from a place of care instead of a place of fear and denial. That is the drive of this community you find yourself a part of.

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Baffled: First, welcome to the Forums. I hope you can find peace and support here :)

 

I am so sorry that your journey here started because of someone who chose to not disclose. But I have to take issue with your idea that because someone doesn't disclose, they are a "sociopath". There are many, MANY reasons that people don't disclose ... ignorance (many have NO CLUE about how easy it passes on, or that their oral herpes can "head south", or even that the rash they keep getting is Herpes), Fear of the stigma (no, it's not "right", but for some, after being treated like a leper by many potential partners, some just give up because of the pain). And for some, it's just not a big deal. I've lived with it my whole life... it's not a big deal for ME. It's only because I had a guy I disclosed to completely freak out a few years back that I am as educated around it as I am.... if that had not happened, I am not sure I would be as forthcoming as I am today. For years I lived with this and the Dr's didn't make a big deal out of it so I didn't either. You have to understand that for those of us who have had it for a long time, we were given very little to go on when we were diagnosed... AND the stigma was non-existent until relatively recently. So there are many, MANY people out there who just don't think of Herpes as being a big deal for anyone because it wasn't/isn't a big deal for them.

 

We DO encourage people to disclose on here.... both for their integrity and because in the long run it is the only way we will eventually reverse the stigma of Herpes. Because, really, it IS a nuisance skin condition. It is NOT Cancer, it is not going to kill you.

 

One thing that you may need to understand also is that medically, Herpes is a "nuisance skin condition". To most Dr's, it is not a "big deal" (believe me, THAT is something I am dedicated to changing!). They certainly don't view it at a "horrible, devastating disease." And as someone who has had HSV1 since I was 3 and HSV2 since around 17, I'll tell you, it really, truly is a nuisance skin condition. The problem is the ignorance and the stigma that goes with the disease that makes newly diagnosed people feel so devastated and lost.

 

Yes, it IS devastating at first and it does take an adjustment but I am not sure that the courts will see it as a 'life altering" enough to rule in your favor. If it was HIV, yes, I am sure you would easily win. But knowing the medical communities view of this disease (both from my research and because I work in the same building as an OBGYN and I know they all view Herpes as just a minor issue for their clients), I fear you may go through an expensive case and come out with nothing.

 

Our goals here are to educate the Dr's about how to deal with newly diagnosed patients, to educate the public about just how prevalent Herpes is and that most STD tests don't include Herpes, and to help the newly diagnosed navigate the myriad of emotions and fears that come up as they go through the first weeks and months after diagnosis. With luck, if we succeed, the stigma will be removed so people won't feel the shame that causes them to choose to not disclose.....

 

BTW, going to copy this to your first post too as it really is exactly what I would have replied there....

 

Peace....

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Hey jojo,

 

Sorry about that diversion. I apologize for that. I do hope you forgive us. We do our best to reply to everyone here who needs help, and sometimes we need a reminder. Thanks for not giving up. You deserve to be heard and supported. And I hope you do feel supported and loved in this time of need.

 

I really appreciate you being so honest about everything. I imagine it feels good on some level to get that all off your chest. Thank you for sharing all of that with us. Regardless of how I wish all of that would have gone down differently for you, it sounds like you've learned a valuable lesson from all of that. It sounds like your integrity was muffled for a while there, but it's gotten quite loud, to the point where you can't deny it anymore. For that, I'm thankful and appreciating your courage to do something different from how you were doing it. And it will take something from you to change such a deeply ingrained pattern. And I know you can do it. And we are here to support you in being more and more transparent and authentic. After all, vulnerability is the only way to actually deeply love and be loved. Everything else is just fucking. :)

 

(So it sounds like you've beaten yourself up enough over having sex without telling your partners, so I won't add to that for you. I will underline, though, that you're putting yourself just as much at risk for getting other STDs than just herpes, so the safer sex talk continues to protect you just as much as it protects them.)

 

Have you read the e-book on disclosure yet? Here it is: http://eepurl.com/b4IPP

If you have read it, what did you get from reading that? Did reading it shift anything for you?

 

I got a chill down my spine when I read this: "So now I’m going to seek out support in accepting that I have herpes so that I can inform potential partners in a way that I can be proud of regardless of the outcome." Yes, that's what we're all about here at the Herpes Opportunity! Learning how to accept yourself to the point where you can disclose from deep integrity and care instead of fear and denial. I will give it to you: As I read your past history, it seems that you are really aware of where all of this comes from in you, the need for validation from men. Somehow losing yourself in that need for validation, it seems? I want you to be able to love yourself to the point where the only validation you ever need is that you are alive and you are lovable, regardless of if someone accepts or rejects. Because ultimately nothing will cause you to ever reject yourself again.

 

I'm glad you spoke up again for support. That, my friend, is that voice inside of you that is demanding healing. And that is self-care. Big hugs to you ...

 

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Thank you Peaceandlove,Peachyogurtisawesome, WCSDancer 2010 and Adrial for your support. I am coming on this site as often as I can. I have read the disclosure book. And the diagnosis book as well. I need to read them over and over again so that I become more comfortable with the facts. What stuck out to me and gave me the most hope in the disclosure booklet was:

"The stigma associated with

herpes is worse than the physical

manifestation of the virus itself."

I agree. Its really not affected my life physically. The fear of disclosing it to another person and the shame and guilt that follow from not disclosing, however, have.

I am hopeful that I no longer have to live in that viscous cycle.

Thank you guys.

 

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Glad to be here for you. This should be a SAFE place for you to come and share honestly and without fear of anyone judging you.

 

We are all human beings, being human. And I have yet to meet anyone who has not made mistakes that they later look back on and realize that they made an error of judgement (most of which are made because of our fears and insecurities). You sound like you are going through a huge growth period around yourself just as you did when you got sober. I know that if you got through an addiction you are an amazingly strong person and I know you will come out of this even stronger than before.

 

(((HUGS)))

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