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How to forgive myself after disclosing HSV AFTER sex


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I was diagnosed with genital HSV1 2 years ago & had not had an outbreak since then. Being very uneducated, I began to doubt me having the herpes virus & never reevaluated myself.

 

I came out of an abusive relationship which was hard to stand up from & to add more weight the contraction of his oral herpes. Ever since then I've just been trying to "find myself" but ignored the Herpes part of me.

 

When it came to my luck that a handsome man was interested in me, I was flustered, somewhat confident, yet very Very insecure. I thought I was strong enough to take it slow, but not because I had herpes; in fact, to be honest, I believed that I might not have the virus because of being asymptomatic the 2 years that had gone by.

 

He was the first person I was sexually intimate with since my contraction of HSV1. At first, he had the condom on, but when he took it off I asked him to get another, but he said "It's okay." Reflecting back to this moment, I feel pulsing ache & guilt due to my unethical selfishness & irresponsibility to continue & not disclose. So the night continued on because I feared the rejection & the end to one of the most romantic moments I've experienced yet so far in my life.

 

I woke up in guilt & immediately went to his place & told him face to face the way that guy from this site's "When to have 'the dreaded herpes talk'" video that portrays not disclosing with enough security & confidence in myself. He was upset that I didn't tell him before. I didn't even inform him about herpes because I wasn't well informed myself. I thought he was still interested in me because he just kept texting, but eventually it was probably because he felt bad for me. So we stopped communicating.

 

Ever since this happened, I've been very interested in who I am & what I am capable of, especially now that I am more aware of my herpes. I've been reading for the past month several herpes forums & sites to help find comfort & forgiveness within myself. It is hard because I feel like I did not genuinely & authentically inform him well enough.

 

Is there a point to recontact him to voice out my sincerity? Of course, I still like him, but if he doesn't really like me I'll be fine with that also. I just cannot tell what is the best thing to find inner peace with myself which matters most.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi kittkatt,

 

First off, thank you for sharing yourself so vulnerably here. I appreciate you wanting to find ways to forgive yourself. I hear that you're suffering with your decision to continue without a condom. And I understand how unfair this must seem to feel you have to disclose after you got it when you didn't have an option. And I hear that you have strong integrity. Messing up one time doesn't mean you don't have integrity. It's what you do with your messup that counts.

 

Look, there are two sides to this coin:

 

1. Yes, you didn't disclose. You can find many reasons why you are a horrible person for doing this. And you can find many reasons why it was a mistake that shows you that you have high integrity. You wouldn't feel so horrible about it if you didn't care or have high integrity.

 

AND

 

2. Shaming yourself and beating yourself up doesn't allow you to move on and act in your own integrity for the next time. It's like whipping a kid for years after they break a dish. Tell the kid that breaking a dish isn't a good idea. Then let it go. Let the kid learn.

 

Somehow we feel that beating ourselves up will change our situation for the better in the future. But there has been studies that prove that the more we beat ourselves up, the more likely we'll be to repeat that same behavior in the future. Yes, learn from your mistakes. But don't continue to see yourself as a horrible, inauthentic person. You're an authentic person who stumbled. Now you're getting back up. Being compassionate and forgiving to yourself is the key to positive growth and positive change. I imagine in the future if you're put in that same situation, you will choose differently. You have learned from your misstep. You are not a bad person. You are a person who is healing, a person who is learning.

 

Here's a blog post I wrote up on this exact phenomenon I'm speaking to about self-shaming vs. self-compassion and how that relates to growth:

http://herpeslife.com/herpes-and-self-sabotage/

Notes:

  • My mother is now in hospice with end-stage cancer, so I am at her house a lot these days helping where I can until she passes. Thank you in advance for understanding if I am not as quick to respond as I normally would be. This is a precious and bittersweet time …
  • This content 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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