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my herpes story: knowledge is power!

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I was diagnosed with genital HSV-1 20 months ago and still have "Why Me?!" moments. I know that it is not fair to anyone, but really — Why Me? — I got it when I was with a loving and committed boyfriend, my first ever (something that I was embarrassed to admit before herpes at 26 — never having a boyfriend until 24 — but now I find myself having to say it a lot).


I was also a Peace Corps volunteer, trying to be selfless but ignoring that I was in an unhappy living situation and frustrated that couldn't do all the world-saving I had hoped to (while also getting sick all the time, bathing in a freezing river, etc). Ignoring my unhappiness led to extreme stress and eventually an extreme oral herpes break out (I think I had maybe had 1 cold-sore ever before). Somehow, I stuck it out, things improved, until a year later I found out that my grant for a project that had to start soon had been sitting on someone's desk, had not even been reviewed, and that would be unlikely to be approved in time. So another bout of stress from all my efforts failing ensued, and BAM, genital herpes. My boyfriend got it at the same time, and I went through all the emotions that everyone seems to have gone through at diagnosis...


But then I ignored it because my boyfriend didn't care and because I didn't want to have to internalize it. Now that relationship has ended and I do have to face it.


And I have made huge mistakes in the time that I was not informed: I did not even know how it was transmitted and put someone I care about at risk and lost some of his confidence in me. I did not have any statistics to offer him. I didn't even know what type I had. I did not even once consider that he would possibly still choose to be with me (even though in retrospect he clearly wanted to, what a guy...), because I had not done any research. Had I done the research, not only would it have shown me transmission rates to be very low, it would have shown me that people make these choices every day and would have advised me on how to go about it. Instead, I ignored all the signs that showed he liked me, changed all the lovely things he said to me to have a "but you are going to dump me" ending, and I guess I just waited to be convinced of something that I wouldn't let myself be convinced of, soon losing most of the rest of his confidence in me.


I really don't live with any regrets, but I do regret not informing myself about Herpes before I got all excited about a new relationship. It's good to know that I will never make that mistake again, but I really wish that I hadn't messed up with such a good friend.

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It's amazing how the mind works, huh? What you described here is a perfect example of a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy. I talk about it all the time on this site and beyond. If we believe we aren't worthy of love and acceptance, our mind will find a way to make us unloved and unaccepted. Period. I love that you can see that so clearly now. And I'm sorry it hurts. It is a powerful lesson that will most likely have you seeing a similar situation in the future in a more aware way. That's what this is all about. Not letting herpes develop into some bullshit story that holds us back from being lovable. Because in the end, yes, there are people out there who are ignorant or just plain scared of herpes and there are those who think of it as a simple skin rash, no biggie. Which one of those camps will we be in? That's our choice. How we look at the things in our life. And that choice reverberates across our relationships and how we experience our lives. That's huge. So pcvkak, sometimes our biggest gifts come in what seem to be our biggest suffering. And it sounds like you're on a good path. We're here for you as you continue down it. Know that. Much love. :)

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Thank you so much for sharing your full story here. I am so sorry we have to be fellow travelers on the herpes path rather than fellow grammy award winners or something cooler ;) but I am glad you are here.


You will find your story is not so unusual. I got herpes from the first man I slept with after being with the same man for 19 years of marriage...my first high school boyfriend and the first man I ever slept with PERIOD. Really bad stuff happens sometimes and it never seems to happen to the ones we think deserve it. But I believe in a bigger plan, and that it's what we do with the suffering that defines us.


You may still be smarting, and that is to be expected, but coming here, sharing yourself and seeking connection is a great step toward that world change you wanted to get busy on in the Peace Corps. You are starting with YOU...and I have a strong feeling we need you here.




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Thanks Kristin,


I have been going through a lot of personal transformation in the last few days-months, and though its been really inconvenient with school and work and the rest of life, I think it has been nice to get a new perspective.


This community has been awesome for information, support and insight.



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