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Topics from tonight's NC herpes support group


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We had another great, supportive group tonight. About 20 people showed up to share their story and share some laughs, plus some delectable unhealthy snacks. Thank you to all the people who showed up, especially all you courageous first-timers!

Here were some strong themes that came up during the night:


Feeling the guilt of possibly passing herpes to a herpes-free partner even when the partner knows about the herpes. 

  • Let go of the 100% responsibility and appreciate the fact that your partner has made a decision to be with you. That decision includes all the positive things you have to give in a relationship, oh, and it includes the risk of getting herpes. It's all part of the package. If they use their "okayness" with herpes as a tool for manipulation or guilt trip, probably a good idea to get out of the relationship. Quick. Not cool.

Not wanting to date certain people or at all because of fear of passing herpes and fear of rejection.

  • This is the classic case of pre-rejection. "I won't pursue anything with him/her since I'll just get rejected anyway ..." You aren't even giving him/her a chance to get to know you before you make the decision for them! The relationship is dead before it even had a chance to happen! Yes, disclosing that you have herpes has inherently more risk than not disclosing, but at least you're giving the relationship a chance to be. 

Feeling horrible about having made a decision that ended in getting herpes ... "How stupid could I have been?" 

  • I'm sure all of us have at one point or another asked us this question. But does being cruel and demeaning to yourself really work at ridding your world of herpes? Take the power back, realize that you made a decision and shed the victim mentality of herpes "happening" to you. It's common to wish for a time machine to take you back to that "fateful night" but there's a lot of power in accepting and moving through to the other side of self-acceptance. This self-judgment can quickly turn into self-compassion.

I'm feeling so much shame that I isolate. I feel like I can't talk about herpes to anyone. Feeling totally alone in this struggle. 

  • Talk about it to someone, anyone. If it's not family or friends, then at least a counselor or support group. Normalize herpes into what it really is: A simple virus that produces a simple, occasional skin condition. It takes the power away when you bring shame into the light of day. You start to realize you don't really have much to feel ashamed of. Brene Brown has a beautiful TEDx Houston talk on youtube. Watch it if you haven't already. You'll love it.

If 80% of people have cold sores and that's NOT an STD, then why when that gets transferred "down there" does it become an STD? And how does that happen?

  • The medical community doesn't routinely test for herpes, so you need to specifically ask for it; not only that, a few people in the group told stories of when the test was actually discouraged by the clinician. Interesting stat: Nowadays, 50% of genital herpes cases are due to oral sex, passing HSV-1 cold sores from the mouth to the genitals. 

 

The topic of forgiveness

  • The most important person you can forgive is yourself. Ask yourself the question: "Have I forgiven myself yet?" It can do wonders for your headspace and your heartspace. Forgiveness allows you to recognize that you are okay. You're not a bad person for doing what you did, for making the decisions you did. Forgiving yourself may move into forgiving the person who you got herpes from, too. Because any lack of forgiveness is holding on to negative mojo that really only harms/drains you of the good stuff.

Why would I disclose to people I'm not intimate with (family, friends)?

  • Everyone has their own process. Some people process by themselves, couldn't imagine disclosing to anyone ... at all. Some people feel it is part of the normalizing process to disclose to people just to "get it out there" and realize they're still loved. Both ways are perfectly legit. Your way is right for you. Someone during group said, "If herpes isn't such a big deal, then why tell other people about it?" The flip of that can be said, too: Because herpes is ultimately no big deal ("acne genitalis"), then why NOT tell others? The preferences on disclosing to non-romantic people vary. Find your preference on this and follow it. (It was widely agreed upon that shouting "I have herpes!" from every rooftop in town with a crazy grin on your face might be a bit too extreme.)

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. 

Helpful resources:

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Such a great night! I think it was agreed pretty universally that the herp really isn't a big deal, that the social stigma is the worst aspect of having what is really a glorified rash. Changing the stigma has to start with us! That's partially why I'm so open about it. If I can change just one or two people's minds about "people who have STD's" than I will consider my journey with it a success.

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It's so great to have you two as a part of our group! You definitely add great positivity and fun. Thanks for jumpin' on the boards and posting your replies here! :) Looking forward to future sessions!

And ArtIsTheSearch, I'd love it if you were in NC to come to one of our groups! They are super nice, supportive and real. Much love, brotha. (I'll definitely come on down to Iowaville once cloning and/or teleportation is created! I promise!) ;)

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. 

Helpful resources:

Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...

So random I'll email you details! You should totally come then! It's settled! ;)

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. 

Helpful resources:

Link to comment
  • 2 years later...

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