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    Welcome to the Herpes Opportunity Support Forum! We are a supportive and positive group to help you discover and live your Opportunity. Together, we can shed the shame and embrace vulnerability and true connection. Because who you are is more important than what you have. Get your free e-book and handouts here: https://www.herpesopportunity.com/lp/ebook

My first herpes disclosure: A success story!


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I first off, want to say thank you to this site creator. I haven't seen your name on the site, so I'll just say, "Hey guy...thanks." You'll see why in a moment.

 

I was diagnosed four years ago. It was the end of the world. I was so ashamed to have acquired "the slut disease," the STD on TV and in movies where it's socially acceptable (and gosh, hilarious!) to associate whoever gets it with being a whore. Like many of you, I was devastated and honestly, never worried about the disclosure conversation because I decided to never have sex or date or be in love again. Fuck. That.

 

I stayed in this place for two years, ashamed and alone. I told a couple good friends and they loved me and that felt great. Even encouraged me to date and sent me links to herpes/singles websites, which just depressed me further. But they tried. And as you know, we suffer this disease alone. Even loving friends can't *get* how utterly crushing this is.

 

I did some work on myself, the kind of work our host advocates in his herpes life coaching. Learned to see myself as "not the disease." That was hard. I had to work through all kinds of shit about me that was NOT herpes-related but having this diagnosis brought it to the forefront and yeah, I am able to see this as a good thing. Some people learn life lessons through losing a child, having cancer, getting HIV...all opportunities to grow self-love and compassion in the world. I got off easy in getting herpes.

 

One turning point - an amazing resource that will rock your whole world - is a graphic novel about one man's journey with herpes. His illustrations about his pain, isolation, feeling like a walking disease - all of it - shocked me. He was able to draw the pain in my heart! It was so validating to have someone articulate how shameful and sad this journey has been, how it's hard not to give up and decide, "I am a disease." He got it. I began to see the world differently after this book. I am putting a link to it on amazon.com. I emailed the guy a few times, telling him what his graphic novel did for me and my heart, my perspective. He was cool.

http://www.amazon.com/Monsters-Ken-Dahl/dp/0979960940

 

Around Christmas of this year, I met a guy and for the first time in YEARS, I wanted to date someone. He's charming, an artist, and sweet. I felt ill the same time I felt attraction to him because this meant I now had to think about having THE TALK. I told him I wanted to go slow: no sex. I figured that if I wasn't ready for THE TALK, we could date a few times and I could take the coward's way out, saying I wasn't feeling the vibe or it wouldn't work, etc. And it might not be a lie - you can tell within a few dates if the person you're with is not compatible.

 

But dammit, I liked him. A lot. And we were really hitting it off. Great physical chemistry, fun common interests, and we have argued with each other with kindness, so all the right signs. He thinks I'm funny. I like his art. Crap.

 

I decided this past weekend it was time.

 

In googling around, I discovered this awesome website. I watched the vids about disclosing and thought about despite how far I've come on this journey, how I still have more to go. I was going to bring this up in a "This probably will make you want to stop dating me, but here goes" kind of way. Doom. Gloom. Misery. I would practically dare this guy to reject me.

 

I learned here to approach this as an opportunity. I gotta admit, those words felt really cheesy to me. I am an upbeat guy, but c'mon, man ... it's fucking herpes, not "I got a bad tattoo when I was 24." Nevertheless, I decided to approach this as advocated here: heart-open, vulnerable, accepting of his potential preference to not date someone with herpes. My original instinct was to overwhelm him with facts ... but after visiting this site and learning here, I decided to resist printout pages and let this be a conversation, not a one-sided lecture from me about herpes.

 

When the time came, I thought I would throw up. We had finished eating take-out Mexican and watching a movie on my couch. I excused myself to the bathroom to look myself in the eye, give myself a little pep talk: However this worked out, I would be okay. Better than okay. Awesome. I had the opportunity to do something really fucking hard – and do it with integrity.

 

I went back to the living room and said in a casual voice, "Hey, I need to talk to you about something important to me. I want to talk to you about why I haven't dated anyone in the past four years."

 

I talked about how much I liked the vibe between us, how I felt it growing. How I wanted us to grow closer, but needed to share this. I told my story, summarizing my journey. While I had originally thought of using all kinds of euphemisms during the conversation like, "I get cold sores below the belt" or "I have the HSV virus," I made myself say the words, "I have herpes." I won't lie:  it was horrible to say that out loud.

 

He listened.

 

I explained that if this was a deal-breaker, I would understand. I'd be bummed, but I'd understand. I tried to be non-judgmental and said, that even if we stopped dating, I enjoyed our time together and I thought he was cool. I thanked him because I hadn't felt like dating anyone in four years, and he showed me it was possible to open my heart again.

 

He threw his arms around me and launched himself onto my lips. On a break from the kissing, he said, "SO not a dealbreaker."

 

We talked about it for another 20 minutes, and I think we will continue to talk further. We talked about precautions, I gave him statistics, talked about the meds I am on. I talked about how this physical impediment has had psychological impacts on me and I am nervous about having sex with him and this being present between us. We agreed to take it kinda slow, sexually, as I come back from being "lost in the desert" around sex. I won't lie. It was hard. A few trickling tears came out of my eyes when I tried to tell him how hard this has been. There was a part of my inside screaming, I HATE THIS, I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO DO THIS ... But there you go.

 

Then, we made out for a half-hour on my couch. :-)

 

During a kissing break, he looked into my eyes and said, "I feel so much closer to you right now. And I know I can trust you even more because you put my safety first even though it was really hard for you."

 

Holy crap — that's *exactly* what this website promised:  the herpes opportunity! That's what I thought of, too, when he said that. This website promised it could be an opportunity and while the cynical part of me scoffed and said, "I'd rather pass on this opportunity," that's exactly how this turned out.

 

Later I sent him a txt saying, "I am still smiling." He replied saying, "I am so happy right now."

 

Who knew?

 

Don't give up.

 

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Okay, first reaction right off the bat: Wow. Wow. WOW! 

Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us and your new partner! Powerful! I am so excited for you right now, it's insane! 

By the way, I read the first few sample pages of that Monsters graphic novel … again, wow. I'm ordering it right away. It sounds like something I could really endorse. Inspires me to start a "books & media" section. That book will be towards the top of that list. Nice mix of truth and humor.

I love how you write, how you express yourself. I totally get that feeling of simultaneous excitement and nausea when realizing that this someone might just be worth having "the talk" with. I feel the internal struggle in you and I recognize it in myself. Thank you for that.

And thanks for the dig on the "opportunity" name. ("I'd rather pass on that opportunity …") Ouch. Classic. ;) Maybe I should do a video making fun of myself a bit on that. 

I teared up when I read your last line. Beautiful. What a connecting exchange you clearly had. Thank you for your vulnerability and courage in disclosing, in revealing yourself. Reminds me of Brene Brown's TED talk about shame and vulnerability. I don't think disclosing will ever be easy, but disclosing shows so much about who you are and what you stand for in relationship. Powerful example of integrity in action. 

Keep us updated, MplsMan! By the way, I would LOVE it if you would join us for the next virtual support group. Are you game? I'll shoot you a private message to give you a gentle prodding. I really want you to be a part of this. :)

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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The Monsters book is truly awesome. Discovered it on vacation in Portland, OR and it just lifted this giant weight of my sadness. There's something about the way he illustrates that can be both funny and heartbreaking. There's a scene where the main character is at a party. All around him people are flirting and kissing and he's standing in the middle of the room with a blank expression on his face with this big 'germ bubble' around him.

 

I've been there. I've felt that.

 

Nah, don't make a video making fun of yourself. I think your earnestness is necessary. I appreciated your courage in filming yourself even if I rolled my eyes about the 'opportunity.' Still, your genuineness and faith that it really *is* an opportunity did win me over. (Even though I'm a grumbler.)

 

If you want to put your comedic talents to use, how about a "Shit people say when you tell them you have herpes." Those seem to be very popular right now. And really, it's good to laugh about this, isn't it? I've read some other posts where people referred to this as "herp" and that made me chuckle. Anything to take some power away from the stigma.

 

 

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  • 4 months later...

I know it's a few months since this post series, but I have to add my thankyou, it is so inspiring. I LOVE the idea of "Shit people say when you tell them you have herpes", it's not only hilarious but you're right, humor is SO good for taking away the power of the stigma. Besides I've never yet met a guy who asked me if I get cold sores before he kissed me!

 

I was diagnosed 18 years ago, the guy I was with then was okay with it; I've recently had my first disclosure, I found it very difficult and probably disqualified myself in advance; and yes it was a deal breaker. After being so long in my previous relationship, it felt like my first disclosure, have only just realised it was my second. Thank you all for your optimism; the man who chose not to continue "seeing" me did acknowledge my integrity in telling him, and how difficult it must have been for me, so there's some consolation. It's the only way to go though, couldn't bear to have to deal with passing it on to someone who didn't knowingly take the risk. I'm learning to lighten up about it; increasingly able to be present to it as a fact. It's just part of me, like needing to wear contacts. I'm a package deal, as are we all. Thank you so much for this site, it is wonderful to be able to share and to read the sharing of others.

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