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My friend and a herpes joke

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This is my first post: I'm new. So HI! I Found out two years ago, and it's been really hard. Something happened yesterday that I wanted to share and see if this has happened to anyone else.


I knew that I was going to hear people talk trash about herpes a lot, because we all know that there's millions of jokes out there in movies to try to make us feel like we're trash because this has happened to us.


What I didn't think was that I was going to hear friends talk trash about it in front of me, and how awful it would make me feel. Yesterday two of my friends and I had a conversation about a guy one of their sisters dated who had hepatitis C and then also about a friend of mine who's close friend just found out he has HIV(breaks my heart because he was dumped by some LOSER guy who couldn't cope right after he found out). I was trying to have an informed conversation with them about how easy it to make a decision to date someone with any issue if you have potential with them because I feel: LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE.


Then one says: "you know what I wouldn't ever deal with? Herpes. I would never go there. I dated a guy whom I thought I was falling for and could be the one, and the randomly he told me he had Herpes and that changed everything. I didn't want him anymore." (by the way she has warts, how is that different?). They continued to talk about how they would NEVER date a guy with that, the second they disclosed they would run away because they would NEVER want that. "It's for life you know." The conversation between them(I stopped talking) continued for around 15 minutes and I got to hear just awful and disgusting my situation was. Neither one knew that this had happened to me too, and all that trash they were talking was about me, and they were basically telling me people like me didn't deserve love.


When they started to make stupid and ill-informed jokes about it, I couldn't keep my mouth shut any longer. I told them how completely rude and disrespectful they were and how dare they talk about it that way and they have no idea how hard it is for people to deal with. I said I had a friend who had it and I saw how hard it was for her to deal with it(there was NO WAY I was going to tell them I had it after they talked about it like that).


During the conversation I remembered that one of the girls told me a few years back that she had the kind of HPV that causes warts. I didn't say anything to the other friend because she is VERY closed-minded and although we've been friends for 12 years I would never tell her anything like this about me, because she would judge me. You'd think after having a sister who dated someone with HEP C she would feel differently, but she's still closed-minded. Anyways, afterwards I asked the girl that had warts how it was different than Herpes, and she said because HPV is a virus and your body can clear it. And I said: so is herpes and she said it wasn't the same. And the social stigma isn't the same and that's why she thinks she's better than people with herpes because she only has warts and that's way different, but it is NOT different. The only thing that's different is how the public views it.


Afterwards I felt awful, and pretty much torn apart by my friends. It made me grateful I have two supporting friends, and a supporting mom and sister, and super supporting boyfriend who have all helped me through and helped me feel normal(ish). I can't imagine what this would have done to me two years when I found out and I didn't have anyone to lift me back up with positive words. I probably would have lost my shit.


Share your friend stories with me!

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A few things about what you said and then I'll share my friend story with you. :)


1. The whole phrase that you use that "this happened TO us" feels like you're seeing having herpes from a victim's perspective. Is that true?


2. "I got to hear just awful and disgusting my situation was." How much of that did you take on as actual capital T Truth? Notice that their opinion is their opinion, close-minded and ignorant as it is (not judging them about it, just stating the facts). Your relationship to having herpes doesn't have to be impacted by how other ignorant people judge it. Just like if someone who walked up to you and called you ugly doesn't mean you're ugly. You get to decide that for yourself.


3. I LOVE how you called it out to stand up for people with herpes. That takes courage. I'm so frickin PROUD of you for speaking out! Beautiful. I got chills when I read that. That kind of talking shows something really important about the kinds of people these friends are. It says less about you being dirty with herpes and more about them being judgmental. The whole conversation about HPV being "better" than HSV just shows the level of denial people have around STDs. It's sad, yet true. It sounds like she's deep in denial based on what you've said. Instead of looking at her own emotional landscape around what it means to have HPV, it's easier to feel better by judging "those dirty people with herpes."


I'm really curious: What positive things do you get from being friends with these women?


4. "Afterwards I felt awful, and pretty much torn apart by my friends." Notice that it's actually not really them that tore you apart. It's actually your own self-judgments that somehow became validated once you heard them talking so negatively. If you didn't have those negative self-judgments about herpes, then their ignorant negativity wouldn't affect you. I'm not saying you shouldn't be affected by people like that, but just saying this so you can be more aware of where this is coming from and you can feel like less of a victim of your circumstances. It's you who gets to change your own relationship to yourself. No one else can do that for you. And no matter how many people you try to educate about this, ignorance will still be around.


And now my friend story ...


One of my best friends had me over for dinner with her new fiancee. We had a great time together, laughing, chatting connecting ... Then afterwards we were playing a board game together and her fiancee said something extremely ignorant and rude about how herpes was dirty. He laughed out loud like it was the funniest thing. Immediately, I felt a jolt in my body. Anger. Sadness. Hurt. I was considering what to do next ... Did I really want to bring it up after such a great night or was I just going to let it innocently pass? I made sure to let my anger go and sink into a more vulnerable space so I didn't react by lashing back out to try to hurt him. I simply looked him right in the eyes and said, "Do you know that I have herpes?" His face turned beat red ... he stammered. He was SO apologetic. What came after was an amazing conversation about how he makes jokes like that about all sorts of stuff that he doesn't know anything about because he doesn't have any actual faces to put with the joke. The second he realized I was one of those people he was making fun of, his heart broke and he saw me instead of some faceless, dirty mob of sexual deviants with herpes.

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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You're absolutely right I view myself as a victim because I don't know how I got it. I know it's wrong! I tell people left and right I have HSV-1 because it's so common and a tad bit more socially accepted, but I have a harder time accepting my HSV-2 diagnosis. I've tried for the two years I've known about it to not victimize myself but I don't know how to do that. I think that's why I joined this website, so I could gain a different perspective on the situation! Thank you for pointing out that I wouldn't have taken to heart what they said unless I already felt that way about myself, and I keep trying to shake those feelings and tell myself that I am nothing like the stigma, but it's so hard to shake. I think you saying that just might be the push I need to take control of how I feel about myself without allowing others to dictate it to me. Self love is the most important thing after all.

As far as what I get from them? They are friends from high school, always going to be your friends but not necessarily friends I can always count on to be there for me. I definitely see them a little differently now though.

Your story is great! I admire anyone who can stand up for themselves without ever second guessing it. I hope to work up to that one day, but for now I'll stick up for this community in the way I know how.

Thank you so much for your reply and for all your comments!!

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I guess we all know this, genital HSV2 comes with the stigma of being a STD that last forever.


I mean, this is the judeo-christian morality BS that it's ingrained in our society. The one which says SEX IS BAD, IT IS FILTHY (as long as it is out of the matrimony)


If you are HSV2 positive means you are a slut, an easy girl/boy and blahblahblah hate hate, ignorance, hate, puritanism, ignorance....


So yeah, basically in the eyes of our prude society, catching a STD is way worse than some "fever blisters" in the mouth.


At least we are not being throw into the bonfire for our sins!!! LOL.


Anyway Caligirl12, my only advice here is that until you accept yourself you won't accept the jokes or mean comments from others. People always make stupid comments, that's a fact. You can not live in a bubble away from stupid comments. Soon or late you will need to face them. So this is a learning way, a proceess to self-approval. Love yourself above everyone and everything for all the goods things you are.

Do not let a skin condition tells you what you are, it's unfair for you and for the ones who love you (I believe many :x )


And one more thing, forgive your friends for their infinite ignorance. They don't put faces to their mean comments. C'mon, let's be more rational here. We all make rude and disrespectful comment every now and then.

I believe the best cure is to make fun of our own flaws, seriously. I joke about my H condition from time to time.

I believe it's the best way to heal my soul.


Just my two cents

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I could definitely see that situation feeling like a beat down. I wonder if either of your friends have ever gotten tested for Herpes. It was so eye opening to me to realize how many people probably have it and don't know, even thinking they're in the clear bc they had a standard STD test. So if they haven't, they could have very well been trash talking themselves! And how easy it is to get it? Remember 1 in 4 women have it! So wild. People are just going to have that view sometimes. I HAD that view not so long ago. The thing that sorta made me a little more accepting of it (before I got it) was last year falling hard for a guy that I also worried could have it. I never asked him and we never slept together (came close) but we dated for a few months and it was a very emotional (ups/downs) experience. I resisted getting attached to him because I didn't know what I would do if it turned out he had it. But eventually I just said, you know what? I have strong feelings for this person and I'll have to accept it if he does. Since I came to that mindset BEFORE getting mine, I trust someone will feel the same about me - including with friends.


Anyway your friends sound opinionated and close-minded. If you must keep them, then just categorize them as your "party" friends or "shopping" friends or whatever is a little more superficial. Not your close friends. You sound like a very sensitive, wonderful person (I like that you ended up speaking your mind about it too, and using "your friend" as a story) and it's great that you DO have strong supporters.


Like James said try to laugh as much as possible about it.

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I mean it's not even worth it to try to get them to understand anything, they are so deep into their denial it wouldn't work! I wish I could just throw in their face...oh you had chicken pox when you were 8? I would NEVER date anyone who had that kind of herpes(as an example I'm not mean like they are, I myself had chicken pox when I was 11 and didn't even know it was herpes until yesterday)..why is 2 the dirty number? The silver lining of this, is that we who carry the HSV2 shame label(to others not to ourselves) actually become more accepting people in the process, and isn't that what this age is all about? Acceptance for all kinds of people.

Your story is great, that you learned to accept it before you got it because you fell for someone who had it, therefore you were enlightened even before finding out you had it!

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Hello caligirl12..if your friends can make remarks like that and make fun of people who have H, I think they are not worh your while. I mean, aren't they thinking first what they are about to say? I know we have freedom of expression nowadays..but I believe that we need to express it in a kind and sensitive way. I had the same experience when I was attending this review class..the lecturer who was sad to say a medical practitioner, made some rude remarks about people with H. He said "If you have H1, please don't spread it to other people who don't have it! Take pity to whoever will catch t from you!" I felt so bad..and then he added "oh but H2 is a different story..that one is REALLY gross! That is a sexually-transmitted disease that doesn't go away! You shouldn't have a relationship with people with H2 because it is gross!" That shattered my heart..coming from someone who shoukd have been informed since he works in the medical field. Anyway, I didn't have the chance to speak up as I didn't want to make a sensation in the class..I am very proud of you for standing your ground. There are a lot of people who don't know a thing about H. Learjing from that experience, I learned to dismiss comments from people who don't matter to me. I just think that they are ignorant and refuse to learn what H is all about. Now, I avoid people who I know are close-minded because I don't want to strees myself with them. Surround yourself with positive people :)

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wow--that was from a medical professional. that is horrible..you shoulda complained to his boss and gotten him fired! I agree I need to surround myself with positive people..and new friends I've made are that. It's just hard when the ones you've been friends with for 12 years aren't. Thanks for responding!

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I had gone out with a few friends a few nights after I was diagnosed with my first out break. We were at a bar and some guy friends were looking at girls they wanted to get with and one said " She's looks busted, like Herpes wrote all over her." My fiancée and I literally had just been diagnosed. It felt like a slap in the face. I had what My fiancée(who is working on his PhD in psychology), deemed the spotlight effect . I felt like everyone then knew we had it and they were looking at us. :(

Now I just learn to take the jokes as they come.


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Ah, those jokes can cut to the core, huh? Yeah, I've been hurt by jokes like that before. And what I've come to find out is that the jokes say more about the person telling them than they do about those the joke is about. And the reason they sting so much is because a part of us is believing that we have something to be ashamed about. It just mean that a tender part of us that deserves some compassion and acceptance has been poked. I tend to look at those moments as more of a chance to accept myself. We can't change the fact that these jokes happen and that there are cruel people out there, but we can change the way that we receive them.

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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Oh god. Well, as I said in my post before, a girl I was going to date said similar things about someone she met disclosing to her. It tore me down. I'm not even over it, several weeks later. I was angry. I'm still friends with her now because I refuse to let her opinion tell me how much I'm worth. I feel like some people joke about herpes because it's the worst of the STDs since it lasts for life. People don't joke about HIV because it's too serious to be a joke. But herpes is fair game. I am friends with people who wouldn't judge someone like that, and am friends with people who would probably judge me if they knew. It's hard to think about. Of course it hurts me because I reject myself and can't accept my diagnosis, I already knew that. But knowledge does not change the situation or make it any easier. I am trying to get along in life by not thinking about it. No matter how much we say we can change our thoughts about ourselves, when it comes to practically applying that it's a completely different story. I am going to need intensive life therapy to make my self-hatred go away because I am a traumatized individual. But I've accepted that death is no longer an option.

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Would you consider trying getting through life by trying to accept it instead of ignoring it? I'm glad you've gotten past considering ending things..because that should never be an option when we have a skin rash. It's just how society views us. Please don't traumatize yourself with this. It's not worth it. I don't know if you read all the post..but I play the victim in my situation..and it doesn't help me one bit. The days I feel strong..and accept myself for everything..it feels great to be me. On the days I don't...the shame and regret feels endless..it really doesn't feel great to be me. Accept yourself and you will learn to live with this. I promise.

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