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Herpe Anniversary!

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Four years ago today, I was diagnosed with herpes. It's weird, because it feels like I was diagnosed a decade ago. For better or worse, herpes has become so ingrained in my life, that it's hard to think back to a time when I didn't have it. It's just a part of me now. Today, I've been reflecting on what I've learned and how I've changed; and I thought I would share some things. So, here it goes...


Sometimes, herpes was just an excuse...

For a long time, I blamed herpes as the reason I didn't get out there and date people. I would basically ask myself "Why would I voluntarily put myself at risk for someone's judgment and insults?" When that didn't work, I would ask myself "But aren't I deceiving people if I don't tell them right away?" (After all, we disclose everything else on the first date. We talk about our insecurities, student loan debt, weird sexual fantasies, gross habits, and perpetual Facebook stalking. NOT.) And then- even when I joined a dating website for people with STIs, I still found a way to talk myself out of actually going on a date. Suddenly, the aforementioned questions changed to statements such as, "I don't have time," or, more commonly, "My looks will only disappoint..." Around that time, I began to realize that I had bigger problems than herpes. Herpes was just a nice, succinct way of closing myself off from relationships.


But that wasn't the only issue. Guys were using herpes as an excuse to not be in a serious relationship with me. How do I know? Because they were still willing to sleep with me multiple times, despite my "condition"- which tells me that they either didn't know that sex puts you at risk for herpes (unlikely), or they just wanted sex to begin with (likely). The answer seems so simple now; but believe me, when you see yourself through stigma-colored glasses, you'll believe someone who tells you that you can't be together because of herpes, but they don't mind having a physical relationship. It's really strange, the comfort I felt when I had this realization. "It's not herpes...it's just my personality that they don't like!"


Herpes slowed me down, but in a good way

Before herpes, I was on the fast track to being ashamed of myself. It wasn't because of how many people I'd slept with; or the contexts in which I was sleeping with people (for the most part). No- I was on the fast track to being ashamed, because all too often, I had sex with people for all the wrong reasons. I would sleep with guys with whom I had nothing in common, simply because I felt bad about myself and it felt good to be wanted. I would sleep with guys who didn't care about me, because I thought that sex would change their mind. Sex was seldom a way to connect on a deeper level. It was often a way to fill a void that I either didn't want to fill in healthy ways, or didn't want to acknowledge at all. Herpes slowed all of that down to a screeching halt; because no matter how minute a problem it is in the grand scheme of things, it's a vulnerable topic that I refuse to broach with just anybody.


There are some pretty spectacular people out there with herpes (you're probably one of them)

When I was diagnosed, I felt alone. I didn't know of anyone else who had herpes; and it's kind of like being the only person in class to get an F on a test, while everybody else made an A+. You can't help but think that you're the biggest failure and everybody else has their act together. But it couldn't be further from the truth. This forum alone is full of spectacular, warm, beautiful and comforting people- people who aren't afraid to be vulnerable or ask questions- people who give praise and/or tough love when needed- people who also happen to have herpes. If you don't believe me, meet Adrial in person. When you're done picking your jaw up off the floor at his stunning good looks, you'll see a kind, intelligent, fun-loving guy. Why? Because herpes doesn't keep you from being spectacular, unless you let it...


All in all I honestly think that herpes allowed me to learn more about myself than I ever could have otherwise. It has forced me to re-examine my relationships, my choices, my insecurities, and my desires. It's hard to be sad about something that opens you up like that. I won't pretend that every day is amazing and that I skip down the streets in jubilation over herpes; but I will tell you that four years later, I have far bigger problems than a silly little virus. If I had to sew a scarlet letter on all my clothes, it most definitely wouldn't be the letter "H."

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It's herpe anniversary to me too! Well in a week haha! This is such a beautiful post. After reading it, I realized that there are far more bigger problems than having an itch down there every once in a while. Yes it is uncomfortable but it hasn't killed me so it is livable. Herpe anniversary Essiel! ;-)

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