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Struggling with shame and self-loathing


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I was diagnosed 9 years ago. It was about two months after I started dating my ex. I was 19 and mortified. I instantly began thinking who would ever want me again, which is why I stayed with the partner who gave me H. The relationship quickly turned abusive, but I stayed out of fear and shame for 5 years. I was riddled with depression and anxiety that I’ve never been able to control. 


After I finally decided being alone with H for the rest of my life was a better option than living through the abuse, I left. I started seeing someone who helped me get out of the abusive relationship. We had been lifelong friends and a strong romantic relationship quickly formed. Out of shame and fear of rejection, I did not disclose to him until after he moved in with me a few months later. He immediately told me it didn’t mean anything to him, and we’ve since married. My husband is asymptotic or H-free; he’s never bothered to get tested. 


I know not disclosing it to him was wrong. The guilt and disgust I have for myself is unbearable, even all these years later. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD from my H diagnosis and am struggling with self-loathing and suicidal thoughts. I’ve never told any of my friends and family because of the shame. 


I know it’s a manageable skin condition. I know how common H is. I know I’ve been able to move on to a loving relationship where my husband forgives me. I just can’t forgive myself. Even with regular therapy, I still find myself disgusting and hate what I am. I’m not sure how to end the stigma and rage I feel towards myself. Suicidal thoughts come and go. The recent stress of reprocessing my trauma in therapy caused a psychosomatic OB for the first time in 8 years. 


My therapist sent me here for help from people who may have experienced the same self stigma. Any advice/ resources is appreciated.

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Thank you for sharing. First of all, you came to the right place. This is a community of people who have gone through similar things and felt what you're feeling now. It's okay to feel upset about lying to your husband, because that was the wrong thing to do, but it's also important that you learn to move on and forgive yourself. What is done is done. It is good that you are seeing a therapist because it seems that you've internalized some of the stigma of herpes. "I'm disgusting" "I hate what I am", etc. As you talk to people here. focus on those who have gone through a similar journey and come out the other side. Some people might wallow in despair, but it's important to remember that, while recognizing that it's okay to be upset, if you buy into the idea of perpetual self-damnation, then that's what you will live. 

Ask yourself this: how can you be the best partner that you can be to your husband, who has forgiven you and loves you? Is it by hating yourself for what happened? Or is it by learning to love yourself and to comfortable in your own skin again? I hope this doesn't come across as too preachy and I want you to know that we're here for you. 

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That’s what I’m struggling with. This is how I’ve felt about myself for 9 years, and I don’t know what I can do to break the cycle of negative thinking. I’ve been told countless times that thinking this way doesn’t help anything, but I’ve never been given suggestions for how to stop it. I don’t know how to get to that “aha moment” when I’m suddenly okay with things. That’s why my therapist suggested I talk to others who have had that moment and figure out what led to it. I’ve been at a blank for a long time. 

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When people get it, they seem to be most upset and concerned about rejection/judgement from future partners. I’m damaged goods and no one will ever love me again. It sounds like you have proven with your new husband that this isn’t something people should worry about. Your husband obviously loves you and doesn’t care about it. You shouldn’t either. That fact should be your a-ha moment. You’re still worried about rejection when no one is rejecting you. You’ve been accepted. How bad/often are your outbreaks apart from the psychomatic one? Did you have any of these feelings about yourself before you had hsv?

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12 hours ago, Bootsychootsy said:

Your husband obviously loves you and doesn’t care about it. You shouldn’t either. That fact should be your a-ha moment. You’re still worried about rejection when no one is rejecting you. You’ve been accepted. 

There is nothing rational about anxiety. That is why my therapist has sent me to find someone who may be living with the same feelings this long after diagnosis.  Fear of rejection  reaches farther than potential lovers. I know I’ve somehow lucked into a relationship with a very forgiving man, but rejection can take many other forms- from family, friends, coworkers, and being the target of jokes. The words, “Ugh, I’d just go ahead and kill myself if I ever got an STD” have been ingrained in my brain since hearing them as a teenager. I know I am not struggling with the acceptance from others, I’m struggling with acceptance of myself. 

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