I tortured myself for years around this whole genital herpes thing. I went through plain denial, I played the victim, I told myself I was worthless, I carried around enough shame to put Donald Trump down. I wasn’t strong enough to have the herpes talk, to tell the truth to everyone I was with, even though I was as safe as possible so they wouldn’t get herpes. The inability to find the strength in myself to do that hurt more than anything.
I realize now that it was ultimately my decision to put myself through all of the pain and regret. It was a subconscious decision at the time, but a decision nonetheless. I had the blatantly wrong belief that having herpes meant that other people would see me differently, in a negative light. I made that my reality.
So now through much self-reflection, I realize that those emotions and beliefs that I used to blame on herpes were already inside me, just deeper down in a place I didn’t regularly get to. Herpes only amplified those feelings of shame and self-doubt and lack of self-love. I have seen over and over again in my life that one’s pain can also be one’s gift. Working on the root of the problem (my own core values and feelings about myself) helps the negative associations with herpes start melting away; and when I think of helping others recognize the same thing, I get shivers down my spine and giddy excitement rushes through my body. We’re on the right path.
So that is why I am writing this today. The reason is twofold … one, I want to remind you that going through your pain is a doorway into deeper self-reflection, and that coming out the other side of that pain can lead to new awareness, self-growth and self-appreciation if you’re open to it … and two, I want to continually remind myself of what I have discovered so that I won’t soon forget.
And to be honest, there are times when I still go through my negative spots as anyone tends to do, but those times are much fewer these days. I’ve found that it’s only when I go into unconsciousness that I allow those old self-defeating thought patterns to kick-start themselves back into usage. When I snap to, I am reminded of what I have found: that I am as worthy as I believe myself to be. Herpes or not. And you are, too.
So you probably have already got it by now; this isn’t really about herpes at all. Herpes is the tool to help recognize something deeper. It’s really about you. Are you ready? Let’s start now.
What this blog is not
If you are brand new to herpes and want basic information on the virus, there are some awesome resources out there, a few of the major ones being WebMD or ashastd.org. Here are some great (free!) offerings for you to speak to a knowledgeable operator directly:
(919) 361-8488 (M-F, 9a-7p EST)
(206) 344-2539 (MWF 6:30-9p EST)
What this blog is
This blog serves as a roadmap to not only living, but thriving, with herpes. Herpes will hold you back no more. We will be going from the central premise that you are the focus in your life, not herpes. In a way, you can take “herpes” and then substitute it with anything that you perceive as negative in your life and the core message of this blog will still have relevance. And it’s a message that has been shared throughout the ages in many different ways in any of the self-help books you pick up (sorry ahead of time for giving away all of their endings): you’re whole just as you are. You belong. Yes, right now. Not only that, but these writings are about using herpes as a tool for living an authentic life. You might notice some repetition, or the same things said but in different ways; as they say, repetition is the daughter of learning. G.K. Chesterton said it another way: “We need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed.”
Ultimately, we know that we deserve happiness on some level, which is why we might feel so much pain … if we didn’t know our potential to feel good, then we wouldn’t feel bad. The opposite of feeling great isn’t feeling horrible … it’s feeling indifferent. Feeling bad means there’s still that part of you that knows there’s something more.