David Roche was born with a severe facial disfigurement. Through his life he has moved from intense shame to accepting and loving himself. Where are the parallels between this man who has struggled with facial deformity and people with herpes? We all have shame; and it can show up in a variety of ways. Don’t we get used to hiding our self-perceived imperfections from others in order to get acceptance and love? Sometimes these self-perceived imperfections — this shame — are revealed from behind the dark curtain … then what happens?

“Yet my face is a gift, because my shadow side – my difficulty and challenge – is on the outside, where I have been forced to deal with it.”

Shame is in your face

On the other hand, people with herpes have a shameful thing that is more hidden. Our shameful thing lies just below the surface. But it’s all the same shame: the fear of disconnection, of not being accepted and loved.

David has a shameful thing that’s always visible — in your face, quite literally. He deals with that constantly because we interact with faces; the face is the “locus of the human persona” as Roche puts it. On the other hand, people with herpes have a shameful thing that is more hidden. Our shameful thing lies just below the surface. But it’s all the same shame: the fear of disconnection, of not being accepted and loved; this shame can express itself in different physical ways.

Our opportunity is to look beyond herpes to who we really are. Who are we underneath it all? What is there inside of us that overshadows herpes even as a problem at all? When we start to discover that, herpes becomes less of a life-ruiner and just the occasional annoyance that it is.

More inspiration
Here are some more Roche clips. All are inspiring and paradigm-shifting. Think about the parallel between what he has found in dealing with his shame versus your own dealing with shame. What do you have in common with David?

NPR: Living With Severe Disfigurement

SHAMELESS: The ART of Disability