The victim mentality means that you blame everyone else for what happens in your world. Identifying as a victim can arise with anything in our lives, but the initial stress and denial that a herpes diagnosis can trigger leaves the door wide open for the victim role to step in. It’s a way that we subconsciously and unhealthily protect ourselves. Being a victim ultimately gets the guilt off our mind and onto another’s. But this phenomenon of placing blame and shifting ourselves into the role of victim does a sad thing: it shifts away personal power and a sense of control in our lives.

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Let’s be honest … sometimes being a victim has its perks. It allows us to sit back and not take full responsibility for our lives and what happens in them. If we don’t take responsibility for our lives, then we aren’t held accountable to any mistakes we might have made. And we are then less likely to learn from our mistakes and grow. Everyone makes mistakes. That’s what makes each of us uniquely human (amongst other things). It’s what we make of those mistakes that matters most.

Regardless of the specifics of how you got herpes, what’s done is done. It’s a decision to have consensual sex and take the inherent beauty and also the inherent risks involved in it. Don’t shame yourself for that. Then sex itself becomes negative. Sex is still a beautiful thing — with or without herpes. Herpes and sex do not have to be intrinsically connected now. Ultimately, now is now. Your future moves from right here. You are in complete control of your own relationship to herpes. Take the power back. Appreciate that ultimately how you experience your life was, is and always will be your decision. Take responsibility for the beauty and risks in life and you will feel the positive power seep back into your own hands.

Then a beautiful thing happens: You have your life back.