DISCLAIMER: There is no cure for herpes in the physical sense, but there is a herpes cure in how you allow it to affect your life … your own unhealthy relationship to yourself and to this simple virus can be cured.

A friend shared with me one of the most profound statements about shame: Shame is breadcrumbs that lead to more opportunities for self-acceptance and wholeness. So having shame about genital herpes is us believing that who we are isn’t enough to have someone accept a simple virus. This shame holds us back from believing that entire parts of ourselves are lovable. So we avoid looking at those parts of ourselves. We look the other way. Denial is the easiest way to avoid those parts that we don’t love, those parts we don’t accept. But what if those parts we are choosing not to look at is where our beauty lies?

“Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.” – Rumi

Shame as a tool. So what if you choose instead to use shame as a tool, a homing device, that leads you to more opportunities for wholeness and self-acceptance? Put another way: What part of yourself do you get to accept instead of shame? The shame draws your attention to something you can either choose to avoid or get more curious about. If herpes will have you believe that you are not lovable, then you will instinctively move away from anything that might prove that imagining to be true; you will avoid all romantic opportunities out there in the world that could prove to you once and for all that you’re not lovable. But by avoiding these opportunities altogether, you are also avoiding one simple fact: You are lovable.

The Warrior’s Journey. This is starting to sound a lot like all of those ancient myths. The warrior goes on a journey to ultimately battle the fierce dragon, learns a lot about himself in the process and finds that the dragon is guarding a cave full of riches. There’s a reason these metaphorical myths have survived over the centuries: They apply to each of us in that we go through the process of living life, and confronting our own dragons. And once we find the courage to face our dragons, we might just find treasures of self-acceptance behind them. Herpes may seem like a fierce dragon, bent on taking away your love and freedom, but when you face it down you can find all of that is simply not true. For example, maybe you’re avoiding having the herpes talk with someone you’re interested in, but you avoid it because you believe they won’t see you as the treasure you are. Do you really know that you’re a treasure? It’s ironic: Having the courage to face the parts of ourselves that we feel aren’t enough actually gives us the opportunity to realize that they are.

So instead of looking away, let’s look deeper into those parts of ourselves. We might just find something rich and worth it.

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