OK, here’s the skinny. I am turning 38 years old this year. I was diagnosed with herpes when I was just 20 years old. I remember the day vividly. I came from the doctor and went back to work hysterical. I remember my bosses wife telling me nothing could be that bad, and that 10 years from now whatever it was wouldn’t even matter. “Yeah, right,” I thought. “You have no idea that 100 years from now it will still matter.”I had been dating a guy that had what I know now was a cold sore. I had never had one in my life, or even knew what it was. Certainly had no idea it was herpes or even contagious. I asked him what was on his lip and he responded “I was hit in the lip with a football”. I was young and naive, in love (or infatuation) and had no reason to question his answer. Little did I know that his lie would change my life forever.
Three days later my lip was swollen like a huge football. It was blister upon blister. To make matters worse about 3 weeks later I had the common “burning” sensation downtown. I immediately went to Planned Parenthood who confirmed I now had genital herpes as well. It seemed somehow, I had spread the oral outbreak to myself genitally, or perhaps through oral sex, I will never really know for sure.
For years I was in denial. Perhaps they made a mistake. It was likely an ingrown hair….I wished. All though there after, I always did use protection when having sex, just in case, I never disclosed to anyone that I had been diagnosed. Years ago it was thought you could only spread herpes through unprotected sex, or when you had an outbreak. I just made excuses for not having sex if I had any suspicion of an outbreak and thought that was enough to insure my partners safety and I would save myself the embarrassment (or rejection) of telling them. Don’t judge me, being older and wiser, I do feel a lot of guilt about that now.
I finally met someone that I instantly knew was going to be a significant person in my life. Despite the fact I wanted to be in denial I knew I had to tell him. I did, I had to cowardly write it in a letter, and was shocked that he still wanted to be with me once he read it (hey I was only 25!). We ended up having a child together and have been together for 12 years.
We are now dissolving our relationship (herpes never really had a whole lot to do with our relationship). Not because of herpes, but because we just grew out of each other.
The thought of dating again and having to reveal my secret petrifies me. I ran across this website in hopes of finding some inspiration since even though I have faced that I have it, I am still not completely comfortable sharing it with others openly, especially not new prospective partners. I have been reading on how to tell someone and what to expect their reaction to be.
I have been a little shocked at some of the stories I have read on this website. I am so sad at all the young women who feel they are doomed, or have to reach for strength to go forward, or even feel suicidal. I remember feeling that way. I found myself wondering about these women’s relationships. Part of why I stayed with my partner for years longer than it was working out, was that the idea having to disclose to a new potential partner my aliment was far to hurtful to imagine rejection. I myself have realized that having herpes doesn’t make it OK to stay with someone just because they accept that small inconvenience of your being. That is what I want to voice.
On the bright side, I can testify that I have encountered numerous people that have confided in me that they as well have herpes, not even knowing that I myself have it. I am speaking of beautiful, gorgeous people, inside and out. People should really know they are not alone. Of course that is what we are searching to verify on this website.
The irony of my finding this site for inspiration is that I didn’t find inspiration through your stories. For the most part I was saddened by the lack of self esteem of many and wanted to scream “Hey, this sucks, but it is not the end of the world!”. I didn’t even know I felt this way until reading the logs. I felt compelled to shout inspiration from my own story and am willing to share with you my experience (something I have never been open about) and hope that it will inspire others to feel less alone and less ashamed.
From what I have read 1 out of 4 people have genital herpes. 80% of America has oral herpes. We are not alone, just a lot of other sexually active people in denial. Chances are your new potential partner, knowingly or not has all ready slept with someone with herpes. You dodge the bullet, or you don’t. Non the less every sexual active person in the world has played Russian roulette.
I am still hoping to find the log that details someone’s experiences divulging the big “H” to new romantic interests. However, I have concluded that this is not the end of the world, not the biggest deal ever and we should feel beautiful, happy and proud of who we are. Having herpes does not define who we are, it is just a minor sexual inconvenience. In fact it may be a blessing in disguise. It can only eliminate who just sees our superficial self. Anyone who can view our soul will want and appreciate us.
In an ironic twist, it may lead us to the true love we never knew we deserved, or would have found without allowing someone to love us despite a minor inconvenience.
You can’t love someone else until you love yourself!