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Basically we all experience the same initial feelings and emotions when we first are diagnosed with herpes, so I am not going to repeat all that in my story. I was first diagnosed about 5 years ago while I was married, the reality of it didn't hit me till my divorce was final in September of 2001. And again, as most of us have done, I turned to the internet to educate myself. By way of the Lansing Social Group, (which was too far for me) I was given the name of the lady who ran Motor City Friends, our local social group. After exchanging a few emails, she told me, "You need to go to the Help meeting." I was too scared to go alone, so she agreed to go with me. I will be forever grateful to Denise for doing that. Starting with that first Help meeting in May of 2002, my life turned around and I found my "self" again.

I say I found my "self" again, because I had lost my "self" in my marriage. That really has nothing to do with the herpes, but rather the person before this marriage would never have been afraid to go to the Help meeting.

I began helping Denise with our social group Motor City Friends and in April of this year she asked if I wanted to take over so she could take a break. I now also facilitate Help meetings. I drive around with signs on my car that read "Got Herpes HPV - You are not alone." our help number and email address. I have told my boss (work for a manufacturer with 450 employees) and educated co-workers.

I had an ad on *a herpes dating site, but found that by the time I eliminated the men under 40, the ones who smoke, the ones under 5'10, I was left with about 3 in the entire state of Michigan. And I don't want a long distance relationship. So, I posted an ad on Match.com, in this ad I state I have herpes and give information about it. I have had nothing but positive responses from people with and without. There are so many people on Match.com that have it and they do not know about *that herpes dating site or any other herpes groups for the matter. (so of course I tell them about it too). I receive messages from all over the world from people admiring my honesty and courage.

There is so much more that I want to do for this cause, however my time is also limited, working full time, raising my 14 year old nephew, running the social group, answering emails from people who see herpes in my AOL profile, etc.

I obtain my strength and courage from every sad face that turns into a smile at a Help meeting, or from anyone in the group who tells me that because of me they were able to tell someone. That just makes me stronger.

I also must defend those who reject us. Just as many of us have the fear of rejection, they have fears too. And no matter how matter of factly we might explain this to them, that doesn't mean their fear goes away, just as I can talk to someone about telling and that doesn't mean their fear will vanish. We must always ask ourselves, "If I wouldn't have this, how would I have reacted if someone told me?" I even have fears, it's just not herpes!


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