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I am much more than herpes

I am 35 and have been divorced just over three years. I don't have any children (one of the conflicts in my marriage) and have always wanted them. After my divorce, I went out with a guy I had known for over 2 years. Turned out to be a liar and a cheat, and I knew that (to an extent) and was stupid enough to go out with him anyway. I chose the wrong person to trust.

We had "the talk" about STDs prior to engaging in sex, so I thought I was being smart. He was dishonest, and as a result, I contracted HSV2 in March '05. He did not admit to the herpes until 3 months later (when I finally broke it off with him). It was the most hurtful thing I have ever been through (and I thought divorce was rough!).

I started taking Valtrex in August '05. I met someone new, but as soon as I told him about the herpes, he completely freaked out. It hurt so badly. I was beating myself up a lot....for the choice I had made, upset at God for "punishing" me beyond what I could handle, etc. I told a friend and cried to her a lot. She encouraged me to find a support group, and I looked, but there weren’t’ any in my area. The closest is about 3 hours away.

I found PUP and joined. It was so helpful to find others experiencing the same thing and normalizing my feelings, empowering me, and educating me with their knowledge and leading me to other helpful sites. On occasion, I would try the dating scene again. I told two more guys who did not handle the situation well AT ALL! It was so painful. I got braver and told some more friends and they were all so great and supportive! Even found out more people who had it that I knew! Between them and PUP, I eventually figured out that I am soooo very much more than herpes. I am still the same person with the same heart (although a battered one!), with the same desire to help others in rough situations, with the same brain, same degrees, same positive attributes I had always possessed. I had been letting herpes and ignorant, blind men overpower those things. It was hard not to!

I gathered my strength and put myself out there again. Met a nice guy. Told him about the herpes and gave him the Herpes Handbook. Told him he could read it or not. He was very appreciative of me telling him and he did not over-react. He took the handbook and I drove home. A couple hours later, he called me and thanked me again for being honest and had actually READ the entire handbook! We continued to talk, and saw each other a couple more times. I think that the herpes affected things a bit, but more so, I think he had a lot of baggage (although still a nice guy). That experience helped me so much!

The next guy was a COMPLETE self-centered jerk. Still, I told him and cried (I wanted to be so much stronger! Dang it!). I have to give him a little credit, though. He did tell me that I have got to stop devaluing myself because of the herpes. He had had MANY more partners than me, and he went and had himself checked. However, he was certainly lacking in many other areas and I broke it off with him. I don't know what his results were. I decided I deserved better than what he offered me.

AND, meanwhile, I had been talking to a great guy “as friends” (we'll call him Jay). It was January. I was finding myself telling him more important things than I was telling the guy I was seeing. But I thought he was way too good for me. He had done some work for Habitat for Humanity, helped with the AIDS crisis in Africa, spoke highly of his family, and just had a great outlook on life in general. I found myself wanting to talk to Jay more and more, but he knew I was seeing the other guy.

In February I had an extremely difficult day at work, and went home and e-mailed Jay. The next day I had flowers at work, from Jay. The other guy just dismissed it, and talked about himself. I broke it off with the jerk, and I went out with Jay. He lives nearly 4 ours away, so we met in the middle. He treated me so well. Very sweet and very much a gentleman. We laughed and closed places down talking all night. We kept talking and went out a couple more times. I found myself falling for him. I did not want to get too attached without telling him, because I did not want to get hurt again.

At the end of March, he told me he loves me. I told him that he doesn't know everything about me and he may change his mind, and I would completely understand. He assured me that he would not. I was doubtful and scared. The next weekend, he came to see me. I told him EVERYTHING. My stupid mistake with going out with the guy who gave it to me, etc. His response? "Can you still have kids?" We are both divorced, and neither one of us have children, but would like them. I told him yes, and explained the risks. Gave him a copy of the Herpes Handbook.

The next morning he woke me up by telling me that he was still there and not going anywhere. He has been true to his word...as always. And yes, I told him that I love him, too. It is now August, and we are still together and things are going splendidly (knock wood). My family adores him (it's almost nauseating!) and his family is so wonderful to me. After all I have been through, I can't believe that I have been so blessed! I am so grateful to have him. The herpes does not even come up.

I continue to take Valtrex daily. Yes, we use condoms (most of the time). I think that for him it has become more a matter of birth control than anything else. I believe that I am more conscience about it than he is on the occasion that we don't use protection. Otherwise, the only time it has come up was a weekend I went to see him and forgot my Valtrex We had to pay a pretty penny for the extra pills to get me through the weekend. He makes me feel like a "normal" person again…the person I really am. Taking the Valtrex now is not so much a daily reminder. It's more like when I was on the pill...a daily pill that offers protection (from OBs for me [no known outbreaks for just over a year now] and a bit more protection for him, too).

I know that it can be incredibly difficult to try to date after contracting herpes. It can be heartbreaking and you beat yourself up all over again when you meet someone who doesn't accept it. But there is hope, even if you don't feel like there is. Just remember that you really ARE so much more than herpes....that you still have the same valuable attribute you possessed prior to getting herpes. Anyone who doesn't see that, is missing out on all of those qualities.

Humbled by Herpes
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