This is something I wrote awhile ago. I have been asked to repost it here. Hope it helps
I don't know about you, but when I was diagnosed with herpes, I thought my chances for ever being truly happy again were pretty much shot. I thought my sex life would never be the same again, if I ever even had sex again at all. I felt I would always feel dirty and contaminated. I was depressed by the thought of never having condom-free sex or barrier free oral sex again, and what about having kids? I worried that fear of transmission would
ruin sex for me and my partner. I thought no one I really wanted would want me with this. I was afraid I would never again experience love, that I would never get married, never have kids- and if I did, I would be with someone I felt I had to settle for because no one else would take me, someone I didn't really love or want or desire. I was scared and depressed by the thought that the rest of my life would be lonely and unfulfilled, and that I would die alone. I thought my dreams were doomed. I felt if there was any chance at happiness, it would come from the OUTSIDE- a vaccine, a miracle drug, an apologetic call from the hospital saying it was all a big mistake...
What I never dreamed then was that I could and would have all the happiness that I thought herpes had stolen from me, and more- once I found strength on the INSIDE.
Looking back now, it saddens me to think of all the time I wasted being unhappy over this. Either not dating, or ending relationships before they got sexual because I was afraid to tell
and face rejection. And all the time not realizing that the thing that was keeping me alone was not herpes, but ME- and my own fear.
I have a lot of sympathy for the person I was then, I'd like to hug her and show her the wonderful future that was waiting there the whole time, waiting for her to just open the door and let someone in again. I know she would have felt much better if I could just show her her future, that it would be filled with love and sex and all the things she dreamed of, that herpes really would not be an issue for her or her partner, even though he didn't have herpes. That sex could and would be wonderful and uninhibited and condom-free, that she wouldn't feel dirty or contaminated. That this happiness did not require anything from the outside, not finding out that the diagnosis was a big mistake, not a vaccine, not some new miracle drug- but just two people falling in love, like it happens all the time, being honest
with one another and loving each other even more for that honesty. I can't go back in time and tell her these things, but I can tell you. And maybe that wasted time will not be so wasted if my story can save someone else an hour, a day, a month, or years of wasted time due to a herpes diagnosis.
Finding happiness again, for me, didn't come all at once. It started with just really living in other areas of life. Doing the things I wanted to do. Taking care of myself. Working out. Pursuing my own unique interests. Keeping work exciting and enjoyable. Valuing myself and my life again for everything it was.
And after doing this for awhile, life was pretty good again. But I still hadn't met that person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
I remember one night I was reflecting on my life, and finally decided I really wanted to find love, someone I could love forever. I am not a religious person, though I am a spiritual person. Depending on the philosophy you have, you could say I prayed, sent a wish to the universe, or formulated an intention. I asked for someone to love completely, who would love me for everything I am. I resolved to try. I realized though, that the
workaholic, sheltered lifestyle I led made it almost impossible for that person to find me. So I wrote up a description of myself that really reflected who I was, and a description of who I ideally wanted. And then I sent that message out into the universe. Yes, I posted an Internet personals ad. To my surprise, my wish list was answered by many but most importantly, by the man I would come to love. He was everything I ever dreamed of-and more that I hadn't dared to hope for. The fear almost ruined it for me again, unfortunately. Fear of rejection, fear of telling. I put off sex until he had started to come to the conclusion that deep down, I really just didn't want him as a lover. And so finally, when it seemed I would lose him and therefore had nothing to lose- I told. I realized in that moment before I told how cowardly I
had been, and how faithless.
Funny, how the revelation I thought would ruin my chances at love was the thing that saved it. When I told him, he was relieved and happy. Not because he had it too. He didn't. But because it was something we could deal with together, it wasn't that I didn't want him, it
was just a small thing that had no chance of ruining something as great as we had found with
From then on, things just fell into place. We talked a lot. I made him read though a lot of information. And waited a good ten days or so after the OB I had gotten, likely from the stress at the prospect of losing him, or of telling. And with great anticipation, after a lot of very sexy emails about what I though was and wasn't "safe" to do in bed, we consummated our relationship. It was, without a doubt, the single most incredible sexual experience I had ever had in my life. Oh what a difference real love makes.
At first I insisted on condoms and spermicide. However they were proving ineffective for us as birth control, and irritating to him. I thought I was protecting him with all of my precautions. One night when I was worrying, he turned to me and said he almost wished he would just get herpes now so I would stop worrying and we could enjoy ourselves.
I realized then that what I was doing in trying to protect him was more even hurtful in another way. We talked with my doctor, and decided to stop using the condoms, and I went on the Pill. While he was okay with the risk, I wanted to do anything I could to protect him that wouldn't interfere with our enjoyment of one another, so I went on suppressive therapy. Though I didn't get frequent OB's, studies show that this can reduce asymptomatic shedding by 95%. Given that the female to male risk of transmission is only 4.5% if you simply avoid sex during outbreaks and prodrome, I figured that gave us pretty great odds of not transmitting. So far, so good. Life is good. Love is great. Sex is wonderful, and he has shown no symptoms of contracting H. We have a great life together. And herpes is not an issue in our relationship, or our sex life.
Sometimes I wonder if it weren't for the herpes, if I would be as happy as I am today. If the growth, understanding, and acceptance I experienced have made it possible for me to be as happy as I am today. If the up-front communication and problem solving this helped us learn hasn't made this my best relationship ever. If the "proof" of my honesty and character demonstrated by my telling didn't open him up- to love and trust in a way he couldn't otherwise. Or if being accepted with the herpes hasn't freed me in some way I couldn't have before to love more truly, more deeply, and more completely than I could have before herpes.
It isn't possible to know what "might have been" if I had never contracted herpes. I do suspect that some, if not all, of the above positive contributions to my life now are true. I do know that today, if I were given the opportunity to go back in time to the moment I got this and take it back, I wouldn't do so. I wouldn't risk changing the course of events to the life I have now.
If you had told me five years ago that I would turn down the opportunity to go back in time and undo the moment I got herpes, I would never have believed it. I would in fact not have believed that I could be as happy as I am now. It's only now that I realize that negative belief is exactly what was keeping me from happiness in the first place. It wasn't herpes that was the problem. It was my own fear. The stats on this board run about 3 of 4 telling experiences going well, relationships that continue and are not broken up by the herpes issue. Relationships can and will break up for other reasons of course. Herpes is a small one compared to all the others. One thing that is true however- you can't win if you don't try. If you don't give yourself the chance to love, the best you can hope for is 0 of 0. I'll take 3 of 4 over that any day.
I don't know you and I don't know your whole story. I hope though, that if you see yourself doing the things I did, thinking the way I did, and making the mistakes I did, that you can learn from my mistakes. That you will be smarter than me, and stronger than me, and have more faith in yourself and the power of love than I did. That you will not waste the time I did making myself unhappy for no good reason.
Herpes is, in the end, an itty bitty little skin virus that biggest problem most of us have with it is the emotional aspect, which is almost entirely about our own fear.
There IS happiness after herpes. Like anything else worthwhile in life, it involves taking some risk. Most of the time, the only thing stopping you from getting what you really want is you.