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Subject: "the positive side of being positive. (long, but worth it.)"     
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guera
Member since Apr-29-07
6 posts
Jan-29-08, 10:28 PM (CST)
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"the positive side of being positive. (long, but worth it.)"
 
   Hi all –

So I haven’t posted here in a long time. I registered back in April, needing support after a guy walked out on me. I shared my story with you and I can only reiterate how much you eased my mind. What you do by posting here regularly and answering questions daily from us scared and confused “newbies” with a proverbial shoulder to cry on and a broad base of knowledge is beautiful – thank goodness there are people like you and places like this.

The reason I am writing again today is that I just got home from my annual gyno exam and it obviously brought back thoughts and feelings about having herpes that I’ve been suppressing for about a year. I have actually had this very post in my mind for about 8 months now, since this one day last year when I started thinking in a new way about my HSV status, but something kept me from actually writing it. I believe and hope that my random thoughts will bring comfort to those of you (us) that still struggle with the emotional affects of this unfairly stigmatized disease.

I suppose I should make a disclaimer that because I have only ghsv2, some of my thoughts will be very specific to people who are in the same situation as me. I don’t mean to brush off anybody who is in a different situation, merely to provide some comforting perspective to people in mine.

Basically, last spring, in one of the various stages we all go through between shame and acceptance, I got to thinking long and hard about what it meant for me to be diagnosed with genital herpes. After telling my first guy about it and feeling terrible when he walked out of my apartment (and then seeing him every day…oops for dating someone at work!), one day I just got sick of feeling so bad about it. I’m very much a realist, and would never describe myself as an idealist, but at some point, if you really care about the rest of your life and all the wonderful things there are to live for, you just have to face and really deal with the “bad.” Then you either accept that life isn’t perfect and everyone deals with SOMETHING that seriously sucks, or you look for the silver lining in a crappy situation (or a combination of both).

There is ABSOLUTELY a silver lining to having genital herpes. I would love to see people add to the list below. Then maybe we can have a very LONG list of things to turn to and think about when we get an outbreak or someone rejects us or we start thinking we’ll never find someone to love.

Here are just a few things to consider:

1) You’ve got it. You got herpes. I know this doesn’t sound like a typical “positive,” but here’s the silver lining: You don’t ever have to worry about getting it from someone else. You’re not ignorant anymore. You’re educated about it. Now you know the importance of having that STD discussion before you get involved with someone. Now you know that a huge portion of the population has genital herpes, that almost ALL of them don’t know it, and that you’re not one of the many people walking around NOT knowing and possibly infecting others. Now you will be smart and safe about your sexual choices and partners for the rest of your life – and once you get past the undue shame that herpes can bring, you will realize that this is a very empowering thing (and especially for us young people – to take control of your sexual future and to be wiser and more mature for it is VERY empowering).

2) This is fresh in my mind because my doctor, who I respect highly, used these words a few hours ago: Herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact. Condoms do not provide full protection against herpes. Even in practicing “safe” sex with condoms, there is a chance of contracting herpes. Again, at first this does not seem like a positive, but look at the silver lining: Herpes is not your fault. It is a “sneaky” virus that affects 25% of the population and no one is entirely safe from it unless they are celibate. While the thought may seem “scary” upon first glance, I look at it like, “Well, unless I had asked every guy I was planning to sleep with to go get a type-specific blood test for herpes, then waited a week or more for him to get good results back from the lab BEFORE sleeping with him, I was always at risk.” My point here is that it’s not realistic that we are always 100% careful when it comes to sex. That, for me, diminishes a lot of the burden and guilt I feel about the sexual situation that exposed me to herpes. There are “promiscuous” people who never contract anything and there are people who get a chronic STD the first time they have protected sex. You are not a slut, you are not irresponsible, you simply got the sh*t end of the herpes stick. End of story.

3) Herpes is not life threatening. It is a recurring rash with no health complications. It is not by a long shot the worst STD to contract. As with many, many things in life, I personally find that putting bad things into perspective is the most effective way to accept them: I do not have a terminal illness. While my condition is chronic and incurable, I do not have to (knock wood) give myself insulin shots every day or take antiretrovirals or undergo chemotherapy or radiation. I have a harmless virus. Everyone has their challenges in life, some MUCH more serious than a contagious skin rash. PLEASE remember: It could be SO MUCH worse, and my heart truly goes out to those for whom it is.

4) I know, believe me, I KNOW, that the thought that keeps us all up at night is not the outbreaks (pills, creams, and sheer strength of mind can get us through that), but rather it’s the thought of: a) telling that certain someone, b) that that certain someone will reject us because of it, and c) that we will pass it along to that certain someone. Of course this is what makes herpes as “bad” as it is. So let me show you the silver lining when it comes to sexual partners:

First, telling someone is scary, but it gets easier every time. You learn what guys will be receptive and which ones will walk out on you – and who the hell would want to be with the type of guy that would walk out on you without even researching it or asking you questions? Clearly, my guy #1 was a bad choice – truth be told, my gut told me this early on, but I was very attracted to him and horny and needed to eventually have my first “telling” experience and there it was. I survived. Guy #2 was a friend from high school that I have hooked up with a handful of times in the past 5 years, but had never slept with. A few months ago, we were hooking up and I knew that it was leading to sex and I was going to have to tell him. It went MUCH better than with guy #1, but he still decided not to have sex with me. We continued to hook up that night, but I let him decide how far he wanted to go. It did not hurt my feelings because he is a great person and I know now that we are not meant to be in a relationship, especially if he is not OK with my herpes. Guy #3 is a different story. I have been dating him for two months now. We were very into each other from the start, and I told him about the herpes on our third “date,” before having sex. Maybe the two guys before him were practice and I’d learned the best way to approach it. His reaction: “That’s not such a big deal. I thought you were gonna tell me you had a boyfriend or something. So when do we get to do it?” Best ever. I tell you this story to prove that there are wonderful, mature people out there that will realize that you are more than a virus and that will totally want to sleep with you no matter what! We are still together, and he is nothing but kind and supportive. It is much more my issue than his, which continues to surprise me and give me strength. And if by some chance I infect him, I know that at least I was honest from the beginning about the chances, that it was ultimately his risk to take, and that really, so what? So I give him herpes. People have given each other much worse. And maybe it will last and maybe it won’t, but I was honest and we were responsible and we all endure consequences for choices we make.

Getting back to the original concerns in #3, of course there is always the risk that someone will reject you because you have herpes. It is the sad and honest truth because of how today’s society thinks about STDs. But you have to look at the silver lining: You dodged a bullet there! Hey – maybe that person has herpes and doesn’t even know it! Or maybe the next person you meet will have herpes too, and it will be a non-issue; the chances are 1 in 4! I KNOW that rejection is painful and that it makes the shame issues resurface all over again, but seriously, the one realization that gives me the most comfort is this:

Herpes will ensure that anyone I get seriously involved with will love me for me, will be able to look past this thing inside me and love ME. It will ensure that the relationships I cultivate are mature, honest, real, deep, and based on genuine mutual respect and love. Because I have to be honest about this from the start, the relationships I get into will be for real. And that is the only type of relationship I want to be in. When I think of this, I see herpes as a gift – something that I got, that I did not ask for, but that has given me knowledge, power, and the ability to identify and connect to people romantically who share my perspective, maturity, and unconditional love.

5) You are alive. Enough said.

I know this is a novel. Thank you for reading it. I hope that it will help you find your perspective. Did I forget anything, guys?

Love,
Kim


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auntiejessiadmin
Member since May-14-05
14044 posts
Jan-30-08, 00:49 AM (CST)
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1. "RE: the positive side of being positive. (long, but worth it.)"
In response to message #0
 
Kim -

Thanks so much for posting this, and I have to just comment on something.

"“That’s not such a big deal. I thought you were gonna tell me you had a boyfriend or something. So when do we get to do it?”"

That's the BEST comeback to the "talk" that I've ever heard. For him, you having a boyfriend would be worse than herpes. That's awesome!!

You are so right that there are worse things. For the majority of people, herpes will post no health issues, and so many other things can.

Jess

"In those times you seem to forget, I don't mind reminding you that you are a beautiful soul." ~ Cindy Campo

User names are beautiful things.


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guera
Member since Apr-29-07
6 posts
Jan-30-08, 01:56 AM (CST)
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2. "RE: the positive side of being positive. (long, but worth it.)"
In response to message #1
 
   Thanks for replying so soon, Jess! I'm so surprised that someone read the whole thing already! (Looking back on it, i just realized how long it looks when you post it in a forum - wow! Sorry for the verbiage, everyone!)

it WAS a really great comeback! ideal, actually. every day i think about about how fortunate i am to have found him. and then i think about how we all deserve someone like that and how it will happen to all of us in our own time. i'm sure of it.

goodnight.


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Raven00144
Member since Sep-9-07
429 posts
Jan-30-08, 09:40 AM (CST)
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4. "RE: the positive side of being positive. (long, but worth it.)"
In response to message #1
 
   Jess,

I can almost beat that one. The guy I refer to as my ex for 6 years was sitting across from me at the table when I told him--this was when I was having confessions and not discussions. He asked if I was having an OB and when I said no, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of rubbers and tossed them aside and took my hand and led me to the bedroom.

Yes, this brings up the discussion of other things than HSV and we have used condoms since but not always--when we have his size on hand.

I have another f-buddy that I told on the second date--once again more like a confession and he took my hand and took me to the kitchen to show me something and when I was standing up that is when he embraced me in the most passionate of kisses which led to . . .

Come to find out--all before coming here and learning that this is a discussion and not a confession--that both men have been exposed to other women that have HSV and even one has oral HSV.

Now I have had two bad tellings because they were tellings and not discussions and I look forward to having this discussion when I meet the right person to have this discussion with.

Yes, I agree knowing our status gives us POWER.

Raven00144


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Rajahadmin
Charter Member
12721 posts
Jan-30-08, 08:49 AM (CST)
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3. "Definitely worth the read..."
In response to message #0
 
Actually it was pretty easy reading. Bless you for using paragraphs and numbered topics. We've had longer ones, BTW.

You make some very good points. A number of us here can actually say that getting herpes turned out to be a very good thing for us. That is certainly the case for me. Instead of it being an isolating factor, it actually brought me in touch with so many wonderful friends here. It has definitely been worth the minor skin irritation in the beginning.


"Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Paraphrased from Mark Twain


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