The Cliche is True: Time Heals
It's such a cliche, but it is for a reason, it's true: time heals. I'm approaching my one-year anniversary of my herpes diagnosis (let's celebrate!). My outlook about life and love has done a complete 180, from collapsing on the floor and crying out "no one will ever want me" to now casually telling my friends I have herpes and reassuring them "it's okay, I'm okay, and I'm happy!" And it's true, I think I'm a better person for having herpes. I've taken a deeper look at relationships and whether I want to pursue someone seriously or not. I'm more compassionate, more sympathetic to others. It wasn't easy getting here though. Where do I start, you may be wondering. My advice is to NUMBER ONE: FORGIVE YOURSELF. That will then allow you to love yourself unconditionally. Say out loud, in the shower, driving to school or work, while you blow dry your hair or shave your beard: I have herpes and I'm okay with it. Even if you aren't feeling okay right now in this moment, you will. Give yourself time to heal. Staying positive is absolutely key. And I also suggest continuing to talk with your friends who live with herpes but also to tell others who don't (that you know of). My first three disclosures to non-family members were all tearjerkers. I sobbed, I was angry, I felt hopeless. But their reactions were just the opposite. Immediately I heard, "this doesn't change how I feel about you, you're the same person, you're amazing." One was a person I was pursuing romantically and we continued to see each other as if I had never told him. Nothing changed. No one treated me differently. I've continued to tell people I trust, and I tell them I trust them when I disclose.
Last night, I was discussing my most recent romantic relationship with a male friend and he asked, "WHY in the world is this guy not trying to have sex with you?!" And I touched his shoulder and said, "Dan, I have herpes. We're taking it slow in that department. We really care about each other." A couple months post-diagnosis, I would have never dreamed I'd be telling a friend at a bar mid-conversation. You'll get to this place too if you forgive yourself, love yourself, and get support from those you trust. Give it time.