Herpes, it is a disease that has a nasty reputation. Why is that though? I want to stay away from stating overt facts about the infection and speak about my first-hand story. How I dealt with the stigma, and why you should use this as an opportunity to learn and grow. If you want facts, information, and statistics, Google is going to be your go-to.
It was December 2015 when I was diagnosed with herpes. After a relationship that was dysfunctional at its worst, but harmonious at its best. That is a different story for a different time. Rewind back to early summer of 2015, my lover fell ill. They had what I diagnosed from Web MD as “fever blisters” on the upper left side of their lip. They presented with a fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms. This illness triggered by spicy food lasted 10 days. All the while, I joyfully took care of them.
My mother was a nurse, so I took pride in the opportunity to care for someone I loved. I even wished I could go through the turmoil with them as I tried to relieve their discomfort. They got better, the sores cleared, and we were intimate.
I didn’t think of that moment again until March 2016 when I meditated to find the truth of how herpes manifested into my life and those memories resurfaced.
When I expressed my concern for swollen lymph nodes in my pelvic region to my doctor she did an exam. It was then that I was confronted with the reality that the “cut” I had from shaving could be a herpes lesion. I was destroyed emotionally and mentally. The months that followed delivered the positive diagnosis for HSV-2. I became depressed, developed unhealthy eating habits, and began jumping into relationships with men who were unavailable. I started desperately looking for a “cure” and spent an ungodly amount of money only to realize one truth. One’s power is in their ability to accept their reality. Your power is in your truth. Your truth is based on your experiences and perspective. I denied myself this power.
I stayed silent for months. I wanted to be isolated. I was ashamed of the experiences that became a part of my reality. I didn’t want to accept the diagnosis because that would mean change. And who likes change, right? I felt bad for myself and I wanted to disappear. I read everything I could, watched what little videos existed about herpes, and still felt depressed. You can “cure” herpes through systematic detoxification of your body. However, I wasn’t at a point in my journey where that was realistic for me. Dr. Sebi and Robert Morse laughed about the virus, but I couldn’t stop crying. I was hurt, lost, and alone for a year and a half.
Accepting my diagnosis was the first step to finding my power. There was a battle within me. The essence of self-love and strength was always there. I needed to decide that what “society” defined me as was truly not me. I had to choose myself, my own truth, and value that before I would get anywhere.
The truth about me and you (without getting too spiritual) is we aren’t definable. We are more than our experiences, bodies, homes, cars, and the lies we tell each other and ourselves. That starts my next point; infections are indiscriminate. I was monogamous, in a committed relationship, and I contracted a viral STI. Condoms wouldn’t have changed that as it transfers from skin to skin contact. People who have the infection are often asymptomatic or have symptoms that are so mild (i.e. cold sore, razor burn, etc) that they do not seek medical care and never get a diagnosis. Some people have one expression of symptoms and never have another. I guarantee you that you have never been tested for herpes (unless you paid for the test yourself or you have visible symptoms) because the tests are unreliable and really expensive. This STI and all of them, really, are mysterious and interact with each person differently and carry their own risks.
I have something in common with Usher, and it’s the fact that I am living with herpes. It doesn’t mean I deserve to have my privacy taken for granted, nor does it make it ok to make mine or anyone else’s STI status public (if you don’t have their permission to). It does not mean that I am promiscuous. In the same way Usher having it ultimately means, you guessed it, nothing. Jumping to conclusions when it comes to STIs shows immaturity, a lack of self-love, and ignorance. Some people get the virus from an innocent kiss gifted by a relative when they are a toddler. That same person can transmit it to a lover years later without knowing.
Written by Tiff Jai
Twitter and Instagram: @growthjunki