I was with my partner who transmitted it me, and life was good. Everyday got easier. Eventually the outbreaks slowed down, herpes became such a small part of my life I didn’t really even think about it.
Fast forward a couple of years later.
I’m no longer with my partner. We just weren’t right for each other, and have been split up for over a year now. And it was fine. I was ready to be alone, grow on my own.
Herpes was still not on my mind. I was happy. But it got lonely.
Someone I briefly knew from high school messaged me. We went to coffee. We went to dinner. It was great, I was happy to be around someone again. And then he kissed me.
Suddenly I wasn’t okay with my herpes anymore.
I felt that crippling fear I did back when I was first diagnosed. The stigma, the shame, the pain came crashing over me. He wasn’t going to want me. I’ll be rejected, not because of me, but because of this. I was angry. I was scared.
Maybe I could just not say anything.
Maybe I could pretend I didn’t know.
But I couldn’t.
I told him, over text, too afraid of his reaction. It didn’t go well. It was a “shock” and “disappointment” because he was really starting to like me and was hoping to take it somewhere more serious. He said he needed to sleep on it.
I didn’t sleep. I went to work at 5:30 in the morning instead of 9:00. I took breaks to cry in my car. I tracked my mom down at work because I needed someone to tell me I’d be okay. She brought me dinner, wine, and flowers that night. I fucking love her.
And then he messaged me.
“So I’ve been thinking about this and doing some research. I have a lot of questions.”
I answered everything with blunt honesty. When was I diagnosed? Had I transmitted it to anyone? Did I take suppressive meds? Can we do oral? How does this work if we do decide to do this? What is it like for you?
“Is it worth it for me to risk herpes for life when we might not last?”
I don’t know.
That’s not my decision to make.
I didn’t have that choice.
You have to decide for yourself.
He decided it was worth it to try.
It’s only been a couple of weeks. Maybe he’ll change his mind. Maybe he’ll disappear on me. But it gives me hope that it won’t scare everyone away so easily. That someone out there will see past the bullshit, and just want me.
I’m not okay with my herpes. But I’m not going to let that stop me.