While on the podcast, “Something Positive for Positive People” I said that “you’re going to think it’s weird by I am grateful for the things herpes has taught me.” Courtney the host said “Everyone says that and thinks they are weird.” So, I wanted to take a closer look at what so many of his guests thinks its so weird that they can still be grateful for something that caused them so much pain.
I truly believe this feeling of weirdness or even shyness about saying we are grateful has something to do with the stigma surrounding HSV and STIs in general. We are not supposed to be grateful for something society says we should be ashamed of. It doesn’t matter that what it taught us may be super helpful in our everyday lives.
Having HSV taught me that I don’t have to feel lucky that someone will sleep with me or date me even though I have herpes. I don’t have to feel lucky because HSV doesn’t make me less than or less worthy of love, kindness and respect. In fact, I can tell everyone without a shadow of a doubt having and STI does not change your worth. You might feel that way for a while but know that that is just not the case. Feelings are valid but that doesn’t mean they are always true.
Right after my diagnosis I let myself stay in a crappy and damaging relationship because I was so ashamed of having HSV. Once I dumped that guy, I realized that I only stayed because of a false belief that no one would want me anymore or that no one would find me attractive. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You may run into people who decided they don’t want to take that risk with their bodies, but that’s not a reflection or a rejection of you. HSV helped weed out the people who were most likely not the ones for me anyway. It helped me understand what I deserve in a relationship and what I was willing and not willing to tolerate in them.
Having HSV taught me how to advocate for myself. I had to explain to doctors that some of their words surrounding my diagnosis could be seen as perpetuating stigma. It also gave me the courage to educate people when I heard herpes jokes instead of internalizing those unkind words. It gave me the courage to educate friends and family.
Having HSV taught me more about who I really am as a person. Not everyone has to re-evaluate who they are and rebuild after getting a diagnosis that changed how they felt about their body. I had to find my way back to myself, and who I found was braver, more confident, more educated, more willing to advocate for myself and others.
It can be hard to look at it but has having HSV given you anything to be grateful for?
Make a list you maybe be surprised at what you find.
Here is my list:
· I advocate for myself and others better
· I started an amazing support group
· I made real friendships with other Herpes advocates
· I am more resilient
· I have more courage
· I know that I deserve so much more in a relationship and will ask for it.
PS. Check out the Something Postive for Postive People podcast Its pretty freaking fantastic!