After getting herpes from my girlfriend who cheated on me over Christmas holiday with her ex-boyfriend (aw shucks, you shouldn't have!), my life went into a tailspin. I had always judged "those people" with STDs, and now I was one of those people. (The judgment boomerang got me good!) Little did I know, my life as I knew it was crumbling so I could build the life I have now from a strong foundation — but at the time all I could think was that my life was over.
This breakdown had me searching all over the place for help, for some sort of realization, for someone to tell me I was going to be all right. This pain and confusion plunged me headlong into the world of self-development. One night, I signed up for 4 immersive in-person weekend workshops in the upcoming months. I was a man on a mission!
Through these workshops and all the transformation that was had, my life did start to change quite drastically for the better. I saw clearly what I had doing to myself. I saw how I perceived myself. I saw my limiting beliefs and how they held me back. (My favorite bumper sticker? "Don't believe everything you think!")
One of those transformational workshops I attended had an optional homework assignment of starting a men's support group to make the experience last, to make it real. So I did. A group of around 12 guys gathered in my living room monthly. We talked about what was real to us. We supported one another. We laughed together. We cried together. We worked through a lot together. So much trust was built in that living room. We challenged each other to be the best versions of ourselves. We loved each other as Brothers.
And one day, I disclosed to the group.
It was the first time I had told more than one person that I had herpes. I had disclosed one-on-one to my mother, father, brother, closest friends. But never to more than one person ... I remember staring at the floor as I said those words "I have herpes" ... refusing to look at their faces, assuming they'd be looking at me with disdain and pity. But when I gathered the courage to look up, through my own tears, I looked around this circle of men ... I saw tears in all of their eyes, too. Each of them had their own baggage, their own shame. They could relate. We all felt closer.
Fast forward to my 10-day sabbatical. I took this time to take a break from technology, from work, from my life. I focused on eating, sleeping, moving my body, reading inspiring books and journaling. I journaled a lot. And a lot of the journaling was around the realization that herpes wasn't the life-ender I thought it would be. That it was actually an opportunity. For vulnerability. For connection. For realizing a lot of the self-limiting beliefs I was carrying were total BS.
The next men's group after the sabbatical, I let it slip that I might want to put these journal entries online as a blog. At that moment, I knew that's what I had to do. And all these guys were saying I had to do it. It was these journal entries that became the initial 20 or so blog articles of this website you are on right now.
That was way back in 2009. I now focus on helping people move through herpes shame into a full embrace of their lives (the true Opportunity). In my own life and from working with hundreds of clients, I have seen how shame can cripple connection and intimacy. In my work with the herpes community and in the broader application of relational practices, I support people in realizing that when they clear shame, they not only have more love and acceptance for themselves, they have more love and acceptance for others. I am committed to helping people transcend whatever limitations they may imagine are holding them back from living rich fulfilling lives.
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