Some people feel they are at the effect of life. Others feel they can deal with anything life throws at them. Most of us move between one and the other as we grow and learn. A new challenge can overwhelm us for a time … until we learn how to deal with it. Once we know how to do that, it can be a very short time before we forget how demanding the learning was, and what it took. This may include courage, tenacity, stepping so far outside our comfort zone that we can’t remember where it was before, the willingness to expose ourselves, be vulnerable, accept our imperfection, even (OMG!) allow others to see and accept our imperfection.
So in the midst of dealing with the shadow of genital herpes, we find this website where some crazy guy is calling it A Gift. An Opportunity. How does that work?
I may be able to throw some light on this, as I’ve been around on Planet Earth for a while, have had my share of dramas and challenges, and travel through them pretty smoothly these days. This doesn’t come without much learning and testing, of course, and a commitment to minimizing pain in life … I thought that if I have to have pain sometimes (seems that we all do), then I may as well learn how to get the most value out of it in the hope of either having less of it in the future, or being less bothered by it in the future, or even both. So you may fancy a shorter learning curve than I had.
That intention has brought me some interesting adventures, but what’s useful to know is that it works so well that I have been known to get excited when a new challenge presents (and I don’t mean just the small ones). It is possible and possibly smart to use every adversity as a learning experience and to milk it to the max. Doing this has made me fearless in some ways and most of the time; it has minimized suffering; it has made processes that were once torturous into fascinating adventures. Even this one. So how do you do it?
The first thing to understand is that we have the capacity to either pull away from ourselves or to expand into ourselves. Mostly we pull away from pain, and expand into pleasure, at least as far as we allow ourselves. (That’s an entirely different article.)
We can learn to expand into pain, confusion — all the emotions — instead of clamping them down or denying them. First, we probably will do the automatic pullaway; then we can learn to catch ourselves and ask: What might happen if I just felt this fully? If we breathe as fully as we can, we discover that all emotions pass. (Yes, all of them.) Emotions are like the weather, they are never permanent … unless we resist. Have you heard the adage “What you resist persists”? In my experience, it sure does. May as well surrender and let it have its moments. Because they really are moments once we allow space around them and accept them as legitimate elements of ourselves. Resist and they can go on for decades!
Intend to accept the upset that you have herpes. All of it, the beginning, the middle and the end. At diagnosis time, when we are negotiating the herpes talk and protection in relationships including what if someone gets herpes from us; and when you have become at peace about herpes and all that it entails. Accept it all. Accept the time, the emotion, the learning curve and the crazy things we think about ourselves while we are learning. It is a portal to a higher state of love, compassion, power and freedom. I am asserting that. I know you may not be able to digest that just yet.
Own this. No one and nothing can make you feel something that wasn’t already within you. So whatever you feel about herpes was already there. Whatever horrible stories you tell yourself that herpes means about you, were already there. It’s how the unconscious works. Google it if you like, a big discussion about that is beyond the scope of this article. Or take it on trust. You already had all those difficult emotions, all those horrible thoughts about yourself. All that herpes does is reveal what’s there. This is part of its gift. Now you know those emotions and thoughts are there, now you can do something about accepting them for now, and then choosing something else you like better for your future. Easier said than done, I know but quite learnable. Not only learnable, but learning it will empower you like nothing else in life, as once you know a way to reconfigure your own emotions and thoughts — and there are many ways — you will be able to use that for anything in life that you wish to change or modify.
Here’s something very important to know: We filter experience through what we believe. You’ve probably heard that before. So why would one person say “the glass is half full” and the other “the glass is half empty”?
Well, it may mean nothing at all! And it also may mean that the first one sees life as generous kind and okay, and the second sees life as stingy, limited and tough. Caution applies though! It may not mean that in any individual case. It’s an illustration only.
Although we inherit many beliefs when too young to discern what we are picking up, it’s worth looking at what a belief is. We have a thought; if we continue to choose the same thought it becomes a decision; if we continue to choose the same decision it becomes a belief; once it’s a belief your very own brain will filter out anything that doesn’t fit the belief. Our very own brain will always make us right on our beliefs. So we’d better get cooking on how to change those thoughts we have….we think “no one will ever love me with herpes” even though this site has many stories of those who found an accepting partner. So why do we think that? Oh, perhaps it’s US! We haven’t yet learned to love and accept ourselves yet with herpes, so we think no one else will. This doesn’t look like good news but it is! We can learn to love ourselves with herpes, even to thank herpes for the growth it made unavoidable for us. If that sounds like it will never happen, stay tuned! It already has, to many, many people.
So your job is to transmute the energy of all your upset about herpes into whatever you need and choose: higher levels of self-esteem, self-respect, self-love, compassion, power, choice to grow, choice to become more than your thoughts and feelings, choice to grow beyond whatever you or anyone else has been telling you that herpes means.
As you reclaim the energy of the thoughts /feelings you have about herpes, those filters weaken and you begin to see other possibilities that were literally Invisible thus Unavailable to you before. It feels a magical process…perhaps it is. It requires you to be willing to let go of your opinion, of your feelings, of the thought that you know everything (makes it impossible to grow). Yet feelings pass anyway and more good news: Practice pays off! You can get very fast at doing this. Sometimes our security is that we think some things are set in concrete and never change. It’s a false security.
Learning to flow with life in its ups and downs is the best security you can ever have. You can question yourself:
- What are MY values?
- Is joyous consensual sexuality ever slutty?
- Did I protect myself before herpes? Will I now?
- Am I worth the effort of learning? Do others deserve my consideration?
- Can I forgive myself for letting this happen to me?
- What can I learn from it that is worth more than my upset about it?
- Do I matter anyway? Who cares if I do or don’t? (Clue: if not you, then who?)
There are no right answers here, just your authentic truth. As you can see, the depth goes much further than our little skin condition. If you choose, you can make this the springboard for a much clearer, more loving life for YOU. What you will have to offer others will also expand.
The greatest value you can take from herpes or any other challenge is to use the energy of its upset to grow yourself in the way that you choose to do that. The upset will show you what you had within you that you did not know, and now you do. Becoming more conscious is the fuel of power.
Anything less and you are choosing to be a victim of life — not of herpes, not of your “giver”, not of anything but Life itself. Why would you choose that? Remember: thoughts become decisions; decisions become beliefs; once a belief is set your filters stop you seeing your full options; you could get stuck there.
Your mission if you choose to accept it is to allow herpes to be the catalyst of a bigger more loving more compassionate YOU, and yes, a more powerful You. Then you really do have something new to offer yourself and others you invite into your life; as well as a roadmap of how to leverage any upset that you have in your body, not just as a good idea, as a physical fact.
Yes it takes time and can be emotionally overwrought at times; but that’s just life isn’t it? Once life has given you the herpes pathway to growth, there’s no giving it back. So kindly, lovingly, in rage and fury and sadness and shame, and all the emotions you discover within you, take the journey on. Take it on willingly, with certainty that you can make this the pivotal point of discovering your own power. There is no better place than this community to do this. There is nothing else to do.