So you have herpes. Do you feel like nobody could possibly understand what you’re going through? When you look around, do you see everyone as free from herpes and you as the only one who is suffering with it? Do you feel like this is your secret battle to wage? All alone? With no support? Well … I have some great news for you then that will prove you plain wrong.
At least initially, herpes and loneliness seem to go hand-in-hand. The shame that is associated with herpes initially holds us back from connecting with others, especially in a romantic way. The shame of herpes might even hold us back from talking with friends and family about it. Herpes on its own doesn’t by default equal loneliness; it's our own beliefs about what herpes means that fuels our loneliness. It’s a classic self-fulfilling prophecy.
Let’s look at the definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy first to see the connection here. If you believe a false thing to be true (for example, you may think “I have herpes. That means I’m destined to be alone”), then your future actions and beliefs will fall in line with that false belief (you’ll start believing “I am unlovable” and in turn isolate yourself). Eventually through all of your isolation based on your false beliefs, your original belief ends up being true. You were right. You ARE alone.
So let’s summarize.
The herpes loneliness cycle as self-fulfilling prophecy:
- You hold shame and stigma about having herpes; you fear being unloved and alone.
- Being rejected would prove that you’re unlovable, so you fear rejection.
- You isolate yourself to avoid rejection.
- You are alone.
- Rinse & repeat, layer upon layer: Now you feel ashamed about having herpes AND being alone.
Let’s get one thing really clear: You are absolutely NOT alone. Far, far from it. You’re amongst good company. You just don’t see how much potential support you have thanks to the secret nature of herpes. It’s just not talked about. Even amongst the closest friends and family.
Looking at the latest numbers and doing a quick calculation shows us there are more than 25 million Americans living with genital herpes (some estimates say it’s well over 60 million). That’s more than the population of Australia! In other words, Herpesville could be its own sizable country. There are over 776,000 new positive herpes tests yearly (which breaks down to 2,000+ new cases daily!). And just to give you a clear visual of the sheer amount of people 25 million is, if you were to have them all hold hands, there would be a herpes-people chain that wraps around the Earth. Get it? You are not alone. You’ve just convinced yourself that you’re alone.
Once you realize you aren’t alone out there, it’s time to look inside to heal your own relationship with herpes.