"I have herpes"

The power of acceptance

"Do I have herpes?"

If you aren't sure whether you have herpes, then your best bet is to go to your nearest health clinic or Planned Parenthood and ask for a blood test for herpes. A herpes outbreak doesn’t need to be present in order to test for herpes (although if you are having an active outbreak, get it swabbed. The Western Blot test is the most accurate blood test to find out if you have been exposed to the herpes virus, and if so, which type of herpes.

A blood test won’t be able to tell you exactly when you were exposed, but it can give you a definitive answer on whether or not you have herpes and which strain you have. Remember, you might have never even had an outbreak of herpes, but the virus could still be present in your body (herpes dormancy) and can still be spreadable to partners via asymptomatic viral shedding.

The mental side of this

Such a simple phrase, but can you feel how much power it has? I have herpes.” When you say these three words, what effect do they have on you? There is a way to diminish these feelings over time. And the only way is through.

How much time do you spend worrying about how your future will be negatively affected by herpes? How much time is wasted wishing you didn’t have to deal with herpes? How often do thoughts come in, scared about when your next herpes outbreak with come? This spinning-of-the-wheels is all too common with people with herpes. Consider how you might be more productive with your time. What is more important to put your mind to work doing?

Think of how much energy can be freed up in your life if that simple phrase can be just another three words without the heaviness and fear. The power of words is unmistakable. And the word “herpes” has a whole lot of sticky meaning wrapped up in it, doesn’t it? It has pain, anguish, disgust, worthlessness, not being enough, unable to find true love — the list grows and grows. How can a word carry so much power? One reason is because it’s never said aloud except when it absolutely must be said. It is shied away from. And in the shadows, it simultaneously weighs you down with shame and keeps growing in power over you.

Okay, enough of the hum-drummery. Let’s be perfectly clear: It simply doesn’t have to be like this.The process of moving above herpes as an insurmountable obstacle in life is to deal with it head on. Look at it. Study it. Figure out why you feel what you feel. And the first place to start is with the word itself. Herpes.

Try this ...

A first step to getting back the energy that’s tied up in herpes is to simply speak the word aloud from a place of curiosity and compassion. We avoid the word to save ourselves from having to feel the discomfort of what it might bring up. Do it in the privacy of your own home. Stand in front of your bathroom mirror. Look yourself in the eye. Say “I have herpes” … Then pay attention … become aware of what happens when you say it. Does your stomach tighten up? Does your heart sink? Do you feel like crying? Yelling? Do you feel like numbing out? Do you judge this as a stupid, pointless exercise? Allow all of that to come up in a safe way. But behind all of that, be a loving witness to yourself as you experience all of it. Eventually, if you truly feel what is coming up instead of numbing it out, then saying the word will produce the similar effects as the phrase “I have the flu …” It no longer has nearly the charge it once did. Above all, be gentle with yourself throughout this process. And remind yourself that it is a process. It takes time, patience and openness to feeling.

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