For a self-proclaimed commitment-phobic man, our circumstance was a nightmare. In some sense, I became herpes to him. Like an outbreak, I pop up at times when he wishes I would disappear. Whether he likes it or not, I became a part of his life, and I will always be tied to him because of this. I became something he had to confront. Since I didn’t fade away, he did.
It seems that I ask my friends each day if I did the right thing by coming out about herpes. In these moments of doubt, I reflect upon the turbulence I encountered in 2015. The ignored phone calls, the sporadic texts, the tears, the drunken binges, the uncertainty, the hesitancy, the selfishness, the Snapchat breakup, the ghost of an almost partner. I am not the only person who shares in this experience, and I know it is comforting for others in similar positions as myself to know they are not alone. But see, the problem lies within a small town mentality—despite its closeness and sense of community; it is difficult to see past the bubble into the world outside. My interests are larger than this small town.
No matter who has hurt me, I commend my heart. I do not believe in throwing negative energy into the world. I pray for him everyday. He has many gifts. He has a creative mind, an intellectual curiosity, and unique perspectives on the world. He is capable of so much good, but he remains stagnant. His redeeming qualities are overshadowed by his egocentricity, detachment, fear of reality, and overall childishness. He is stuck in time. Unfortunately, no matter how much we cling to someone’s potential, some remain in that stagnant reality. People, be they friends or lovers, can only meet you as deeply as they meet themselves. Despite how hurt I am, and how angry I am towards him, he deserves to find peace within himself, just as much as everyone else. We all have something worthwhile to contribute to this world, and if it does not reveal itself in this lifetime, we repeat our karma until it does.
At the end of the day, I do believe I made the right decision, and everyone around me seems to think so, too. I am often reminded that there was a time when women did not have a voice; therefore, I make it a priority to use mine, and I know some people don’t know quite how to handle that. I am unapologetic. I have a platform, I have a voice, I have a story, and we all do. I have made mistakes, and there will be more along the way, but I am open and willing to navigate them.
Today, I am grateful. If it were not for him, I would not be living out my passion and contributing to positive change in the world around me. I completely lost myself after my diagnosis, but because of his cowardly stance, I have come back stronger than ever before. I encourage anyone that is struggling with a situation such as this, to forgive, let go. Forgiveness will allow you to align on a more authentic level with yourself, and you will begin to see the potential you hold as an STI+ person. You are not your disease. You are not a stigma. Come out. You will grow in ways you never thought you would. Your brain will stretch, you will meet others like yourself, and probably be surprised by just how many people share the STI+ label. Embracing myself as a herpes positive woman has been one of the best decisions I have made. So cheers to the guy who gave me herpes. I thank him for making me the best-damned version of myself. I can only hope that he is able to evolve beyond his past and move forward to a better self.