I'll never forget the first time I stumbled upon the ASHA web site and this message board after I found out I had HSV-2 almost 3 years ago. It was a very depressing and desperate time in my life. I had just quit a job to start my first business. I had just dumped a man with whom I had a short fling and nothing but disappointment. I was so focused, driven, and excited to begin a journey of self-development and acquiring self-love. Then I had unexpectedly fallen ill, became hospitalized, and was discharged one week later with a hefty hospital bill and medically incapable of taking care of myself. Thank goodness for family, my mother came to my rescue and became my aide for almost two weeks. She nursed me back to good enough help to take care of myself. As if it couldn't get any worse, it did. I discovered lesions all over my pelvic region and went back to seek medical attention to learn that I had HSV-2. I almost fainted on the examination bed and I remember saying out loud, "Oh God, why?!" It was as if I had just been told I had an incurable disease and only had a few weeks to live.
Shortly after that doctor visit, I began doing research online to find out all I could learn about the health concerns or risks associated with having HSV-2. Additionally, I was desperately searching for any resourceful information I could find to help me come to terms with the reality of living with the virus and how I can live with it safely and continue a life of normalcy given the fact that I no longer felt normal, if you will. I'll be honest with you, it took a good five or so months to finally feel like I could be sexy, lovable, and worthy again. Before that, I was really drowning in my sorrows and feeling defeated. Again, I was not only dealing with the realization I had contracted HSV-2, but that I was not in the right mind set to continue building my business, I was severely under weight and recovering, and I was quickly running out of cash reserves to sustain reasonable living.
Between that time and now, almost three years later, it got better; just as I hoped it would though I didn't know how it would play out for me. I was single for over 3 years feeling like I had a shameful secret. At the same token, I had gone from having meaningless casual relationships to holding out for something meaningful and good for my integrity. The single years were by no means lonely. I spent that time really getting to the bottom of things and understanding what this void was inside me that kept me feeling depressed, unloved, unworthy, and unfulfilled. After I found it, after I found my self-love and self-worth, I began living with intention.
I intended on treating myself with the respect and regard I wanted from others. And so I learned to become more responsible and mature about how I conducted myself. I became sexually abstinent and vowed that the next time I slept with someone that it would be when I was entered into a committed and serious relationship. That way, we can both be careful and safe and enjoy healthy and fun love making in a trusting and controlled environment. Sure, there would always be some risk when dealing with HSV-2, but the risks of spreading the virus are reduced when in a monogamous relationship with both parties well informed and taking precaution. There was always doubt whispering in my ear from time to time, but I trusted the process and believed everything would work out in the end as long as I maintained my integrity and lived by that example.
I'm happy to report that earlier this year, I met the man of my dreams. From the inside-out, he matches the kind of person I have been in search of but didn't know for sure existed. It has been the most thoughtful relationship I've ever had in my life. I'm 34. We met through our business network. We had no idea we would end up liking each other this way, but somehow the universe drew us to each other. We took about 3 months to get to know and court each other slowly. We had a responsible and mature conversation when we decided to take our relationship to the next level, make a commitment to each other, and finally make love for the first time. It was a little unnerving trying to choose the right words to discuss my sexual health with him, but I did so with as much confidence as I could. It was and wasn't difficult, because I had already gotten to a place where I knew he had my love and I had his. Now, we just needed to inform each other of things that needed special care and consideration.
He handled the news well. He seemed to just be taking it in and not saying much as to let me finish my thought. Then he asked a few specific questions. Finally, he held me and thanked me for being open and honest and commended me for my courage to address this concern in such a good manner. When I asked him of his sexual history, he expressed that to his knowledge, he has no STI concerns. He asked about precautions to take and I explained to him the usage of condoms and not having sex when lesions are present, but let him know that there were always risks due to asymptomatic shedding. He held me, hugged me, told me he loved me and then we made love for the first time. We did not use a condom. Apparently, he was willing to take the risk. I am on birth control, so I wasn't concerned about pregnancy so making love without a condom did not concern me.
If you would have asked me three years ago whether I could fathom finding love and being able to have wonderful, healthy sex like this living with HSV-2, I would have told you it wouldn't be impossible, but it would be unlikely. I am so glad that I didn't let the virus take over my life. I am so happy that I learned to live my life more deliberately and intentionally. It is because I learned to fill that void in me with things that brought me passion and joy in life, I have been able to live a healthier and happier life. I have been able to exude confidence that makes me so attractive to others and attracts me to others like me. I am 34, divorced, and mother to amazing 17 year old son. I have HSV-2. I have love. I make love. I am happier than I've ever been in my whole life.
This is a friendly reminder to let you know that there is life AND love after HSV-2!