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My first herpes advice blog
My first herpes advice blog
So what exactly can I offer to the fray of bytes of information scurrying around on AdultFriendFinder? Clearly I'm not the most sexually experienced person here. And I am certainly not the most, how shall we say, sexually creative member. I think before I even attempt to debate myself on issues of gender roles in a modern society, private social liberalism, and high cigarette taxes, it is best if I resort to the issue that eventually led to me becoming a member of this site.
Before I got herpes, I was your average guy. I was not a player by any stretch of the imagination. I happened to get lucky with a handful of women. Sometimes they became relationships that were longer-lasting, sometimes not. One became an engagement (and, of course, the UN-engagement!). Throughout all of this, I was learning that I have an incredible sexual appetite. I also learned that despite my primarily conservative nature, I enjoyed great satisfaction from sexual experimentation. For me, this never evolved into inherently reckless behavior. No sleeveless one-night stands; no multiple, unknown partners. I actually got the H-gift from a woman I had been dating long-distance for over a year, who did not bother to tell me when she got diagnosed (see [group_post 686449]).
Then the H-bomb (okay, silly play on words). Pay attention, now, this is the part from which my Loyal Reader (to borrow from Stephen King) might gain benefit. In short, I was devastated. Regardless of how women had previously responded to me sexually, I felt I had been knocked down to the level of a 45-year old living with his mother, asking permission to borrow the Olds on Saturday night. I burried myself in work. I drank a lot. I smoked more than I did before. I put back on weight that I had worked so hard to take off. Depression set in.
I speak of these things not as a solicitation for pity, but as an experience that hopefully you might avoid by reading on...
If any of this is sounding familiar, all I can say is: STOP!!! In an attempt to deter the natural course of the cycle of grief, I will tell you that this initial depression comes directly from the feelings of betrayal and loneliness. Anger and guilt. All rolled up into one little virus that, for the most part, is a bothersome skin condition (I speak from personal experience; I will leave actual medical advice to the experts).
Actual advice #1: You are not alone in this. Allow yourself the opportunity to reach out, either to loved ones or anonymously on the web, but any way you can to contact others who share your ailment. It is important to see not only how many people are in our boat, but from how many different walks of life they board the boat from. Tall/short, small/large, blue-collar/white-collar, white/black/other, virginal/slutty, north/south/east/west. I have met so many wonderful people in the last 4 years; people whose paths I would never have crossed if I had never gotten herpes. And it is to many of them that I owe my current emotional well-being. I have found, however, that building these new relationships will only go so far. Once you gain comfort in talking to other people about your gift, the time will come to make it real. By this I mean choosing one or two close, trusted friends, and tell them. It will go a long way to your own acceptance of your situation. It will also ease your friends' concerns, because even though you are an Oscar-deserving actor, they already know something is very wrong with you. Do them the favor of letting them know you are not dying or anything.
So, now that I have magically suspended the degredation of your psyche, what's next? Even though most will describe herpes as I do, bothersome, it does not mean that your sex life is exactly what it was before. It is something that must be incorporated into your association with potential partners. For my next trick, I will step up to my soap box.
Actual advice #2: Tell your partners!!! I cannot sugar coat this--this will be the most difficult conversation you will ever have. But it must be done. The only reason a virus like this can ever exist is when people fail to take responsibility for their actions. "But it wasn't MY fault!", you say. I can still hear my middle-school phys ed teacher talking about STDs, and the warning that so often falls upon deaf ears: the only sure-fire way to avoid contracting an STD is abstinence (and this at a public school, go figure). None of us heeded this advice, and look where it's gotten us. No, it is not your fault...but it IS your responsibility. Time to be tough, man up (or woman up), and tell them. Keep in mind that while the first outbreak will generally occur within 2 weeks of contracting the virus, some people can have longer incubation periods or less noticeable symptoms (especially in women, for HSV). Be safe, and go back a month or more when deciding which partners to tell. You might even get lucky and find the person who gave it to you (though usually they are identified as the person who yells at you the loudest, "You gave it to ME!" )
So, now that you are emotionally stable and have cleaned house, what next? If you're here, then it's time to get laid again! My first time after getting H was not my proudest moment. In a drunken stupor, I called the girl who gave it to me. I knew she still liked me (she, in a drunken stupor, told my friend this at a bar), so I made the bootie call. I spent the next few months having grudge-fucks with her, doing anything and everything to her, completely taking advantage of her. I shagged her rotten, you might say. Then I just stopped calling her. Vengeance was mine, I guess, but I did not feel particularly good about myself (though I have to admit, she always was great in the sack). But it leads me to my next point.
Actual advice #3: Having herpes is not carte blanche to fuck everyone you find who has it. All things considered, you've gotten off lucky. There is still shit out there that will KILL you. This reality set in for me when I first went to my doctor, told him that my partner had herpes and we had been sexually intimate, and he started writing the orders for blood tests for clap, syphillis, and HIV. Holy shit! I hadn't even thought about that! If she had one disease that she never bothered to tell me about, what the hell else could she be carrying?!?! This goes for anyone who has H. You know for a fact that they have been exposed to one STD; it is very possible that they were exposed to something else. There is also the matter of the different strains of herpes, types 1 (oral) and 2 (genital), plus HPV (commonly referred to as genital warts). Why risk adding to your discomfort by picking up a little extra something?
As an aside, I want to mention an incredibly disturbing post I came across on this site. There is a woman who is purportedly making her way across Michigan, fucking every guy she can find, intentionally trying to infect them with herpes. I must advise against this, regardless of how angry you might feel. If I may put on my lawyer hat for a moment, other than the above dangers, many jurisdictions would consider this conduct as sufficient to file felony battery charges.
Actual advice #4: tell your potential partners. Whether it is including your condition in your profile or header, or just telling them before any sexual contact, it is up to you, now, to be the responsible one. It's up to you to make sure no one else has to be hurt the way you have been. And, more times than you think, you will see a sigh of relief from your potential partner, followed by, "I was worrying about how to tell YOU that I have herpes!"
So, for now, that is my 2 cents. Okay, so it's more like $13.48. I can only hope that somebody, somewhere, gets at least SOME benefit from my humble efforts here. At the very least, it has been good for me to finally write down many of these thoughts and feelings that have been swirling around in my head for the past few years. While I do not hold myself out as an expert by any stretch of the imagination (I've got my own issues...believe me!), I will say that I will never be angry with anyone who might contact me not for sex, but for some degree of comfort and comradery that comes with shared experience. And I will happily give whatever meager efforts I can to help anyone who thinks they might need it.
That being said, I must sign off for now. Maybe I'll go jerk off? I know I can't catch anything that way!
8/2/2006 2:04 pm
I know this is coming almost 2 months after you posted it, but I turned off my profile for a few months. Maybe someday I can get to where you're at. I've had herpes for almost 2 years and I am nowhere near close to coming to terms with it. I guess I am afraid of what happens if I find someone who doesn't have it and then having to have "the talk" and them heading for the hills. Good post though.|