When I was 19 I found out some pretty devastating news. What I thought was some sort of weird bug bites turned out to be herpes. It was pretty horrible. They say that first outbreak is usually the worst and so far, over 10 years later, yeah it’s true. I was in a relationship that piggy backed on like 2 or 3 others. I don’t even know anymore. I’m not making excuses but it was just not an easy time then. I was pretty angered, upset, distraught, feeling stupid and useless and just all around…lost. I slept with any guy that looked at me and smiled. He didn’t even have to buy me dinner first!
Mt frame of mind before my first outbreak is not at all important. The fact is, I went to Planned Parenthood where I had the misfortune of finding myself on display with my legs open in front of a group of student-like people. It was horrifying but to be perfectly honest, I was way too scared to even worry about who was in the room. I was running through the list of guys from my past and I guess my present as well. What about my future? Career? I had no thoughts on a career but:
WHAT THE FUCK IS HERPES ANYWAY? AND HOW WILL THIS AFFECT ME?
I had seen pictures in the eighth grade of an infected penis and I just thought it was disgusting. “Thank goodness that’s not my penis!” Right? I don’t even have one. I had no other information about this dreaded virus that sits in your body for the rest of your life other than it was ugly and now I knew it was also very painful, itchy, uncomfortable and embarrassing. They gave me what I now call a ‘super dose prescription.’ You take a lot of medicine (well, then I thought it was a lot) in a short period of time and then whoosh! The outbreak is gone in like seven days. So I went home with my pamphlet, my white bag with the meds in it and tears in my eyes. My dad, who had become my savior that day (one of the rare occasions), didn’t say a word or ask any questions. He hugged me and we went home where I Googled like crazy. Luckily, back then, Google wasn’t like it is now. I never saw any pictures. I wouldn’t dare Google it today because I know pictures would be on my screen somewhere and I don’t want to see that. I found out a lot of things. I have no idea if any of the info is still relevant or has since been updated but a few facts that never escaped me were:
- Men are usually the carriers
- People tend to become infected twice before they have their first identifiable outbreak
- Women can have an outbreak and not know it…it can be on her uterus (or something)
- It can be fatal to a baby if they are delivered vaginally during an outbreak if the mother is newly infected.
- There are signs/ forewarnings; be it a slight tickle, a bit of a pinch or a tingly feeling, you will know when an outbreak is on its way
- There’s no scarring left behind each outbreak
- It can lead to a lot of other weird conditions
- It can infect your skin, your eyes, your eyes guys, and yeah…your butt.
- It’s in the same virus group as HIV and chicken pox
I also discovered a few other things
- It’s not the end of the world
- Outbreaks tend to become less frequent over time and when they happen, they aren’t that bad
- I don’t know how it is for others but my outbreaks are always in the same dang spots and I mean the SAME EXACT SPOTS
- Women may care when a guy is infected but you know who doesn’t? MEN
So, ok, I’m not drop dead gorgeous or hot but reasonably average. I think my personality got in my way of earning dates when I was younger more than anything. Finding out I had herpes was like, another excuse to avoid relationships and all that comes with that, chase included. My boyfriend at the time (Marshall), he’s a suspect on my list of possible vagina terrorists. He handled the news all to well. He drove in from out-of-town straight away and within a week we were having sex like nothing happened to me. It just wasn’t a big deal to him and yeah it was suspicious but so was the behavior of the guy in my relationship prior.
After Marshall and I parted ways in a devastating (to me) manner many months later, I gained a fear of dating. How do you explain to someone you’re interested in that you will very likely infect them with something disgusting? I’ll tell you how:
You suck up your pride and you tell them before you start fantasizing about waking up in their arms one morning.
I’m a very honest person and as confrontational as I may seem in person, I’m actually not a fan of confrontation. I’m shy when you don’t know me and I’m, or used to be, afraid to speak up about uncomfortable topics, issues and other sorts of things. But I could not see any other way to attack this thing than to do so with honesty. I was only 19 but I knew I wasn’t going to die anytime soon so why not face it early? I continued to fill my head with knowledge, little bits of random facts that I could pass along to potential partners and they could make one of those informed decisions those “durn libruls” are always going on about. Do you know how many guys turned me down? NONE. Not that year and not the next, anyway. Do you know what is disturbing? Not all guys wanted to use a condom and did I make them? Nope. I offered, I asked if they had one handy but they weren’t interested. And let me go ahead and smooth out any of your careless shrugs, your misconceptions about me and the ‘type’ of men I am talking about. Not all of these men were worthless. A couple were married, some with promise in their future and some just random hot guys ladies love to chase. Apparently it’s true what they say, guys really do appreciate honesty…or it’s just an easy piece of decent ass they like.
Three guys I was with I didn’t tell out of fear of being tossed aside. I just knew they would reject me so I said nothing and that’s my fault, if there’s a Hell, I’ll be there, I already know. At least one of them was ready with a condom. I really thought if I was careful, always alert for my signs it would be no big deal. Kasper is the only guy I know I infected. I don’t know how it happened; it took about 6 years but when he had his first outbreak I realized I may have very likely infected others along the way.
Wear a condom. Always
The guys I have been with, except for those few, have been fully informed of the risks, the dangers, the everything and they still trusted me to know myself enough to not pass anything along. In case I’m not getting my point through: I have told men that occasionally my vagina swells with blisters and oozes and that I may infect them
If I don’t pay close enough attention. But it’s been a while since my last outbreak so…
And they still said they didn’t care. As long as I was safe in that moment. I told my husband on our first date. He didn’t care. He trusted me; on our first date. Why? To get laid? Really? Doesn’t seem worth it to me. Maybe whoever gave it to me knew that about me; I would have said “Ew, get away from me.” And that would have been it.
I find myself facing a new problem. I’ve been talking to Big Red still. Not entirely, but mostly, innocently. I’ve veered off into the no-no zone a few times and wondered, “If I left my husband for him…” but I end my thought with my toes curling the edge of a cliff. Kasper is a great husband and father, friend and support system. I have a long list of reasons not to indulge in some idiot thought of leaving him for another guy. Herpes is on that list. It’s on the bottom, opposite of where it was when I found it over ten years ago but it’s still there. I’m 30 and disabled and I have two kids and stretch marks and I have herpes! That is a lot more than “hey, I’m in my early twenties with no responsibilities or stretch marks or physical deficits, just herpes, wanna bang?”
…so I tested Big Red. It wasn’t going to go anywhere anyway. I flirted with him to the tip then threw it out there after getting him in the pit wanting to know what my deal was. I haven’t heard from him since, really. All of a sudden it got kind of heated. Like an argument and then BAM he was like “I’m done trying” and blah, blah. Maybe it was his way of backing out. It’s totally cool.
This damn stroke has brought on more lessons of life than I ever would want to live through! If/when Kasper gets wise and decides he not only wants and needs someone better but that he deserves better, I will be forever alone because my baggage needs a damn forklift to get up the damn steps. I’ve come to this strange resolution as a result of talking with Big Red. I am not loyal to my husband. I wander too easily into fantasy. He deserves better and I will not change myself to fight for him so that he never gets to find that better that he deserves. I’d rather be alone than take that away from him. And…one thing I don’t mind learning considering my situation: herpes is a lot less uncomfortable when you just-so-happen to be unable to feel the side your outbreaks appear on most.