FINDING THE BEAUTY WITHIN A STI+ DIAGNOSIS
Growing up, I never received a sex talk. I often think about the role this has played in my childhood and my rush towards adulthood. I was never taught about self-love, self-respect or the protection of my energy + sacred temple. I learned about these things the hard way, like most of us do. I moved through the world unaware of my personal power + influence. I didn’t think I was beautiful or smart. My confidence was fed through male attention, validation and penetration; and as unhealthy as that was, it worked. Temporarily.I didn’t know how to love or romance myself because of how heavily I depended on it outside myself. My freshman year of college, I had a classroom lesson centered around sexually transmitted infections, our teacher showed us pictures, made jokes and used this as leverage to warn us about the “dangers” of unprotected sex. I was offended by her jokes. I knew that sometimes people didn’t use condoms and that an STI could manifest for anyone. I also knew that these infections are not always sexually transmitted, and are sometimes passed through genetics, so the jokes definitely stung me and I didn’t even fully know why (yet.) I have had herpes simplex virus for a little over a year now. I’vehad a few outbreaks but my first was the most painful and heartbreaking. I had no idea how to navigate. I went to the doctor multiple times and received different visual diagnosis; when I took tests and they all came up negative, however when they put me on Valcyclovir, a herpes medication, my lesion started to heal. Navigation through the beginning stages of my diagnosis were my most challenging. I was left feeling depressed. Feeling lost. Feeling worthless. I researched everything there was to know about HSV and every website told me this was a disease that had no cure “but can be handled with medication”. I was ashamed beyond belief and punished myself with harmful thoughts and speech. I cried on my bathroom floor. My bedroom floor. My kitchen floor. I spent so much time feeling sorry for myself. But then I went inward. I started breathing deeply. I would breathe with the intention to tap into my higher self, asking her to take agency + guide me for a moment. I asked what this meant for me and how I would be able to alchemize this into something beautiful. The answer did not come to me right away but I trusted that it eventually would, and it did.
I arrived at the understanding that this virus had an energetic existence in my body. And not necessarily a bad one. I started referring to herpes as a she. I slowly befriended her. I started talking to her. I told her that I wanted to know more about her, her purpose, her voice, her story. I even wrote her a short poem:
In this moment, I trust your existence
I trust you hold purpose
I promise I will learn how to accept you
I promise I will learn how to love you
I will learn how to say your name to others
I will learn how to heal you and eventually
I will learn how to let you go.
Writing this short poem felt like a moment of awakening. My perspective was shifting. She was no longer a bodily invasion to me. She was now my teacher and friend. My outbreaks eventually started lessening in frequency. A deeper and more loving connection to my body was forming. My confidence was radiating from the inside out. My shame took a back seat. And I opened myself up to the possibility that this diagnosis could also be my blessing. Once I started meeting individuals who were also HSV positive, who were beginning their journeys of acceptance + disclosure, I understood my role as a healer. Navigating through multiple health issues this year, aside from HSV, I learned that I must go through difficult things. I must, it’s a part of my journey. Most of my growth + healing wisdom comes through my most uncomfortable timelines. A wise woman once told me “You don’t need to be fully healed, to heal others.” And I don’t think I am healed. I still get trigged by STI stigma and jokes. I still get outbreaks. I still feel ashamed at times. But acceptance always finds its way back to me. I’ve learned how to love her. I accept her. I respect her. She is giving me the exact experience I need so that I may pass my wisdom to the next, and teach them how to love, accept and respect their STI. She has reminded me of the sacred woman I am. She has taught me that my body is a temple, and I must treat it as such. She has reminded me that I have a responsibility to protect my mind + body from lowly vibrational individuals. She has showed me how to better choose my lovers. How to be more transparent and honest. She has showed me the importance of education and eradicating stigma. She has taught me how to deeply connect and appreciate my yoni. Yes, she lives with me now but like I said I am a healer, and when she has fulfilled her purpose, I trust that she will be healed and gone. So I may teach the next how to heal themselves.