I thought someone like me would never catch a sexually transmitted infection

as said Kimberly Rex

I had my first symptoms on a Sunday in July 2011. I was 28 years old. After a weekend with the man I was seeing, I knew something wasn’t right. My genitals were painfully inflamed and blisters seemed to form. I thought it might be pale but I never believed that I could get one sexually transmitted infection (STI). Like many people, I had a preconceived notion of what kind of person gets herpes and what kind of behavior led to this diagnosis. I didn’t judge anyone, but since I’m not random, I’m in a monogamous relationship, and I get tested for STIs regularly, I figured something like this would never happen to me.

I was wrong.

Four days after going to the doctor, she called to let me know that I tested positive for herpes. At first, I got the information well. Even if a part of me wanted to, I didn’t pull the car over and sob. Instead, I thought about next steps. On the advice of my best friend, I decided that day to contact my former partners and tell them.

With trembling hands, I dialed each number and took deep breaths before speaking. Some men were supportive and understanding, while others were defensive and angry. I was emotionally tired after that. But today was a Friday and I still had to go back to work at my sales job.

I stopped at the door of my colleague Bill’s office to ask him a question. “Are you okay? You don’t look right,” said Bill. I walked in, closed the door, and slid off the wall to the floor. I cried while telling him, tears fell on my turquoise dress. Bill wasn’t sure what to do, but he was calm and kind. He told me to go home that day and call him if I needed anything.

That night I went to my boyfriend’s house with a bottle of wine and a bag of candy. When I told him the news, he called me horrible names and fired me. I took my stuff and left, but when he followed me to apologize, I agreed and stayed.

For the rest of the weekend, while other 20s, including my boyfriend, were partying on the beach, I lay on my bed in a fetal position thinking my life was over.

This was the first problem I encountered without finding a solution. Herpes was not going away. Non-stop. I spent the next two years in a very dark place. I got angry and cried every day. I continued dating my boyfriend, believing that no one would want me or really love me. I really thought herpes was the end of my life in every way. I didn’t think anyone would accept me, not just romantic partners, and I couldn’t accept myself. I felt worthless and insecure. My herpes outbreaks were frequent. I cried every time from the pain, the wounds and the simple truth of it all.

I got on a plane for a trip with my 29 year old boyfriend. Sitting by the window, I started sweating and my heart raced. I got up to visit the bathroom but knocked my head on the floor in the hallway and passed out. After that, I knew I had to end my relationship and make big changes. I didn’t want to be in this dark place anymore.

I slowly started to do my own business. I started eating a balanced diet and avoiding foods that could trigger herpes outbreak. I bought meditation and yoga, which not only helps my mental health but also reduces my stress, is another epidemic trigger. My outbreaks decreased as my body adjusted to my new lifestyle.

I have attended personal development workshops and even been inspired by them. Newton’s third law. If every action had an opposite and equal reaction, I had to give what I wanted to undo. If I held on to my anger and insecurity, this would come in return. Instead, I gave love to everyone I saw. Whether it’s my postman, someone at work or a cashier, I dreamed of sending them love and affection. And I realized day by day that I was starting to get the love back.

I knew I wanted someone special in my life who loved me for me, so I put myself in a position to meet guys. If someone asked me out, I would go. It didn’t matter anymore that someone wasn’t my “type.” The more people I met, the more I would grow and the more opportunities I would have to meet the right man for me.

I didn’t have sex with all these men. I have known and studied them. telling them about my STI. Some of these conversations went well. Others didn’t. I was rejected by the people I love. Although it hurt at the time, I was sure that even if one door closed, another would open.

Finally, I married someone who didn’t need me to tell him about my STI—my colleague Bill, who comforted me while I was sobbing in his office on the day of my diagnosis. After working on myself for a while, Bill and I realized there was something between us and we found our way to each other. We got married in 2017 and welcomed our son into the world two years ago.

Alexandra and her husband Bill in Costa RicaAlexandra and her husband Bill in Costa Rica, 2021 (Photo/Sylvia Guardia)

Today, while cold sores are troubling, especially if an outbreak occurs on a vacation or romantic night, the virus is not affecting my marriage or my happiness. Now when I have outbreaks, I can feel remorseful about the past, but I can’t change what happened and I forgive myself for my past choices. Overall, herpes has actually improved my life. Now, I eat in a way that keeps me healthy and strengthens my immune system. i make sure i get it enough sleepand I learned to be more confident about who I am. I am married to the love of my life and we are raising a beautiful little boy.

While I refuse to cling to the past, I take responsibility for my mistakes and hope others learn from them. I encourage others to be sexually responsible adultsgetting tested regularly and insisting that their partners do the same. Some STIs can have long-term effects, such as infertility. In this situation, it is much better to be safe than sorry.

You can read more about Alexandra’s story on her website. Life with Herpes.

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