Relationships: The Only Truth You Can Live Is Your Own
The first response we receive after a disclosure often shapes how we navigate future disclosures. I’ll share my experience first. After my genital HSV-2 diagnosis, my concern was who else did I pass it to? After doing more investigating, I learned that I could’ve had herpes for a long time and just not known, so it was possible that I had passed it on to my most partners in recent relationships. After checking in with them, I learned that none of them at the time had shown symptoms of herpes or been positive for it.
My first disclosure was one where the person needed to take in the information. They came back to me with the response that someone close to them and their partner had also been diagnosed with genital HSV-2. She was far more understanding and empathetic than I expected. I didn’t expect such a positive response, but that did set the framework of expectations for me moving forward because I had no awareness on what to expect from a person after disclosing my positive STI status to them. The media highlights herpes in such a negative way, shaming and putting the person/people who have it in a position to receive criticism with no explanation about the virus, how it works, how common it is, how it shows no symptoms. If I didn’t receive such a positive response from my first disclosure, I don’t know that I would’ve told anyone else.
Our guest on this week’s episode of Something Positive for Positive People did not receive a positive response when she told her good friend who also happened to be friends with the person she believes passed the virus on to her. She chose to confide in someone she knows and trusts. The response she was met with was “You don’t tell a soul.” For a period of time, that’s what she did. Our guest describes the experiences that came after that. She shares how this narrative didn’t fit who she was.
She was attempting to put someone else’s truth into her own being. When you try to live someone else’s truth or the truth they project onto you, something has to give. The best way to describe it is, just imagine you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The pieces don’t fit. And damage could be done trying to force it
On episode 104 of SPFPP: Relationships Extend Beyond the Body we dive into this and talk about how our guest began the process of disclosing to everyone, starting with her then husband. We talk about how rejection sounds like “I don’t want to have sex with you” in our minds, but what we could be missing is that the other person wants to be with us in a sexual way, they just don’t know how to do it and minimize the risk of exposing themselves and other partners to the virus. We talk about how she’s been able to be with someone to minimize risk of exposure to their other active sexual partners.
Courtney W. Brame is the Founder of Something Positive for Positive People, a hub of sex-positive resources.
For comments or questions on this week’s episode of SPPP, reach out via www.spfpp.org
Courtney Brame is on social media @HOnMyChest