Finding Freedom and Wholeness Beyond Herpes: Breaking Free from the Eeyore Phase
This week on our support group calls, both in the AM and PM, we delved into a common struggle that many of us have faced—the relentless fog of our herpes diagnosis. We've coined it the "Eeyore phase." It's that time when the weight of our condition seems unbearable, when we question our self-worth, and when we feel like life has taken a dark turn. But here's the thing—we know we don't want to stay stuck in that gloomy place. We're starting to muster the strength to lift the fog.
One aspect that resonates deeply with our members is the feeling of diminished self-esteem and a profound sense of brokenness due to herpes. We also grapple with the loss of freedom, believing that certain activities and relationships are now off-limits. But perhaps the most poignant emotion is the sense of losing our wholeness—a feeling that a vital part of ourselves has been stripped away.
I've been there too. I remember vividly the turning point in my life, a moment when I decided I could no longer allow herpes to dictate my self-worth, my freedom, or my sense of completeness. It was when I was approaching my 30th birthday, still dating the guy from whom I had contracted herpes. Shame and isolation engulfed me, and I carried the weight of herpes like an unfair burden.
But I made a choice—one that would transform my life. I envisioned what I truly wanted. I yearned for a deep, passionate love, where a man would embrace me for who I am, not see me as someone trapped by herpes. I embarked on a journey to make it happen. I decided to step out of my comfort zone, to meet new people, and to let love in.
I thought about Newton's third law, "For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction." If I refused to date or turned down potential partners because they didn't fit my preconceived notions, I was signaling to the universe that I didn't want love. But if I ventured out, if I opened myself up to new experiences, love would eventually find its way to me.
And it did.
This is just an example of one baby step that I took. Were there still days that I felt like Eeyore? Yes, of course. Are there still times when the shame, guilt, or just pissed off feelings come up? I'd be lying if they didn't. But the difference now is I don't identify as the stigma. I no longer feel that I'm this dirty, disgusting person who has herpes. These thoughts only held power over me because I let them. And now I know that I have the power to choose my thoughts and the power to change my thoughts.