icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"
Last Sunday I started to feel a bit off, and by Monday night I was sure -- I was having my second-ever genital herpes outbreak. I went to the clinic on Tuesday and got meds, and honestly while it was somewhat uncomfortable it wasn't terrible and as long as I was sitting/lying still, I didn't feel it at all. But the emotional impact was intense, because I had been unsure which type of herpes I had. See, I contracted it from someone with a cold sore going down on me, meaning it was type 1 which prefers to live in the mouth: so it could be that I would never have a genital outbreak but might have oral outbreaks. For 5 years I had no outbreaks, and I kinda got my hopes up. I communicated clearly with lovers about it and took precautions as if it were genital herpes, but I think I kinda expected it to not be. Turns out I'm not THAT lucky, though 5 years between the first two outbreaks is pretty good.
I started feeling really shitty about myself and my lack of desirability. I was texting with Allison and told them what was happening and that the actual physical part was no big deal, but the stigma was making me feel pretty intensely sad. Like I said to Allison, this outbreak is no worse than a bad acne outbreak (when you first get a bump it feels like one of those achy pimples). Most people who have herpes -- 80% -- don't even know because they don't have symptoms. People who do get outbreaks usually only get a few in their lifetime, and they decrease in frequency and intensity. It doesn't damage your system. Unless you or someone you have sex with is immuno-compromised, there is no logical reason to fear herpes, except of course for the stigma.
Interestingly, the next day my timehop showed me an article I had linked a few years before -- "The Perks of Herpes." I realized I have to come out all over again because most of the people who know me didn't know me then. I've always been out about it because unlike the author of that article, I want people to know WAY before genital contact happens. I don't think it is good consent to wait until sex is about to happen, because then there is pressure to decide on the spot and most people are not well-educated enough to do that. Most people would need to do some research in order to have a decision they are confident in. And I also just don't want to deal with the heartbreak of falling for someone and then having them be like "if your genitals might be untouchable sometimes that's gross and I don't want to be romantic with you." I guess if I fell for someone asexual I might not tell them because it really wouldn't matter.
I'm still feeling really shitty about it. I don't want people to love me in spite of a fact of my body. I don't want all potential lovers to be considering a thing that I feel is largely irrelevant. I don't have a choice though, because only informed consent is consent.
So, yeah. This came on the heels of a realization that I am older than most of the people I know and age is a factor in most people's attraction. And of course I have a significant amount of fat and that is also a factor. So I really feel intensely undesirable. I know these things will eventually blend into the background of my life again and not make me feel like a repulsive monster, but right now it's pretty terrible.