I'm thrilled to share this piece written by Amber. She's been hiding her herpes status and has recently decided, no more. If you'd like to share your story in whatever capacity feels courageous to you (anonymous, first name, full name), please reach out. We're stronger together. Courage calls to courage everywhere.
So stay courageous xo
You’ve come a long way. I know I always say that to you, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Your resilience never ceases to amaze me. I remember the darker days where you never left your room because you didn’t want to face the world. You were in your own world where no one could harm you, no one could call you dirty or shame you for something they would never understand because they didn’t want to. Yet, day by day you built up your inner strength, I don’t know where it comes from, but it is always there when you need it. You were able to pick yourself up from the ground, dust yourself off and say FUCK YOU! to those who tried to stigmatize you. FUCK YOU! to the fake friends who listened to your story but laughed at you behind your back. FUCK YOU! to the people who wanted to see you lose, who wanted to see you down and out. Fuck all that, you fall nine times and let them see you get up ten, and I fucking love that you have that mentality.
I think back and remember you crying for days thinking no one would ever love you, thinking you were the only person in the world with this deep dark secret. I remember how hard you tried to hide this secret, how you would lie to the men you slept with thinking in the back of your mind that as long as you were safe, it didn’t matter if you told anyone or not. Until one day it all blew up in your face, people knew, and you didn’t exactly know how, you couldn’t pinpoint it on anyone, so you stopped trusting everyone. You became angry with the world but mostly with yourself. How could you be so careless? You started back tracking trying to figure it all out until you drove yourself crazy. You let those people control you, you let those people have power over you, well, I am here to tell you to take that power back! I am here to help you find the courage to live your truth as openly and freely as possible. I want you to stop living with this burden of whether people know or not and just scream it from the mountain tops. Anyone who judges you does not belong in your life. I know it’s annoying to hear but you’ll know who really loves you for you. Sometimes the people we want in our life are not the people we need.
It’s going on six years since your diagnosis and I know how much you wish you could turn back the hands of time to the exact day you contracted it and stop it from happening, but you can’t. It was hard to let go of at one point but now I look at it as both a blessing and a curse. Yea, it made you feel like shit, less desirable and attractive, paranoid as hell and you distanced yourself from so many people. Yea, people exposed you and call you dirty every chance they get but it also made you a different person. You are more compassionate and caring, more self-aware and have a low tolerance for bullshit. Time, self-love and educating yourself has made it easier to accept the things you cannot change and change the things you can. Your personal growth has turned you into the amazing person you are today, someone I am extremely proud of. Your “who gives a fuck about what people think” attitude is on fleek, you have learned to love who you are, and you aren’t as hard on yourself when things don’t go your way. You’ve made plenty of mistakes but never let those define you. Continue to learn from your experiences both failures and achievements and let them become your guide to life. Love and happiness will come, because you deserve it, have faith and continue being the woman you are.