Living with herpes

Joey Garcia

I’m single, not bad looking and fairly well suited for my job, but I’ve had genital herpes for about 14 years. It’s the one sexually transmitted disease that everyone joked about when I was a kid. Now I’m one of the poor shmucks we all laughed at. How do you drop the bomb that you have herpes to a girl that you’re interested in? You don’t, unless you want to be “just friends.” I haven’t been laid in about 10 years. I always fight with the fact that herpes is my curse. I’m a realist. I understand that herpes scares the crap out of people. I’m not asking for a similarly tainted girl (that would be nice, though). I’m just looking for some ideas on how to deal with this thing. I get very depressed, especially on the weekends. I never forget what I have. It’s with me every day for the rest of my life. To top it off, there is nothing that modern medicine can do (they’re pretty busy with the AIDS thing).

The one salve that modern medicine offers is to accurately track herpes in the United States. Their statistics reveal that herpes is the second most common venereal disease in the country. So you are far from being alone. Remembering this can ease your sense of loneliness. Let’s examine some of the other beliefs that fuel your funk. For example, feeling like the brunt of a childhood joke inspires shame and isolation. Jokes are often about things we fear or that we don’t understand. Laughing at those things helps us to believe we understand and belong. What you’re really uncomfortable with and worried about is other people’s ignorance. That’s true even with potential dates. The best path is simplicity: “I have herpes. Do you know much about it?”

Educating yourself about the disease can help tremendously in giving you the courage to educate others. You probably know the basics: avoid all sugars and sweet foods (herpes thrives on a sugar-rich, acidic system); avoid foods high in arginine (an amino acid found in peanuts, peanut butter and chocolate), emphasize foods rich in calcium and B vitamins, exercise, get regular massages and connect with nature during times of stress. Also, herpes is believed to be contagious only when external symptoms are present.

You must also examine your beliefs. If you were a realist you would not fight the fact that you have herpes. You would accept it. Your struggle and weekend depression may be inspired, in part, from the constant friction of the fight. With acceptance comes the ability to make changes to accommodate your needs. Consider placing a personal ad that states your condition up front. Better yet, why not start an on-line dating service? Has anybody registered

A friend and I would like your answer to a conundrum we’ve been debating for several weeks: You are on a small boat that is quickly sinking in a terrible storm. You can save yourself and one other. On the boat are a snake and an infant. Which do you save?

“Whichever is closer” was the answer I gave a Buddhist teacher when I was asked this traditional Zen question many years ago. The point of the exercise is to teach you the value of all life and of simplicity over heroics. It is a conundrum only because the answer does not mimic the traditional view of adhering to a biological hierarchy which places humans over all else.

Meditation of the week
“Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century,” J.G. Ballard wrote. What hallucinations and fantasies have edged their way into existence as your 21st-century life?

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