Herpes Sex Guilt Philly

Having Herpes, Having Sex, Having Guilt in Philly:  Tips for Self Forgiveness

Telling your partner that you have genital herpes is embarrassing, uncomfortable, and in general hard to do. As a result, sometimes people don’t disclose that they have herpes to their partner, still have sex with him or her, and feel extremely heavy guilt. If you have had sex did not disclose your genital herpes diagnosis, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. In fact, the guilt you feel shows that you in fact have a good conscience, but you made a choice that you don’t agree with. Essentially, you made a mistake and you feel bad. This is what we call “herpes sex guilt”

Stating I have “herpes sex guilt” sounds simple enough, but having guilt is a dangerous emotion because it leads to negative thoughts about yourself, which leads to worse thoughts about yourself. Instead of staying angry at yourself for what you did, you will quickly be angry at yourself   for being yourself. That isn’t fair or accurate. Basically, guilt will cause you to lose perspective. If you find yourself thinking, “I am a bad person,” or, “I don’t deserve to be happy anymore,” instead of, “I should have chosen to tell my partner,” or, “I made a bad choice,” then you have lost perspective.

So how on earth are you supposed to feel better? How can you feel less guilty? How can you like yourself again? It all starts with forgiving yourself. The way to self forgiveness is to see things clearly and differently, based on reality not an excess of guilt and negative thoughts. How do you do this? You will need a mirror, a pen, some paper and a little help from your friends (or other people in your life who you feel accept you no matter what).

Step 1: The first thing you need to do is to admit to yourself, out loud, what you feel guilty about. Look at yourself in the mirror, and recognize yourself. Mentally note features on your face that stand out to you. Once you feel connected to the image of you in the mirror, look at yourself and complete the following sentences:

  • I feel guilty about…..
  • I did (or didn’t) do this because….
  • I am….
  • Before I did this I thought I was…..
  • I thought I was this way because…..

The point here is to identify and admit what you feel guilty about, and to see how it changed your thoughts about yourself.

Step 2: Go to your phone and call someone who has been angry at you in the past, and who you feared would not forgive you, but surprised you and forgave you. This person should be someone you know will accept you. One way to know is to think about times that they have shown their loyalty in the past. Ask your person the following questions/complete the following sentences:

  •   Do you remember when I….?
  • How did you feel when I did that?
  • What enabled you to continue to be my friend?
  • Why did you forgive me? What about me made you want to accept me and stay in my life?
  • Before I knew you would still accept me I felt….
  • Knowing you could still love me, even if I did…..made me feel……and enabled me to……..

The point here is to look at a time when someone else needed to forgive you, and to see what made you forgivable to that person. Could those reasons give you permission to forgive yourself now?

Step 3: Before you go back to the mirror for step 3, think about your person’s answers to your questions. Remind yourself that this person knows you, sees you, accepts you, and is telling you the truth about yourself. You don’t have to agree with anything that he or she thinks about you, good or bad, but you have to believe he or she thinks it and sees you as they are telling you. Now head back to the mirror, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • My person was angry at me because…..
  • He or she forgave me because……
  • He or she thinks I am……
  • I believe her because…..

The point here is to emphasize the qualities other people value in you, and to try to get you to accept that people think those good things about you, even if you can’t see them.

Step 4: Go back to the phone, and call someone who made YOU angry, and who you forgave. Think about what forgiveness means and feels like. Ask the following questions/complete the following sentences:

  • Do you remember when you….?
  • I felt…..when I found out you….
  • I forgave you because…..
  • You are…….
  • To forgive you mean that I….
  • Before I forgave you I felt…..but then I felt…..after……

The point here is to look at a time when someone hurt you and you forgave the person, and to relive how it felt to forgive. Now you know what forgiveness is. Does it feel better to forgive or feel angry? If it feels good to forgive, will you work to forgive yourself?

Step 5: This step will be used in step 6. Take out a pen or pencil and paper. Think about the person from step 2, who loves you and accepts you, and who you feel the same about, and list all the good things about the person. List as many as you can.

Step 6: Your task is to write yourself a letter from the person from step 2 and step 5. The letter should be to you, but you are writing it from that person telling you that he or she had sex with someone and didn’t tell the person she had been diagnosed with herpes. Now that person is feeling guilty. Whatever feelings you feel should be written as if you are the other person telling you. The following are a few lead-in statements to get you started, please try to write a full, thorough, honest letter:

Dear ………, Yesterday I had sex with someone and I had been diagnosed with herpes and didn’t tell him. I feel………I don’t know……….I want to……but or and…….How am I going to…….Should I……

Now read the letter as if you have never seen it and have no idea what your person is telling you.

  •   Did finding out what your person did change all of the persons good qualities that you wrote down?
  • Do you still want to be friends with that person?
  • Is that person a bad person now?
  • Do you dislike the person? Do you dislike what she did?
  • What would you say to this person?
  • How would you make him or her feel better?
  • Would you want this person to forgive herself? Not be so hard on herself?
  • Would you dislike this person?
  • Would you think he or she was a bad person?

The point here is to recognize the difference between a person and a mistake, and to see that good people can make mistakes and still be good, and deserving of forgiveness. Most likely you still love your person, even if you don’t like what she did. You still love her because you know her, and her mistake doesn’t define her. The same goes for you, it is just harder to see in yourself. You are the same person you were before you made the choice that left you feeling guilty. Note that a person’s good qualities don’t all disappear when they do something you (or they) feel is wrong. You need to practice thinking negative thoughts about your mistake, and positive thoughts about yourself. It is a seemingly small distinction, but it makes a huge difference. Keep things in perspective and remind yourself that you made a bad choice; you did not make a bad person. Here are some final suggestions for you to use which will help you get rid of the “herpes sex guilt philly” issue:

  • I’m angry that I didn’t tell my partner I have genital herpes.
  • That was a bad choice to make.
  • The choice I made was stupid.
  • I did the wrong thing and I feel guilty.
  • I wish I didn’t have to make that choice.

Correct your mistake, and if you can’t bring yourself to do it, have a plan of how you will handle the same situation in the future.