Vulnerability…Rocks

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When I wrote the draft of my last post, I had an introductory paragraph that explained why I was writing the post.  My lovely friend Amy edited my post and suggested I eliminate that paragraph or move it somewhere else in the post.  She thought it would be much more powerful to open with the line…I have herpes.  I got a huge lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach but I edited the post and hit publish before I could overthink it.  However, when I shared on Facebook, I did alter the way I shared it.  I was still nervous about having the first sentence show up in my FB feed.  A minute later, I changed my mind.  I knew that if I was going to be vulnerable and not care what other people thought I needed to put it all out there.  But when I went back to FB, I was already getting comments and they were AMAZING!  I actually started crying…happy tears.  The comments were so supportive and encouraging.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was blown away by everyone who took the time to comment on my FB post and my blog.  Then there was the email I received from the student who gave me the extra push I needed, after reading my post…

That’s awesome to hear! Thanks so much for your reply back. I went to your site and read your latest blog. Wow. I can only imagine how hard it was for you to post, but I think that you did a very honest, a very brave, and a very important thing. Not just for you, but for others as well. I hope that it has lifted a weight off of you, and I hope that it will help you to open up, as well as reciprocate.

Thanks so much for writing and for sharing the Safe Sex guide! I really enjoy your blog, and you have a wonderful talent as a writer. Good things will come from this. Best of luck with everything in your future.

I also received many private messages from other people who have dealt with the stigma of herpes.  They shared how they were ashamed and weren’t putting themselves out there for fear of the reaction from a potential partner.  I had conversations about other “shameful” things people have done or experienced.  It was as if the clouds had parted and the light was shining in.  People who felt they couldn’t share with anyone, could now share and I imagine it lessened their fear, made them feel less alone, and that they didn’t feel like they needed to hide in the shadows anymore.  This is what I hope they felt by telling me their story.

My wish is that we can all continue to share our stories without worrying about what anyone else thinks.  We can let the light in, be honest with each other and support each other…hold each other up.  That is my wish for all of us.

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

 

Posted in Gratitude, Inspiration, Life Lessons | 4 Comments

A Stigma

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I have herpes.

Just writing that down is freeing and terrifying at the same time. I’ve shared this information with my dearest friends and I don’t have a problem discussing it in person, (although I do tend to change the tone of my voice when I say it, herpes, like a whisper), but telling the world at large is a bigger deal.

Most days, I really don’t think about it, but as soon as I start dating it’s like a dark cloud that hangs over me. Even though 1 in 4 people have herpes, there is still a stigma attached. Anytime I hear a joke about herpes, I cringe. And, of course, anytime I start dating someone I feel the need to share this information almost immediately. Maybe it’s a test to see how compassionate or honest or brave the person is. Will it change the way they look at me? Will they want to move forward?

The man I fell in love with last year…he asked questions, did his research and we had a very loving, active, safe sex life. But my latest dating experience was different. We met through a friend; he was intriguing so I was interested. Since he lived a bit of a distance from me, we talked quite a bit on the phone and it seemed we could talk about anything. On the third date I told him about the herpes. He had married young and was married for twenty-five years, so he had not had any exposure to any information about herpes. We discussed it further; he did some research and was surprised to find out how prevalent it is. It did not, however, deter his interest in me. When we finally did have sex, he still had some questions, but we used protection, and all was good. Or so I thought. While we were still lying in bed, his fear began to mount. He brought it up, we discussed it again, and I explained that herpes does not define me, it’s something I have and something I have to deal with but if we were careful, he wouldn’t contract it. He still felt afraid and needed to try and wrap his head around it. I said that was fine, to take his time.

It’s been over three weeks now, without any communication at all from him. It is disappointing, but I know I’m in a good place because I am not letting this deter me in any way. Honestly I don’t blame him for his fear. A herpes flare can be very painful but there are ways to minimize them. There are prescription drugs available and I take a Lysine supplement every day that boosts my immune system. I’m also experimenting with essential oils. The oil that has been known to help with flares is the Melissa oil. How funny is that?!

So now you know the most personal thing you could possibly know about me. I’m hoping that this post will resonate with some of you and may help anyone who is dealing with some sort of stigma, whether it’s herpes or something else.

I have been debating discussing this topic for a while now but I was afraid of what other people, including you, would think of me.   But I kept waking up, writing the post in my head. Then recently, I received a random e-mail with the title “An idea for your site” and this opening sentence, “I hope I’ve found the right person to contact. In doing some research for a project in my human sexuality course, I found your page here…my project is based on spreading awareness of important sexual issues in our society. I’ve chosen this comprehensive guide on safe sex as the focus for my project.” I’ve also been working really hard in letting go of worrying about what anyone else thinks (a daily practice, I must add). And this is the ultimate test in not worrying about what anyone else thinks.

For those of you who are single, married, in a committed relationship, whatever your status and are concerned about STD’s, here a link to reference site I was emailed as part of a class project. The only think this student asked was for me to share the link on my site. I’m still not sure what made him choose my site but it was the catalyst to me sharing this information.

If you want to start a dialogue or have questions, I’d be happy to do that too. In the meantime, I am hopeful and confident that there is someone out there for me who will accept ALL of me.

Posted in dating 101, Life Lessons | 55 Comments

Some Days…

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Some days…

  • the road seems long with no end in sight and then you remember, there is no destination, just the journey
  • you get a phone call with news that someone you love is in the hospital, side effects from chemo forcing her to bed rest…and you can’t quite process it all
  • you get a sudden wave of sadness thinking about a lost love, even though you’ve moved forward, at least you think you have
  • you watch the news and your heart hurts from seeing all the pain in the world and yet you still think love is the answer
  • the clouds roll in and as hard as you try you can’t outrun the rain
  • your mind tells you tears need to fall and yet they don’t seem to come
  • you get complimented on your teaching and it makes the long days totally worth every second
  • you push through the day with little sleep but plenty of energy then the next day you get plenty of sleep but can barely make it through the day
  • you focus a little too much on the scale and not enough on how healthy and strong you are
  • you are so grateful that you didn’t have surgery because now your back feels great
  • you realize you are so lucky to have this life.

 

Posted in Gratitude, Inspiration, Life Lessons | 2 Comments

Taking it Lightly

 

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Part of the reason I moved to this new apartment was to meet new people and hopefully start dating again.  Since my break up last year, I’ve had exactly one date who was a friend of a friend and it was clear from the get-go that neither of us had any interest.  So last weekend when I ran into one of my neighbors and he clearly expressed interest, it was refreshing and totally flattering.  We’ve hung out a couple of times and while there is an attraction, it won’t go any further than friendship (with a bit of flirting thrown in).  Why?  Because I’ve made a rule that I will only get involved with someone who is totally single, already divorced or if they are separated, then it’s only a matter of signing on the dotted line.  I’ve had a bit of experience with men who were separated but not divorced and it never ends well.  He’s only recently separated and clearly not in a place to be dating, so we’ll stick with rule on this one.

I’m hoping to meet more new neighbors and maybe one of them will turn out to be more than friends, we’ll see.  Just the other day, one of the girls in the leasing office mentioned that maybe I should get lost on the fourth floor because someone new moved in that I might be interested in.  Haven’t met him yet but I may just have to hit the wrong button on the elevator.

This move has been the right one for me.  And even if my dating life doesn’t improve, that’s ok, my social life has and spending time with friends is way more important anyway.  Although I think I may wander up to the fourth floor just for fun.

 

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Settling In

 

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It’s been a really long time since I’ve written here.  There are various reasons for the absence, one of which is that I moved and have been settling in to my new home.  It is totally the opposite of where I lived before.  From a 100+ year old house to a brand new apartment.  You would think it would be challenging getting used to all the new sights and sounds.  Some of my neighbors are loud but somehow I find that comforting.  I was a bit isolated in my old house which is exactly what I needed at the time.  Now, the social aspect of this new home is exactly what I need.  I’m loving all of the great amenities here and my apartment is beautiful and I’m slowly meeting new people.  I’m within walking distance of work and the pub and the coffee shop…convenient to everything.  There’s still a lot of construction going on so I’ve gotten used to their 6am start time.  I figure the earlier they start the quicker they’ll be done.  I overlook the pool which is going to be beautiful…when its finished!

Moving can be stressful, which it definitely was for the first couple of weeks.  Now I’m loving it but I’m still trying to find my rhythm.  It seems that I can only focus on one big goal at a time.  The past 2 months, I’ve been focused on my health and fitness.  I have totally neglected my writing.  I’m even enrolled in an amazing course, The Conscious Booksmith, that I periodically check in on but I’ve put off actually doing the work.  I know that I need to do the work, I’m not sure why I’m not.  I’m trying to sit with it all and not beat myself up and do what I can when I feel the time is right.  This, I’m sure you all know, is not very easy to do.

So as I sit here on my balcony, listening to various construction machinery at 7:30am, I’m just letting it all flow.  Taking one step at a time, starting now by writing this post and hoping that sparks more writing.

“We can choose to start over in this very moment, there is no need to wait for a new year or a new month or a new week.” – Madisyn Taylor, Daily OM

 

Posted in Home, Life Lessons | 2 Comments

Suffering Silently

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Dealing with chronic pain over the last year has been eye opening for me.  It has made me more patient, more empathetic and a better teacher.  I have learned how many people suffer with some sort of physical pain every day and do so without a bit of complaining.

Over the years, I was really good at keeping my feelings inside for fear of burdening anyone else.  When my brother died, my parents were concerned because I wasn’t sharing my feelings with them, they didn’t see me cry.  I got really good at stuffing down my feelings until they exploded in one moment.  When I announced I was getting divorced, everyone was shocked because I was really good at keeping my feelings hidden, no one had a clue anything was amiss.  Slowly, over time, I’ve gotten better about sharing.  Maybe its age, maybe its a lot of hard lessons, or maybe its the people in my life.  I think its a combination of all of these things.  I’m no longer afraid to share feelings for fear of burdening people because they want to listen, they want to help.  How do I know this?  Because I want to do that for other people and I have an amazing group of friends who are always there.  Are there times when I worry if they really want to hear me cry anymore over my breakup or cry about the chronic pain, of course I do.  But I am getting better at sharing in spite of my fears.

Even here on this blog, I’ve shared things I’m planning on doing and then turned around later and changed my mind.  Last post, I told you I was planning to have surgery to get rid of the herniated disc in my back.  I was convinced that was the only solution for me.  Last week, I changed my mind.  I’m trying a different route and if that doesn’t work, surgery can always be rescheduled.

What I’ve learned about sharing stories, feelings, pain, is that there is someone out there who can relate in some way.  I always wonder if people think I’m crazy or annoying but it doesn’t stop me from sharing anymore.  They will always think what they want but by sharing my stories, my feelings, my pain, I may be helping someone else who is too afraid to share.  I know for sure that I’m helping myself by sharing.  I’m no longer suffering silently.  I’m actually not suffering at all because the more I talk about it, the more free I feel, if that makes sense.  I’m no longer stuffing my feelings down creating more internal strife.

I guess the point of this post was to let you know you are not alone, you don’t have to suffer in silence, you can share your feelings, your fears, your pain and there is always someone willing to listen.

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Moving Forward…I’m Ready

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Almost three years ago, I moved into this house.  I walked in and fell in love and knew I had to be here.  And for all this time, that tire swing has hung in the tree.  Then one day on a whim, I decided to look at a new place to live.  I’ve been feeling the pull to make a change and as soon as I saw these brand new apartments, I knew it was time.  That evening when I got home, the tire swing was on the ground, it was a sign.  This house has been a exactly what I’ve needed, a place where I’ve learned to be alone, a place where I’ve fallen in love and healed from heartbreak.  Now its time to move forward to a new home.  It will be the complete opposite of where I’m living now.  Going from 100+ year old house with a yard to a one bedroom brand new apartment in a big community will require some adjustment, but its time for a change.  I’m ready.

For just over a year, I’ve been dealing with chronic pain, starting in my low back and radiating down my left leg.  I’ve tried chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture and even resorted to a cortisone shot but nothing has worked.  Even pain meds do nothing.  I finally relented and had an MRI to discover a herniated, bulging disc, was referred to a neurosurgeon and decided its time for surgery.  I’ve never had surgery nor been a big fan, but decided if it could eliminate this pain with little downside, then its time.  Time to move forward pain-free, I’m ready.

Exactly one year ago today, I met him.  What a difference a year has made.  He helped me re-open my heart, broke it wide open and now I’m ready to move forward, find love again.  I actually have a date tonight.  It seems weird on this day but its time to start again.  No longer afraid to fall and get hurt because I know I can get back up.  I’m ready.

I’m ready…to start again, for little changes and big ones too, to move forward.

Posted in Home, Life Lessons | 3 Comments