TW: abuse, mental health, misogyny, sex addiction
I tried to write some big long complicated post, but instead I’ve ended up with this.
I was prescribed Zoloft yesterday. My stress and anxiety have been so high that I’ve created a serious hormonal imbalance for myself, which has created symptoms that only compound my stress and anxiety. A Looping Effect. I think my body is communicating with me?
It is saying, help.
So I starting taking the Zoloft. Today is day two and, I don’t know if it is the actual medication or just the relief of knowing that I could find some small amount of peace, but I feel better (slightly). Soon after I take it, I momentarily feel my brain working. Like little fires being burned in the meadows of my mind.
I’m going back to therapy on Thursday. I haven’t been to therapy since 2008. I hope we like each other, my therapist and I, that they are able to help me move through this.
My head says awful things to me sometimes. It likes to punish me - I’ve made so many unbelievable mistakes this past year. Life shattering mistakes that pushed the relationships that mean the most to me to the brink of existing. I didn’t speak to my sister for six months. Not a word. The silence between us was made up for in nightmares and telepathic (imaginary?) arguments.
When my head doesn’t say the awful things, I just hear my ex-boyfriend on repeat.
You should know that there was not an inch of my body that he didn’t critique.
"I hope our children don’t get your feet"
"You’re just not my type"
"You’re vagina is boring"
If it wasn’t my body that he was critiquing, he would compare me to every other woman on the street.
"She’s cute. I’d love to fuck her"
He stored hundreds of screenshots of random people from his Tinder account on his phone and would show them to me. Hundreds. One weekend in Los Angeles I found myself on the floor, beating my own legs in rage, as he told me he felt like I was preventing him from sleeping with other people, that I was imprisoning him. He would stay up late watching porn and masturbating, leaving his underwear in the living room and the trashcan full of tissues, as if to say fuck you you are not enough for me.
This is not what non-monogamy looks like.
My body nor my sexuality was not enough for him to crumple, so he attacked my mind too.
"School is the only thing you’re good at" he would say, because he felt that I did a poor job of doing the dishes. "You’d forget to pick up our kids from school you’re so absentminded".
Now we aren’t together its as if he is a different person. Now he is kind and thoughtful, patient. The other day he remarked at how “tiny” I was, that he could “just put me in his pocket”. I wanted to strangle him, but instead I stayed still like the concrete pavement and didn’t let him see my quivering insides.
None of this describes the depth of what I experienced with this man. None of this explains or gives life to the enormity of his rage, to the depths of his hopelessness, nor the complexity of sexuality. None of this does justice to how all of these characteristics came together to rob me of everything good within me every single day.
Furthermore, I cannot reconcile the fact that I chose him, I chose that reality, I chose him. I was not a victim in that relationship - he never lied to me. He let me know from beginning EXACTLY what I was getting into, and I said yes. What does he reveal about me? What does he reflect?
There is a voice inside of me that says: That my life is so sweet now we are not together, that the goodness of my coworker (who was one of the only lights I had around me as I tried for months to leave) is quite possibly the most precious love I have ever known, that I still managed to achieve a 4.0 at UC Berkeley and maintain this blog feels so profoundly painful to me. I am angry with myself that I chose to power through and get over myself to perform well. That despite being submerged in the shadows of my psyche, a kind and good person was able to witness me and love me despite panic attacks, anxiety, and intense body dysmorphia. Someone who hurts their sister the way i did, someone who disappoints their best friend the way I did, someone who allows and invites the kind of abuse i remained in does not deserve exceptional love, or joy, or to feel beautiful.
This is the voice I attempt each day to convince is wrong. They have to be wrong.
Mostly I am over myself. I am tired. So many adventures with “interesting” people who are really just deeply wounded and divert me from living my own life. Laura, if you want adventure, go on a trip, do LSD, finally run the marathon you’ve wanted to, write a book, or let yourself actually love someone for once. Actually love yourself, Laura. Forgive yourself. Perhaps that is the adventure of a life time.
They will ask you
Whether your project can inflict ‘harm’
And you will respond: “minor discomfort” to expedite the review process
Her name is Cym,
And the arc of her smile mirrors her painted eyebrows,
On Mondays she asks you what you did over the weekend.
You do not tell her. You are guilty of the conversion rate, how you can afford a club, a skin, a language that she never will.
She wants to know what it feels like to live in America
If you have a handsome boyfriend there who will buy you dinner sometimes
In your field research class they will teach you about the importance of obtaining consent.
Cym cannot sign your form
So she communicates with the earnestness of hazel eyes
Smiles, tells you how she used to let heroine and men
Inside of her and sometimes couldn’t tell the difference,
Tells you how the cops would beat her in men’s prisons
In the international research workshop they will tell you not to get involved in your subjects’ personal life.
Your palms are sweaty, do not let them smear the ink. Keep writing as she laughs and encourages you to ask more questions
An aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. When the size of an aneurysm increases, there is a significant risk of rupture, often resulting in death.
A researcher is an ambitious distraction at the back of the room. When the amount of information increases, there is a significant risk of an epiphany, often resulting in a published paper.
She will die suddenly nine months after your interview. You can still remember the scent her smile
Dear Cym: In America I am learning how to think that I am better than you.
In fact, I am majoring in you. Don’t worry, they don’t use your name, keep it confidential
I am turning your body into a new theory
Academics work like Johns sometimes don’t worry,
Don’t worry they will pay me to use you,
I will cut you some of the profit in my acknowledgements.
My thesis will be in English,
In the accent you heard on re-runs of friends, Cym I’m sorry we weren’t friends, but I wanted to keep it professional
I promise I will print it on the whitest paper I can find,
So they can see the black in your words
I will bury you in a library,
I hope you will find home there
In this haunted house of quotations
Hanging on the shelves like skeletons
Listen to the recorded transcript on repeat,
Feel her laughter crawl into you,
Watch it spark the timber wood of your bones,
And burn your paper in the flames
And cry because we refuse to let people inside of us in fear of imploding
And cry because you have the story of a woman nested in the back of your throat and you do not deserve it.
What I really meant to ask is:
What theory did you use to stay warm at night?
Is, Can you teach me?
if you like this poem please consider supporting the artist at returnthegayze.tumblr.com
Particularly poignant. Is it impossible for us to move around this world without always reproducing oppression? I am left wondering ….
This isn’t my primary blog but, I want to see all of you on my dash. So I’m going to follow everyone!
Proud member since June 2013 (:
Been on for almost five months!
Hellz yeah! Been blogging/vlogging about living with Genital Herpes for 3 years :) xxx
Ever heard of fresh cut Aloe Vera having any effect on easing HSV symptoms?
I have not but I could see how maybe it could help … I would have to do more research. Do you have any links about it?
I haven't been able to cum without my vibrator in years-- be it through masturbation or otherwise. My partner is obsessed with the idea of getting me off without it (which I would love also but feels impossible). One of your earlier posts suggests that I have that mental correlation between the toy + the orgasm. I want to reverse this so I am going to just stop using the vibe all together. I'm afraid nothing else will work though. Suggestions?
I was just talking about this the other day! Yeah - we can become “dependent” on certain stimuli, whether it be physical or mental, in order to orgasm. If you want to learn how to climax through alternative means you’re certainly going to need to experiment. You have to figure out what exactly the vibrator is doing that gets you off, separate from the actual vibration. Where is it hitting? What pressure do you use? What rhythm? What do you think about? Once you’ve recognized those things, try to duplicate it through different means. You’re also going to have be patient and kind to yourself, ESPECIALLY your partner. There is nothing worse than the pressure to perform brought on by an impatient partner. I would recommend exploring this through masturbation first, and then with your partner. I hope this helps and good luck!
I have two bumpy, red patches on each side of my vagina. They are right above my anus and just below my vagina lips, like around it and they sometimes itch while I'm in the shower cleaning myself. I went to the doctor a month ago and the told me I had BV, that's gone away now. But these patches have been here since around Thanksgiving and they seem to be getting worse. Have any idea what they could be or what I should do? Please help!
Go back to the doctor! It could be simply dry skin from using irritating products or it could be something that needs more attention. Because I’m not a doctor, I can’t tell you :/ So, make another appointment as soon as you can while you’re showing symptoms and they will be able to give you a better idea! I hope this helps and try not to worry
The fact that you feel free because you shaved your head is so admirable. There hasn't been a point in my life where my hair wasn't a problem in the eyes of others, but what is good hair anyways? Just another meaningless social construct. Love the new look! <3
Thank you! Hair is a very important part of “successfully” performing normative notions of race and gender, as well as being a key component to ones identity in many ways. Because of this, hair can cause a lot of pain and discomfort for many, many people. Shaving my head is always something that I have wanted to do, ever since I was young. When I watched G.I. Jane (which looking back on is a very complicated film with an interesting message about nationalism/gender/sexuality etc.) HOWEVER, the film certainly steps into queer territory and, in my young eyes, Demi Moore was one of the most beautiful women I had seen on film at that point. Her physical strength, her blend of femininity and masculinity, and her shaved head were very inspiring to me. So, now, two weeks away from my 28th birthday, I finally did it. And I feel the most beautiful I have ever felt. :)
extraordinary—-machine answered: you should write about openly telling strangers about your hsv. I’m curious as to how you don’t get worried about being “herpes girl”
So here’s the weird thing: I’m not all that worried about being “herpes girl.” All my life I’ve been one thing or another, “fan fiction girl” in middle school when I chose to write in a composition notebook in the corner rather than play the popularity game, “sex girl” in high school because I distributed Planned Parenthood condoms from my locker and answered people’s questions about birth control and virginity. My impulse with labels has always been to reclaim them and rock them—if they think I’m a slut I’ll be the sluttiest slut they’ve ever seen became a motto of sorts in my teen years. I learned early that being labeled is reductionist and unfair and unavoidable, and if I become known as “herpes girl” because I have the courage to decide ‘fuck the stigma’ and disclose to random strangers, that’s okay with me. I know it isn’t okay with everyone, but it’s okay with me.
Being okay with it didn’t happen overnight. I was mortified for a while that I had HSV, and that first (and so far only) rejection damaged my self-esteem all over again, even more than diagnosis had. That was the only moment I have ever felt like the “herpes girl,” knowing I had lost out on a great guy because he did not want to take the risk. It was also the only moment I have ever felt like I missed out due to having an STI—having HSV has as much of an effect on my life as I let it at this point. But getting shot down by John was a learning experience: I understood on a rational level that he was rejecting the virus, not me. It took a long time for me to understand it on an emotional level as well, of course, and it hurt like a bitch, but I got there eventually. I’m not “herpes girl,” I’m “girl who also happens to have herpes.”
Beyond that, I’ve also learned that having herpes has made me something of a badass. I care less about what people think of me, not more, because I have seen how loyal and wonderful my friends, family, and partners are despite the virus. The maturity and honesty with which I talk about HSV is impressive to people I know well and to most people I’ve never met before—people expect shame and instead get no nonsense confidence. Generally when you disclose, whomever you are disclosing to follows your lead. If you calmly present the facts and expect them to be smart and kind about it, that’s usually what you will get. Yes there are ignorant assholes, especially teenagers and those who grew up in more sexually conservative households, but the fact is that in the adult world herpes is so common that most people have encountered it or know someone who has. If you’re the first person they’ve met, you might be in for an awkward conversation. But sometimes not even then.
When Fred and I started seeing each other, he was nervous about making me “herpes girl” in his mind. He recognized how unfair it would be to slap that label on me, and he was uncomfortable with the fact that he had already started to think of me that way despite his own best intentions. But it didn’t take long for herpes to fall away as part of his understanding of who I am. Gradually he only thought about it when he put the condom on, and it was very present the first time we decided to have unprotected oral sex but has since not been a conversation. Recently he said in a text message, “I keep forgetting you have herpes. Not like ‘oh I don’t know any who has herpes’ but my experience of you makes it very ancillary.” I don’t think Fred thinks about this on a conscious level, but a huge part of the reason I am the woman he wants is my HSV. Having herpes has made me stronger and yet more emotionally honest, has made me patient but not without high standards. I am independent but I have plenty to offer.
I know when people ask me about disclosing now it usually has to do with my epic herpes joke moment a few weeks ago. I’ll let you in on how that moment of impulsive bravery happened: alcohol and having nothing to lose. I did not think I would see those kids again. I owned that room by virtue of being a college senior at a party full of freshmen and sophomores. I was not intimidated by them. I did not give a flying fuck what they thought of me. If I became “herpes girl,” it did not matter in the slightest. And it just so happened that my disclosure confirmed what they already suspected: I was not someone to be fucked with and still someone they wanted to fuck. Three of the guys there were trying to sleep with me and my disclosure didn’t change a thing. Fred told me later on it was actually incredibly sexy how unapologetic I was. And I’ve become something of a big sister to the two girls with me that night, Lissa and Jane. My self-confidence and entitlement blew their minds. For some of those people I will be “herpes girl” when they look back years from now. And that’s fine, honestly. It’s good for people to have a face to associate with herpes; it makes it human as opposed to a punch line. But it’s far more likely they’ll look back on me as Fred’s hot senior, or that funny and intimidating sex writer they once met.
I think about turning this blog into a book some day, or becoming a sex educator and using my story as a tool to teach. That would make me “herpes girl” in a permanent and public way. The internet it written in stone and I know the risks I take by writing this blog, even with a false name. At the beginning I made the choice to be “herpes girl” if that’s what it took for me to feel better about my diagnosis. And I made the choice to continue writing here when I saw how much it could help other people struggling with HSV. So if I’m “herpes girl,” bring it on.
Morning synth session at the house. Moved a little bit of my gear from my studio to my house so I can play whenever I feel up for it…
follow follow follow :) this is my boo and this is our house and those are really cool synths that make super awesome sounds
Beyoncé's super secret album just dropped this morning, causing quite a stir.In one of the songs, “Flawless” she samples Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TEDx talk on feminism. In the song she says:
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller
We say to girls – you can have ambition, but not too much
You should aim to be successful but not too successful otherwise you will threaten the man
Because I am female I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important
A marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or for accomplishments,
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are
Feminist: A person who believes in the economic, social and political equality of the sexes.
Are there any books you, or followers, recommend on HSV? I am newly diagnosed and would like to learn as much as possible about it. Thank you!
Monsters by Ken Dahl, for sure. It’s a really great graphic novel that goes through the author’s diagnosis, grief, coping mechanism and finally acceptance. I’ve never felt so connected to a story more than I did when I read it. It’ll be staying on my bookshelf for a long time. Here is the link.
As for other books, I honestly haven’t read many books about HSV since
I’m poor andI prefer blogs and Google more and I’m poor, but I did some quick Amazon-ing and here is a list of the ones I’d recommend based on reviews on the site:
Live, Love and Thrive with Herpes:A Holistic Guide For Women by Kelly Martin Schuh (4.8 out of 5 stars, 14 reviews)
Live, Love, and Thrive with Herpes is a revolutionary approach to living with herpes. You will learn how to decrease your outbreaks naturally and how to overcome the emotional trauma of this unfairly stigmatized diagnosis. Meditations and exercises will assist you in your journey to overcome grief and practice forgiveness, healing from the inside out. You will discover: - The top ten triggers your doctor never told you about - Key components of nutrition and detoxification - How to reclaim your feminine power and embrace your sexuality - How to enter intimacy with integrity and authenticity - Dr. Kelly’s simple four-week Self-Care Plan for success.
The Good News About the Bad News: Herpes: Everything You Need to Know by Terri Warren RN NP (4.8 out of 5 stars)
This complete guide to living with genital herpes, written by internationally recognized herpes expert Terri Warren, addresses every practical issue people with herpes face.
Making Peace with Herpes by Christopher Scipio (4.4 out of 5 stars, 22 reviews)
This book is about holistically healing your herpes and living a healthy, happy and balanced life. Holistic health is about much more than making symptoms go away.”
Damaged Goods?: Women Living With Incurable Sexually Transmitted Diseases by Adina Nack (4.3 out of 5 stars, 16 reviews)
How do women living with genital herpes and/or HPV (human papillomavirus) infections see themselves as sexual beings, and what choices do they make about sexual health issues? Adina Nack, a medical sociologist who specializes in sexual health and social psychology, conducted in-depth interviews with 43 women about their identities and sexuality with regard to chronic illness. The result is a fascinating book about an issue that affects millions around the world, but is all too little discussed.
"Damaged Goods?" adds to our knowledge of how women are affected by living with chronic STDs and reveals the stages of their sexual self-transformation. From the anxiety of being diagnosed with an STD to issues of blame and shame, Nack - herself diagnosed with a cervical HPV infection - shows why these women, feeling that they are "damaged goods," question future relationships, marriage, and their ability to have healthy children.
[I really want to read this one.]
The following is a recent paper I wrote. It is far from perfect and entirely incomplete. The term ‘musings’ in the title suggests this imperfection, but I hope this could be beneficial to some who are interested.
When I was a child I wanted to be a witch. I would collect books on witchcraft from the school library and gather the neighborhood kids in my garage to concoct mysterious elixirs from my mothers cleaning supplies. When I wasn’t busy researching pagan rituals, I dreamt of being a teacher, a thespian, the sixth member of the Spice Girls, or a runaway. As time passed, I began to imagine my future self in more complicated ways. I envisioned the houses I would own and with whom I might live with. I imagined distant vacations and sloppy queer romances. Sometimes I fantasized about life’s tragedies; while driving I might picture myself smashing into the car next to me or, in rare moments of terrifyingly profound silence, I may forcibly allow the ever-impending and paradoxically unimaginable death of my parents to wash over me. Yet, never did I ever imagine I would contract genital herpes.
Getting ‘sick’ or becoming ‘infected’ was never a plot point in the stories I told myself about what it meant to be a good person with a fulfilling life; the ever evolving hologram of my projected future self was, despite all knowledge of unavoidable loss and pain, able-bodied. In the films I saw and in the books I read, the people who ‘contracted’ a ‘disease’ or experienced ‘chronic illness’ were people in complex situations or in geographical locations too far away for my imagination to reach towards. A virus like herpes, one that doesn’t kill or devour a body but takes up residence in your dorsal root ganglia and inexplicably enacts its will upon your genitals as if it were some phantom of previous sex and shameful desires, were never spoken of, written down, or gestured towards as possible. Even in sex education classes, of which one poor soul of a high school teacher imparted such limited knowledge upon a classroom of ears that were never listening, genital herpes was like an extraterrestrial; on another planet and in another realm the body becomes one with a virus, but never ever here and never ever now.
Yet most of us who were living with the condition seemed to suffer similarly, submerged in that same horrific naturalized hum, the siren song of immorality, of filth, and of impurity. Painfully buzzing within both the individual and collective herpes consciousness, I began to wonder who wrote this song and who kept letting it be sung. What instruments were creating these violent sounds, what orchestra and which conductor was forcing us all to re-imagine our subjectivity in these limiting, withering, and restrictive ways?
I suppose I have humbly attempted to articulate a new cosmology for the dis-eased body with alternative approaches to writing about my condition. I refuse to consider myself a person who is ‘infected’, ‘contagious’, and a ‘risk’ to intimately be with. I refuse to identify with tropes of ‘impurity’ and ‘immorality’. I refuse to consider the physicality of this condition an ‘outbreak’ and I absolutely categorically refuse to imagine myself as someone who doesn’t deserve love and sexual pleasure. In making these refusals, I do not deny that I have a virus that can be passed on to other bodies. In recognizing this fact and understanding the importance of consent, each person I am intimate with is always told about my condition. However, even in expressing the fact that I have genital herpes, I never allow myself to speak about the condition in a way that invokes an image of weakness or of disgust. In imagining myself as a hybrid, as a body cohabitated with billions of other microbes, I feel less inclined to listen to the hum of herpes stigma and even less inclined to sing along. Sex becomes a radical act of self-care and human/non-human intimacy. Speech becomes a reworking of words so often used against me to create sentences for me.
Holy crap. Just…holy crap.
This whole paper is poignant, beautifully written, and it resonated so much that it made me cry. I’m going to print that out and tape it up somewhere. Maybe keep it in my wallet. Thank you for sharing this, Laura, you’re an amazing writer.
thankyouthankyouthankyou you have no idea how much you and your blog mean to me (like all the hsv+ blogs) and how much this community has influenced my “work”. we are all apart of something really fucking radical. xx