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He didn’t tell me he had herpes, but at the same time I didn’t ask.
I chose not to use protection because I had been monitoring my cycle and flippantly figured that I have been having sex in 30 years without an STI hiccup. Why would now be any different?
But this time, it was.
Apparently, it was time for me to seriously start tapping into my sexuality, addressing previous sexual trauma, and truly understanding what an orgasm is—I just didn’t think it would start like this.
The whole thing was frankly humiliating. Seeking help when we are sick can be a stretch at the best of times, especially when we have no idea what could be going on with our body.
I had been on expedition in the wilderness over New Year’s and had become highly fatigued, worried, and so uncomfortable with a throbbing pain in my groin. I thought it was the flu, a virus, or maybe I had opened another chakra. To be honest, it still never crossed my mind that I could have contracted an STI. So naïve of me, I know.
Through tears, I confronted the sterile swabs and had a blood test done. Then an overworked doctor confirmed that I had herpes. But something in me guessed I wasn’t the first person she had told that day either.
After sitting in the car for 15 minutes crying over this new information, I knew I had to have the “conversation” with the person I had only recently become sexually active with. To be honest, at this stage, I was somehow worried that perhaps I could have passed it on to him, never thinking it could have been the other way around.
I went into what I call the “nice girl shock” when he confirmed that he did indeed have it, but he didn’t tell me because he didn’t think that you could pass on herpes if you didn’t have any obvious symptoms.
“Nice girl shock” is when I erase all of my anger, fury, and frustration to fit the understanding of being a “nice girl.” This is what my corner of culture has trained me to do, and, frankly, I’m really f*cking good at it.
To add the cherry on top, my self-worth and self-respect were so low that a couple of weeks later he was the one to break up with me. You can see at this point in the story that I had a long path of self-discovery still ahead of me.
Months of physical challenges continued, as the virus went to town on my whole body, whilst the stigma went to town on most of my relationships. The small, sensitive sores were so painful I had to wee in the bath, and because we talk so little about what herpes is, my friends were now afraid to share water bottles with me.
My life was never going to be the same again.
In the years that followed, I began to truly tune into my body, but not always by choice. I already had a lot of awareness of the mind-body connection, but now I was on an embodied journey into understanding how to feel more.
This gift of herpes was a loud message from my body saying, “Hey! I’m in contraction, I need to be acknowledged, and there are many things I would like to release. We could also be having a whole lot more pleasure and fun.”
This message led me down to the garden path—literally to my sacred garden, my yoni.
They often say that sex and money go hand in hand, which made sense to me, as I didn’t have either. So when a course to be a sex coach came into my vortex, my body said, “Yes, let’s do it,” but my bank account said, “No, you wish.”
I felt my body go into contraction again, as my mind began to tear me in different directions. This felt like the opportunity to reeducate myself around my body, sex, and relating in all the ways I hadn’t been taught in school. It all felt so close, yet so far. The total cost of the six-month course was more than I had ever paid for a car, personal development, or even had in my superannuation account.
Wanting to continue to trust this pull that the mind could never calculate, all I had to do was pay the deposit, follow the breadcrumbs, and show the universe that I was prepared to live my life differently than I ever had before.
Fast-forward five months and a half, and I have almost completed my training and can safely say I have never met, held, and expressed myself more in my whole life. The course showed me that my sacral energy isn’t just for masturbating, having sex, and having babies. That it is exactly what I had been looking for, what I needed to tap into to actually make me feel alive and like I wanted to get up in the morning.
I had rediscovered my life force energy.
I have learnt firsthand that everything I want to create, everything I want to feel, everything I desire comes from surrendering into the sensations of my body, and more specifically, my yoni.
It now makes total sense to me why women and their sexual identities have been shamed and repressed. Women are f*cking powerhouses. Men have their own unique strength, but women have strength in the way they can tune into their bodies, seduce, devour, disarm, create, feel, and ignite passion and presence with the depth of one’s breath.
Learning to connect with my body and break down emotions into different feelings, then into sensations, feeling them and allowing them to shift, has now become one of my superpowers. It has opened the gateway for me to acknowledge and heal childhood sexual abuse, no longer abandon myself, and remove any judgement I have around sexual expression for myself or others in this moment.
It has also shown me how much shame and fear we have around talking about our boundaries and desires when it comes to physically connecting with others. This old way of relating isn’t working for me, let alone empowering me anymore (if it ever did at all). Enjoying my sexual essence is my birthright, and I deserve to feel proud when expressing and embodying it.
Now, I am open to being vulnerable with potential intimate partners by opening up our conversations to include:
>> What relationships do you have that this may impact?
>> What boundaries would you like to voice?
>> What are your desires?
>> What is the safest sex we could have?
>> What would this mean to you?
I now also remove myself from situations where my body and intuition say “no,” even if I don’t mentally understand why. Trust that saying “no” is opening me up to other opportunities that are a full body “yes.”
To be honest, I haven’t had sex with anyone since the diagnosis. Could I have? Yes, but I decided not to. Instead, I have carved out this time to come back to myself, to study my body and its sensations like an endangered species. I’ve had a lot of full body orgasms.
Looking back, I can see that I have been able to get enough distance from my decades of love addiction, of jumping from one relationship to another to realise that it was often not love at all, but codependency.
How do I know? Because as I begin to love myself more and more, I am beginning to magnetize people who actually see, respect, and care for me as much as I now do for myself (and it’s an amazing feeling).
It was a big wake-up call, but now I am grateful and no longer look at this as a punishment. I look forward to bringing this new sense of awareness and presence into my future sexual connections.