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Letter to the one who rejected me


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I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint;

my heart is like wax,

it is melted within my breast;

my strength is dried up like potsherd,

and my tongue cleaves to my jaws;

thou dost lay me in the dust of death.

Psalm 22

No, really, I am fine now. Maybe I did feel like that for a couple of days, and cried a lot, mostly on the inside. But then I moved on. That’s why I am writing now: to let you know that this experience did not leave me bitter. I’ve always prided myself in being strong and surviving the most trying of predicaments, and this time was no exception. Something within me, which some may call God, others a strong moral core, did not fail me. I emerged better and stronger than before – refusing self-pity and scorning fate, life-loving and seeing the future as a place of hope.

I am also writing to clarify a few points. First, why I waited as long as I did to tell you. You may find this hard to believe, but I’ve had this condition for so long, and it gave me so little trouble that I simply did not give it a second thought (after the first outbreak, herpes is basically harmless, though embarrassing). Also, being in a long-term relationship, I never dated after contracting it. I came out thanks to a pure coincidence. That day I read a news report on dating with STD, and suddenly it dawned on me that I was one of those people. I learned that contrary to what I’d assumed protection was not 100% effective, and that “healthy” partners often balked at having intercourse with somebody infected. Then I decided it was my duty to tell you, and I don’t regret having done so. I confess I hoped you would agree to be with me anyway. If not somebody as urbane and compassionate as you, then who would? But you made your choice, and I respect it.

Second, you asked me what I would have done in your place. The answer is: it depends. If I was looking for casual sex and planned to continue dating many people, I might have made the same choice you did. If, however, there was a strong physical attraction, a sharing of interests and tastes, and a promise of a fulfilling and long-lasting relationship entailing a union of bodies and souls, I would have taken the risk. But clearly this was not the case here. So, no more of that.

Third, I don’t regret anything that happened: not the emails, not the growing attraction, not the surging desire, not even the death of all hopes and the coming and passing of the day when we were to have our several hours of bliss. Right after you turned me down, I felt a strong urge to give in to despair, to see myself with the word “herpes” branded forever onto my forehead. I was no longer that high-achieving, talented, attractive woman I knew. That elegant outline of my neck, that seductive glimmer in my eyes, that graceful figure no longer mattered. It was the hidden virus lurking somewhere inside my body that defined me, once and for all. But then I came to my senses and exorcised the ghost that threatened to separate me from the world of the living and the loving. I realized that greater self-knowledge is the invaluable albeit intangible gift I will take away from this experience. I will never again underestimate the significance of having this virus, but neither will I be its prisoner. I will pursue happiness, I will look for love, and I will find it someday with a person for whom herpes is only skin-deep, and love is not.

Finally, I hope that like me, you will have learned something from this experience. As you “go out and have fun,” you should be aware of the fact that not everyone chooses to reveal having this condition. As many as 25% of all American women have it, and most of them don’t know it or don’t tell. Chances are, you have dated someone with it, or you will some day (And how do you know you haven’t passed along HPV, a common virus with no symptoms that can cause cervical cancer? 50% of men carry it). It would be ironic for you to get it from somebody you barely know after having declined to be with me. Let this not become the reason for you to regret having done so. If the regret ever arises, let ME be that reason.

For you have lost me, and I have lost you, and let us leave it at that. It’s nobody’s fault. I will not be seeing you again in the foreseeable future, but I am not averse to receiving an occasional note from you. Tell me about new jobs, new people, new impressions in your life, and I will reciprocate. Then I will know that the memory of what might have been lives on. This memory is the only thing we can still share.


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    • WilsoInAus
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      To give everyone confidence that it wasn’t herpes related and conclude as the doctor did that it was a dermatitis issue to refer back to the dermatologist to continue with investigations.
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