I have genital herpes. GENITAL herpes. The thing everyone laughs about. The thing nobody actually knows shit about. I have that. I got it from my abusive, lying, cheating, alcoholic/cokehead ex-boyfriend.

Each time I get an outbreak (one, pimple-looking thing), I'm confronted with his ghost. I'm confronted with the fact that he lives inside of me, and will forever. 

The actual outbreak isn't a big deal to me. It's not often painful; it's more an annoyance. It's the other stuff that's difficult. The trauma. The retraumatization I feel each time it happens. 

He is the virus, and he'll always be with me. In order to live with myself, I have to confront this. I have to accept this. 

Almost 3 years later, and it's still so painful sometimes. There's an emotional component to herpes. Yes, you're experiencing a physical manifestation of a virus, but you also just feel "off" and shitty and sad. For me, the sadness brings up everything: the lying, the cheating, the diagnosis, the abandonment, the death of a love. 

I hear he's married and has a child now. Both things he wanted with me. Both things I wanted with him. Even after he assaulted me. 

I hear he's happy. 

And I'm still here. Living with his ghost. This ghost that sleeps inside of me. Waking ever so often to remind me he is still with me. And he always will be. Reminding me with his Cheshire Cat smile that I'm forever tied to him. He has branded me and every lover after will know about him.

He's not the only one sleeping soundly in my nerves. There are three other ghosts that live inside of me. My ex is the only one who left a visual mark, though.

How do I live in a body that is haunted by men?

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