I’m freaking out. I was awake at 4:00 a.m. this morning, obsessing about whether or not I might have a sexually transmitted disease. I’ve never had a STD before – probably through blind luck, although I’ve tried to be careful and use safer sex practices. I’m generally pretty comfortable with my level of caution versus erotic fulfillment, but this morning my anxiety has been through the roof.
I probably have some reason to be concerned. I have had some recent exposure through a couple of different vectors. The likelihood is small, but my ability to perform risk assessment is nil at the moment. When I start to worry, it’s a runaway train – my brain picks up speed until my entire being is consumed, careening out of control. I am a mess of what-ifs. The trust I have in my partners and our system means little in this state of fear. I feel paralyzed.
With any other health concern, I would approach it head on with medical care, information, and treatment. If, in fact, I do have an STD, I will deal with it this way as well as with full disclosure to current and future partners. However, in my fear befuddled state of mind, I’m having troubles calling the doctor’s office. A little bit of the hesitation is not wanting to have to explain, a bit misplaced shame about having a STD. Since no amount of internet research is going to tell me if I have anything or not, I’m going to have to deal.
Why does adding sex to anything make it terribly difficult? I totally lose it whenever I think something might be wrong with my cunt. I think that it’s related to being a survivor of sexual abuse. I don’t tolerate non-sexual pain or discomfort very well. I’ve worked hard for years to feel like I own my body and my sexuality. I don’t need some STD to go messing everything up. I think it’s also that transmission of a STD is often a breach of trust in a relationship.
I have often seen people disclose STDs in a very positive way. Until the early hours of this morning I wouldn’t have said that I believed that STDs were at all shameful, but when I suddenly applied the concept to myself, I ached with shame. I felt dirty and contaminated. I worried that no one would ever love me again. I winced at the necessity of hiding my sexuality, never dating again.
It’s not the first time I’ve had this freak-out, but I hope it’s the last. I’m trying to take the positives out of this situation. I’m feeling the seriousness of potential STD exposure. While I could cope with anything I had to, I really like my life. Sex should be about pleasure, not fear. Time to re-evaluate safer-sex practices with my partners and their partners. Time again to get tested for everything. I can handle this.