Updated: Oct 12, 2018
"What the bleep is that?" the Doctor said. He had never seen anything like it! I was 23, had just been to the beach, in the sun all day and my entire bottom lip swollen to the size of a baby hippo! Flash back to when I was around 12 years old. I picked up herpes! NO! not the symplex 2 kind. The symplex 1 kind. That is the cold sore kind that you get on your lip. Well, since the age of 12 (I'm now 53) I get cold sores- otherwise known as herpes- about once or twice a year. I was embarrassed a lot as a kid with my friends, at camp and in school. By the time I got to high school I was more confident about it and would freak my friends out calling it a herpe lip. Once when I was waitressing I was told to go home because "nobody want to see that".
I had all sorts of remedies to manage them from soaking with a washcloth to using hydrogen peroxide to popping and picking. I knew all of the herpe phases from a slight tingle one moment to a major eruption of pain and blisters the next. I would get them on my lips and in my nose and even on my face. Luckily I never got them---you know where. Clearly you can see I am fine talking about it. But, why am I telling you my tragic herpe story on the Blog of my Yoga for Emotional Support page? I'll tell you.
I was at a birthday party for one of my kids' friends about 12 years ago. I had a group of really good friends / moms there and were all enjoying the kids and the party. I noticed that one of my friends had a very noticeable herpe, Ok, I'll stop calling it that... cold sore, on her lip. I pointed it out, knowing that she was a pretty confident person and assuming that she had been dealing with cold sores for a long time too.
(I don't know why I assumed that). I said "I see you have a herpe" and I could tell she was a bit embarrassed because she had tried to cover it up unsuccessfully. I discovered very early on there is no hiding a cold sore! She laughed awkwardly and we shared some of our cold sore stories and remedies. We talked quite a bit on the subject and I was glad that I was able to give her some of my very best remedies. After awhile the party was over and we were all leaving. I was walking out the door with my kids and yelled back to my friend "Take care of your herpes!" Of course we both knew it was a joke---Pretty funny-huh? Because nobody would yell such a thing out about herpes! That's what makes it so funny! HaHaHa!
A week or so later another good friend of mine brought up the fact that when I made that comment I really embarrassed my friend. I was totally floored and mortified. I felt so horrible and immediately called her up to apologize. She was very kind and gracious and I was relieved. To this day- 12 years later- I am still thinking about it and other similar stories that involve my speaking before thinking. Although I had no intention of hurting her feelings, it still did.
We are each unique humans with our own life experiences that make us automatically respond to the people and world around us the way we do. Some with mean emails, some with harsh and hateful words, some by retreating the situation or within ourselves and some with humor that might offend. We are all doing the best with what we have; however, we have a choice of how to make some changes within ourselves so we can respond with more kindness and understanding especially in the face of harshness. That can be the hardest but the most important decision we can make. So, the next time you are about to say something that may be funny to you, stop and think. Or if someone responds harshly to you, pause before speaking and try to see the hurt or fear or insecurity coming through and then choose to respond a different way instead. And if you see someone with a herpe lip just smile at them as if you don't even see it!