Whenever I talk about the guy who left me because I had chlamydia, I am bombarded with questions.
“How did you know you had something?”
“Should I get tested?”
“How did you let that happen?”
The best response I could give is that you know your own body better than anyone else. When something is off, you just know.
Neon green flyers hung all over my college campus promoting how to achieve a “peace of mind” through on-campus STD testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, the two most common STDs. I wondered if that was what was going on with me.
"I mean, there's no harm in getting tested. I can go for some peace of mind," I thought to myself.
Scheduling an appointment for an STD test is a tense mixture of an awkwardness, fear and relief. I told myself I’d rather know and get treated than just let it mysteriously hang out in my body. Ignorance is not a cure for an STD.
When I arrived at my appointment, I filled out a short paper that asked for my contact information. I answered questions concerning my body. Next, I peed in a cup and went on my merry way.
The woman at the desk told me if I was clean, I wouldn’t hear back from them. But if my test came back positive, I would receive a phone call.
Like any other patient, I was reassuring myself that would be my last time in there. I wasn't going to get a phone call.
However, contrary to all my false positivity, I got a call from a mysterious, unsaved phone number a few days later. I felt totally hollow.
The woman from the desk spoke softly, “You have chlamydia, okay?”
I had to set up another appointment to get medicine, and I felt like someone who just crawled out of a sewer.
I couldn’t get words like dirty, disgusting, undesirable and sleazy out of my head. Isn't that how the universe views people with an STD? For being diagnosed with something so common, I never felt more alone.
I quickly called my best friend and told her everything. I explained how I was terrified to tell the guy I was seeing.
I thought he was going to hate me, and she reassured me he wouldn’t. I was going home that weekend for a week-long break, and we had plans to tell him together.
After a two-hour drive home, I was reunited with my best friend, and we went out for ice cream.
I didn't have an appetite, but I knew she was trying her best to make me feel comfortable.
“Are we ready to do this?” she asked, reaching for my phone. She helped me formulate every message I sent him right down to the punctuation marks. I told him I had something to tell him, and he had to promise not to get mad.
“It’s really not that bad,” I said, and he knew what was up.
“Not that bad? What do you have?” he asked. I felt like I had “trashy” written on my forehead.
“Chlamydia,” I said.
He responded with, “OMFG,” which was followed by a brutal, unexpected session of slut-shaming.
He asked me who I was hooking up with besides him, and he made a point to say I was only his second partner. So, there was no way he could have given it to me.
He stopped texting me and tweeted, “and there goes my good mood.”
I started crying into my bowl of pistachio ice cream, and my friend had to grab me by my hand and lead me to the car.
“He had no right to react that way,” she told me. “This shows you what kind of person he is. Don’t ever speak to him again. This isn’t even that bad, and he has no right to treat you this way.”
As much as I wanted to believe her, he only proved the thought I had earlier. Everyone thinks people who have STDs are repulsive. Then, he finally responded, “It was really cool knowing you, but I’m not talking to you anymore. I liked getting to know you. Bye, have a nice life.”
Reflecting on this a year later, STD-free and with a clear head, I’d like to say f*ck you for making me feel like sh*t. Anyone who is sexually active can get an STD; they don’t discriminate.
In 2013 alone, the Center for Disease Control reported 1,401,906 cases of chlamydia alone in the United States, along with 333,004 gonorrhea diagnoses.
Considering these were all people who decided to get tested, these numbers are lower than the actual national number of cases.
You were not worth my misery. You left me alone when I legitimately needed you. You made me feel like I was the only person who ever had an STD in a sea of over one million people.
I felt like complete garbage.
I was always an independent woman and half-expected people to act like this, but damn, this hurt.
I don’t feel ashamed anymore, though. But you should.
You kicked me when I was down, and you abandoned me. What's worse is you aren't even the slightest bit remorseful.
No one chooses to have an STD. I did everything I was supposed to do by getting tested, treated and telling my partner. In turn, you made the conscious decision to walk away.
That is what a truly sh*tty person does to someone he claimed to care about.
Contracting an STD is not something anyone should be embarrassed about. They are infections just like getting a cold, and an infection is something to take seriously. It should not be labeled as “disgusting,” and no one should be judged for it.
Personally, I think chlamydia was a blessing in disguise. It taught me to be more empathetic. It brought the phrase, “treat others the way you want to be treated,” to life.
It also showed what kind of person my partner truly was, and I’m happy we broke things off.
With STDs on the rise, communication with your partner is important. If he or she doesn’t want to talk about it or refuses to get tested, let that serve as a red flag to you. Just about every STD out there can easily be cured or at least treated, so there is nothing to be afraid of.
Half of America’s sexually active population will contract an STD by the time they turn 25. There’s no harm in getting tested, even if you don't have symptoms. Ignoring your body is not doing you or your partners any favors.