Where you can find Alexandra online:
[Jon Dabach] 00:00
Today on the relationship Revival Show I’m talking to Alexandra Harbushka. Alexandra is live was sent into upheaval when she received a call from her doctor diagnosing her with herpes shaking feeling like her life her goals happiness and desires had just gone up in smoke she was left scared and with a new mission to share her story with people just like her and to let them know that their feelings are normal, natural and that they’re not victims.
[Jon Dabach] 00:26
With that mission in mind. She founded life with herpes an online community consisting of a podcast, a website, a YouTube channel wellness products and more to support the skin condition and an online community that provides support, all dedicated to shattering the stigma of living with herpes before founding life with herpes and becoming a mother to her son Clinton and a wife to her husband Bill. Alexandra worked in corporate America with roles ranging from Ralph Lauren to selling new home construction to being a mortgage loan officer.
[Jon Dabach] 00:56
Her education includes a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, and a postgraduate certificate in ministry and is currently working on a master’s in theology. She’s also an ordained minister and provides ministry counseling, you’re listening to the relationship revival podcast with Jon Dabach, also known as Mr. Spirituality.
[Jon Dabach] 01:15
That’s me. I’m your host giving you insights and guidance from over 10 years in the field of this amazing journey we call romance on this show, I go over everything you need to know about how to get into a relationship, how to get the most out of a relationship, and sometimes even how to gracefully end a relationship without pulling your hair out and going crazy.
[Jon Dabach] 01:36
And occasionally, I’m even joined by new and old friends who are also relationship experts to bring you guidance and wisdom with new perspectives. Thanks for stopping by Alexandra Bushka, thank you so much for being here on the program.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 01:50
I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for joining for having me, John. And everything I can’t wait. Yeah,
[Jon Dabach] 01:56
I’m excited to kind of dive into your story. Obviously, it’s something that is close to your own, you know, heart and something that you was a passion project.
[Jon Dabach] 02:07
Tell me what happened in your life that got you on this path and how this all started?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 02:13
Well, of course, it didn’t start off as a passion project you don’t like, you know, like, wake up one day or when you’re in high school people go, what do you want to do with your life and you’re like, I’m going to be a herpes advocate. Like, that’s not how you started off. Um, you know, I that yeah, that was not at all on my radar. And when I was 28 years old, I was diagnosed with genital herpes.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 02:37
And that’s, of course, something that nobody thinks they’re going to get nothing that anybody wants, and, and what you will I mean, I’ve learned a lot since 2011, when I was diagnosed, but you go through this complete journey of, okay, this is what I thought was right, this is what I thought was wrong.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 03:00
This I did these things that I thought were right. And I ended up with something that I thought you got if you did something wrong, right? And you go through this whole spiritual journey and this whole, like, who am I and what am I trying to accomplish? Because at 28, I had, you know, I went to college, I got the great jobs out of college. I you know, I did all those things. I dated the right people who I thought were the right people, and we all have this preconceived idea or notion of, okay, well, we know the person is that gets herpes, like we know what they’re up to. Or we know who they date. And I went, Oh my gosh, how did I get this?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 03:41
How did this just happen? So I realized I needed to help people. I needed to help people. And that’s how I started this whole mission, this whole just a force to educate people about herpes. And if you are living with herpes, here, here’s how you do it. Here’s what it means.
[Jon Dabach] 04:03
Were you in the dating pool? Were you married when you found out what was your situation?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 04:08
So I was dating. Like I said, I was 20 years old. I was dating. I was dating someone I had known a very, very, very long time. And he and I decided to we were dating for a very long time when we decided okay, let’s, you know, go to the next level, which is pretty normal. Pretty normal to be intimate with a partner. Yeah, especially at 28. And so we did that. And about six weeks later. I wasn’t feeling right down there. And boom, here we go. I have herpes,
[Jon Dabach] 04:41
Genital herpes. And was he aware that he had it or was that a conversation?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 04:45
No, he didn’t know. Yeah, and that this is the thing this is the thing that’s extremely frustrating about herpes is the majority of the population has herpes. However, we don’t know we have herpes because we’re not talking tested for it. So even if we’re responsible, sexually active adult, and we’re getting tested for whatever STDs, and you go to your doctor and you’re like, hey, test me for, give me the whole give me give me everything give me the whole test. Your doctor does not include HSV one or HSV.
[Jon Dabach] 05:19
Two. And why is that?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 05:23
I, there’s so many different thoughts on this, you know, you could look at it and say, well, everybody has it. So why test for it, you could look at it and say the aftermath of learning about a herpes diagnosis is far worse than actually knowing you have herpes, because the majority of the population with herpes are asymptomatic, meaning they’re never going to have a symptom or they’ve had a symptom, but it was years ago, and they don’t even realize it was herpes. It’s not something that kills you. It’s not something that really changes your life, other than you now have this cloud over you with this stigma. And that’s really all that it does.
[Jon Dabach] 06:03
And how does that affect? You know, you were 28? How did it affect dating? What’s dating with herpes look like?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 06:09
Yeah, it was, it was absolutely terrifying. Um, so again, I so this guy was dating and, you know, we both get hurt. Well, he finds out why find out I have herpes than he, of course, you know, didn’t think he had it. And he finds out he has it. And so now we both have herpes. And so I tried to make it work. I tried to stay with him. And I tried to stay with him for two years.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 06:35
And because I was so terrified of going out there and saying, you know, going on a date, and I thought people will just like see through me. They’ll see through this facade, that Oh, well. Yeah, she has herpes. I can’t I can’t date her. I wouldn’t, I would never want to introduce her to my mom or dad like I can never. So I stayed in this relationship for two years, and it was absolutely suffocating. Because when you find out you have herpes, all your dreams, your hopes, you feel ashamed.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 07:04
You are filled with anger. You’re filled with resentment. And now you’re just like, what do I do? So I was turning 30. And I thought I can’t I have to change some things. Now. I cannot stay in this. This is not right. This is not the right person. For me. I was settling. And I had then realized I was settling. A lot of times we don’t realize we’re settling, you know? And I thought okay, I got to I got to figure this out.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 07:34
And I have to do something more. So I started, I decided I would say yes to anybody that asked me on a date, or anybody I asked on date, I thought, Okay, well, I’ll ask guys, and anyone who wants to ask me on a date can ask me on a date, as opposed to saying, well, he’s too tall, or he’s too short. Or he’s too this or he’s too that I just thought I’ll go on a date, because I’ll learn something.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 07:54
And the more I went on dates, the more I enjoyed it, and I want to clarify it because we have this idea of dating means that it’s like, oh, I’m dating this person, that means I’m sleeping with this person. It doesn’t mean that dating means I went to yoga, it means I went for a walk on the beach, it means I went to have a cocktail, it means I met you, whatever it meant, I went to lunch with you, whatever it is.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 08:16
So I started doing that. And I didn’t disclose because my whole theory is you don’t need to disclose unless you’re going to expose that person. Sure. So I wasn’t exposing anybody to it.
[Jon Dabach] 08:30
So you must disclose before the intimacy becomes either inevitable or kind of on the table.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 08:36
Yeah. And what’s funny is, because in general, nobody likes rejection, and nobody likes being the reject door. Even if you know, we think, oh, it’s so hard to be rejected. Nobody wants to be the reject door as well. And so I’m like, I really don’t like this guy. So I’d be like, Oh, I have herpes thinking like I would get out of the next day. And that didn’t work. Like dammit. I’m still here. That’s really so you’d have to come on. Be honest. Like, I’m just not into you right now.
[Jon Dabach] 09:07
Right? That’s so interesting. Yeah. Well, let me let me dive into this a little more. Because this is, it’s, it’s interesting, because if it’s, it becomes part of your life. And like you said, it’s a cloud that kind of hangs over you. So is it just that cloud and learning how to kind of come to terms with it? Is that the biggest lesson to learn?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 09:29
Well, I would say that when we go through any sort of trauma, there’s a couple of responses that happen to our body. So our parasympathetic nervous system, which is our fight or flight, it goes in it goes into action. And what happens and this is any sort of animal so we could talk about zebras in the wild, we could talk about us being humans, and when this happens when there’s some sort of threat, the blood leaves our brain and it goes to our legs to make us run faster, and outrun our stranger danger.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 09:59
And so Oh, when this happens to us and humans, a lot of times there is no stranger danger chasing us. It’s, it’s a, it’s a fear, or it’s, it’s in my case, oh my gosh, I have herpes, it’s a fear. So the blood rushing my brain going into my legs doesn’t do useless doesn’t do anything for me in that point.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 10:19
So we either go into the fight, the fight flight or the freeze. And again this happens in nature as well, certain animals go freeze certain animals go flight, certain animal goes go fight. So when this happens a fighter is someone that either wants to fight the cause, you know, like they eggs for example, then I got herpes, alright, we’re going to, we’re going to get together and we’re going to create a walk on Saturday mornings to bring awareness, or it’s a person that’s like, I want to go fight this person, I physically want to fight this person, I have so much anger and rage, I want to fight this person. A flight person is someone that leaves a situation I don’t associate with having this, I don’t have this, and I’m just going to do everything in my power to remove myself from it.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 11:05
So a lot of times people turn to drugs and alcohol. Or a lot of times they go to extreme promiscuity to be like, well, I can still I still got this and they’re not disclosing to their partners. Or we have the freeze person that’s like, I can only get up go to work. I come home, I go to bed, I heat up my dinner. I can’t, I can’t I know go out with friends. I don’t do anything for myself.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 11:28
And so I think it’s really important when any of us have our personal nine one ones. And my herpes diagnosis was the biggest event in my life, probably still to this day realizing what your body’s going through, and taking little steps by steps to try to work through it. So I like to call it the E or phase. Like I said, I had a cloud over me I was er, I had to you’re at a rain cloud over me. Every single day I I looked Gray. I didn’t have any color. You know, there was no there was no sparkle in my eye that was gone. And so that’s kind of what you go through.
[Jon Dabach] 12:11
What do you feel like is missing, especially when dealing with sex education in schools that, you know would have been helpful to you or helpful to someone who might contract herpes.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 12:27
Here’s the thing. I taught sex ed in high school. So I knew what do you mean, I knew everything.
[Jon Dabach] 12:32
Were you a teacher were you know, so it was really interesting?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 12:35
I grew up in San Diego, California and the school I went to the peer they partnered up with Planned Parenthood. And so Planned Parenthood educated a handful of high school at my high school, a handful of our students, I was one of them. And we were educated. We were completely when I say tested, not STD tested, but like tested on the information. Yeah. And then we went out to other high schools within San Diego and taught the information to the to our peers.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 13:03
And so it was a really interesting way of doing it. So you don’t have like, you know, like the old teacher that’s like, well, here’s what sex is. And you’re like, you’ve never had sex, because that’s gross. So anyways, I went out and did that. So I knew about herpes. I knew it can lie dormant. I knew about other STDs and STI is what I also believed. Part of what you’re asking is I also believed it would never happen to me.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 13:24
Because I still was under the belief of if you have a if you have a boyfriend, and you’re you’re monogamous, you’re not going to get herpes or an STD because that doesn’t happen when you’re monogamous. And unfortunately, we’re not number one, we’re not having sex education in schools. It’s just don’t get pregnant. Don’t get a girl pregnant and don’t get pregnant if you’re a girl.
[Jon Dabach] 13:51
That’s what that’s the goal of the teaching. I didn’t get that message in my school, but I was in a pretty liberal minded school. But that’s the kind of nationwide that’s kind of the focus is what you’re saying. That’s interesting. I guess I read I read not enough into it, but maybe you’re right.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 14:08
But and we also have this whole thing of like, well, I trust this person, and there’s no way that that person would have they would tell me, you know, we kind of come out of this like Pollyanna phase of like, why trust everybody. So how do we how do we solve it? I just think bringing awareness and I’ve asked people that don’t have STDs and I’m like, Well, how did you know when you’re with your husband or wife?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 14:30
Like how did you know like, how did you like to have them go get tested? And their answers like well, no, because like they hadn’t been with anybody in a long time. Or like well, no, of course I didn’t because and that’s the thing. We assume herpes lies dormant and can be you can contract it say at age 20 and not get your first outbreak until 40 You could still be contagious and pass it to people and not know you have it. 90% of the people with genital herpes do not know they habit. Wow.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 15:02
So and that also includes oral herpes or cold sores. People don’t realize that cold sores or herpes, or fever blisters and their herpes and they can be transmitted to your partner by doing things with your mouth, right. And there’s a large number of teenagers, early 20s that are now getting genital herpes, but it’s from a cold sore.
[Jon Dabach] 15:25
So interesting. And the and the main symptoms of herpes are essentially discomfort, right? It’s not It’s, I mean, extreme discomfort, but it’s discomfort, right?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 15:37
Yeah, it depends on in everybody’s, everybody’s body is different and things like that. So what herpes is it’s, it’s a virus, it lives in our nervous system, when it decides to be active when it’s no longer when it’s not dormant. It’s like, hey, I want to pop out and play. It leaves. It lives in our spine, or it lives along our neck and kind of jaw area and it pops out and it goes to the area in which you’re infected.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 16:01
So if you’re infected orally, it goes to the oral region, if you’re infected genitally it goes the genital region. And so some people can experience nerve pain because it travels along the nerves. Some people can experience like tingling. Some people can experience I like to describe it as like snapping a rubber band on your skin, like a like a rug burn type, like a snap. Can be itchy, it can be tingly. It can be any sort of things. And then for some people, it’s one blister. Some people it’s a cluster of blisters. Other people it’s a paper cut, like just a little cut. Yeah.
[Jon Dabach] 16:34
But it’s not fatal. And it’s, and it’s not something that’s going to derail your life. I think that’s important to kind of remember.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 16:42
Exactly you can, you can still have, and you can still marry who you want. You don’t have to settle. You’re not like oh, well, I can only date this person now. Or only this person will accept me because I have herpes. If that’s the case, then that’s you’re not that’s not your right person. If someone’s ever using that as like a dangling carrot to be like, well, no one else will accept you because you have herpes.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 17:04
But I do. Or well, you can’t go anywhere because you’d have to tell people that you have it. If that’s the case, then then we’ve got that wrong. And herpes is something that two out of three people have HSV one and one out of six have HSV two, so the majority of the population has herpes, it just people aren’t aware that they have it or don’t realize that when you hear the word genital, you’re like, right. Right.
[Jon Dabach] 17:31
Right. Yeah, there’s that that shame that comes with it. That kind of stigma, for sure. How has being transparent about it affected your life in your business and your community? Has it? Has it been a positive effect? Has it been kind of struggle at times?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 17:49
When I first went public about it? And 17 2017 I did have a lot of people that were like, why would you tell anybody? And like why would you tell somebody that like, what are you why? Why would you do that? And when so when you go to your why, like, why am I doing this?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 18:06
So I realized that when I was diagnosed in 2011, there was no support. It was you go to the Planned Parenthood website, you go to like the CDC, and I think Web MD and those websites were pretty sterile. And it was it like in 2011. It said like you have let people with genital herpes have less than a high school diploma, or have low socio economic status, and are particular races.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 18:32
And I was like, so it was just an accurate. It was an accurate, and it was just like sticking it was like even further structure yet. And so my Why was there are people that take their lives. Because of this, there’s people that will never get married, because they have this there’s people that will never become a parent. There’s people because they believe it’s not because of having herpes, it’s the belief that herpes is so cruel. And it has stripped them of their ability to go out and live life.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 19:11
And I realized this was happening. I’ve talked to this young woman who dropped out of college because she had it. I talked to another woman who was going through the adoption process with her husband, and they pulled out because she randomly found out she had genital herpes and she never knew it. I’ve talked to people that have never gotten in the pool with their kids because they thought that they couldn’t you know, they played Marco Polo, it would get transmitted and so I realized that there were so many people that were just not living their lives.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 19:36
And so that’s why I do it. So back to the slack. I realized it’s not me that people are attacking, they’re actually attacking their selves and their identity with a stigma. Right? So it’s like, you know, very like Porlock polarizing just be like herpes, like Oh, gross. Well, that’s your impression of it. It’s not really I don’t think of myself as a gross person.
[Jon Dabach] 20:00
So I think that’s commendable for sure. And so and so it hasn’t had a negative impact except the a few first people in the beginning just kind of questioning it. It sounds like those people were kind of on your side, too. And they, you know, and they were just like, Are you sure this is a good idea? So in general, it sounds like people have kind of welcomed the transparency and open arms.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 20:23
Yeah. And I think it’s the way I go about it. I’m not trying to prove me like, well, look, I’m so hot or like, do I can get anybody I want? No, it’s, this is what happened. These were the choices I made. I did not have my partner get tested. Prior to sleeping with him. I trusted him, right when he said he’s been tested. And so they were negative, I trusted that. I did not ask him to get tested. And that was the choice I made. So that’s a choice that a lot of people make, right. And
[Jon Dabach] 20:50
Even if he did get tested, he would have to ask specifically for the HSP test, in order for it to come up. So it’s like you’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 21:01
Right, right. Right. I will every now and then because I’ll talk about being a mom, or I’ll show a picture with my son or something like that. And I’ll have videos that go viral that like have like 4 million views or something and every now and then if someone attacks my son, I get Mama Bear. But other than that, it doesn’t it doesn’t impact me.
[Jon Dabach] 21:20
Right. Okay, well, that’s great. And you have as I read in the intro, there’s, you have a theological kind of ministry counseling that you do. Tell, tell me more about that. I don’t know if you know, I mean, I come from a rabbinic track. I didn’t go down the full path, but I was going to be an orthodox rabbi. And that’s kind of where I started the counseling, and none of my clients are, you know, super religious right now, I have had them in the past. So it’s not like a focus, but it does inform kind of my view of the world. And I found it you know, it’s still obviously a significant part of my own belief system and everything. Why did you choose to go into it yourself?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 22:02
So I, you know, what’s interesting is it started off, not for life with herpes, it’s because I became a mom. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, how did I get so lucky? How was I so blessed to be a mom, to this beautiful little boy? And so I wanted to understand God, and I wanted to understand religion more.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 22:18
And I’m like, I was so blessed, like, God blessed me with this. And so I started down the path of like, let me just take one class, and let me take another class and now and three classes away from finishing my master’s in theology. But I realized through it, oh my gosh, this is so powerful for people dealing with a herpes diagnosis or any sort of diagnosis. And what happens is, we have this huge loss of faith, or this or I’m being punished, God is punishing me for my behavior, I did something wrong, I did something sinful, I am being punished, I didn’t obey the commandments or whatever, whatever, whatever.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 22:55
And having to go back to people and explain and part of forgiveness. And it’s, it’s, you know, the vision or the purpose of the Lord is, is teaching grace and love and kindness. And of course, you know, giving you with some outlines on how to live life, but he’s not punishing you for getting hurt for getting herpes or whatever it is. And it’s not a punishment, it’s not a sin. And so really, the biggest thing I focus on is forgiveness. And you can learn that through the Bible through basically any story Old Testament new I love the Old Testament I prefer the Old Testament personally but going through all that it’s like learning forgiveness and how do you forgive yourself is most important,
[Jon Dabach] 23:43
Great messages. Yeah, I think a lot of a lot of people need to do a lot more of that. Well, great if someone wants to learn more about you and about the cars where can they go?
[Alexandra Herbushka] 23:56
So I have if you want if you have herpes, and you’re quite like Mimi, I don’t know. I want to learn more. Go to outbreak remedies.com and I have a 21 page ebook you can download it is basically soup to nuts, A to Z on everything you could ever want to learn. So I would be you can find me there are anything to do with life with herpes. So YouTube tick tock Yeah, and
[Jon Dabach] 24:24
I’ll post all of your social stuff in the show notes. If you want to check on Alexandra and all or just different channels. I think it’s definitely something worth looking into. And at any age, it sounds like you could you could be married with three kids and it’s still just dormant in the spine.
[Alexandra Herbushka] 24:39
It happens all the time.
[Jon Dabach] 24:40
If you’re interested in learning how to get the absolute most out of your romantic relationships then you’re in luck because I have put together a free workshop or masterclass if you will about three secrets that people in happy relationships have discovered. You can view the workshop and mister’s spirituality.com/three secrets again, it’s completely free. Just go there and watch it. It’ll help you on your journey give you some wisdom. Some things to think about. The website again is mrspirituality.com/three secrets. That’s mrspirituality.com/the Number three, the word secrets. It’s all yours. Enjoy