Irreplaceable

One of the sadder parts of having a chronic illness is when you question your own self-worth. When you’re in your twenties and chronically ill it’s really hard seeing all of the people around you traveling the world, working towards their dream job, and having fun in whatever way they see fit — whether that is going out with friends late into the night, playing sports and working out, or taking a spontaneous road trip with a big group of friends.

Some days it’s hard for me to do anything other than rest, and sometimes I have to cancel plans at the last minute because my autonomic nervous system decides that I shouldn’t be comfortable enough to do an activity. This becomes especially heartbreaking when I feel like I’ve let my loved ones down by not being able to do something that they want to. It sometimes makes me wonder why they choose me to play the special role of “best friend” or “girlfriend,” instead of someone who can be carefree and fun all the time. My chronic illness is probably my biggest insecurity.

My cardiologist must literally be an angel, as he has been so kind and comforting since the beginning of my illness. Since we have gotten to know each other, anytime he looks at my heart on an echocardiogram he looks puzzled and then says, “Krista, your heart is too beautiful for this world” with the most genuine smile on his face. It makes me tear up because I know he’s talking about something different than my physical heart — as that often beats a little too fast for its own good. He is instead referring to the core of my being. This little comment serves as a reminder that just because I sometimes feel broken or like I don’t have an as important purpose in the world as others does not mean that it’s the truth. I know other people who are sick or have struggles that make them different, and they have become even more incredible because of what they’ve been through. During times of loss, we often gain a new sense of empathy, a new appreciation for life, and a great deal of strength we never knew we had. Hardship can make us bitter, or it can be something we use to connect with others and help make them feel less alone. This is the sole reason I write so openly about my own struggles.

God puts people on this earth and lets them have hardship sometimes, not because He doesn’t love us or has forgotten about us, but instead because He wants us to glorify Him in all we do — that includes using our own heartache to lift up others. Sometimes our purpose is greater than fulfilling our own dreams.

My heart was broken. Yes, now I have an awesome boyfriend, wonderful family, and friends I know care deeply about me, but at 22 years old I had to give up my dream to live in a big city and write for Seventeen magazine and begin the fight to get my life back. Since that day three-and-a-half years ago I have chosen to push forward, even when I don’t necessarily feel like it, and never give up hope. There are a lot of things I haven’t done that I would have loved to do. I wanted to live in New York City again and I wanted to have an incredibly fast-paced, spontaneous job because that’s what I have always enjoyed so much. I love interviewing people and learning more about their stories, I love keeping up with teen trends and offering my advice to young women, and I have always wanted to make a positive impact on the world starting with our youth.

But God has a different plan for me than the one I had for myself. I can’t handle the stress or physical pressure a job in journalism has, but I can handle being vulnerable and toss aside my pride to show people that they are absolutely not alone in the world. I can handle publishing my deepest thoughts on a platform like this, even though not everyone will understand everything that I write about. Perhaps most important, though, through my struggles I have learned to love others deeply — whether or not I am their cup of tea and whether or not we have similar beliefs or values.

I still have days where I feel insecure about the way my life is with POTS, and I wonder when it will be my turn to actually live like I’m in my twenties. When I start feeling like this, though, I try to take a look at the people around me and notice how many people choose to open up to me and choose to make me an important part of their life. It isn’t because we can go out and have a wild night together or because I am able to get them into exclusive VIP parties. The people I am important to love me because of the way I love, and because of who I am as a person. There are certain “Krista traits” that are unique and special to the world. My power is that I love in a way that is irreplaceable to those who receive it. I will do anything for the people who are closest to me, and I will never turn down an opportunity to show love to those who need it, even if it means sacrificing something on my end. I strongly believe each and every person on this earth has their own qualities that are absolutely irreplaceable too.

journal

My favorite way to show love is through writing.

Somehow I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this post. I think we all have our own insecurities, especially in a world where it’s so easy to compare. If I have learned one thing from having a chronic illness, it’s that people love those who are genuine and themselves. We are all so different from one another, but that’s what makes the world such an amazing place. People don’t have to have a chronic illness to be able to understand some of the things I have dealt with, such as insecurity and loss. There have been so many times where someone very different than myself has reached out to me and been able to relate to something I have written in their own very different life. We are all humans with the same basic feelings and a desire to love and be loved. Just because you feel broken sometimes doesn’t mean you are not valuable to this world and loved by so many people — some of which you haven’t even met yet. Never doubt your self-worth just because you are different. The best way to make a lasting impact on the world is often because of the differences that you have to offer.


Photo Credit: Audrey Denison

Midweek Mystery: Allergic To Girlfriend?

I have the strangest story, but I also think it’s kind of hilarious and worth a small blog post.

Lately whenever I go over to Robert’s place we have a nice time for awhile, but then he starts to complain about being incredibly itchy. At first I thought it was a little funny — Robert is one of those people who kind of jokes around when he complains about stuff, so his complaints don’t always feel as real right off the bat. Anyway, he started joking that he was allergic to me because he only noticed the itchiness when I was around. After a few times, though, I started feeling a little annoyed. Why was it that he only noticed the itchiness when I was around? What if he really was allergic to me? After all, Robert had shared a story with me recently about a woman who is allergic to her husband. Maybe this was a sign that I’m setting him off and need to find a solution… Fast!

I always say I’m not superstitious, but I actually think I am in some ways. I sometimes feel like I “jinx” myself and I do think things can come up in your life for a reason. The older I am getting, though, the more I am realizing there are just a lot of coincidences in life that seem to be signs, but are just more notable than other mundane things.

Anyway, I started thinking about new products I’ve been using, because obviously he didn’t become allergic to me overnight. I get a few different makeup boxes with samples, so am always using something new. I felt really fed up when I started noticing that I was kind of itchy too. I realized that the chronic pain I have had been masking it, but I was definitely a little itchy too. I still couldn’t think of anything I was using that would make someone itchy, though. Especially someone else…

Until I took a shower and prepped my hair for my mom to blowdry it.* As I was running my fingers through my wet hair to put some product in it, I stopped and looked at the sample size container of the heat protection I had just put on my hands. Could it be?! 

I flipped the product around to read the back of the bottle and I kid you not, I had a real life Slumdog-Millionaire-style flashback when I saw the word “Rose Hips” on the description.

Holy crap, this is it! I knew without a doubt that this once-amazing, now-stupid hair product was the culprit. Rose hips, after all, are used in ITCHING POWDER. I knew this because back when I was a young prankster one of my friends and I used itching powder** on her brother (Yes, some of my teenage pranks are my biggest regrets, haha). 13-year-old me was curious about what caused the itching, though, and to this day I have remembered that “rose hips” were the main ingredient in itching powder.

Why the heck would a company use something that could potentially be so itchy in their product?! My fingers moved swiftly over my phone screen as I Googled two simple words,

“Itching powder”

The top result you could click on was “Rose Hips.” I smiled, smugly. Look at you, Sherlock, I thought to myself. You’ve done it again.

I couldn’t change the fact that I had already put the product in my hair, but I threw it in a drawer and locked it away so I wouldn’t go on autopilot and use it again. Ever since I’ve given up this product neither of us have been itchy. It’s official: I, like the Olsen twins, can solve any crime by dinnertime.

mkashley.jpg

Credit: Dualstar Productions


*My mom often dries my hair for me, as I have chronic pain in my arms and can’t hold a hairdryer up too long without hurting myself. She is such an angel!

**As an adult I realize this is incredibly immature and mean, but as a young teen it seemed like a hilarious, harmless prank. In all honesty I don’t know whether or not it worked, as it was one of the pranks you could buy from “Five Below,” but I still encourage you to think about others before planning out a prank. Yes, pranks are hilarious (With the right people who think it’s funny too), but only if nobody gets hurt — physically or emotionally — and everyone involved will enjoy what’s going on. Robert and I both love pranks, so I don’t usually mind when he plays a joke on me, and he is always up for a funny joke at his expense too.

What It’s Like Being The Luckiest Girl In The World

Did you know that it’s possible to feel like the luckiest girl in the world because you genuinely believe you have the best significant other? I sure didn’t.

In the past I’ve looked at relationships like Jim and Pam’s, Chip and Joanna’s, or Thomas and Laura Rhett and completely thought they were #RelationshipGoals. I would watch their little acts of kindness with one another and think that they weren’t really genuine because I thought I knew what real love looked like. Real love, to me, was someone just choosing not to leave. Real love was giving up a lot of my own hopes, dreams, and values to make another person happy. Love the way I always had imagined it didn’t exist. Even the stories of real people like Chip and Joanna Gaines seemed fake to me because I hadn’t ever felt the way they did about each other about a guy before.

I never knew what it was like to have someone who fit so seamlessly that you didn’t have to force things to work. You don’t agree on everything, but you don’t always have to because you can figure out compromises you are both actually happy with. I never knew what it was like to have someone who loved you to your core — faults and all — someone you didn’t have to question whether or not he would accept the weird things that make you, you.

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 1.52.37 PM.png

I never had someone in my life who I just couldn’t help but smile about when a love song came on the radio because I couldn’t think of anything else but him — until I met Robert. I hear songs that I would want sung about myself and think the words fit so perfectly for the way I feel about him. Brett Eldredge sings “Mean To Me,” and I know my feelings about him are more beautiful than the words I hear played, but I can’t seem to put pen to paper as eloquently as my heart feels about him. I think of him when Blake sings “God Gave Me You,” and I prayed for him when I heard Kristian Bush’s “Sending You A Sunset” when he was thousands of miles away. I never could have imagined I would have someone I felt I could pin to Hunter Hayes’ sweet words. I always thought the way men felt about women couldn’t be flipped. I didn’t realize I could love someone with even more than my entire heart, and I never thought I would be with someone I felt so strongly about.

When I think about Robert my heart often feels like it’s about to burst. Sharing my feelings with a few thousand people on this blog doesn’t feel like enough; no matter how many people read my writing it will never feel like enough. When he’s gone I want to talk about him, and when he’s sleeping I want to curl up next to him and feel his heart beat.

I didn’t know that love could feel like this, and for the first time in my life I really feel like lightening can’t strike twice in the same place. For the first time, though, I also don’t feel like it will have to. For the first time in my life I’m not afraid to talk openly about love because I am not afraid of it ending.

Today’s lesson: Be with someone who is absolutely irreplaceable. Love is one thing that people should never settle for in life. Being a writer, yet being unable to explain my feelings about someone on paper is one of the craziest, most incredible things in the world, and I wouldn’t trade Robert for anything.

Technical Difficulties

Ugh! Guys, this whole “technology” part of running a blog is beyond me. I like writing a lot, but the rest of having a lifestyle blog is a bit stressful sometimes. I have to keep things pretty bare bones since I need to get help for any extra computer use (Because of the pain in my arms and my inability to sit at a computer for very long), but I know I have a little bit of work to do to update things.

So I’m going to very  s l o w l y  be making some changes. This is a reminder that as soon as I can get help I will be changing my URL to KristaLauren.com, so stay posted!

coffee.png

I’m excited about some little surprises I have planned for my Single In The Suburbs family. Y’all will definitely be getting some new little treats in the next couple of weeks, and I can’t wait to continue to walk through life with y’all by my side. Thank you for being patient and thank you for staying such faithful friends! ❤

No Longer Single In The Suburbs

As y’all know I haven’t been single for a long time now, and when I first created this website I thought I wouldn’t be in a relationship for a pretty long time. The joke was on me, though, because I met someone really great a lot faster than I anticipated.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 10.43.53 PM.png

Guys. This is us on a date… IRL!! It’s seriously so nice living right down the road from one another.

Single In The Suburbs is always going to be a part of my brand, but it’s time for me to change to something that’s going to reflect my life today and for years to come.

I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, as I’ve been resting on my new domain, and I finally finished saving all my drafts and posts just in case something terrible happens when I change websites… Which is probably good because I’m having so much trouble trying to figure out how to get my darn WordPress site to connect to my new URL (I’d like to give a shoutout to my blogging friend Rosie, though, for giving me some encouragement with this big change, as she just did the same thing last week!).

So if you’re having trouble accessing my website, you’re definitely not the only one. I can’t see it anymore either, so I am going to bring in the big guns and get my brother to help me with this mess later this week. My site might be down for a couple of days, but I will absolutely be back! After that you won’t find me on the “Single In The Suburbs” WordPress anymore… You’ll be redirected to my new Dating and Lifestyle website, KristaLauren.com. 🙂

krista_profile.jpg

Break Up With Him

I stayed in a relationship that wasn’t meant to be far too long. Deep down I think I somehow knew it wasn’t going to end well — or rather, if we did end up together that we would have a long, rough road ahead of us.

After the smoke cleared I realized that although any relationship will have trials, every single decision doesn’t have to be difficult. Now I am with someone who thinks I’m worth making sacrifices for, and someone who is really excited about having a future with me. I have learned that there are people in this world who are beautifully selfless and know how to love someone with a chronic illness. There are people who are as fiercely loyal as I am, and who won’t give up on a relationship just because things get tough.

Here are a few behaviors that are major red flags in a relationship:

  1. Your significant other puts you down for things you can’t control. In my case this was my illness and the fact that I couldn’t physically work. I was a recent college graduate when I first got sick and had dreams of being an entertainment journalist. I had always been incredibly hard-working, but although I wanted more than anything to work, I physically could not have a normal job with my new chronic health condition. I was constantly told about how it “wasn’t my fault,” but that POTS was the thing keeping us in a rut. If I hadn’t gotten sick, we would be in a much happier place because there wouldn’t have to work through such a new, heavy road block.
  2. Your concerns are always your problem. When someone treats you like you’re crazy because of seemingly normal concerns, it is called “gaslighting.” It’s funny how I never knew what this term was until a few months ago, but if your significant other acts like you wanting some of his time every week is your problem and that you are being needy, this is not normal. Your puppet master will surely turn any conflict in the relationship back on your own insecurities until you really begin questioning whether what you are asking for really is too much (Take note: if what you want seems like a very basic need in a relationship, such as quality time together, it absolutely normal. You are not crazy, and you should get out as fast as you can so that you can find someone who understands the basic fundamentals of a healthy relationship).

    storm man.png

  3. Your well-being is completely your own responsibility. This is a tricky one. Although I do believe people need to be happy by themselves before they can add someone else into the picture, I also believe a significant other should want to take care of you, as you would do the same for them. I’ve always been very independent and balanced my boyfriend/friend time well, but my one of my exes thought that his actions shouldn’t affect the way I felt. He didn’t understand why drunk texting me then disappearing for the night made me upset, and said that the anxiety I felt was entirely on me.
  4. He is not a man of his word. No, it is not okay to leave you hanging for hours on end, and it is not okay to constantly break plans you have together. Yes, things sometimes come up in life that you cannot control, but if you feel like you cannot get excited about future plans with someone because they are unreliable, it’s time to find a person who will remember what they tell you and follow through in their actions.
  5. You no longer recognize yourself when you’re with him. My ex made me anxious, pessimistic, depressed, and short-tempered. None of these are typical “Krista qualities,” and I didn’t like the person I was when we were together. The first 75% of our relationship I was myself. When he decided to change the course of his life drastically,though, and leave our relationship in the background of his life, I became a complete mess. I hadn’t realized how dependent on him I had become and quickly fell apart.

Today’s lesson: Now I am with someone who is kind, patient, and wants to take care of my heart. My boyfriend wants to spend time with me, take me out, give me little gifts “just because,” and remind me that I’m special. If you let go of what is hurting you in life, you make room for new things that are better. It’s really, really scary to let go of something that is familiar and comfortable, but if you are brave enough to, you might just learn how strong you really are.

flowers man.png