Strong (adj.)

Today I would like to dissect what it means to be “strong.”

This has been a word used to describe me by so many people since I graduated college, got POTS, and went through a number of difficult trials, but it still feels kind of funny when I hear someone throw this adjective next to my name.

Dictionary.com defines strong as,

“Mentally powerful or vigorous,”

but it doesn’t offer any tips on how to be strong or what kind of trials make you strong.

I was made strong. I didn’t choose to be strong and I am in no way admirably resilient. Before getting sick I was used to a fairly comfortable life, and never in a million years thought of myself as tough or someone who would face trials well.

Almost 4 years later, though, and here I am. I had a choice to make when I got sick. I could take what the doctors said, admit defeat, and recognize that my life would never be the same, or I could fight for the best life I could possibly have. I quickly chose the latter. This involves keeping an open and optimistic mindset, being incredibly dilligent with my doctors appointments, physical therapy, and diet, and finally — learning how to rest.

When I first got my diagnoses I asked through tears whether I’d ever get better. The nurse laughed and told me I wouldn’t and my mind immediately went into a dark abyss, thinking about a long life of dizzy spells, fainting, and feeling miserable. I was incredibly lucky to have my incredibly encouraging mother with me, who followed me to the parking lot and said the nurse didn’t know what she was talking about. She said I needed to take each day as it came to me, and think positive thoughts. To this day I believe this is one reason I am slowly getting better and have been able to make peace with my new life.

I’ve had POTS for three-and-a-half years now and haven’t had a week off from going to visit some sort of doctor. I typically have 2 physical therapy appointments and either acupuncture or a massage to work on managing my chronic pain, as well as regular visits to my cardiologist, neurologist, and endocrinologist. I go to the gym 5 days a week — even when I am feeling awful — because the worst possible thing for a POTSie to do is get deconditioned. This involves a short 30 minute recumbent bike ride, as I could easily faint if I am in an upright position. I get B12 shots every other week since I am deficient in it and B12 seems to be a link to chronic pain. Then I have to take a lot of time to rest so that my body can settle down a bit. I get worn out incredibly easy, and a trip to the grocery store turns into a long ordeal because of the recovery time afterward.

Lots of POTS patient develop adult allergies, so I can’t eat many of my favorite foods anymore. I have given up nightshade vegetables (Potatoes are my favorite food and I miss French fries dearly!), gluten (Now I am the butt of so many jokes), and I really limit my dairy and sugar intake. I don’t drink coffee at all, partly because I can’t have caffeine, and partly because I just can’t have coffee, period, and I don’t drink alcohol at all anymore. The coffee is definitely a million times more difficult.

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Lastly, I have had to learn to listen to my body and rest. This is such a hard thing for me to do, as my mind is incredibly active. Anyone who knew me before I got sick knows I love to work and play, so sleeping and rest were never really a big part of my vocabulary. I joke to my friends that I’m just catching up on all the time I missed in my life before, but it really is a difficult thing for me to wrap my mind around. I always have a million and one things I want to do and write about, however my body isn’t very kind to me. Writing hurts after ten minutes, and the dictation software I have used is grueling. I can’t sit at a desk chair very long without having a lot of pain in my shoulders, and some days I can’t stand without feeling dizzy. Sometimes all I can do is rest, and I’ve learned that it’s okay to spend time listening to podcasts and watching HGTV when I really can’t do anything else. Yes, I would much rather be working and making a living for myself. I wish I could live in New York and write for a magazine, I wish I could have a paycheck to save for a new car or fun wardrobe, but that’s just not in the cards for me right now. Right now it’s my job to focus on getting better, keep taking care of myself, and trust that God will make something beautiful out of my struggle. 

The best advice I could possibly give anyone going through something tough is to take each day as it comes to you. Worrying about things in the future that you cannot control won’t help you change them, and looking back on the past won’t make your present any more satisfying. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and I know what it’s like to feel like life isn’t fair. The greatest feeling when your world is crumbling in on you is when you finally learn to give your problems to God and let Him take care of the things that are outside your control.

Today’s lesson: If I can be strong, you can too. I’ve always thought I am an incredibly average person in most regards, which should offer an incredible amount of encouragement to anyone reading this. If I can do, so can you.

So Casually Cruel

“All Too Well” is one of my favorite Taylor songs. When I was preparing for a bad breakup I listened to this song on repeat. There are so many lines I could dissect that reminded me of my relationship with my ex. We had been through so much together and I felt like he was getting ready to throw all of that away.

“Back before you lost the one real thing you’ve ever known” is a line that spoke to me. A guy I dated once told me all of his secrets and said I was the closest person in his life. I played the role of a lover and a best friend for him, as he did for me. He told me I was his forever and always and that I was his rock.

Then he broke up with me.

He hadn’t found someone else or fallen out of love with me. He just realized I was no longer a priority in his life. Love was no longer a priority. He now lived for a career and a newfound dream for status.

My heart broke. First for myself, but when the dust finally cleared I realized it was broken for him. What kind of life is it to have your heart beat only for yourself? To not have relationships that move you to your core?

I realized I would have those — I already had them with my close friends and family — and prayed for his sake that he would realize what would truly make him happy in life. I still hope he’s happy, it’s just not my job to help him along that journey anymore.

Today’s lesson: Everyone has different priorities in life. One thing isn’t necessarily better than another, but you should find someone who is on the same page as you in that regard.

 

Leaving On A Beautiful Note

Sometimes dating is just about collecting moments with people who won’t last.

One of the most romantic things a date has done for me was learning how to play one of my favorite songs for me on the guitar. He knew I am kind of obsessed with Taylor, and took the time to learn how to play Wildest Dreams for me. I was really touched when he broke out the guitar and serenaded me with a beautiful acoustic version of the song, and slightly off key vocals to accompany it.

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In the next few weeks of dating he learned All Too Well and Style, as those are two of my other favorites. He later told me he learned Thomas Rhett’s Die A Happy Man for me, as that was one of the only artists we both enjoyed.

I’m not going to lie, serenading a girl is one of the most attractive things a guy can do. Part of it is just knowing they took the time to learn something new for you, but something is also beautiful about someone letting you into the world of what they are passionate about. Whether or not you play the guitar you should totally learn one song to play for your bae.

This particular gentleman ended up being very different than the person I had him pegged for, so we broke it off a few weeks into dating, but this is a fond memory I will keep of the time we spent together.

Today’s lesson: Use your unique talents to show people you care about them! Whether it’s through singing and music, cooking, or — if you’re like me — writing, time is a special present you can give someone.

Everything I Ever Wanted

I’m absolutely amazed at the way my heart has been feeling. As soon as I got out of my last relationship I was excited to take time to myself and then eventually find someone in the area who I could see as often as I’d like. I wasn’t going to be in a long distance relationship anymore, and I would be able to experience what it was like having someone I loved in the same area as me.

Life doesn’t always work out the way you think it will.

Today I teared up because I miss someone in another country. I fell in love far sooner than I would have “liked,” and never in a million years thought I could feel this way about another person.

This long distance has been different than my last relationship, though. He is so perfectly attentive and I don’t feel like we are emotionally apart, even though we can’t see each other or even talk as much as I would like. I miss our dates and playing games together. I miss people-watching and I miss him goofing off to make me laugh.

I think of him every time I see an F-150, and I listen to Brad Paisley in the car now. I carry a piece of his heart everywhere I go, and I feel proud of him when I see an American flag waving in the wind.

I’m focusing on myself and am fully working towards my own personal goals, but I cannot help but be excited for December. I feel like a teenager again with a countdown on my phone and a name scribbled throughout my journal.

This is love in its sweetest form.

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Today’s lesson: Sometimes love is having all the feelings all at once. Your heart feels like it’s about to burst, but in the best way you could ever imagine.

He Was A Runner

The crisp weather signifying the end of winter reminds me of him.

The fall before I got sick we trained for my half marathon together. We would run for hours or meet at the campus dining hall after a long run. He encouraged me and pushed me to do better. If it hadn’t been for his love of the sport I’m not sure that I would have found my new love of distance running.

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It was a way to quiet my mind and enjoy the peace that nature had to offer. Nothing could touch me as I ran for hours.

Little did I know this would be one of the last times we ran together. Later I would find myself chasing someone who didn’t want to be caught — he couldn’t be caught. His heart belonged to himself and didn’t have room for another.

Chasing someone is exhausting, especially after you do it long enough. You can be the strongest person in the world, but you will eventually become emotionally drained.

Find someone you don’t have to chase. Be with someone who wants to hold your hand and walk through life with you. Someone who will stop to smell the roses and enjoy the beautiful scenery life has to offer.

Let him run alone if that’s what makes his heart beat fast. I will be with the man who’s heart races for me instead.

 

 

That’s Not Really My Style

I’ve never been the “cool girl.” People have considered me funny, or sweet, or thoughtful, but never cool. That’s never been a big priority to me, and my personality definitely isn’t someone who can just be “one of the guys.” I hate beer, I don’t know a lot about professional sports teams (Should I have said “Pro Sports” instead?), I feel uncomfortable when guys curse a lot around me, and I’m a bit too delicate to be really roughhoused with.

Soon after my breakup I got a message from a guy I’ve always thought was kind of cool. I had a crush on him back in undergrad, but I was too young — and at the time not confident enough — for a guy like him to really notice me. He had always been kind, but never interested. Back then I figured it was because he dated girls who were much “cooler” than me. He was probably into some of the other athletes and people who could keep up with him better than I could. After all, I liked playing sports and working out on a regular basis, but was no super-athlete. I was a little nerdy and loved spending my free time writing and playing Super Smash Brothers or board games with my friends (I guess some things never change!).

Anyway, I was more than a little taken off guard when I heard from him years later. I hadn’t thought of him in such a long time that I didn’t quite know what to think. We ended up meeting up and he was more handsome than I remembered. I was excited to find that I could, in fact, have mini butterflies around someone new. I was, per usual, slightly awkward, but this has become part of what I like to call “the Krista charm.” I honestly believe some guys just like it because it is authentically me. The best dating advice I could ever give is to always be yourself. The right people will absolutely love you for it.

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This is what I look like trying to be flirty or charming. A teenie bopper with gum stuck in her hair — cute!

I don’t think this particular gentleman was charmed by me. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t repulsed or anything — I guess I’ll never know — but I was definitely disappointed when we had such a great time the night before and he didn’t seem interested in getting to know me further. So this was what rejection felt like. I had never really experienced it in such an obvious way by a guy before and my ex didn’t count because we had so many reasons to break up. This was just meeting someone I was kind of into who didn’t like me back.

Rejection is a part of life. Since I’ve started dating again I’ve been rejected, and I’ve rejected a handful of guys. It never feels good to put yourself out there and be turned down, but when you learn to love yourself you realize that it’s nothing personal — you just didn’t click in a romantic way with someone. There are so many other fish in the sea, and getting another “no” out of the way is one step closer to finding someone who will love you to your core and appreciate you for the amazing human being you are.

Today’s lesson: If someone turns you down pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. Dating is essentially a numbers game — the more people you meet the more likely one of them is going to click! Don’t get discouraged and never let someone make you feel like you are not worthy of true love — YOU ARE.

Recognizing Emotional Abuse

He made me feel needy. But he also made me feel like I needed him. It was a twisted cycle I was thrown around in until I didn’t know which direction was up.

I didn’t get reassurance that I was truly loved, but was told another man would never care for me the way he did. Other men may lust for me, but they wouldn’t want to be with me. He said I would never find someone who treated me the way he did. Other men would pressure me to do things I didn’t feel comfortable with, yet I found myself worn down by him. He told me if I loved him I would do things to make him happy, even though I wasn’t ready.

I later found an article on “emotional abuse,” and he fit the category. I cried alone in my room as I realized that even I could get lost in the blurred lines of an unhealthy relationship.

You never think bad things will happen to you — that you’re smarter than that. It is so clear when you see a friend being mistreated, but it’s harder to realize that when you’re in so deep yourself and you trust your partner to not hurt you.

Scars, though faded, still remain, but the deep and painful wounds are finally healed. The scars are important to keep — not only to remind myself of how much stronger I am now, but also to serve as an example to others. By showing off my own battle wounds, I will hopefully help someone else dodge a bullet. I won’t take shit from anyone again, and now I actually have a chance for my forever and always to be a 1 Corinthians 13 man.

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If you feel like something isn’t right in your relationship, please seek help. This relationship changed very gradually from being happy, carefree, and healthy, to an enormous mess of emotional abuse, depression, and anxiety. This is not normal and there are so many better things out there for you. I feel so strongly about this and about being treated the way you deserve — with respect and love. I am always happy to talk and help you find the resources you need, and I will be sharing more of my story of recovery on here.

My Six Word Love Story

I fell in love on accident.

This is my six word love story.

As you all know, I have been dating around for about 7 months now. There is one particular gentleman, though, I can’t seem to shake. He was one of the first guys I went out with, and has just kind of stuck. We really hit it off from day one and I’ve grown more fond of him every day.

This is so ironic because as soon as I was done with my long-term relationship I decided I wanted to take a lot of time to date around and fully enjoy single life. I didn’t in a million years think I’d meet someone so incredibly special so fast.

He’s an army man, possibly the funniest person I’ve ever met, thoughtful, a gentleman, and genuinely selfless. He supports me (Including this blog and my need to be single until I’ve figured out more about what I want in a future relationship), and is loyal and kind. We get each other and are on the same wavelength. My best friend and I have always been able to read each other’s minds, but I’ve never had this kind of relationship with a guy before.

The timing of this is so weird. I have fallen for someone at a time when I wanted to take awhile to be single and casually date around, and he had just decided to stop dating until he got back from his deployment. It’s off for both of us, but we are such a great fit that we aren’t going to let everything fizzle out. We’re going to keep in touch and see where things go when he gets back — and I absolutely cannot wait.

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Buddy the Elf gets it.

In the meantime, I am going to be taking time getting to know myself better and what I want. I’m not giving up my life to a guy like I did with my ex, and I have overwhelming peace that everything is going to fall in place. Although it is early and I want to be careful with my heart, I think this guy and I could have a bright future. Love is scary and vulnerable, but I think it has to be in order to eventually find someone who will be a good fit for you and stick.

Today’s lesson: Love really does come to you when you’re least expecting it. As inconvenient as it seems sometimes I do believe things happen for a reason. I will be writing about this in the near future, but have realized if my ex and I hadn’t broken up at the time we did, I wouldn’t have found this incredible guy I am so crazy about. Timing can really be key, and why waste it with someone who doesn’t make you feel happy and secure in your relationship?

Check Yourself, Mate.

Whoo boy am I furious. I don’t actually remember the last time I have said something like that. When was the last time I was furious? I honestly don’t even know.

So let me set the scene.

There’s a guy in the area I’ve been going out with for awhile now.* I went over to play chess with him (Seriously, what is my life? I am beginning to accept the “nerd” label my dates have bestowed upon me) and we got to revisiting some about what our relationship looks like. After telling me things like he liked that I was a wholesome and sweet girl and that he wasn’t sure he could still just be friends, I reiterated I didn’t want to date, but would respect whatever he wanted to do from that point forward. He admitted that I have been very open about my intentions and that he appreciated the honesty, but that his feelings had changed.

We then started talking more about why we work better as friends anyway, his main reason being that we don’t have a lot in common when it comes to activities — fair enough — that, in my opinion, is a great reason to not want to date someone. You need to be able to enjoy going out with one another and bonding over activities.

What he said next, though, completely caught me off guard. This is the way the conversation went:

“Well, I don’t want to sound like a douche…”

“What is it?” I asked.

“Well, I don’t want to be a jerk…”

I sat silently waiting for an explanation, as I wasn’t sure what he could be thinking.

“But maybe we should just put everything on hold until you’re better…”

I was floored.

Was he talking about my POTS? My chronic illness that he has known about for months now?  I sat on my armchair, looking at him as he casually reclined on the couch.

After processing everything he had just said, I realized that was exactly what he was talking about.

Oh. My. Gosh. You sure meant it when you said you would sound like a douche!

Honestly, I totally get it if someone doesn’t want to date me because of POTS. I do believe we all have our own flaws we bring to a relationship, but mine is more confusing than most, and I will never fault someone for wanting something simpler.

But here’s why I think this statement is unbelievably jerky.

He essentially thinks I should work my ass off and shed blood, sweat, and tears (All literally) until I am all better, and then when that day comes this guy — who left me — can have me in all of my fixed glory? Hell no. 

I stared at him blankly until I could come up with the right response to what he just said. I chose my words carefully, as I knew at this point I just wanted to leave and we had absolutely nothing to figure out.

“Okay. That makes this decision really easy now,” I said. “We’re all done here, and I’m going to get going.”

I grabbed my shoes as he said, “I think you’re really mad right now. I think I made you mad.” No shit, Sherlock.

I gathered my things in silence as I marched to the door, knowing fully I would not be coming back.

I honestly didn’t know how to react in a situation like that, but I felt like Beyonce and Taylor were cheering me on as I grabbed my things and left. I can do better than a guy who is going to tell me I’m not good enough for him right now and have the nerve to ask me to come back again later once I’m all fixed. It felt really good standing up for myself and realizing just how much I have grown. It also didn’t hurt that I had smoked him in chess in the very last game we would ever play together. 😉

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Do you agree or disagree with my opinion of what this gentleman said to me? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

*Please don’t make assumptions of who it is, as I am dating around right now.

 

A Surprise Visit From Aunt Flo!

Warning: Contains a very girly period story which might make some feel uncomfortable. Please stop reading and come back next week if you can’t handle it!

This is by far one of my favorite date stories.

One of my good girl friends recently started dating a really awesome guy — seriously, they are adorable together.

I hadn’t heard from her in a few days, so was a bit taken aback when she texted me this,

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My initial reaction was to feel bad for her, regardless of what the situation was. Feeling embarrassed about anything isn’t fun, and she is one of the sweetest girls I know.

“Why, what’s wrong?” I replied.

“I just got my period early. It’s so messy, is all over the chair, and I am wearing white shorts! I don’t know what to say to Dave* now.”

At this point I just lost it.

Don’t get my wrong, I felt so bad for her — that is a girl’s worst nightmare — but if you knew my friend you would also know how well she handles things like this. She is kind of a rockstar, so I knew she would be fine. The mental picture of this happening was just too much.

“Oh my gosh! Does he know yet?” was my next question.

“Yes he knows; I am wearing white shorts! It is so freakin’ obvious.”

“Ugh, that is the worst. I am so sorry! I’m sure he understands, though.”

“Yeah, he does. He is going to the store to get me tampons now, but I’m still recovering from embarrassment. My face got so red!”

“That’s not the only thing that got red. ;-)”I couldn’t help it; she totally set me up for that one!

I followed up with my friend and found out that her bae not only went to the drugstore to get her feminine products, but he also bought her flowers and chocolate after seeing how embarrassed she was. I think he’s a keeper!

Today’s lesson: You should always keep an entire wardrobe in your purse — you know, just in case.

Have you ever been in a situation like this on either end? What did you do?

*Obviously I changed the name. No one wants this kind of story blasted on the Internet.