How To Be There During A Deployment

Dear Soldier,

Take care of your partner back home.

Send them notes and letters; not just emails. We are so fortunate to live in a connected world, but there’s something extra special about a handwritten note that will not only make your SO’s day, but it will keep them going throughout the deployment. Those beautifully written cards will be referenced when they’re scared, missing you, and feel alone. Think about the reasons you love your partner in crime, and carve it into a piece of paper for them to treasure forever.

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Remember that this experience doesn’t just differ from couple to couple, but it also is very different for your partner than it is for you. There are different ways it’s harder on each of you. Be gentle and patient; they are likely trying their best to hold it together every single day you’re away.

Skype, Snapchat, and send pictures often. These, like the letters, are things your significant other will be waiting for. They’re the moments you can use to connect to one another and feel close. Nothing compares to having you home, but a picture is the closest thing to being there with one another since they get to see a little moment of your day.

I hope you’re getting lots and lots of care packages from home. You deserve them, especially since you are likely not in the nicest of living situations. Try to send a few packages back home to your loved ones, too. They certainly understand that you are overseas for a mission, but it also feels so great to feel cared about and knowing that your loved one is taking time away from their busy schedule to think about you.

Deployments are one of the most difficult things this life has to offer, but if you’re with the right person the heartache you feel during them is completely worth the joy of an entire lifetime. Stay safe, connect at any chance you get, and thank you for the sacrifices you are making. I know they’re not easy in so many different ways, and I am so proud to know so many people fighting for justice and equality.

Love,
An Army Girlfriend

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).

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  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.

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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.

I Am Army Strong

I once said I didn’t feel like I belonged in this world because I’m not strong enough for it. Now I realize, though, that I was wrong. If I wasn’t strong enough to be an Army girlfriend I wouldn’t have made it through an entire deployment, relationship in tact. If I wasn’t strong enough I wouldn’t have stayed faithful every second of every day, and we wouldn’t have grown together as a couple as much as we have. It’s actually been a really amazing experience (In hindsight, of course) because we’ve gotten to know each other in a lot of different ways that we wouldn’t have without this kind of strenuous long distance.


If deployments were easy every couple would make it through them, but sadly that’s not the way it is. Plenty of people break up, and significant others leave in the middle of a deployment because it’s just too hard. Not only is the worrying hard, but it’s not easy loving someone 6,000 miles away when all you want to do is hold their hand and know that they’re safe. On the soldier’s side, it isn’t easy being so far away from home and having so many new factors thrown at you in a new environment. I’m not really sure what causes the unfaithfulness on that side, but I will have to talk to Robert and see if he might write about some of the hardships he faced being away from home to get the other perspective of a relationship like that.


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This is one of my favorite shirts. So much so that I wrote a blog post about it awhile back! I’ll post that in the next few weeks.
I didn’t for one second of this deployment question whether I wanted to be with this Robert. He’s my guy, and I’m hoping we’ll keep growing as close as we have in the time we’ve been dating!



I’m lucky too, because I know without a doubt that Robert felt the exact same way I did. If nothing else I learned an incredibly important lesson about how trust plays out in a relationship. Even though we couldn’t always talk and I didn’t have a clue as to what he was doing half the time, I trust him fully with my heart. I’ve been with people in the past who I haven’t felt like had my best interest at heart, and the anxiety worrying about what they’re doing just fifteen minutes away from where I am is not fun.


When you trust someone completely you are able to turn off the part of your brain that worries about whether or not they’re doing something that would hurt you and focus on the present in your own life instead. Rather than wasting time coming up with the hundreds of imaginary scenarios of what could be happening, your heart is at ease knowing your guy would never do something that he knows would hurt you. This doesn’t mean he’ll never mistakes or never make you feel bad, but it does mean that he cares about your well-being and puts your relationship above his own desires when necessary.


This relationship has taught me that I can be with someone who makes my heart feel at ease and I certainly don’t have to always be the one who compromises to make things work or change the way I feel about something to please my partner. Instead, I can have healthy communication with a man (Young Krista never would have believed a guy would actually know how to communicate effectively with a girl he was dating — Turns out there are so many men who really do know how to talk about something and then follow through with it!), and prioritize my relationship without having it consume my entire world.


Lastly, being strong by yourself is hard. I’ve learned that lesson through having a chronic illness. When I am able to swallow my pride and ask for the help I often need, the pain and sickness I do have to deal with become just a little bit lighter. When you have other people to be strong with you, that’s when life really becomes a beautiful journey — even if you have a lot of hurdles to jump over along the way. I wouldn’t have traded Robert for anything, and feel so blessed to have had someone so great to do this deployment with. This was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but we both communicate with one another so well that I can’t imagine it could have been any easier than it was, considering the circumstances.


Today’s lesson: Be with someone who lifts you up and wants to be there for you when times get tough. There are people who will hold your hand through hardships, rather than retreating and watching from afar while you do all the work. Yes, I think sometimes in life you need to take turns leaning on one another — and sometimes one person in the relationship will need more help, and that’s okay — but I also believe you should be with someone who is equally committed to the relationship as you are. That way when times do get tough, you know they are still in it for the long haul.

You. Are. Strong.

I was just watching the final episode of Ben And Lauren: Happily Ever After? (Can we all please just act like I’m supposed to watch things like this since I write primarily about dating?) and it inspired me to write a new post.

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Photo Credit: Jose Perez/Splash News

Don’t settle for someone who isn’t certain of you. It broke my heart when I heard Lauren say that she felt like she wasn’t sure what she’d do without Ben, that she couldn’t imagine a life without him, but that she still wondered whether or not he thought she was good enough for him. This comment hit me hard because I’ve been there before, and it sucks. The overwhelming feeling that you have wondering if you really could go on without your partner while simultaneously realizing they may not want you in their life is one of the sharpest pains your heart can possibly feel.

You know what I learned in my life, though? I can survive without him. I can survive without the next him, and the next. Of course I want a man who I don’t want to live without, but the reality is that I am a strong and resilient human being — even when I am hurting — and I can absolutely walk away from a relationship if I am not being treated well. If someone is treating me poorly or stepping out of our relationship, I have a wonderful support system of people who will get me through the breakup and help me back onto my feet until I do find the guy I’m supposed to be with.

It took years for me to learn so many of these life lessons, but now that I’ve realized all of this there is no way in hell I am going to stay with a man who is unsure of his feelings about me once he really knows my heart. The beginning of a relationship is the time where you get to know someone and after you get comfortable with them you see whether or not you really are compatible in everyday life. No, I wouldn’t want every single guy I date to be sure he wants to marry me right off the bat, but once we decide we do want to spend forever together, statements like, “I love you, but I’m just not sure if we are right for one another…” are a really, really big deal.

Someone I once thought was going to be my forever finally told me he loved me, but wasn’t sure whether we were really supposed to be together, and instead of leaving I stayed… And stayed… And stayed…

By this point in our relationship we knew each other like the back of our own hands and honestly, in hindsight, he was very right. We weren’t right for each other. I still respect this person and want nothing but the best for him, and I do hope he finds a girl he never has to wonder about. That’s the kind of love I am going to wait for, and I know I’ll have it one day. No matter how hard things get it won’t be a question over whether or not we want to be in each other’s lives, rather it will be a matter of how to get over the hurdles life throws at us together.

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Today’s lesson: Once we take anxiety about being alone out of the equation I believe we can often think so much more clearly. Instead of settling for someone because you just want to find “your other half,” wait for the person who will be your partner in crime and a costar in your story. Until then, learning how to be strong while you’re single will help you wait for the love you really deserve.

Kentucky Vibes

The last time I was in Kentucky visiting my grandparents was when I was in the darkest place in my life. It was about a year ago, and I had just been diagnosed with depression — I couldn’t think about anything other than my tanking relationship.

I honestly don’t remember anything that happened last summer until we broke up. All I could focus on and think about was him, and I kept trying to keep it together knowing that the man I was supposed to be walking through life with was slowly marching out of it and leaving a ruined girl behind him.

He told me he wanted to be with me, but pushed me away when I tried to come to him. He had new priorities now, and I wasn’t included in the list.

I cried myself to sleep every night, but never actually slept. I couldn’t seem to focus on the present, and felt so sick that I couldn’t eat, and shrunk down to skin and bones. I tried to laugh whenever I found the chance, but the only thing that seemed to come out were tears. I was a zombie walking around in the shell of a very empty person.

I have never felt so alone in my life. I was so sad and helpless until everything just turned numb.

Today is completely different. I am a new woman. Not only have I gained a new strength that no one will be able to take away from me like he did, but I am also smarter and learned so many lessons from my ex. I will never, ever settle for someone who doesn’t greatly enrich my life. The sun is shining on my face today and I can actually feel its warmth on my cheeks. I have had great conversations with my grandparents and feel present while I’ve been here.

I’m not shooting to be happy every day of my life — that isn’t realistic. My focus is to be content. Now that I am free, that is exactly the way I feel. Content.

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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.