More Than Just A Super Bowl Win

If you’ve been following along this blog for a little while now, you’ll know that I’ve become quite the Patriots fan since I met Robert. He did a great job converting me to root for all things Boston, and I think I have some good tips on how to bring a significant other to whatever your dark side is.

Despite being disappointed about not winning the Super Bowl this year, I was quickly intrigued by the Eagles’ quarterback, Nick Foles. I saw stories about his wife plastered all across my newsfeed, talking about how she was diagnosed with POTS in 2013 — the same year as me. Something I think is fascinating about POTS is that so many of us were athletes before we got sick — most of which were actually even more active than the typical person. I ran distances longer than the majority of the US population, ate really well, and jumped on any opportunity of athleticism that was offered. Along with running, I was almost always involved in some sort of club or intramural sport and had friends who would play pickup games with me. Tori Foles was a setter for the volleyball team at University of Arizona, shortly after graduating, she had to spend a month in the Mayo Clinic trying to figure out what made her suddenly get sick.

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My first year with POTS I had to go through the airport in a wheelchair.

It gives me chills how similar our stories are, and how many other young people have the exact same details in theirs. Athletic, young woman with career ambition gets sick right after graduating college — when she’s supposed to just be starting life. It also looks like we both reached for God in our time of hardship. God is still Someone I sometimes struggle with understanding, however having POTS has made me realize how much I need Him. There are things in life that we sometimes have no control over, and our only options are to face the obstacles alone or choose to lean on God for help. Although I sometimes complain about not having a normal life, I also realize what an amazing blessing it is to have healed as much as I have. Instead of fainting every time I stand, I just get dizzy or my vision blacks out for an instant. I don’t go through the entire week with a migraine anymore, and I am able to be in upright positions without having a million different symptoms to control. I still deal with the pain from my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but having a brain that actually gets enough blood to it is an enormous blessing.

Something that makes the Foles’ story so beautiful is the fact that Nick and Tori decided to get married just a month after she got diagnosed. This makes my heart so, so happy because POTS is such a life-changing and frightening illness, particularly in the beginning when you’re still learning about it and how to manage your symptoms. There is a reason wedding vows have the line, “In sickness and in health,” because falling ill is one of the most difficult things life can toss at you, and you want to be sure the person you commit to spending your life with will stick around even during hardships. Perfect weddings, fun vacations, and nice things are all fun, but what is really beautiful is seeing how two very imperfect people come together and choose to love each other every single day.

I am not an expert on marriage by any means, but I think when you decide to take someone to be your forever, you are committing to choosing them each and every time. You won’t always have a picture perfect life — you may fight, be annoyed at your forever roommate for making the kitchen a mess, or in my case, or just have a downright bad day — but you will absolutely always love each other. At the end of the day you’ll have someone next to you who has your back no matter what, and that is what I think is the most beautiful thing life has to offer. True selfless love. 

Forever Is A Long Time

When I first got sick with POTS, I asked the nurse if this illness would last forever. She told me yes it would, and I felt sick to my stomach. Tears streamed down my cheeks like they never have before — I’m someone who tries to hold them in until they just spill out — and for the first time in my life the future looked like a deep, dark hole.

Forever is a heck of a long time to have something new and frightening. I couldn’t walk ten feet without feeling like someone was spinning me around on a desk chair, and I didn’t want to keep living a life like this. I felt so much regret for the moments I had a working body and didn’t appreciate them. I regretted the many mistakes I’ve made as a human being because I felt like my illness was punishment for being a sinner. Most of all, though, I felt scared.

The best advice I got when I was diagnosed with POTS was to take each day and every hour as it came to me. My mother wisely told me to be gentle with myself, take care of each need as it arose, and ask for help whenever I needed it. The first year I was sick I asked for help with everything. I couldn’t walk to the kitchen to fetch myself a snack sometimes because I would faint (due to insanely low blood pressure) from not having enough salt. All I could really do was watch television, talk to friends, and eat. Even sleeping was difficult, despite being exhausted every hour of every day. I was too afraid to pray until I was so worn down all I could do was sit on the bathroom floor and cry out to God. I didn’t know how to ask to be healed, and I was angry with Him for selecting me to be a victim in something I didn’t even know was possible to happen to a 22-year-old. At least not to me.

My relationship with God is slowly being repaired. As I’ve gotten older and looked back on my experiences, I’ve realized that God wasn’t punishing me for anything by letting me get sick. I still don’t understand how illness works — I don’t know why He doesn’t always heal us when I know He can. That’s something that still breaks my heart sometimes when I think about it, but I try to remember the good that has come from this. Every dark story has light in it, even if it just starts off as a tiny little shimmer. If I hadn’t gotten sick I wouldn’t have met Robert. That’s an amazing enough change in my life that I feel blessed by it and wouldn’t change anything for the world. I wish I could tell that story in a blog post, however it would take too many words to put down on a screen.

I wouldn’t have created this blog if I hadn’t gotten sick. I would be working for a magazine instead, and I wouldn’t be able to have a platform to speak about whatever I want on. I have deep convictions that are so close to my heart, and I want to help make this world a little easier for everyone to be in. I want my legacy to be making people’s hearts be warm and secure. I want people to feel less alone in this amazingly tiny world. So despite how it sometimes feels, God hasn’t left me alone; I think He is just trying to use me through my hands, my voice, and my keyboard by making my pain turn into a light for Him. I still don’t know God nearly as well as I’d like to, but I know He’s trying so hard to get through to my heart. I know He is fighting for me every day, and that He loves me even when I mess up. Please know that He loves you too. Please don’t ever feel like your mistakes have created the dark things you have in your life today. Know that there is a light at the end of your tunnel, and that a blessing will come, sometimes in disguise, when you least expect it.

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Today’s lesson: Whatever you slap the “forever” label on that seems scary and daunting, please take it off. Know that our souls are forever, and God is forever, but sickness and pain don’t have to last forever. There is beautiful grace that is ours for the taking. I’m trying to learn how to get it. I’m starting small, by trying to connect to God just a little bit more than I have before. I will keep you all posted on my journey, and I will use this as a way to stay held accountable for working toward something that seems scary, but will be the biggest blessing I could ever think of.

The Most Difficult Part About Forgiveness

One of the hardest things in the world is learning how to forgive yourself. At least for me it is.

You know when people proclaim, “I live with no regrets!” and you nod and are like, “Yeah, what this person is saying is so wise and great. I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done either. Ever.”

When I sit back and really think about it, though, I do have regrets in life. I have regrets that make me sick to my stomach and keep me up at night. I can easily forgive myself for any kind of mistakes I’ve made that affect my own life but when it comes to bringing my loved ones into the picture I have a really hard time cutting myself any sort of slack. I want the very best for the people I love, and I would do anything to make them happy. I kick myself whenever I do anything that hurts them, and would take any and every sort of pain life has to offer away from those I care about in an instant. Whenever I see someone I love hurting I wish my superpower could be taking pain away from others and giving it to myself instead. Even after knowing Robert only for a short time I knew with all my heart that I was glad I was sick instead of him. I know illness isn’t a realistic “Either/or” scenario, but I think about sickness a lot and am always relieved that I am the one with health problems, rather than someone I care about. Even after we had only been dating a few months I remember feeling like I wanted to be the one to protect his heart, and that I would do anything for this new, special person in my life — the exact same way I feel about my closest friends and entire family.

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Something I used to think about a lot was how I got POTS. Doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause yet, as POTS has really only been studied since 1993 or so, and they need more information on it. One theory is that people can get sick with POTS after a traumatic event. My “event” happened to be a boy, and very constantly and consistently being stressed and weighed down in a relationship.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t regret worrying so much about someone who would later not even be a part of my life. In fact, I didn’t know it then, but I would later feel like I didn’t even know what real, deep, true love was until I found it for the first time in the passenger seat of a Ford pickup truck.

I have other regrets, though, that haunt me far more than my illness.

In the same relationship I didn’t stay true to myself — in a lot of ways. I gave up pieces of myself I held near and dear to my heart, all in hopes to avoid ever having to go through any sort of heartbreak. I didn’t think that I was strong enough to handle a breakup, and decided that all the pain my heart was feeling must just be “normal” in a relationship. I thought that love was supposed to hurt, and that men just didn’t care as much about having their partner be a part of their everyday life as women did. I thought that I must be crazy, clingy, and unreasonable for wanting a boyfriend who would be a significant part of my life. I thought the jitters I felt in my heart and stomach were butterflies, when they were really just anxiety. Little did I know way back then that I was already in the middle of a terrible heartbreak — one where I was losing myself completely.

There are things I changed in that relationship that I will never be able to get back. I wish with all my heart I could rewind time and do everything over again so I wouldn’t make the mistakes that I did, but clearly that’s impossible. My next-best tactic will have to be learning to forgive myself.

If I knew then what I do now, I would have ended things and stayed single for a few years until I met the person who would completely turn the way I felt about love upside down. I would have known that I wasn’t being treated right, that people should never pressure you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with, and I would have known that there are men who care about my heart so much that they will be able to put aside some of their own dreams for mine too.

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My heart still hurts often because of mistakes I can’t take back and the way they affect those I love. Sometimes I worry that I won’t ever be able to be fully loved by someone for forever with the baggage from my past.



Love is patient, love is kind.

This verse often plays in my head when I hear the word “love,” but something told me to dig deeper today. I Google “1 Corinthians 13,” as I don’t know the Bible well enough to recite the entire verse to myself verbatim. I skim until a small collection of words hit me and my heart drops into my stomach.

“LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.”

I want to cry with relief.

God is speaking to me in a way I’ve never really felt before. I know Jesus came to this earth to die for my sins, and I know He forgives me, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I can forgive myself. I realize a real, true love can caress me gently and understand that just because I am scarred and imperfect doesn’t mean I am not worthy. Just because I made mistakes that really hurt in my past doesn’t mean my future can’t still be bright, healthy, and filled with the authentic love I have always wanted. Even though I can’t make everything right with the mistakes I have made in my life, I can look forward to creating a beautiful life with someone really special. The best thing I can do now is move on with my life and continue to look towards the bright future I have with someone who will be my forever and always, rather than dwell on the things that used to hurt me and tear me down. After all, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter who you have been with. All that matters is who you end up with.

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Dysautonomia International does not believe POTS is caused by stress or anxiety, so odds are it is not. Stress does very negatively affect the way I feel, though, which is why I now try to keep my life as stress-free as it can be.

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.

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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.

Boston

I sat in the passenger of his Ford F-150 as he passed behind the truck to the driver’s side. He never let me open my own door, and I loved that. Yet again it was just another bonus to dating him. I was beginning to find every little thing he did was just a bonus to how wonderful I thought this human was.

He slid effortlessly into the driver’s seat and leaned over to kiss me. I beamed. I felt like the most special girl in the world and we hadn’t even gone on our date yet. He took my hand and held it close to my body as we pulled onto the highway. I smiled as I gazed at his pretty brown eyes. I don’t think anything about men is supposed to be considered pretty, but there isn’t a strong enough word for a male that I can use — I have never been so mesmerized by a guy before. This isn’t a feeling I hear many girls describe about their boyfriends, and I noted the warmth fill my heart.

I blushed as he looked over and caught me staring. He smiled, and I melted a little more.

We parked the car and he didn’t let go of my hand until he hopped out of the car and ran around to my side to open my door again. How long had I been a Princess? It felt like a lifetime, but we’ve only known each other seven months.

I took his hand, made the leap of faith from the tall truck, and realized I had fallen in love as fast as the trip my feet took from the carpeted mats in his Ford to the gravel pavement beneath my sneakers. He closed the door with one hand and took mine in the other. He made a joke, I laughed, and fell just a little deeper.

This was a relationship unlike any that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. The smallest trips to the grocery store became another page of our story. They weren’t errands — they were just spending time together.

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Some things in life you don’t think have an end in sight. It’s frightening when that thing is a romance. One of many dictionary definitions for the word is,

“A strong, sometimes short-lived attachment, fascination, or enthusiasm for something.”

I close my eyes and pray that it won’t be short-lived; the thought of that brings a sharp pain to my heart. A heart can be broken more than once, and there aren’t any promises things will work out. We’ve only been in each other’s lives for a short while, but one day a short romance is going to blossom into a lifelong love. I don’t have any way of knowing whether or not I’ll be caught or end up shattered on the ground, but right now I am closing my eyes, inhaling deeply, and taking the plunge.

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.