Jun 15, 2016

Happy Through Trials: How This Woman Filled A "Hole" In Her Life In A Healthy Way

Traveling, healthy lifestyle, exercise, nieces, nephews

Happy Through Trials

The next amazing woman in the series is Kristen.  I have the privelege of knowing her too!  We worked together as accountants awhile back.  She is truly an inspiration to me.  I have seen her go through this crazy journey that she talks about below and she has handled it better than I think I ever could.

Eight years ago my parents flew me down to San Diego to spend time with them and visit my mom’s side of the family for a few days. While driving to my grandparents’ house from the airport my dad brought up my health. At the time I was a level three morbidly obese person although I wouldn’t know that for a couple months. He mentioned his concern about my weight and then brought up my desire to get married. At the time I was almost 26 and VERY single. I’ve always wanted to be a wife and a mother, but I just wasn’t somebody guys wanted to date. At my parents prompting I went to see my primary care doctor to see if maybe I had thyroid issues. I’d been heavy my whole life, but I was at an all-time high. My weight was causing unhappiness in all areas of my life. My doctor referred me to a dietitian and I started to take control of my life.

By the end of that year, I’d lost almost 100 pounds and was looking pretty dang good! I was happy and had this new found confidence, but still VERY single. I was working full time and fast approaching graduating from school with a bachelor’s in accounting. I picked accounting as a major because I loved numbers and math and it was something I’d be able to do from home as a mother. Even though I was happy and more confident there was a huge piece missing from my life. I wasn’t a wife or a mother.  Then the worst thing that could possibly happen happened. My two younger siblings both got engaged and married within weeks of each other. I NEVER thought they’d get married before me! The day after I found out, I just couldn’t deal with it. I was very depressed and even called in sick to work to avoid life.  I ended up going to meet with the bishop (the leader of my church congregation) to get some advice on how to handle the situation.

unmarried, health issues, lupus, healthy, love, faith

As we sat and talked he told me how his two daughters (friends of mine) handled the whole watching younger siblings get married and start families while they were single. He said that they strive to be the best aunts possible to their nieces and nephews. They also try to take a couple trips a year to places all over the world. I knew at the time that travelling wasn’t an option, I could barely afford school at the time. However, I had some nieces and nephews at the time. He also suggested I try to get more involved in the congregation and work on myself spiritually. I left that night feeling a little better, but still kind of down about life and being single. I hadn’t been on a date in three years and didn’t have any prospects.

After a few days I started to really think about the advice I’d been given. I loved being an aunt, but I’d been so focused on school and getting healthy that I’d neglected my nieces and nephews minus phone calls for birthdays. So I started to think of ways I could be the best aunt ever, maybe even become the favorite aunt. I started calling my siblings more and making an effort to know what was going on in my nieces and nephews lives. Gradually the number of nieces and nephews grew and my sister that lives close to me started having kids. This was a game changer! I finally had a nephew close enough to spend regular time with.

A couple months after he was born I started dating someone. I (along with a lot of people) thought I was going to marry this guy. I became attached very quickly. This relationship was different from any other that I’d had. We could sit and talk for hours and hours. After a while we started acting like an  old married couple. Our dates often consisted of running errands together or going fishing or shooting. He introduced me to a side of Utah I never knew existed and I loved it. To this day I enjoy fishing and shooting and hunting because of him.

Much to my dismay this relationship ended after a year. He said I deserved someone much better than him. I didn’t want anyone but him. I was devastated. Looking back, he was right, I do deserve someone better. When we broke up he made me promise to see a dermatologist about a rash I’d had on my face and arms for the whole time we dated. It would get better and then come back with a vengeance. He gave me his dermatologist’s name and I scheduled an appointment about two weeks later. Little did I know that his insistence on me seeing a dermatologist would change my life completely and possibly saved my life. As I explained why I was there to the dermatologist, he said the rash was one of two things…Lupus or Rosacea, but most likely lupus since it was on my arms. He then did a biopsy and blood work to see what he could find out. I left that day with a hole in my arm and more questions than answers and nobody to turn to for support. I went back two weeks later to learn the rash on my arm was the lupus rash. He insisted on doing another biopsy and sending it to the University of Utah to make sure it was really the lupus rash. I was headed into a very dark place at the time between the breakup and latest news from the dermatologist. At this time in my life I thought there was nothing harder than getting a life changing diagnosis and having no one at home to help me deal. Gratefully my parents had decided to fly me to my older sister’s to get away for a long weekend. So off I went with a larger hole in my arm to visit my older sister and her family. At the time she had a 5-year- old and a 3-year-old. The 3-year- old LOVED helping my clean out my hole and thought it was the coolest thing EVER. My sister and I talked all the what-ifs and next steps all while she, her husband, and their two boys gave me all the love I needed at that point in my life. I left feeling a little better about life, but still dreading the results of the second biopsy.

Happy Through Trials: How This Woman Filled A "Hole" In Her Life In A Healthy Way

At this point in my life I had a two choices I could make on how I handled the current state of my  life. Option one was to be miserable and dwell on how awful in my eyes my life was. Option two was to figure out how to be happy and positive through all the negatives I was being thrown and they were coming left and right. I went to meet with my bishop shortly after being diagnosed with lupus and we talked about the trials in my life at that point and time. I was fast approaching 30, single, and now had a chronic illness that would result in prescriptions and frequent doctor’s appointments the rest of my life. It made me feel like I was less desirable to a guy because who wants a girl that’s broken. As I talked to my bishop on a regular basis one night he said something that changed everything. He said, “I know you don’t want to hear this right now, but you chose these trials and all of your trials in the pre-existence.  This speaks wonders of the type of person you are and the spirit you were.” As I sat there I thought, you’re right bishop I didn’t want to hear that. Little did I know how much that one comment would change every trial I would go through from then on out.

I left that day and decided I was going to be positive and that I could handle anything that came my way.  I spent a lot of time working on myself the next six months or so. I refused to tell people I didn’t know about being diagnosed with lupus. I didn’t want them to treat me differently and I wasn’t ready to talk about it. As I focused on me I started to attend the temple weekly, reading my scriptures diligently, and really just trying to be in the best place emotionally, physically, mentally, and most of all spiritually. I knew without a doubt that if I was going to get through this I needed The Lord on my side. I also turned to my family for support and as I did this I worked even harder on my relationships with my nieces and nephews. I’d begun to realize that with them in my life they could make any bad day a million times better.

It’s been five years since being diagnosed with lupus. I’m still VERY single and while I’m not okay with it, I’m grateful for it. I never thought I’d buy a house by myself, but I have and I’ve loved every minute of learning how to take care of my house. As much as I would have loved to have a spouse going to doctor’s appointments with me and being by my side as my blood counts dropped well below normal and my doctor kept trying different treatment options I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to grow through it all. I’m the woman I am today because of both the trial of being single and the trial of all of my health issues. I’ve had to learn to take care of myself and ask the hard questions. My testimony of My Savior and the atonement is so much stronger having to go at all of this alone. I don’t know how many times I’ve cried myself to sleep because of the physical and emotional pain, but as soon as I turned to My Savior I would have this great feeling of peace come over me. I know without my faith in Jesus Christ I wouldn’t have this positive outlook on life and my trials. I know that part of my "positivity" is due in part to what my bishop told me shortly after being diagnosed with lupus. Anytime I have something hard I have to go through I think to myself “I signed up for this, bring it on.” It isn’t always easy, but through every trial I grow into the person I know I can be.

On my mantle in my living room I have a quote that reads, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” I love this quote and anytime I read it I’m reminded that I  signed up for my trials and I chose five years ago to be positive through them.

Happy Through Trials: How This Woman Filled A "Hole" In Her Life In A Healthy Way

I have become the favorite aunt of most of my 17 nieces and nephews and I’ve started traveling  more and even went to Peru last year. There are more international trips on the horizon in the future.

Happy Through Trials: How This Woman Filled A "Hole" In Her Life In A Healthy Way

Read the other posts in this series:

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