Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Giving the Benefit of the Doubt

Sometimes I feel like the word "forgiveness" is overused, or perhaps misplaced at times. For instance, forgiveness not only means pardoning an offense, but it also means to pardon certain behaviors or personality types. To be completely honest, I find myself having a hard time connecting with certain people---which doesn't mean it's all their fault. I place blame on my view of them, their behavior or maybe a clash in opinions and beliefs. It all depends. In the past, I have had a couple of friends who were just bluntly honest to a flaw. I remember this one time, we were all having dinner at a local restaurant and bar. We were talking about our passions in life, mine being art, writing and music, and the other people were very passionate about exercising and going to the gym. They were in super tiptop shape! I admired their dedication to their health. For me, I've never really cared if I was 'thick' or overweight. I mean, granted I'd like to lose weight, but life was so much more than counting calories. At that time, I was pushing 180 lbs, and I had stated this to my friends. One of them had asked me, "Would you ever consider weight loss surgery?"

I answered her with an honest response. I explained that I would never do weight loss surgery due to the risks. I keep recalling my partner's good friend who died right on the table during surgery. I would try my hardest to do it myself and make better food choices. As I sipped my drink and delved deeper into my thoughts, which were forming a much bigger opinion, I started to feel a little offended. I mean, yeah I know I need to lose some weight, but to ask a friend about weight loss surgery? Surgeons won't even offer you weight loss surgery if you are under 230 lbs to begin with, so there's that thought floating through my mind. "Does she think I look 50 pounds heavier?" And while that's not a big deal, because many women suffer with obesity, I had to take into account that maybe she was concerned about my overall health....but I just couldn't let it go. I was offended.

That was a definite a flaw of mine in the past. Whenever a friend got too honest with me, I would take offense. Most people would agree with me---like yeah, that IS offensive. But, is it really? I guess back then I was much more insecure than I am now. I had a lot of self-esteem issues and it just consumed me. My thoughts headed over to the vengeance side (silently in my mind of course) like, "You should talk about health as you guzzle down gallons of wine!" There are other health issues I could've brought to her attention, but the thing was---I wasn't being forgiving of her natural honesty, which frankly these days, is refreshing to me. I'd rather someone come out and say it and be honest than flatter me and let me receive my own zip code. So these days, I appreciate honesty.

Another flaw of mine (do you have all day?) -- is being a "yes girl." I sometimes overspend, over-give, or say yes to events that I don't want to go to. One of my longtime friendships recently ended due to feeling offended. In my mind, she would spend weekends here, to which she treated me like a fricken bed and breakfast. She loved how I cooked for her or went out to get her favorite wine. But at some point, I felt like I was being taken advantage of. If she was bored, she'd call me and say, "Can I come over and we can cook something?" But it really meant me cooking and cleaning---which I already love to do. It started getting worse when she did random unexpected drop ins with her friends, expecting a huge meal and free wine. At this point, I was already clenching my teeth, but catered to her anyway, because I truly did love my friend. But one day as I was sick in bed, she texts me, "Hey, let me know if you need anything today. I'm going to come over and check in on you."  I thought---wow---now that's super sweet of her! So I texted her back, "Oh wow, thank you! Do you think you could cook for me or bring me some chicken soup from that deli tonight?" (She's a really good cook herself.) I get a text back the next second, "Oh sorry, I have plans."


Listen, I don't expect anything from anyone. The only thing that gets me are people who use you just for a free meal ticket or those who think you're super rich and have a ton of money to spend on them. I'm not rich, but I will share whatever I have with anyone who needs it. I will feed you, give you a room if you need to stay the night---but once I feel like someone is taking advantage of me, I tend to drop the friendship or become distant. See, friendship is a two way street, much like a love relationship. Maya Angelou said it perfectly. She said, "I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back." Although I give without expectations, I sometimes feel bad whenever I'm the one in need, and there's nobody to help me in the process. Today, I have people in my life who compliment my space with love and respect---and most of all, even if I cook or cater to them, I never feel used because there's a certain give and take to the relationship. I've found people who actually care about what you need---not pretend to. They don't ask, "Do you need anything," just to seem like a good person. They really do mean, "Do you need ANYTHING?"

So my point of this entire post is, maybe I should've been more forgiving of those who I 'thought' were taken advantage of me. Maybe being a "yes girl" made them have an entire different perspective  of me. Maybe my "welcome mat" wasn't as sincere as I made it out to be. Maybe this is just all my fault. I'm learning as I go. I'm learning to forgive different personality types, none being right or wrong or good or bad---just different. I'm in no way perfect myself! I'm learning to leave a huge margin of err and offense, in case I was "too sensitive" that day, and trust me, that does happen!

When we're forgiving of someone else's personality type or "offensive comments" -- are we simply being a bunch of pushovers, or do you think it's wiser to let it all go and give the benefit of the doubt instead?

Would love to hear your stories as well. If you'd like to comment on this post, visit me over on my Facebook page or Twitter account. Thanks for reading!

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Monday, September 17, 2018

When Someone Minimizes Your Anxiety Disorder

Talking about mental health itself has a certain stigma about it. In fact, I'm not sure if it's gotten better or worse. There's a "crazy" notion attached whenever certain people hear, "anxiety disorder," "depression," "bipolar," or even "mental illness." Let's face it, if you claim to be "normal"---you're no doubt probably the opposite...and guess what? That's OK! We all have our 'thang' so to speak. We all  have struggles in life. We've all most likely lost a loved one through a death or breakup, or we've had our hearts broken or we just suffer from anxiety and depression from a chemical imbalance. There is nothing to be ashamed of. The only thing to be ashamed of is if you're the type of person who belittles other people who are suffering. There's a special kinda hell for people like that. Most of the time, those who mock others with mental illness are showing a sure sign of psychological projection. They fear that they'll end up like "them" ---- that they'll be seen as experiencing similar issues, because well, they probably are.

When I do live broadcasts over on Twitter/Periscope, I never know what kind of crowd I'll get in there. Lately, it's been amazing people with the ability to open up and share their stories about mental illness. It's sort of become like a little support group. We also have people who work in the ER nurses and medical practitioners on there contributing to the conversation to give us a better idea of what others go through as well and how they cope with certain situations in the emergency department. We speak about medications, as well as natural ways to try and relieve stress and anxiety. Everyone is different, so what may work for one person may not work for the other. But the entire glue that keeps us talking is that we know we are not alone in this battle. We know that other people like ourselves are out there, willing to have the talk---willing to have an open dialogue about mental health.

Thing is, I'm not a psychologist or claim to be a know-it-all. I'm a "psyche patient"---a woman who also struggles with anxiety attacks as well as receives counseling. I share my stories on my blog and on my live streams so that maybe, I can help someone else who is struggling too. I mainly like to talk about what helped me cope, instead of just sitting there complaining. There's nothing wrong with seeing a therapist or psychiatrist for help. In this day of age, I'm surprised there are still people out there not using these types of services.

For me, I suffer from PTSD, anxiety disorder and some depression. I'm typically a very happy person, until the anxiety strangles me into becoming an agoraphobic isolated mess. But I always rise up again. My main source of comfort has always been praying to Jesus. He has given me a mighty inner strength and peace that I can't even put into words. But the thing is, I have to keep at it---keep in constant communication with God so that I can benefit from His strength. Sometimes, the only thing I can do is thank Him in the storms. I'm going through this for a reason, and I think the reason is getting clearer and clearer by the minute. I've been finding myself helping those who struggle too---relating to them---sharing myself so that they don't feel so isolated like I did.

There are some wonderful passages in the Bible that helps me stand tall when all I wanna do is curl up in a corner and hide.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ---Matthew 11:28-30

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be trouble and do not be afraid." ---John 14:27 

"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken." ---Psalm 55:22

"Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up." ---Proverbs 12:25

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." ---Psalm 56:3

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, or what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his spendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you? You of little faith! So do not worry, saying, 'What shallow eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ---Matthew 6:25-34 

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ---Philippians 4:6-7

These are just some of the helpful scriptures for when you're feeling anxious and worried. They've help me a lot. There's so much more in the Bible that you can choose from. If you need a really good Bible that has a guidance section on worry, anxiety, depression, grief---all topics, I suggest getting The Promise Bible.  It's a great place to start if you're a new Christian.

Another thing I have learned is to never own the anxiety or depression---whatever you are suffering with. Never say, "*My* anxiety is really bad today," or "*My* depression is killing me." Words have power. Speak down to them: "*This* anxiety is lessening the more I pray," or "*The* depression has lifted and I feel better." It's a hard habit to break, because we're all so used to claiming "our anxiety" or "our depression." But it makes sense, right?

If you'd like to join me for a chat on my live broadcast, come see me over on Periscope. I talk about different topics and I also cook over there, with some interesting conversations. Cooking relieves my stress, so it's one of my favorite things to do. Other things that relieve the anxiety is playing guitar, having friends over, writing in my journal and speaking to my therapist, as well as the group over on Periscope.

And please remember, whenever somebody minimizes your suffering, know that this is a huge indication of psychological projection. Nobody would ever mock you if they weren't suffering. Hurt people hurt, and that's a fact.

If you ever need to contact me, please feel free to use the form on the right side of this blog, or you can DM me over on Twitter. For now, take care and feel better!

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How Do You Cope With a Toxic Person in Your Life?

So many of us have been judged, or have even judged others. We've been taught that "judging" someone is a bad thing to do, but realistically, it's our innate nature to automatically form an opinion---to judge, whether it's good or bad. If I hear someone talking badly about someone or wishing ill will on another person, I automatically "judge" them to be someone who hates themselves. People who hate themselves usually ramble on about other people, or wish bad things to happen to them. That's just psychology 101---not to mention that's also some bad juju. Even gossip itself is a form of judgment. In Judaism, there's a saying that gossip kills three: the speaker, the listener and the one being spoken of. Anyone who gossips about someone else to you, will most likely be gossiping about you as well. I'm not perfect and from time to time, I like hearing about how a friend is doing or what's going on in their lives through someone else, but there's a huge difference between tearing somebody apart while they're not there and just asking how someone else is doing.

Bad energy exudes bad energy. And recently I have experienced this for myself. I was having lunch with old friends a few months ago. Every word out of one of our friend's mouth was a complaint about her life or about someone in her life. I mean, I get it---we can all complain about something, but this was every. single. word. out. of. her. mouth. I started to feel tense and ordered another drink or three, (you can judge me there.) The words out of her mouth were so toxic, that the atmosphere felt poisoned. She even wished death on one of her exes. Eventually, she tarted subtly attacking a few of us at the table. She ultimately ruined a good evening. I then began to realize that this woman absolutely hates everything about herself. There was absolutely no self-love ---no self acceptance or inner peace. She verbally vomited at the table. That's exactly what it felt like. And then I remembered why I rarely hung out with this person. She never changed. I'm not sure if someone like that can change or not. It must be a mind pattern of just constant judgments on people, or maybe, she just needs to learn how to accept herself more. I'm no psychologist, but this was just crazy.

When you're in the company of a very toxic person, or someone who is just verbally vomiting all over your good time----what do you do?

Do you excuse yourself and leave?

Do you wait it out and then never call them again?

Or do you ask them to stop?

I can never have a good time with this person only because it's all fire coming out of her mouth. She's always angry at someone or something. So sadly, I try to keep my distance because it makes me feel anxious. For one, I don't want to be apart of a hate fest. Like they say, misery loves company. And two, I don't want to absorb her energy. I truly believe you can absorb someone's good or bad energy if you're with them long enough. Have you ever left someone after a long visit and felt completely drained?

In life, especially during stressful times, I LOVE to get away with a few friends for the night and just laugh and talk about anything, other than people in a derogatory way. Laughter is the best medicine for anxiety. A bash fest or gossiping just makes me wanna hide under the table and call for help. And don't get me wrong, if a friend calls me up with a problem or needs help with a challenge in their life---I want to be there for them. This is different. I'm talking about the drama lamas and the ones who are constantly putting other people down. I can't take it anymore.

I'm sure many of you are nodding, knowing somebody in your life who does this sort of thing. What do you do? (Asking for a friend.)

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How to Tell if Your Loved One is at Risk of Suicide by Melissa Howard

No community or demographic is immune to suicide. Its pain and suffering are known to everyone, which is why it is so important to talk openly about it. Keeping suicide in the dark only increases the stigma around it, and can make it difficult for those who are at risk to seek help. But suicide is preventable.

Suicide Does Not Discriminate

It does not matter your age, race, gender, or social status; there are at-risk people in every demographic. In fact, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention lists suicide as the tenth leading cause of death in the united states. For those 15-34 years of age, suicide jumps to the second leading cause of death.

Often, an at-risk person suffers from poor mental health or turns toward substance abuse. They are too close to themselves to see the signs. Unfortunately, this means that it is up to family and friends to recognize the problem and know when to step in.

Why Some Turn to Suicide

While depression often plays a large role in suicide, it is not the sole cause. Only 54 percent of people who have committed suicide were diagnosed with a mental illness. Those experiencing relationship problems or financial struggles can also be at risk, as well as those going through an unprecedented change or sudden loss.

Do not underestimate the role alcohol and drugs play in suicide, either. Psychology Today reports that one in three victims commits suicide while under the influence. Many turn toward substance abuse as a stress-relief tactic, but it only worsens the problem. It deepens depression and takes a toll on the body and mind, increasing the risk of suicide.

Learn the Signs

Before you confront anyone with your concerns, learn the signs. It is a good idea to closely monitor their behavior for a few days and consult other friends and family to see if they have noticed these signs as well. Look for dramatic mood swings, shifts in behavior, and withdrawal from people and activities they used to enjoy. If they talk about feeling hopeless, wanting to die, or being in unbearable pain, they may be at immediate risk.

Open a Conversation

If you suspect a loved one or someone you know of seeking to harm themselves, you will want to approach them with love and an open mind. You do not want them to shut down and shut you out while you are expressing your concerns because you said the wrong thing.

Pick a time when you two will be able to talk uninterrupted. If they have substance abuse issues, try to start a conversation when they have not been using. It may help you to talk to a counselor beforehand to learn more about their addiction and how you can help discourage them from using by removing enabling factors, such as handling their bills.

Once you’ve selected a time to speak, gently ask your loved one if they are thinking of harming themselves, and emphasize how much you care for them. Most importantly, listen and be genuine. Too often, those contemplating suicide feel isolated or unheard, and you do not want to reinforce this idea in their head.

What to Do if They Refuse Help

Unfortunately, a person will sometimes refuse help. Recognize that you have your limitations, but do what you can. The best you can do is to continue to be there for them. Offer help and provide them with helpful resources; knowing you are there can sometimes be enough, and they may come around later on. If you believe they are at immediate risk, remove all sharp and dangerous objects from them, and call for help.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide is preventable. However, too often, there is a stigma around seeking help. If you suspect a loved one of being at risk, the best thing you can do is emphasize your love and support for them. Let them know they can turn to you.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Written by: Melissa Howard melissa@stopsuicide.info

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Monday, August 20, 2018

How Those Feeling Suicidal Following a Major Loss Can Get Help and Manage Their Grief

Losing someone you love is a major trauma that no matter what, we are never truly prepared for. It’s completely normal to have feelings of severe shock, depression, anger, and hopelessness. Your emotions following a major loss may be unpredictable and you may feel that you are having a hard time controlling them. It’s important to know that you have every right to feel all the elements of extreme grief.
It’s equally important to know that these feelings, however strong, will pass. You are not alone and your life is worth more than you can know right now. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, you should immediately talk to someone about them. If you have a close friend, family member, or clergy leader that you trust, call them. It doesn’t matter what time it is – they love you and will be more than happy to talk about your feelings.
If you prefer to speak to someone else, dial 1-800-273-8255. This is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. There will always be someone to talk with you, compassionately, 24/7/365. Everything you say on the lifeline is 100% confidential. You can also contact The Hope Line via a mobile app. If you prefer not to talk live, you can try the Crisis Text Line. Just text 741741.
Suicide is a permanent response to a temporary problem. It is never the answer.
In order to help stave off thoughts of suicide in the future, you need to know how to begin to manage and eventually overcome your feelings of intense grief. Harvard Health states that you can expect your grief to wax and wane – it may be intense one day and not so much the next. You can expect to feel depression during periods of grief. It is normal to have problems sleeping, extreme melancholy, and a loss of appetite. It’s normal to feel bad following the loss of someone you love, but you should know that there are ways to help manage it. There is hope.
Do everything you can to resist becoming isolated. Schedule time with friends and family. Lean on your neighbors or church community. Attend social events. Join group activities.
Talk to a professional. You should always feel free to discuss your feelings with your friends and family, but professional therapists and grief counselors are trained to help you cope with the specific sort of sadness and despair that follows a loss.
Take care of yourself. A healthy body is key for a healthy mind, and a healthy mind is one that can better manage intense emotions following a loss. Focus on eating a healthy diet and getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. Not only will this help you to stay healthy, but it will also give you something to take your mind off your grief. Distractions (healthy ones, of course) are actually a helpful tool in overcoming depression of all kinds.
No matter how dark it may seem right now, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. There is no grief too powerful that time cannot heal. Suicide removes every chance of you moving forward and living a healthy, happy life – something that your loved one would certainly have wanted for you. Stay strong. It gets better.
Written by: Melissa Howard 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Where There's a Will There's a Way

It's been a couple of months since I wrote anything in this blog. I tried going on vacation to clear my head to only come back to the end of the month of June, which is the anniversary of my mama's passing. It's like, good God, will this ever end? But I got through it. Between posting up melancholy Instagram posts and whining on Twitter, I had that Moonstruck moment where I was like, "Snap out of it!" I keep going back and forth with being okay to not being okay, and that's pretty normal when you lose someone so very special in your life. I stopped live broadcasting, writing, yet kept up with my editing and advertising because it didn't require "thinking" -- it just required to get other people's business done. So that's a different aspect of my work. But here, on this blog, and over on Periscope live stream -- it's all me. As you know if you've been reading my blog, I always tell you about my broken heart or ailments to only give you ways that helped me cope with it. So there is a silver lining to my sad sob story. Bear with me.

About a few months ago, I had to go into the hospital for severe abdominal pain on my right side. They figured out that it was some kind of calcification on my appendix and that I should see a surgeon. It didn't burst or anything, but it's on the brink. Long story short, the nurse took a whole slew of blood from me for tests. About 15 minutes later, I was starting to feel better. I noticed a trend too -- that every time I visit the doctor for some kind of pain, especially related to the heart (chest pain or other) -- my pain disappears after the nurse takes my blood. I'm not just talking about 1 vile -- they usually take a 6 pack of my blood. Eh, coincidence, until I was mindlessly watching a documentary about men in prison. I'm not sure which one it was, but there was this man who constantly kept cutting himself to the point of extensive bleeding. They took him out and was psychiatrically evaluating him to see if he was a nut job -- but he was extraordinarily intelligent. He explained to the doctor that what he was doing was called "bloodletting."

From the website called, "The Art of Manliness" -- it explains how bloodletting started. It reads, "Bloodletting was thought to be beneficial in healing nearly every disease, from acne and asthma, to cancer and smallpox. Even the loss of blood from a wound was treated by…removing more blood! Bloodletting the already-wounded was thought to reduce inflammation (which is why it was employed prior to surgery as well). Bloodletting wasn’t limited to curing disease either, but was also used as a preventive measure to avoid getting sick."

Even menstruation is considered a type of bloodletting by its natural cleansing. In fact, the most common bloodletting tool was a barber's razor.  They explained it really well in this paragraph: "For centuries, the local barber not only offered close shaves and sharp haircuts, but also provided medical services including bloodletting. In fact, the iconic barbershop pole with its two brass balls and red and white stripes is a vestige of the days when barbers would slit customers’ arms to relieve their ailments. The brass ball at top represents the bowl that the barbers kept leeches in for drawing blood, and the brass ball at the bottom of the pole represents the bowl the barbers used to catch blood from their patients/customers. The red represents blood, while white stripes symbolize the bandages that barbers would hang on a pole to dry after washing. The pole itself may represent a stick that patients would grip during the bloodletting procedure to encourage blood flow." Needless to say, I'll be 'selfishly' donating blood on a regular basis. I'll be helping somebody else while helping myself in the process.

Other than trying to feel better, mentally and physically, I've been praying on a daily basis still, but with more diligence and time dedicated to God. I'm not only learning so much about the Bible and what the scriptures truly mean, and not what I 'think' it means. It's been a very interesting journey for me. Some of the things I have learned not only from the Bible itself, but through other Christian believers is that yes, we are all sinners, and no we cannot 'try' to not sin by our own efforts. I never understood what that meant when someone would say that in the past. But what it means is, that when you repent, and ask God to come into your life -- the Holy Spirit -- your life will change. You will no longer desire the things of the past. In the contemporary English version, there's a scripture that reads, "I will take away your stubborn heart and give you a new heart and a desire to be faithful. You will have only pure thoughts." Whatever your sin is -- you can't just try to not think of it -- whether it's an addiction or even impure thoughts. Our humanness gets in the way. We just simply cannot do it on our own. So when you ask for the Holy Spirit to be in your life and make prayer a daily maintenance -- you'll start to see a change in your thinking, and then your behavior. This is if you truly let go of whatever it is you are hanging onto that makes you sin. Truly ask, and He will change you without any effort on your part. Though the flesh is weak, God is much stronger. Just make sure you keep up with daily communication with God. This is what has helped me tremendously. It's also helped me deal with my bouts of agoraphobia. I don't hesitate to go off on my own anymore. Some places are still tricky, but it has gotten so much better. My anxiety has lessened a great deal, and when I do suffer from a panic attack, I go into my little "Deb Cave" and pray, as well as listen.

This year has been quite the testing period for me. I've learned how to be "okay" with the silence of being in a large house by myself, even when there are snowstorms. I freaked out the first couple of times, but then learned that I'm OKAY even if I'm stuck up on that mountain all by myself. I can lose this mindset if I lose my prayer and meditation time. I speak of meditation as in, listening to God, not sitting Indian style chanting mantras and such. I mean, praying, listening, communicating with God -- that type of meditation. It's about focus and bringing your thoughts fully upon God. When I do this, I receive messages whether through the Bible, or through something written or by what somebody says to me. God answers me in the most bizarre ways -- and it's not a "coincidence" because these answers are specific.

Although I still have my downfalls and backsliding -- I always come back to the Source. I've been noticing that I have been very present in everything I do. I don't daydream anymore -- the type that gets your anxiety in a tizzy -- like fret over "what ifs" --- however, at night, sometimes my mind goes there and torments me until I pray and let go and let God handle it. It's a constant struggle, but I don't worry about the things I used to worry about. I may have new worries, but they're handled much better than before. If you constantly keep seeking God with all your heart, you're going to find Him. It may take a while -- it may take a lot of trust --- it may take a whole lotta patience, but try. It has completely changed my life to where I know that I know that I know there's a God and there's a heaven. I always believed, but not in this type of belief -- more so "knowledge." And even though we all fear death -- because I feared it all the time -- I fear it less. I can't say I'm 100% fearless, but it's getting there. I actually pray to God to make me dangerously courageous! I pray and wish for that more than anything in the world. Think about it -- if you didn't have fear of anything in the world, where would you be right now? (Mentally, emotionally, physically as well as geographically.)

Those of you who have personally emailed me, DM'd me as well as sent Facebook messages to let me know you missed me broadcasting -- THANK YOU. I just felt like I had nothing to offer anyone any longer. I was in a bad funk, but slowly getting out of it. I appreciate every single one of you and I am so grateful I have come across many genuine good-hearted people. I'm not sure when I'll be back broadcasting, but I wanted to update you on what has been going on here.

Until then my little sunshines...

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Grief & Loneliness

As I've been back and forth between a couple of grief support groups, I'm learning a main theme among everyone who has lost someone dear to them: loneliness and abandonment. I'm not even speaking of feeling abandoned by the deceased loved one -- it's abandonment from friends, family, acquaintances, etc. People seem to just leave your life just. like. that. I couldn't believe all of these people felt the same way I did. When I was caregiving for my mother, my friends would either come over, or sometimes we'd meet them for a drink or two -- nothing major, but they were still in my life. After the funeral, and after all of the "condolences" and "I'm here if you need to talk" kind of gestures, it was as if every single person drove off into the sunset to never return again. It's approaching the one year mark since my mother died and I've only spent a handful of times with my own siblings. I seriously thought that it would be the total opposite. Many other people in the grief support group stated the same thing. Some were actually really upset over the absence of some of their family members -- or even just a call to say, "Hey, how you holding up?" I asked some of them if they made their own attempt to try and get together with them, some did, while others 'expected' an invite or a phone call.

Here's the thing: if all of you lost someone you love dearly, then all of you are going through similar types of grieving. Some immerse themselves in their work, while others focus on their immediate family. For me, I focused on my work, but I also focused on making new friends and cultivating somewhat of a "new normal" for myself. I took on my mother's recipes to comfort my siblings when they did come over for dinner and I also delved into my hobbies, like playing guitar and doing writing projects. Many people who aren't related to you may feel awkward contacting you, or perhaps unsure of how you are. They don't want to upset you so they're on this strange boundary line of, "What if it upsets her if I call?" That's so common. But with relatives, the same baseline of grieving and delving into whatever takes their minds off their deceased loved one is absolutely normal. You have to forgive them, and you also need to seek forgiveness for being absent yourself. But is it all about forgiveness? Because technically, nobody did anything "wrong." Maybe it's just accepting what is, therefore you won't suffer the absence of your friends and family if they need more time coping with their loss.

I hope this doesn't sound bad, but I find it easier to talk to new friends if I need to vent about the loss of my mother. They don't have that look of, "Eeeeeeeeeeeek --- she's going there again!" They listen and then tell me their stories about their losses in life. It's a give and take kind of conversation, without the depressing part of the process. Sometimes, talking to someone who is grieving over the same person as you are, can conjure up a lot of tears and heartache. So give people time to deal with whatever it is they're dealing with. I mean, I would love to see my siblings every single day, but it's just not possible. They know my door is always open --- so without a doubt, if they want a "Sunday gravy" at their ancestral home, I would always welcome that.

And word of advice: if your friends have stopped contacting you, that's because they don't know how you REALLY are. CONTACT THEM. Pick up the phone -- don't text -- ask them to go out for a bite to eat with you. Invite them over. Welcome them. They feel out of sorts and scared to touch upon topics that may bring on the waterworks. They are scared. Forgive them. But don't forget about them.

I will say this... I did have one friend who basically used me as a bed & breakfast or a free dinner whenever she was bored. I was always her last resort for some reason. Both Madelene and I noticed this, but thought, "Eh, maybe we're looking too much into this."  So a few months after my mom passed, this friend called me up and said, "Hey, can I come by and hang out?" Which means, dinner drinks and a sleepover. I was like, "Sure! I would love that!" Then I got to thinking --- how nice it would be for somebody else to cook for me, since I always cook for everyone. So I said, "Hey, will you cook me something pleeeeaaaaase?" She's known to be a great cook. Minutes later she said, "Oh, sorry I forgot, I have plans." *Click*  Then the other day, she texted me and said, "Hi, I'm off tomorrow, can I come over?" This is on a Thursday. I said, "I wish I could, but you know I work that day." So then I suggested for her to come over this Memorial Weekend and BBQ with us. No response whatsoever! So basically, this girl just calls or texts me by the seat of her pants, hoping I have a free spot for her free meal ticket. She does this to a lot of people in her life, and I always wondered why they stuck around. I finally put up boundaries, told her how I felt and to also, lose my number. I haven't done that in years! It takes a lot for me to cast you out of my life for good. But again, people will use you because they think you're lonely and you have nothing better to do but grieve and sit around hoping someone comes over to visit you.

That's been my experience with this whole grieving process and how it affects relationships with your friends and family. Feeling abandoned is very normal, but remember, people are trying to be busy and take a breather from everything around them. Don't take offense to it. Just welcome them when they feel better enough to come around again.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!