Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why Do They Become "Evil" Once They Become Exes?

Ever notice when you talk to someone in a relationship or even someone who has gone through a recent breakup, the person usually will tell you that they are the "better half"? In a sense that says, "Well, I do everything right, while they always screw everything up," and those who've gone through a breakup will usually call their exes, "the evil ex". Nobody's ever "wrong" - because let's face it, they are the most angelic, generous, thoughtful partner anyone could ever have. We never want to be seen as the "mean partner" or the "evil ex" - it's either egotistical or just human nature, or are they both correlated? I don't know. Don't get me wrong, there are conscious and honest people out there who will say, "Oh man, I'm a huge pain in the ass," without thinking twice about it, but the majority will tell you, "I am innocent. Period."

Truth is? Nobody's "innocent" or "guilty" unless of course there's abuse. That's a whole different ballgame. When you intermingle two lives from two separate worlds, you will get many differences and takes on what a relationship "should" be like, or what the relationship "seems to be". Some people go around thinking that their relationship is all hunky-dory, while the other partner is miserable, lonely and unsatisfied. Without communication, the entire relationship is one big facade. Sometimes, communication can be convoluted in a way that the person understands only half of what's going on. There are many people who go into denial about how bad the relationship really is because they can't think about being alone or breaking up, or even going through the process of breaking up. Nobody wants to go through that mess. It's like a death in some ways. So, they remain in that comfortable zone where it's not too happy and it's not so traumatically sad and devastating. A happy medium if you will.

One of my favorite movies is A Dream for an Insomniac. Frankie, the girl who is madly in love with a man who is already in a longterm "comfortable" relationship says to him, "Anything less than mad, passionate, extraordinary love is a waste of your time." And while we live in this fantasy world that our 10+ year relationship should be all butterflies and orgasmic fireworks, it's simply not the case. Relationships morph into different stages, and with these high expectations of these 'giddy' feelings continuing, more and more relationships go to shit and more and more marriages end in divorce. They will never except the word "contentment".

Contentment:
  1. Mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are
  2. Assenting to or willing to accept circumstances, a proposed course of action,  etc

Doesn't sound so romantic, does it? Just think about when you're in your first year of dating that special someone - it's exciting right? You're getting to know them on a personal and intimate level. Things are new - just like getting a new car, it's the best feeling in the world, but eventually, the novelty soon wears off and you need to work on it or …it will break down, or break apart. All relationships need work. They all need to be kept "new" - just like you want to keep your car new. But in my opinion, contentment isn't a bad word if you are working hard enough behind the scenes. Contentment is the reward you get for sticking it out so long with the person you are truly in love with. Contentment means you trust that person. You are comfortable telling them everything and anything. Contentment means, you can walk into the living room with your PJs and a bowl of ice cream and make weird faces at your partner (hoping they'll except this phase). Contentment simply means, letting your hair down. And I don't mean that you should totally let yourself go - I mean, you're just at ease and comfortable being "you". That's all.

During the turbulent times, most people will bitch and moan about their other half. Some people do it in such a derogatory and cruel way, that I wonder how they even lasted a month together. What happens when the disagreement or rough phase goes into overdrive and the two people involved now resent each other? If they break up during that phase with no resolution to that problem, then the other guy is the bad guy automatically. So, there's where you get the "evil ex" and the "evil partner" scenario. Without forgiveness, even if you know without a doubt that your partner was in the wrong, if you don't forgive them (whether you take em' back or not), the bitterness you'll have will spew out, "my evil evil evil ex".

Ah, wonderful relationships blooming ~
Bitterness does strange things to people. It changes their entire personality to where they can't even have normal friendships or relationships thereafter. It makes them cold, intolerant because 'someone' hurt them in the past and hell if that's gonna  happen again. Their mindset is totally wired to "self-preservation mode" - and while that's okay, their walls just keep getting higher, and higher, and higher. They assume everyone on this planet is the same as their "evil ex". Even their "evil ex" may have had a change of heart in their behavior. But no, everyone, and I mean everyone is evil…to them. Keep em' at an arm's length, always. Don't let em' in. Keep them out in the cold and if they need me, they can text me. Even so, I may not respond.

Boy, does she put up with a lot! 
Compromise. I'm no expert in relationships, but I've been married for 6 years and dating the same person for about 20 with some "on and offs" in between. I know for a fact that if things don't get resolved, resentment sets in. I know that in my experience, if we don't meet halfway with anything that's unresolved, it turns into either unnecessary arguments or pure silence (which is worse in my opinion). Without changing who I am and what I truly believe in, I try to accept the things that are impossible to change, but nudge on the changes that are possible, which makes me quite the nag at times…ok, most of the time.

So what makes a partner "bad" and what makes an ex "evil"? Is it the ego that makes us so infuriated or is it simply fair response to a shitty circumstance? There are many times when two people in a relationship start taking interests in different things. They start heading in one direction wanting one thing, while the other either lags behind or goes another way. Sometimes we just have to accept the fact that both parties have changed their direction in life. And that's okay. You have to be who you are in order to be happy in a relationship with another individual who has their own set of desires in life. Usually, when things happen like that, it can come down to a mutual ending with no hard feelings. But secretly, "you'll" always be the evil ex and the one who caused more pain. Our hearts are sensitive and are egos are huge. Maybe a little less of both would do us some good.

What do you think?

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, November 19, 2014

Steps to Healing: Forgive. Forget. Avoid. Move On.

"Why are they wearing HAZMAT suits?!?!"
Lately, it has been quite the plethora of ailments that either led me into the doctor's office or the emergency room. Sometimes, I have a quiet spell of good luck. Well, that was hardly the case this month. I now just make jokes of it all, but it does get crazy from time to time. My list of ailments this month include: nightly myoclonic jolts, a gigantic boil behind my ear that infected my entire system giving me a high fever of 102, hot grease that was splattered into my left eye and last but not least, heartburn so bad, that it tore up my entire esophagus making it impossible to swallow. I started to vomit half dollar size globs of blood. The pain was so excruciating that there wasn't any way I could possibly sleep. The fact that I couldn't even sip water without it coming back up was a cause for alarm. The round-the-clock NSAIDs I use for my menstraul cramps (Advil) was the main culprit on top of stress. (Read this article to find out more about the dangers of NSAIDs/Ibuprofen.) The doctor gave me some blood tests indicating that there was minimal bleeding in my upper GI track and not something of a larger concern. I've had an ulcer before and treating it with the same medicine I used called, Carafate that heals it almost instantly. I'm feeling better, but I can no longer take ibuprofen (NSAIDs/Advil) for my pain relief. Nothing else works, so I'm going to be one hot mess once I get the pain. Percocet doesn't even touch the surface of my pain and Tylenol? Eh. That stuff is a placebo. I'm like, "What else can possibly happen???" But I know things could be much worse.

Here's where I get to vent...

There are a couple of individuals who tell me, "Oh it's all in your head." ...Is it? Are my stomach problems, bloody vomit and burned out esophagus "all in my head"? Was my degenerated disc disease which left me debilitated for 3 entire months of my life (which is minimal for some people) "all in my head"? Was my infection that left me with a fever of 102 "all in my head"? And perhaps my myoclonic jerks have something to do with my head, since it can be stemmed from stress and anxiety -- I'll give em' that much. Thank God my wife witnesses these seizure-like traumas when I sleep because nobody would believe me. But let me say this: when your parent dies, and one parent comes down with the same big "C" and you experience people having psychotic fits on you to the point of fearing life -- that's no joke. My system cannot handle it. Seeing my mother suffer is traumatic enough. I don't need you finding the bottom of a wine bottle sitting on the floor screaming and crying -- and then having the audacity to tell me, "You should go on antidepressants, it helped me."

No, it didn't help you.

I wish people can see themselves sometimes. People handle stress and anxiety in very different ways. Some numb it with alcohol, some find medical assistance and some even try to get professional help. Some people seem to like rattling other people's cages to release their stress and others sometimes find solace by hiding and avoiding these stressful situations, which is probably a good idea now that I think of it. But I'm here. I can't run. I'm not a big fan of hypocrites. Who is? I have a hard time with someone giving me "sound advice" while on their second bottle of wine. I have a hard time with people who say, "I'm always here if you need anything," but yet they're the first ones to criticize you when you need help. I have a hard time with insincere folks who pretend to be the 'caretaker' when all they do is emotionally beat you to a bloody pulp. This is what alcoholics typically do. I don't know if they forget what they say when they drink or if this is just a character flaw, but my system. cannot. handle. it. And while I'm no 'light drinker', because I love having my 2-3 glasses of wine with dinner, the more I see people drinking their stress and anxiety away, the more I see myself pushing the wine glass away.

There are those who may have a loud voice and conviction in whatever they're saying, without the intelligence or sincerity behind it. They can paint you whatever picture they want you to see, without the authenticity behind the canvas. It's not necessarily "lying" so much as it is biding their time and gathering up self-motivated options to store into their their big round cheeks. They appease you with whatever will please you, then snap like a weak branch once the first snowfall hits. Those types of people usually get tossed away with the wind, because they're of no valuable use. They look good in the fair seasons, but then break apart once the cold air creeps up on them. Weak people who can't control their tempers are like overstretched rubber bands. They can only keep calm and together for so long...until they snap back and hurt you again.

But you know something? God has helped me so much throughout my ordeals that I have to just trust in Him.

Some of Jesus' disciples apparently had the same problem, and on one occasion one of them asked Jesus if he should forgive someone as many as seven times. Jesus replied, “I say not seven times but, seventy times seven.” --Matthew 18:22

So this time around, I choose to remain calm. I can't afford anymore stress in my life. They can taunt me all they want, have their psychotic drunken fits and kick me when I'm down again and again. I choose to trust God this time instead of handling it on my own. I'm going to let them hear their own voice. I'm going to let them see themselves react to something that never needed a reaction in the first place. I'm going to take everything with a grain of salt, and do what others seem to do: avoid avoid avoid and forgive forgive forgive. And of course, move on. It seems to work for everybody else. I'm hanging up my gloves because I don't have any fight left in me anymore.

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, November 17, 2014

Pray Your Gay Away...?

Every morning I would trek down to the deli to have them make my lunch. Our company never offered a real cafeteria, where they cooked for their employees. It was just a big break room with a bunch of vending machines filled with processed foods and day old ham sandwiches. I went up to the counter along with my two liter bottles of water and paid before my lunch was even made. I knew the cashier well. She was a neighbor, probably in her mid-fifties, who had about ten foster kids under her wing and probably fifteen of them who had already moved out. It was a constant flow of children. I remember her telling me she wasn’t able to have kids, so she took this route. Although it may give you that warm & fuzzy feeling - this woman ran a military base like a drill sergeant. My best friend was among the ten children in that household. Whenever I’d sleep over on a Saturday night, she’d wake us up with some kind of loud horn and have us up and at ‘em just in time to go to mass. She had us lined up like a bunch of ducks with different colored feathers. I used to dread Sunday mornings there because it was so rigid and uptight. From a night of playing games and acting like little devils to waking up and acting like complete angels.

“I’ll take a pack of Marlboro Lights, please.” I said, while fumbling through my purse looking for a dollar fifty. Back then, at the age of twenty-one, I had a bad habit of smoking. The good part about it was, it wasn’t extraordinary high in cost. She shook her head in disapproval as she turned around to grab my pack for me. As she threw it on the counter, she asked, “Does your mother know you smoke?” I chuckled to myself because I felt like I was a kid again in her home getting reprimanded for saying something less than appropriate. “I sure hope so since we drink coffee and smoke together.” She was displeased that my mother would ever encourage me to smoke. But being that I was of age and the fact that my mother loved other people smoking with her (misery loves company I guess), it wasn’t a big deal. What could she do at this point?

“You know smoking is a gateway to other bad things in life.” she said, with a stern voice.
“Maybe smoking made me gay too.” I said, now trying to get a rise out of her.
“You’re what?”
“I’m gay.”
“Oh come on, what kind of life would you have being gay? You know God doesn’t approve of that - it’s a sin!” she said, mortified and taken back by this horrible confession.
“I guess I’ll let God be the judge.”

She placed my sandwich in a paper bag very slowly, staring at me to see if I was joking around with her. By all means, I don’t go around screaming, “I’m gay--I’m gay” -- but this “perfect” Catholic woman needed a dose of reality, and who better to give it to her other than moi? She was also against interracial relationships of any kind. So her rules were: No Jews with Christians, no whites with blacks, and certainly, no females with females or males with males----ever! She was married to very nice man who always remained mysteriously quiet. Perhaps he was just too scared to say anything around the drill sergeant. So this droll conversation continued...

“How would you ever reproduce? God made a man and a woman to marry so that they can procreate.” she said, looking for a response on my end.
“Really? So that means we can’t do what you did -- adopt children and give them a loving home?”
“But it’s not natural for a woman to be with another woman. Their parts are the same.” she tried to convince me once again.
“Well, we figured out a way to love one another on many levels. If God made a man and woman to only procreate, then does that mean you should divorce your husband since you two can’t?”
“It’s a sin. You should really go home and pray to God about the path you should be on.” she said, not even entertaining my question about her inability to have children the natural way.

As she pushed the bag of lunch toward me, she still held onto it and leaned over so she could tell me one more other thing.

“You’re going to have to answer to God one day. What will you say then, Deb?”

I smiled at her in confidence because I already knew the answer.

I would tell Him, "Thank you for making me who I am. Thank you for letting me have the ability to accept people of all races and all lifestyles, just like you did when you were here on earth."

Not even a year later, my old best friend who was her foster daughter till the age of eighteen, left the house to marry a black man and had two beautiful girls. Another daughter outed herself as a lesbian, also leaving the house to live with her partner. I wonder what she had to say about that, but in all honesty, I really felt sad for this woman. She was so consumed with bitterness and 'the wrath of God' that she couldn't see through her own misery and realize she could have been part of her children's lives, however they wanted to live. We never did see her again after hearing the news. Was it that traumatic?

And that, was the best lunch I have ever bought in that deli.

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, November 14, 2014

First Snowfall of 2014

Last night I truly thought I was going to have a hard time going to sleep due to the myoclonic jerks I've been experiencing. Oddly enough, I felt calm, but I had one wicked migraine. On top of that, I had the worst heartburn imaginable, so I couldn't take my Advil due to my tummy issues. I left the bedroom around 11pm. I didn't want to disturb Madelene. I went into the living room, turned off all the lights and kept the outside lights on. I watched the snow come down as it covered all the neighboring trees. It was amazingly bright and so beautiful. I had a cold compress on my head, trying to relieve my migraine naturally. I started to get anxiety, thinking, "What if I don't sleep tonight?" Then, memories from when I was 8 years old came flying through my mind so vividly. I remember it was a beautiful snowy morning, but I couldn't get to the bus stop because the private road on the mountain that we lived on was too icy. Dad decided to drive me into school. We slowly drove through a tunnel of beautiful crystalized trees that radiated rainbows onto the road before us due to its prism effect. The sun was shining and the entire road looked like a winter wonderland. It was the most beautiful scene that I could remember as a kid. I was awed by the spectacular colors and icy crystals that hung low, brushing part of our truck as we drove through. I felt safe because Dad was driving me. I felt happy because it gave me this euphoric feeling -- like wow -- this is a gorgeous day! That feeling, and those memories put me right to sleep. No jolts. No seizures. No anxiety.

The winters were always a huge task, but they were fun and we looked forward to the 'after duties' having hot coffee while sitting by the fire to warm up our frost bitten toes.
Clean up was quite a task. You could literally ice skate on our property.
Driving down our private road can be a bit tricky.

Woke up to this amazing view.
This morning, I really didn't expect an amazing wintery scene as I noticed when I walked outside. It gave me another feeling of happiness, even though I was really sick of last year's snowfall amounts. My point is, the visualization that I had last night gave me such an amazing feeling of peace, that it led me to fall asleep without any problems. In a very small way, I kind of doubted visualization techniques, because it wasn't "enough". I needed more to calm my anxiety. I've always felt safe when it snowed. We had our father who plowed us out and made our roads perfect. He chopped wood, brought it in the house and made sure we were supplied with all the necessities that were needed. He was a caretaker and made sure his family was safe and sound. Even at my old apartment, he would chop wood for us, making sure our little place had enough heat God forbid the electric went out. He did that for my sisters as well even when we were all living different places. Dad was the master of keeping everything and everyone in tact and safe. We never worried...until he went into heaven...at least for me.

This guy worked until he almost passed out.
With winter approaching us, I'm starting to get a little scared of all the downfalls of this beautiful season. Last year, we had over three feet of snow on top of our flat roof. The roof and ceilings were making "popping" sounds and one which woke me up at 4am. It had a grinding sound, as if one of the beams were being pushed beyond its limits. That's when I called a guy to come clean my roof off. I was told not to do this because it was a flat roof, and they can potentially make holes while walking on top of it. It can't be just raked down like normal houses. But they do these jobs all the time for commercial buildings and I couldn't risk the potential dangers of water leaking into the electric, nor the chance of the entire roof collapsing. As I watched the news, there were more than a dozen roofs in our area that had collapsed due to the heavy snow. I wasn't taking a chance, so we flung an emergency $500 dollars to some guy and his friend to chisel the 3 feet of icy snow off from our roof. It was well worth it. Those guys came at 3pm in the afternoon and left at 11pm at night. We had to get more lights for them so they could continue working. They did an amazing job. I'm just dreading this happening again.
We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives. ~Gary Zukav

Enjoy your weekend of your first snowfall, New York!

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!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When All Else Fails...Just Pray

Someone once asked me, "Why do you say you are nothing without God? You're basing your existence without proof of a god existing." The same person also asked me, "Why do you trust in God when you have all these problems in front of you?" For me, I had many instances in my life that proved God was very real. That's of course, my belief and faith that He's real. Life is all about facing problems. There are tests to improve our character and trials that we must go through because it's just the cycle of life. In the 2nd Corinthians, it states, "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies." We would never learn without all of the trial and tribulations in our lives. We would never grow. We would go around the same mountain again and again without learning from our past mistakes.

Just yesterday, my sister said to me, "Remember Dad used to always say, 'Lookit' us -- we're so lucky. We really are." I remember him saying this quite often. He realized that we didn't go through early illnesses or deaths. We didn't see divorce in our families nor did we witness any abuse. We could have gone through a whole lot more than we did. She then continued to say, "We're not lucky. Look at what we've been going through these past few years. Our luck ran up, Deb. Our luck ran up."

No. It didn't. We're just seeing the cycle of life...for the very first time.

Although I completely understand where she was coming from because we love our family so much, I also understand God's will and I trust that we are in a better place. It is the cycle of life that we have to accept: illnesses, life challenges, growing older, and possible death that comes to all of us at some point, whether younger or older. And yes, that's very scary. I remember praying and praying one morning for Dad to get his request. He said to me, "All I want is another 10 years, Deb! That's all." I prayed so hard for that, but I knew that was not God's will, so I also prayed that God would give him at least, one week of quality of life. When I saw Dad get up from his bed that hospice provided, take his cane and start poking my mother jokingly and telling the funniest jokes. I witnessed him getting back up on his little tractor, swirling around to do a little yard work like he always did. He hadn't done that in almost a year. He ate well and laughed hard. It was all for one week. It was then I knew that God's will was going to be the final answer, and sadly, not my prayer. He declined so very quickly after that one week of awesomeness. We had so much hope.

But...

What if...my prayer went through and the declination just got worse and worse? Would he have to live another ten years of misery? I would not want that and neither would he. Things happen in such a way -- a way that we sometimes can't comprehend. Why do some children get cancer? The horrific ordeal these kids have to go through, instead of having normal worries, like what time to get back home for dinner after a game of kickball or doing all their homework before bedtime. It's just so incredibly sad to see a young child endure the wrath of the big "C". Fortunately, this adorable kid on the left kicked cancer's butt. Recently, a young kid in our area, an athlete no less, died of a stroke at the age of 16. I mean -- what is the reasoning behind all of this? My uncle died at the age of 30 from a heart attack. You can think about that all day long and you will never, ever get an answer to "the meaning of life". No one has gotten an answer. But if you can accept the will of God and the cycle of life and all it has to offer and take away, you will not be disappointed. Expect the worst, and hope for the best. Expect the best, which is God's will.

My mom had her last week in radiation. The prognosis looks good. We've sat in that office filled with women who had to get their radiation treatments as well. These women's ages ranged from their late teens well into their late 80's. We spoke to one amazing woman named Ginger. She's 78 years old and has stage 4 lung cancer. She still smokes like a chimney.  Her cancer is terminal, but she still gets her radiation like a trooper. I've never seen such a woman so full of life, laughing and making other people in the waiting room smile. She was the life of that little waiting room party. What makes her so damn happy? You have stage 4 cancer and you're happy...? God bless her, because I don't know how I could handle a death sentence like that. From breast cancer, to colon cancer to lung cancer and any cancer -- these people are all in there relating to one another, and sometimes, even sharing their personal stories together.

 

When a person is done with their treatments, they read them a poem and let them ring the bell on their very last day. The woman read a poem off from the plaque.

"Your treatment is done and we are glad,
Go out in the world and find fun to be had.
We wish you smiles and happy tears,
Spend time with those who you hold so dear.
Come back with good news to show and tell,
Now, RING THE HECK OUT OF THAT BELL!"

Mom sometimes says, "Why did God let this happen?" Sometimes she'll even say, "Why did your father let this happen?" I understand when people are sick or they go through something traumatic, it's normal to question God -- like, "Why did God let all bad things happen?" But why does He also provide good things in life? We seem to focus on the bad much more than we do with the good. I can't tell you how much worse my myoclonic seizures have been since Mom was diagnosed with cancer. I even went to a neurologist and they are hooking me up with a nightly EEG to see "if" it's related to epilepsy, which they feel it's not. It's most likely out of pure anxiety, which is what? FEAR. So while life is very scary, I do trust in God and His will that this is apart of life. My anxiety attacks have transitioned more into a sleeping disorder rather than a plain ol' panic attack during the day. It's the way my system is dealing with the underlining stress and sadness. Some people have other forms of anxiety, like indirect anger and lashing out at loved ones, or maybe a sudden case of migraines, heartburn and stomach issues. Well, this is my 'bag' so to speak that I have to deal with. I sometimes go without sleep for 5 nights in a row. At that point, I am totally useless and hallucinating from sleep deprivation. Otherwise, I think I'm doing fairly well considering all of the other anxiety symptoms I could have gotten.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--that they help us learn to endure. And the endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation." --Romans 5:3-4

"Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." --2 Corinthians 12:10

I just want to thank all my little prayer warriors out on Twitterland, (thank you Cindy) praying for my mother and also, praying for me to get rid of this awful anxiety symptom that leaves awake every single night. I want to thank all my family, friends and those who don't even know us for praying so hard and diligently for my mother's healing. I truly believe that she is cancer free. Someone said to me not too long ago, "Just pray. Just pray." And you know what -- it was the best advice anyone has ever given me.

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, November 08, 2014

Traveling Side by Side on the Same Path

Jesus agrees.
Any time I speak about forgiveness, I seem to hit a chord with many people. We either need forgiveness, or we really need to forgive others in our lives. Do people hurt us intentionally? Maybe they do because they were hurt first, or they were jealous over something you weren't aware of. But do you think all people offend others maliciously? I always find a madness under the offense, especially when it's of my own offense toward somebody else. My friend Mark said something so beautifully in the comment section the other day in my previous post.

He said, "When you forgive me for harming you, you decide not to retaliate, to seek no revenge. You don’t have to like me. You simply unburden yourself of the weight of resentment and cut the cycle of retribution that would otherwise keep us ensnarled in an ugly samsaric wrestling match. This is a gift you can give us both, totally on your own, without my having to know or understand what you’ve done." --Teachings of The Buddha

Being a Christian, I was always able to take the teachings of Buddhism and apply them to my own faith. It doesn't mean that I'm of another religion or worshipping another "god" -- it just means that it's a good message that Christianity also teaches. "Vengeance is of the Lord", and I should trust that in itself. I don't seek forgiveness in order to get a ticket into heaven. Many atheists believe that's the case, and sometimes, it is very true for some people. But I do it because people need forgiveness. I do it because I also need forgiveness. As the golden rule states, treat others the way you would want to be treated. We can't go around holding grudges and expecting others to not give a rat's ass about what we do. It works both ways. What you put into the universe, you receive back. It's a law. And who made the universe? That's up for interpretation. For me, GOD made the universe, so when people say, "The universe will provide for you," -- I replace the "universe" with, "God". That's my gig. Many nonbelievers will assume that the only reason why people forgive others is because we fear we're going to hell if we don't, or that it's some sort of self-gratifying reward we're trying to reap from God Himself. But the truth is, forgiveness is a gift for the forgiver and the offender. It makes life easier. I would hate to end up some bitter woman living her life grudgingly, stewing over every single little thing somebody says to me. That's no way to live. In the same breath, I am not going to just be friends with someone I dislike or who I think is a complete moron. Yes -- there are morons in my world (besides myself) that I just don't want to associate with. And that's OKAY. As long as you're not avoiding them because you're "hurt" or "offended". Keeping your boundaries up is a healthy thing -- but complete avoidance shows a tiny bit of bitterness. Disliking somebody is not a "sin" nor is it a bad thing for your spirit. It's more indifference than anything else. Like, meh -- not my cup of tea.

Moving on.

I think I have the gift of intuitiveness. I can immediately tell why someone says what they say. For instance, if you're giving me advice to hold a grudge, I know that deep down somewhere, you're also holding a grudge for somebody else. What do they say -- misery loves company? Normally, people give advice that they would generally practice themselves. I'll never forget an old friend of mine who wasn't talking to her mother. It had been close to two years since they had last spoken to each other. I thought it was really sad, and because I am so incredibly close to my mother and my family, I suggested that she may want to call her mother before Christmas and try to seek some sort of resolution or even closure with her. This is what I would do if I were her. But I wasn't her, so it conflicted with every fiber of her being. But one day, she finally did make that call and they ended up having a distant friendship of sorts, nonetheless, reconciled, but not as a "mother n' daughter" -- but as two friends who had a quarrel. (It was so much more deep seated than I'm letting on.) In any event, the choice to forgive her mother changed her in many ways. It seemed like a huge burden was lifted off of her chest. She was a lot more open and -- I wanna say "relieved".

All of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it. --1 Peter 3:8-9

How hard is that to live by? Very. If someone rattles off their mouths and hurts us, we're gonna either fight or flight. Silence is the best weapon to use in my opinion. Silence is the hardest weapon to use, because people mistaken silence for weakness, when actually, it's the strongest people who use it. I tried using it, and when used successfully, it's beautiful. When I fail to use it, I end up in more trouble. We're not here to beg for rewards just by doing something we don't want to do -- that's the point -- you have to WANT to forgive someone, not forgive someone because God is going to reward you. The burden of the grudge that's lifted from your chest is reward enough.

There are a few friends of mine who are on social media getting "bullied". And yes, you'd think only kids get bullied, but there are many people out there, from artists, writers, filmmakers and those who are trying to keep their public careers in tact, harassed for many reasons. What do they tell celebrities who get harassed on Twitter? Their publicists advises them, "DO NOT RESPOND." That's an unwritten rule that seems to be broken by ....a lot of broken people. They respond and then shit hits the fan. They end up deleting their Twitter account due to embarrassment as well as being reprimanded by their managers. When you see someone going off on a celebrity, even if the person is a celeb themselves, when the other one doesn't respond, they look ten times better than the crazy person who tried to engage them in a Twitter war. It's not worth it.

I find that the most beautiful people are the ones who are broken from the inside. And not to say that I take any sort of glory in their complicated lives, however it does make them more approachable as humans. It's like, wow they went through that too. It's a common ground -- a sense of relating to someone who has also been down that very same road. The best advice is from someone who has already been through the grind themselves. Going to get advice from a "perfectionist" is like having an AA director who has never touched a drink in their life. It just doesn't make a whole lotta' sense. I never feel as though somebody is a "hypocrite" for giving me advice that they also need to apply in their own lives. I feel like they're walking the same path I'm on, side by side trying to figure it all out. And that's pretty amazing when you can relate to another person going through similar struggles. It just makes life worth living.

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!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Genuine Forgiveness Requires Forgetfulness

Just get rid of it!
Sometimes I wonder how my dad did it. He would hold a grudge for a very long time for a very old offense. I never quite understood it, as I sat there watching his jaw clench, then release, clench, and then release. Any time he would do this, we knew he was deep in thought about something he didn't want to talk about. 'Just get rid of it' or "them" would solve the problem. (Little joke there.) When his thoughts would slow down, he would chime into our 'already in session' conversation and blurt out something strange. 

"Wha? Ginger Rogers? Why you tawkin' bout' her?" 

"WHAT?" We'd all scream out laughing over his selective hearing. 

There are things that must be 'worked out' and there are some things that need to be let go of completely. For instance, unresolved issues that are still on the brain and heart should be worked out, talked about and even shared with a trusted friend or family member. But when it is something that has been resolved, forgiven and forgotten, it should be just that: forgotten. If you keep talking about the past problem, it'll always exist. How can you fully let go when you can't stop talking about the issue? That means, it hasn't been resolved. In therapy, we're told to 'let it all out' -- to talk about everything and get all your crud out on the table, so it can be dealt with in a "healthy" way. But in my personal opinion and experience, I have a couple of therapists: God and my human therapist. Sometimes, my issues are all sorted out by talking to God. That alone, with the ability to forgive completely means that the offense is washed away -- forgotten. When you fully forgive someone, (at least for me), the memory of whatever took place is kind of like a drunken blackout. I used to ask the question, "Can you forgive and forget?" But you can if the forgiveness is genuine. 

Whether you're Christian or not, these scriptures are really awesome. 

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." --Matthew 6:14-13

Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?" 
"No!" Jesus replied, "seventy times seven!" --Matthew 18:21-22

The whole point of it is, we're all human. We all make mistakes, offenses, excuses and hold grudges from time to time. But once we hold that grudge, we're only hurting ourselves by stewing in our own madness. Sometimes in my therapy sessions, my counselor will say, "I'm concerned that you haven't really spoken about 'this' all that much." And I just think --- why? It's resolved. It's forgotten about in an abstract way. If I rehash the events, then I'll become angry, reliving it all over again. When I stop talking about it, the problem lessens, unless I am secretly holding a grudge. It's called, letting go. A lot of people can't do that. And believe me, I used to say, "Oh yeah, I forgive you," yet sit there and stew over it, talking about it with my friends till they were like, "Ok girl -- you gotta let it go!" I truly believe there is way too much talking and not enough pardons. Why can't we move through our issues and crush em' so they don't have an opportunity to crush us? 

October 2, 2006 was a horrible day for Lancaster County, PA. An Amish community was shocked by the horror of a school shooting. When the police broke into the one room schoolhouse, they found ten Amish girls ages 6-13, shot by Charles Carl Roberts IV. He then killed himself as well. Whether you remember this tragedy or not, there was one unique spin to this all too common event: the Amish community responded with forgiveness. Whaaa? They forgave the killer. What an unfathomable thing for any of us to imagine -- forgiving someone who had just killed your daughter! Some say it's because "religious people" are too terrified to go to hell, so they have to "forgive". But I honestly feel that this practice is so incredibly healthy that it exceeds the limits of the common understanding of humankind. The killer was having a conflict with God himself. He was angry at God! He and his wife Amy gave birth to a baby girl who had died only 20 minutes after she held her. He was so upset, so angry, that he plotted revenge for anyone who had kids. He wanted to make parents feel his pain -- he wanted to let God know that if he couldn't have a child, then they couldn't as well. He went insane and did what he did. It was just too overwhelming for him. And this is how he handled it. He also felt bad, because he killed himself too. There was a sense of guilt and shame. That's just the example of the "worst offense" possible in anybody's book. So think about a fight with your spouse, a quarrel with a family member or a friend. Will that quarrel matter one year from now? Two? Three? Four years? Think about the worst offense that the Amish was able to forgive and then look at your own situation. 

But forgive genuinely. Don't do it to be a "good person" or because your religion says that you're going to hell. Do it with heart. If you can't forgive and FORGET, then resolve it. 

You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgive you, so you must forgive others. --Colossians 3:13

With that being said, you also need to be prepared for the next offense. Like I said in my previous posts: build walls. Make sure your boundaries are heard, seen and felt. Make sure that you handle things differently. As the ol' definition of insanity states: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is indeed, insanity. And hey, let's face it -- we all go ~insane~ from time to time because whatever it was hit us like a ton of bricks. We're human. We have feelings, emotions and all these fickle little thoughts that go in and out of our minds. So, we talk talk talk talk talk and talk about it more, which stirs up the pot like you wouldn't believe. Say what you gotta say, but then know when to end it and close out the deal. So, my advice would be, less talking and more healing. 

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!