Sunday, August 26, 2007

Prayer Request

Madelene's going into the hospital tomorrow to have surgery. Can you please say a prayer that the doctors' hands are guided by God, and that her recovery time is quick? She has been going through some physical turmoil for quite some time now, and needs to have this major procedure done. This is the first time I have ever seen her look nervous about something. She'll be in the hospital for 4-5 days and then I'll be helping her for about a month or so to recover. Any prayers would be so appreciated at this time

Madelene, remember, by His stripes, you are healed! I pray that you recover from the painful experiences of what you've been through. May God touch the hands of the surgeons who work on you tomorrow. I pray that your fear goes away, because you know God is there with you every step of the way. I will always be there to take care of you.

I also pray that you recover from the awful hospital food! I'll be sneaking in some goodies for you!

Love,
Deb

Saturday, August 25, 2007

For the Long Haul...

When does the newness fade out when being in a long-term relationship? The days of laughter, butterflies and fun have taken a break and went dormant. Or has it gone away forever? The spark has turned into smoldering coal; still hot enough to keep the intimacy going, but not as blazing as it used to be.

Do people expect too much when it comes to relationships? Do they anticipate the “excitement” that new relationships have for the long haul? Or are people getting lazier when it comes to maintaining a relationship? Some people claim that relationships should flow; that they shouldn’t have to work at it. I disagree with that though. I feel that in order to maintain a healthy relationship, there’s work involved. It’s a gratifying work that comes from love. Sex is sex, but when love in involved, there’s a whole new meaning to it. Sex is just the bonus. Who can say that they would stay with their significant other, God forbid something bad should happen, like a disability where they couldn’t perform sexually? Can you answer yes, if your partner/spouse couldn’t be intimate with you? Would you stay? Better question yet----would you stray?

I think people have false illusions when it comes to the honeymoon stage. They think that’s how it should be all the time. That’s a lot of work after the first or second year. There’s going to be conflict, disagreements and differences that you’ll find throughout the course of the relationship, where it turns into more of a different understanding. It gets deeper, much more involved and much more complicated. Communication can be tricky when dealing with someone who cannot handle certain types of information. If your other half is a little too sensitive when telling them about your emotions, then it leaves the other person holding back from telling the truth---or telling them anything that may upset them. This always leads to a lack of communication and plenty of misunderstandings. And where does that lead them? Into the world of arguments, because both parties aren’t understanding one another because they’re too scared to admit their true feelings. If you can’t handle communication, you shouldn’t be in a relationship to begin with.

In my own personal opinion, a relationship has three stages. These are just my own thoughts about it.

1. The ‘in love crazy about you can’t get my hands off you’ type of stage- also known as the “honeymoon stage”. This is a great stage where the relationship blossoms.

2. The 'getting to know you' stage. The ‘in love’ part is still there, yet it’s more of an understanding, a learning process of the relationship. Both parties are still in love, yet they are trying to learn the deeper side about one another, developing a better “friendship”. Their actions will speak louder than words sometimes. The action of “giving” or “helping” provides a long-lasting future for them.

3. A deeper love, a 'family type of love', and a companionship type of living. These people may or may not still be intimate, however, their love for one another is strong and unconditional. Their actions show the way they feel. Both take care of each other and have a mutual respect for one another. Usually, this is the stage where a married couple or partners of many years at an older age continue on living their lives together. It’s a contentment of love; a love that endures and isn’t so complicated.

Let’s get back to stage one though…the fun stage. Stage one is that search for the potential mate. It’s the trial period, where you get to see if you really want this person for the long haul. I’m not saying that ‘testing’ your mate is a good thing, but this is trial and error on both parts. The way a person treats you is a little prelude into the future. I’m not talking about financial matters, but in terms of how they care for you, their way of loving you, the way they make you feel loved, and how “open” you can be with them. It’s very important to develop a good level of communication. If you have a fear of opening up too much, due to emotional explosions, then it might be a good time to reevaluate the entire relationship. Is this someone you want to be with for the rest of your life if you can’t tell them something that may be potentially upsetting? Can you go to this person if you need help, without feeling guilt? Can you expose your true self to this person, without feeling a tinge of judgment or ridicule? Is there jealousy in the relationship?

I always say make a list of pros and cons while being in the first year of your relationship. If your list of cons is much longer, it’s time to open up that communication barrier and let all of it out. Don’t worry about emotional breakdowns or a conflict of interest----it needs to be revealed. You need to nip it in the bud and let your significant other know how you feel and what your needs are, otherwise, they’ll never know. It'll either “make” or “break” the relationship, depending on how understanding he or she is.

My mother always told me, if the person you’re with can still make you laugh after years of being with them and you still have that foundation of “friendship” alive, then it’s then you've found 'the one'. Never stay with somebody who can’t make you laugh and don’t be fooled by that first year together. Some people put their best foot forward, eventually revealing the other side to who they truly are.

The best way to go is by your gut instinct. If something inside of you is telling you it’s not “right”, make that list and of course, go with your heart. There are people who are together who have many differences and conflicts of interests, yet they work well together. I’m not sure if the whole ‘opposites attract’ is 100% true, but I do believe you have to have some sort of common ground to make it work.

Going by financial statuses will always ruin a potentially good relationship. For me, I’d rather be financially strapped with the woman I am completely in love with, as opposed to being well off, while living with someone who nags and complains all the time. It makes all the difference. Money has ruined many relationships. With love, understanding and working “as a team” together on a financial issue, nothing can go wrong between you two, other than financial stuff---which is sometimes trivial. Is this going to matter ten years from now? Look at the long term.

There is one stipulation for me to be with a person for the long haul---and that’s being with another woman who’s also a believer. I don’t judge my friends and what they believe in, but for me to live and commit to someone I love and care for, they must also love God and have faith. For me, it’s important. I can’t be with someone who lacks faith. Try picturing an ex-smoker who starts living with someone who smokes. Eventually, that person will start to pick up that cigarette again and go back to their old ways. Maybe that’s a bad analogy, but that’s how I see it. My faith is strong, but sometimes people backslide when they’re with another person who lacks faith. For me, I need somebody who will encourage my faith in Christ and keep me going strong---stronger than I already am. I need someone who can edify and lift me up, instead of being pessimistic and dreary about life. Life’s too short and you might as well enjoy it with someone who can share your love for God, your love for life and the love you have for yourself!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Senior Citizens and Technology

The world of technology has wreaked havoc on my poor parents. They’ve gone from rotary telephones, to cordless phones, touch dial with an answering machine attached. Voice mail would be another challenge to tackle and we’re just not there yet. On a previous post, I’ve mentioned how my mother would call me up and ask if I could bring her my “blacktop”.

What ma?”
“Bring the blacktop over.”
“What do you mean?”
“I need to look up a certain product for the pool and none of the stores have it.”
“Oh, you mean my laptop!”

Fine. I bring over my laptop and she makes this comment that I shouldn’t meet people on that “intercom”.

“The what?”
“Don’t you be meeting people on that intercom!”
“You mean, the internet, ma?”
“Yeah, whatever it is.”

When I used to work for a telecommunications company in their call center, I remember senior citizens calling in, asking for technical help with getting onto the internet.

“Well, my son just bought me this thing here that goes on my computer and I don’t know how to use it, see. They say it’ll keep us in touch more often.”

That’s all I needed to hear. Why are children doing this to their parents? It’s bad enough when I got my mother a cordless phone with caller id on it.

“How do you know when somebody calls you?”
“The phone will ring, ma.”
“How do you know who it is?”
“The caller id will display the name and number usually. You’ll see it on your little screen there.”

My mother received a cell phone bill. She upgraded to a new service that has the option for text messaging and internet. Of course, she only wants it for the basic purposes of which any telephone can do… dial and get incoming calls.

“What’s this on my bill, Deb?”
“It says SMS messaging, where someone either texted you or you texted them.”

Now I know that she or my father would never be able to texted somebody, because half the time they can’t even see the numbers they’re dialing.

Then there was silence, as she skimmed through her bill.

“Well who would tex mex anyone?”

I’m so done with helping them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Forgiveness

Anger is a compelling feeling to which many take action upon. It nearly consumes you. The emotional reaction affects your verbal or physical response. It’s a negative emotion, to which a lot of people give into. In fact, a lot of studies show that people, who get angry often, usually are at greater risks for high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. This emotion isn’t only dangerous for other people around you; it’s dangerous for you as well.

I’m no stranger when it comes to popping my own cork. I tend to lash out with words, or sometimes, as my sisters will say, I have a “poison pen”. If one of my sisters upsets me in some way, I’ll send them a very powerful and angry email. These are first responses. I usually never wait for the second response, which is a calmer approach to it all. They always say to wait 24 hours before you respond to something while being angry.

Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. ~Psalm 4:4

It’s so hard to not respond to something or someone who has angered or upset you. If we wait long enough, we’ll probably forget about why we were angry. (Which is part of the reason why I react so much!) But, in the bigger scope of things, it’s “wiser” to take that risk of “forgetting”, and wait it out. Usually, I see the entire argument or conflict in a different light. Sometimes, I wonder how I even got angry at such a trivial thing.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger. ~Proverbs 15:1

The other day, (which is in my previous post), when I finally popped my cork at my father, I could have changed that whole situation by calming him down with a gentle answer. I want to say that he got me at a very bad time----but that’s no excuse. I want to say that it has been a hell of a week for me, but again, that’s pointing the blame on something else.

People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs. ~Proverbs 19:11

Even though my father was wrong about his accusations, I should have been calmer and more understanding to why he thought it was me who didn’t lock the main doors. I should have been more empathetic to his concerns. His concerns were valid. By lashing out at his wrongful accusations, I was basically telling him that his worries about people walking into the building were silly or irrational, which made him angrier.

Action/reaction.

Even with our significant other, we seem to sometimes possess the one thing that stirs up anger: jealousy.

A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away. ~Proverbs 14:30

Of course, in Corinthians, it states that “love” is not jealous. I think it’s safe to say that everyone has had that tinge of jealousy throughout their course of their relationship. It’s normal, but if you let it consume you, it’ll rot out the entire relationship. I have a close friend of mine who is in the music business. She has a Myspace account, to which she has over 1,000 people listed as her “friends”. Now of course, most of those people who are listed as “friends” are fans. They leave weird comments and sometimes very intimate ones. My friend’s partner obsesses over the website and gets upset whenever someone makes a sexual innuendo or gesture, showing that it “may” be more than a friendship. Everybody on those types of websites puts out these glittery little sexy comments- which mean absolutely nothing. It’s basically people who want to be seen or they want comments back on their own page. It’s nothing other than that. Her partner needs to take those comments with a grain of salt, since her girlfriend is out there in the public eye. If her partner cannot handle the volume of people that will approach her or doesn’t trust her, then the relationship will soon fade out unfortunately. Jealousy rots.

It’s harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars. ~Proverbs 18:19

Even in intimate relationships, arguments are going to be inevitable. It’s those arguments that you cannot repair; the ones that have offended one or both parties. You can always forgive, but like I always say, it’s so hard to forget! We’re human and we hold on to old wounds and scars. If we pick at them, they’ll resurface, making it a fresh new wound. It takes an awful lot to repair a damaged relationship. Sometimes, it’s best to go separate ways, but if you’re strong enough, you can look past the human flaws that we naturally have and make a new beginning. That’s up to the person who has been offended though. If you keep resentment in your heart, the relationship will always suffer. Let it go. Give it up to God and pray for strength and courage.

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 6:14-15

How can we expect to hold a grudge when God has given us mercy? We’re supposed to be more like Christ and forgive those who have wronged us. My mother always says that I’m quick with my temper, but also quick to forgive. I have a lot of work to do regarding my response to things, but all in all, my forgiveness is never ending.

Peter asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied, “Seventy times seven!” ~Matthew 18:21-22

God’s forgiveness is limitless. He wants us to be the same---the best we can, and to forgive those who offend us. If we’re not able to do this, we’ll never heal from the battle we were up against. It’ll fester in our hearts, eventually making us cold and bitter to those around us. We become numb to those who are trying their best to please us. We’ll lack trust for anyone who comes across our path. I know this all too well, because I was stuck in this same predicament. I still have to work on my trust issues. I’ve been hurt a lot in the past, which made me realize that I wasn’t letting go of it all. By letting it all go, I’ve managed to rebuild my trust up for those who truly deserve it.

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Inevitable Change

Thank you for those who commented on my previous post. It was an unfortunate mishap that turned out to be an outburst from something that had nothing to do with me. I understand him all too well though, because I’m just like him at times. While staying at a friend’s house, I received numerous calls from my mother upset, asking me to talk to my father. She said he was crying. This big man full of power---crying? He apologized, but not in the conventional way you would think. There’s no verbal, “I’m sorry”, or anything of that nature. It’s gifts or underlying jokes and gestures, implying that “it’s okay”. I accepted his “apology”. It’s his way. Instead of walking in, leaving him with a questionable look on his face, I ran over to him and gave him a big kiss and a hug. The big bully giggled.

“Sit and eat! I maydja’ some pot roast!”
“Ya fatha’ made it, Deb.”
My mother said, trying to put all the credit onto my father. They’re both a team in the kitchen. At that point, I wasn’t very hungry, because I lacked a good night’s sleep and cried for most of the time I was away from my apartment. Everything in my life has been a bit uneasy this week. I haven’t been all that well. The only thing that has progressed in a positive way, was facing my fears. I did everything I set out to do, from going to the gym by myself, heading to the supermarket and walking in a crowded street full of shops and cafés.

Still, there was something missing. I’m coming to terms with change. People change, we all get older, stronger, weaker, more stubborn, more understanding, less communicative, too chatty, more fatigued, less active, too tense, more loved, and less in love with life and/or people.

What triggers change? What’s the underlying reason why people’s feelings change? I know age has to do with a lot of physical ailments, but what’s the reasoning for our very own feelings changing, towards someone or something? When do we even notice that these changes start to occur? Does age manipulate the way we see things for what they are?

As I look outside my office window, I’ve been noticing how drastically the weather has been changing lately, from 95 degree weather, to 55 degree rainy days. Right now it’s raining heavily. There’s fog moving past the mountain caps slowly, and some starting to develop on the water. One day it’s bright and sunny, and the next is rainy and dreary. I feel like the weather should be on some sort of antidepressant. But, it just makes me realize how much we have to accept change. Nothing ever stays the same. Everything constantly moves, manifests and develops into something else; something new. If we get too comfortable where we are now, we’ll be disappointed when that time for “change” begins.

Expect change. Expect that some people will fall out of your world, as well as new ones falling into your world. Expect new opportunities arising, as well as the same ones you’ve always had and known, crumbling into pieces before your very eyes. God can take away the things you have just as fast as He has given them to you.

These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. ~Habakkuk 2:3

Ironically, that’s how it is with life. Change doesn’t always have to take place right away. It’s usually slow and steady, like the rain that’s falling outside today. Patiently I await for the next step; the next “change”.

If you’re too worried about waiting it out, this is a passage that always helps me:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7

I guess it’s safe to say that we’re all uncertain about where life will lead us and which new people will be walking in and out of our doors, but a great source of comfort is knowing that God will always be there.

When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. ~Isaiah 43:2

I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. ~Isaiah 46:4

And always remember:

He orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. ~Psalm 91:11

Why should we be scared? It’s the reason why I’m facing all my fears lately. With God’s help, I can do anything.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

And He Wonders Why I'm Gay...

Tonight I’m hiding out. It’s a bizarre story, however, all too familiar when I think back to my childhood. This afternoon, I went out upstate to enjoy the beautiful weather and go out to a café and have lunch. I stopped by antique stores and just sat down to people watch. There was a cool breeze and I really didn’t think anything could go wrong. Everyone was out and about, in flip flops and wearing their casual clothes. Couples were hand-in-hand and other people were walking their little dogs enjoying the end of the August weather.

I arrived home around 5pm. My parents live underneath my apartment. I have to go through the house in order to get to my place- which was never a problem…until today.

“Why da fug’ did ya leave the damn doors open?” My father says, in this 'already been sitting there stewing' type of tone.
“Huh?” I said, walking in with Madelene and trying to make my way up to my apartment.
“Some guy came in here looking for someone else! You’z gotta leave dat’ fuggin’ door closed yanno? You wannus’ to get killed?”

At this point, I don’t know which would be a better option. I’m very upset that he insinuated that I left the door opened, and almost scared that he had an outburst like this. My father and I are usually best friends. We never, ever fight. We always see things eye-to-eye and usually laugh our butts off talking about ridiculous things. Today was a sad day for me. My best friend turned on me. I was shocked.

In anger, I erupted to this mighty powerful man, “Are you fuggin’ blaming me for not locking the door?” I said this, because I knew that I didn’t leave the main door open. I know this for a fact ever since the FBI came busting in our house to take my father and mother away for racketeering.

My father looked at me, started shaking because I have never once in my entire life spoke back to him in such anger. He started shaking and ran after me. Now, keep in mind this man is 300 + lbs. He’s fast as hell and could outrun anyone at anytime. A few years back, he has taken on 6 men in our own building, breaking a few arms and sending them to the ER. He is one strong Italian gumba.

I ran. I ran fast. I booked it all the way down the corridor of the house and then outside to the backyard. Then, I booked it into my SUV and drove away. I got away. I went to a “safe place” ---and I am fine.

It made me realize a lot of things about myself. My father has always terrorized me as a young child. For “kicks”, he would grind his teeth and make them bleed, then run after me. When I would cry at night at the age of 3 years old, he would run over to my crib and break the legs. My mother would always come running over to comfort and protect me.

Thanks dad!

At 4 years old, I witnessed my father pulling out a gun on some utility guy in his own house making him beg for his life. My childhood was traumatic---yet I never knew it until today.

Why am I writing about this? I guess I realize that my father has some major issues that he has brought down to me. I’m really upset, angry, frustrated, yet I forgive him after all he has done.

Images that stuck in my head, such as his grueling stories about a butcher shop and a poor man going through the meat shredder. He’s not too proud to boast about those stories. If he didn’t want those stories revealed, he wouldn’t have wanted to tell them to my friends and me in the first place.

Thanks dad! I'll never forget it!

Stories about how he cut a dog’s head off and placed it on the seat of a garbage truck, just because he had a tiff with the waste management guy. Nice, huh? He’s also been known to kill off all the dogs in our neighborhood, just because he was scared that they would “attack us all”. One was a yellow lab called Bud. He was the only dog I fell in love with. He was harmless and had only three legs. He poisoned him with a cyanide meatball, because he was angry at our neighbors. The dog was practically ours, and we shared him with the neighbors. He knew how much me and my family loved this dog. It killed me to see Bud die and suffer because of someone killing him slowly. But that’s dad. That’s how he works. I found out the hard way that it was him and his friend.

Thanks dad!

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard these lines:

“I’ll cut ya’ heart out like a deer’s!
“I’ll tear ya’ ear off with my teeth ya rat bastard!”
“I’ll fuggin’ bash your brains in you sonovabitch’!!!”

Thanks dad!

These words were usually spoken to his close friends or acquaintances. When the FBI came to take him away, he stayed at a “country club” in Allendale, PA for six months. For me, it wasn’t long enough. My mother found such freedom she has never experienced in her whole life. She was a completely different woman----a free woman with a life of her own----with words of her own----without fear.

My sisters are probably reading this, but I have to ask them this… Which time have you seen mom happiest? When you think back to that time, you’ll see how “free” and “happy” she was, when she was alone for those six months. In fact, I remember her saying, “It wouldn’t be so bad if he went on vacation again.”
The man is verbally abusive to his family…and then some to those who aren’t his “blood”.

I don’t know when I’ll be back home.

In your opinion, don't you think this would affect any woman from being with a man? Maybe my therapist is right--maybe I should blame him for being gay. The only man I ever knew during my childhood scared me to death. I grew up with 3 older sisters and my mom. I was surrounded by nurturing women and a dad who wasn't there all the time---or just verbally abusive when he was in a bad mood. I guess it all makes sense now. I'll probably delete this post after I get hell from this, but it's out there...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Facing My Fears

Usually, a lot of people will view my anxiety disorder as if something provoked or triggered it. Sometimes it’s triggered by an incident, but in most cases, they're subconscious thoughts or concerns that I can’t even figure out myself. The thoughts are so hidden, yet so visible on the outside. Doctors will explain that it’s a chemical imbalance. That’s true, but in most cases, I believe they’re subconscious worries that try to hide. It’s like an elephant trying to hide behind a tree.

The most visible signs I give off while having a panic attack are rubbing my neck, scratching near my ear or picking my cuticles. It’s a nervous habit. I guess it’s to deter people from knowing I’m freaking out at the time. I must admit, I haven’t ventured off to the supermarket in a long time. Instead, I’ve been going to the farm market. It’s small, the people know me and it has everything I need…well most things. Today, I plan on going to the big supermarket. The last couple of days, I’ve been plagued with high anxiety. I haven’t been doing so well. In fact, yesterday I was in bed all day. I’m not even exaggerating. When I get a really bad panic attack, the next day or two plagues me with fatigue and body aches, much like the flu. Since I slept all day yesterday and a full night’s rest last night, I’m feeling 100% today. Why not challenge myself!

There are many friends and acquaintances in my life who view me as this strong woman who can do anything. They see a woman with strength and the ability to take on the world. It’s so far from the truth. I don’t even know if I want to live up to those expectations. Maybe that’s why I have anxiety? Maybe people put too many expectations upon me? Maybe blaming them will help my anxiety?

The one thing I could never figure out was why doctors prescribed antidepressants to people who have panic attacks. Why give people an upper when they need something to calm them down? Now, some doctors do prescribe Ativan (Lorazapam) or Xanax to relieve their symptoms, but it’s basically a band-aid to mask the anxiety. I finally figured out on my own, that when the anxiety attacks kick in, there is a day or two for recovery, which can lead into depression. The thought of an anxiety attack that lasts for 2 minutes to 3 hours (depending on the person), can leave you immobilized for a day or two. Those days of recovery, I usually find myself thinking, “I’ll never live a normal life again and I’ll never be able to do everyday things that normal people do.” I give myself negative dialog that nearly consumes me. This often leaves me feeling depressed and down about my life. So, I can see where the antidepressants come in handy---but as I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m against those types of medications.

What I feel is most important, is finding friends and family who can understand my anxiety. If someone close to you doesn’t understand anxiety, then educate him or her. When somebody asks me, “Why are you having anxiety,” I can’t help but experience more symptoms, because I’m not in the mood to explain "why". I don't even know why. Most people in my life are aware that it can happen anywhere or anytime. It’s not noticeable to the average person witnessing me going through this, but to my close friends and family, they know by the way I am rubbing my neck or fidgeting. I usually ask them quietly if we can leave or I ride it out trying to do my breathing exercises in a discrete manner. I usually opt for riding out the storm, because I know it’ll pass. I’ve been through one too many of these attacks to know that there’s no need to call 911. I realize that it’s going to feel awkward and uncomfortable for maybe 5-10 minutes, but I’ll be okay. I’m not going to die from this.

Say if this took place in a supermarket, then I would avoid going to that supermarket for a few weeks. Anywhere I experience the anxiety attack, I would avoid for a period of time. There are times where I’m at the gym, and my heart will palpitate while I’m on the elliptical. I go inside the locker room, put some cold water on my face, drink water and then sit on the bench for about 15 minutes. The scary part is driving home. Will I get the palpitations while driving? And of course, I would avoid the gym for a while. So, today, I’m tackling that one too.

I’m trying my hardest to live a normal life again. It has worsened over the past 6 months or so. I can’t figure out why or point my finger on what, but I don’t want it to take over my life. I’ll update you tomorrow about how it went and let you know what I experienced while facing my fears. I have to fight it.

Then I remembered a beautiful passage from the bible that has always comforted me:

Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. ~1 John 4:18

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hiding Behind Religion

A cross between denying one’s true self about who they are and hiding under a religious mask can make for disastrous relationships. Guilt, shame, depression, anxiety, anger, resentment and lack of self-esteem can literally destroy a person. Living a lie starts to define the person who hides behind the mask of religion. All of these emotions are not of God. Who pours out all of these negative feelings upon a person? Do you believe God wants you to feel this way? Do you think that God wants you to ignore who you truly are, just because “religious” people have set forth rules?

How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father and mother, “Why was I born? Why did you make me this way?” ~Isaiah 45:10

Why are we doubting how God created us?

Interestingly enough, it seems as though even the high priests, such as the Pope can’t make up their mind about what’s wrong and what’s right.

On Time’s website, it reads:

“Reportedly, the Pope might consider accepting condoms as the lesser of two evils in this instance. In other words, it may be a sin, in the Roman Catholic view, to use condoms but it’s an even greater sin to knowingly transmit a life-threatening illness to another person or to knowingly destroy your own life by becoming infected.”

One religion says it’s a sin to have premarital sex, while another is considering that it’s okay. Who set the original rules anyway? Immorality is one thing- to have promiscuous sex is dangerous to your body, as well as emotionally. But, in my beliefs, if you truly love a person and know that the intimacy is intended to communicate in a loving way—how can that be a sin? Adultery has been confused with “premarital sex”. Adultery is when somebody is already married and has an extramarital affair. Their definitions are warped and distorted. It’s betrayal.

Homosexuals are hiding under the religious mask. Some people even get married and have kids, to only realize that their life that they have known so well, for so long, was a complete lie all this time. Religions have made it extremely hard for those who are gay and lesbian. A close friend of mine was literally hidden by her ex-partner, because she and her family were Mormons. My friend was labeled “the roommate” for a very long period of time. Even though my friend was completely out of the closet, she had to slip back inside, for the sake of her partner not comfortable being out, due to religion.

We’re focusing too much on “religion” and what other people think, as opposed to focusing on having a closer relationship with God and knowing what He truly wants for our lives. Ever since I’ve been debating with radical Christians on this website, they have asked me numerous times why I believe that homosexuality isn’t a sin, if I claim to read the bible. Well, the scriptures according to Leviticus don’t apply to Christians. If they were, of course we wouldn’t be allowed to eat shellfish, men wouldn’t be able to shave their beards and we would defile ourselves if we sat next to a woman who was menstruating. These are the old laws that no longer apply. Romans and Corinthians all speak about the promiscuous nature of homosexuality. Lust is not love. I then told them, through my own spiritual experiences with God, He has told me Himself that He loves me anyway and He loves all homosexuals who serve God and practice loving relationships, just as He loves heterosexuals. Not once, has any of these people stated that their beliefs were based on spiritual experiences, as well as references in the bible.

Every time I pray and meditate, God gives me scriptures to use, according to what applies. If there were prophets in the days of Jesus, why don’t people believe that there are prophets today? I’m not saying I’m this all knowing prophet, but my experiences are real… This is why I’m so confident that gays and lesbians are just as loved…just as accepted as anybody else.

God loves you dearly, and he has called you to be his very own people. ~Romans 1:7

The tiny thought in your mind that God doesn’t accept you, stems from the evil one. Each and every one of us are sinners. There’s no getting by that one. Why would God throw us down to earth only to cast us back into hell? There’s a bigger picture we’re just not seeing.

(A scripture that jumped out at me while writing this post!)
I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other friends who have never known me personally. My goal is that they will be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have full confidence because they have complete understanding of God’s secret plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so that no one will be able to deceive you with persuasive arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I am very happy because you are living as you should and because of your strong faith in Christ. ~Colossians 2:1-5

Why can’t we all be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love? Why are we continually arguing over who’s the bigger sinner? We’re all in this together, why not unite?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sabotaging Relationships... Who Can We Trust?

No one knows what we’re feeling, what we’re thinking and how we’re manifesting all of our emotions inside of us. They can assume, guess or even conjure up scenarios of their own, but they’ll never know if we don’t communicate it to them. Do we have to? Do we need to communicate every single emotion that flows within us? Or can we just walk around letting these emotions weigh heavy on our hearts? It’s a personal thing…I know.

Deep seeded emotional pain has to be resolved in some way, so each person can live a life without resentment or anguish. Forgiveness is great, if one can manage to do it. The main thing is, self-respect. You can forgive a person all you want for inflicting pain upon you, but you have to keep in mind that your self-respect is important too. You don’t want to let the same person keep repeating emotional harm to your well-being. I’m not trying to imply 'building a huge wall' to protect yourself…that’s not where I’m going with this. There’s a fine line between forgiveness, and letting somebody walk all over you again out of fear and guilt. Forgetting is the hard part about forgiveness. We try, but we’re human.

Physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Whether this happened in your childhood or even as an adult, the best thing that I find is forgiveness, with the discernment to know if you should really have this person in your life – or evaluate how much time and effort you put forth into that relationship- whatever the relationship may be. (Ex-lover, friend, father, mother, sister, uncle, cousin, etc.) Anyone can hurt anyone---so this isn’t all about relationships in the romantic sense. This is all about the human connection and the need for acceptance on both parts.

Take for instance, a relative that has sexually abused a child within the family. It’s a touchy and sensitive topic- so bear with me. This has never been done to me, I thank God with all my might, but I’ve known people that have had this painful experience. I see them trying to unite with the person who inflicted the emotional pain, the physical trauma of it all, and they try to be a better person so that they can be seen as “forgiving”, but usually, it ends up crashing and burning. It manifests itself into other things. It can leak out into other relationships, like lack of trust, anger, lashing out, or emotional outbursts that are forever torturing this poor soul. The entire traumatic experience may ruin potential relationships, making it hard to develop or “maintain” romantic unions. They don’t want to get hurt again. Understandable.

I find that most people who still talk to their “offender”, but more often, try to please them by making up for the past, are filled up with resentment and anger. They don’t want to spill it upon the person who they’ve been hurt by, but they’ll spill it on somebody else; someone they love instead. Without professional help and assistance with their deep seeded emotions, they’ll keep going around the same mountain….over….and over…..and over again. It’ll never stop. Each relationship will be similar to the next.

God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength. ~1 Corinthians 1:25

With God’s help, God’s strength and your forgiveness, you can try to overcome the pain you’ve endured in the past to move on to a better state of mind…a better grasp on life. Instead of burying your unconditional love with emotions such as, anger, resentment, bitterness and guilt----ask God to remove those emotions, so that you can let your love conquer through it all.

My help comes from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth! He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will not sleep. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never tires and never sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands besides you as your protective shade. The sun will not hurt you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all evil and preserves your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. ~Psalm 121:2-8

Great faith is trusting in God, to protect you and your heart. I write this because I am witnessing someone going through emotional conflict, due to his/her past traumas. I’ve witnessed many friends and many people I have come across suffer through the same thing. They want to please everyone all of the time. It’s a hard task to take on. I’m guilty of it too. It’s absolutely draining and it makes you feel miserable, leaving you with a negative outlook on people. You’ll start resenting the very people you’re trying to please.

God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterwards they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. ~James 1:12

Even in romantic relationships, we’ll place blame for our past traumas onto our new love- or even place it upon innocent people, like our friends and family. It’s not fair and it’s not healthy. Directing your past aggressions onto someone who doesn’t know where it’s coming from is detrimental to the relationship. Figure out the source. Focus on it. Resolve it, and most of all, ask God to help you handle it.

Listen! The Lord is not too weak to save you, and he is not becoming deaf. He can hear you when you call. ~Isaiah 59:1

Sometimes we doubt that God can hear us when we’re emotionally upset. We even put prayer aside so we can cry, complain or bicker with somebody else about it. I even find myself sometimes pacing around the room while I’m emotionally upset about something, wishing there was something “I” can do. But, the thing is, if I don’t let God help me, how can I rely on only myself? When I put all my burdens upon myself, I find unsuccessful results.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.” ~Matthew 11:28-29

Do you have enough faith to let God handle it?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Constant Peace

Let your spirits be high, your worries be low and your peace be constant. I prayed this for someone I know going through some life struggles. We all go through them in different ways. Sometimes, I look at certain people and say to myself, “How dare I complain about something so trivial!” Maybe it wasn’t trivial to me at that time, but sometimes I have to gather my thoughts and realize that things can be much worse. Complaining is basically venting. It never does any good, except to get it off your chest.

This morning, I woke up to the sounds of raindrops pit-pattering against my windowpane. I was underneath a plush goose-down comforter, lying down in bed. It was the first cold day in August. I know, that must sound weird, but it was cold and rainy. These are my favorite types of days. I usually get a big blanket, a huge cup of soup and watch movies. I still needed to do some work and make it to the gym afterwards though. After work and exercise, my evening is planned with dinner and drinks with friends and family. My favorite day of rain, big blankets and soup has been diminished. Do I have a right to complain?

The both are wonderful options. I’m grateful for even having an option. Sometimes I find myself losing gratitude for the things that can be taken away from me so easily. I’m not one to take things for granted, but lately, I have been blinded by all the blessings that surround me. When we’re at work, we wish we were home in bed. When we’re home too much, we wish we had some work to do. It never ends. I remember working at the call center looking out the window thinking, “I could be doing so many things right now, like cleaning, doing laundry, going to the park, going shopping or even getting my hair and nails done.” Then, when that lucky day rolled around- wouldn’t you know it-- I stayed home doing absolutely nothing. Ironic, huh?

It’s like we say things, and then turn around and do the complete opposite. Well, I guess I can only speak for myself.

My self-dialog while preaching these sentences to someone else:

“Let your spirits be high.”

I can give this advice, but shouldn’t I take it myself?

“Let your worries be low.”

Sure, I would love them to be low, but with all my anxiety, how can they ever be low?

“And let your peace be constant.”

Yeah right.

For many, peace can have so many meanings. Peace can mean a few hours away from the kids, a day off from work, a glass of wine, reading a book or sitting near a lake at sunset. But what does it truly mean to have “constant peace”? It’s that peace that resides in your heart, no matter what’s going on in your life. It’s that thought that reminds you that everything’s going to be all right. It’s that voice from within that lets you know that there are worse case scenarios out there and that we should feel lucky and have gratitude for it all. For me, peace is God living inside of me, guiding my emotions and handling the way I react. It’s giving up control and letting God take the steering wheel instead. Let’s face it, He’s better at it than I am. Constant peace is the ability to keep God around, while life keeps batting us down with more problems. Constant peace is meditating on God’s promises that things will get better and that we’re not alone. God’s always there to see us through it all.

So today, may I wish you this… Let your spirits be high, your worries be low, and your peace be constant.

Have a great weekend!

Hurry Up to Wait...

There’s a time in everyone’s life when his or her back says, “It’s time for a new bed!” Well, this is my time. Full of excitement and anticipating my new bed’s arrival, I hurried up to “wait”. Furniture guys are similar to the cable guys. They all give you that window frame of time that’s so ‘tentative’ that it makes you sick.

“We’ll have our guys be there from 9-12 or 11-3pm.”
“Which one will it be?”
“Those are the time frames that we’re giving you.”
“Well which time frame should I expect them?”
“Between 9-12 or 11-3pm.”

Does this make sense? Why don’t they just say 9-3?

“Fine, so 9-3pm is my time frame.”
“Okay.”
The girl says, as if she didn’t give a rat’s ass about how long I would be waiting.

The next day, (yesterday), I got up early and started cleaning up. Don’t ask me why I have to make the place immaculate, just so two big burly men can zoom in there knocking everything down anyway. I wanted to make it easy for them so they could get the hell out of there fast. It’s not like they want to sit around chit-chatting over coffee. They have lives too.

11am rolls by—the end of their first tentative time frame. I called up customer service and make sure that they’ll be coming over at the second “tentative” time frame.

“Oh they’ll definitely be there before 3pm today, Debra.”
“Great. I just wanted to check in, so that they didn’t forget about me.”
“No, we have your bed on the truck and scheduled to be there before 3pm today.”

Keep in mind, I have already stopped the world for these guys. I got up, got ready, and figured after they left, I would go to the gym and work out. Afterwards, I would stop at the farm market to pick up a few things. I had the day planned with exercise and errands. It was a cooler day than our typical 100 degree weather, so I wanted to make the best of it. 3pm isn’t too bad if they did come that late.

2:30 rolls by… I called customer service to make sure that they still had me on their list. The girl assured me that they would be there, and sometimes, their stops are longer than anticipated due to putting things together or just other things that got in the way. Regardless---they would be sure to be at my house by 3pm give or take.

As you can all see where this is going, I called at 4pm to check on them again. Maybe they got lost? Maybe they’re coming at a later “tentative” time frame?

”I’m sorry Miss Pasquella, they’ve informed me that they are in upstate New York and too far to come down to drop off your bed.”
“But you guarantee delivery within three days!”
“I apologize for the inconvenience.”
“I took off work to be here so that the guys can come whenever they could get here!”
“I do apologize.”
“Okay, fine---just cancel my order. Forget about sending me the bed. Now, you lose $2,000 because your guys couldn’t pull through. I also want you to compensate for my day that I took off from work.”
“Don’t worry, Miss Pasquella, we’re definitely going to compensate you. Can I at least put this order on hold for you?”

At this point, the girl’s voice sounded just as disappointed as mine. She totally understood me. I felt her sympathy right over the phone. How can I get angry at someone who felt my pain?

“I know it’s not you. I’m just venting hot air over here because I stopped my entire day and got excited to see my new furniture come in.”
“I know. Let’s arrange for a different day.”
“I’ll have to call you back.”

Now that I can’t blow my cork on this sweet customer service girl, I had to call back another rep and rip them a new one. The next girl informed me that the delivery truck had broken down.

“Broke down? I thought that they were too far from the city! Now they’re broke down?”
“Yes, we do apologize.”

What could I do?

I wanted a manager this time. I get this cocky up yours attitude kind of guy who basically ripped me a new one.

“The realization of this all Miss Pasquella, is that your mattress had a big stain on it.”
“A stain? It’s brand new! And for $2,000, it better not have a stain on it!”
“No, it was from the delivery.”
“Well, I expect somebody to go back to the warehouse and get me a new one by tonight- I’ll be here throughout the evening.”
“Sorry, we’ll have to make it for another day.”
“If you have your guys come here tonight, I will tip them generously, as I was already planning to. I will make it a bigger tip for them- believe me, it’ll be worth their while.”
“Sorry. Don’t you realize how difficult it is to reschedule something for you that soon?”
“Oh! I’m so sorry I’m a huge inconvenience for you! Cancel my damn order then!”

~^CLICK~^~

Now I’m fuming. What do I do? Yep---I grabbed a beer. See, this type of stress is a whole different type of anxiety. I have absolutely no control over this other than to cancel my order that I wanted so badly. I eventually talked with him again, and he said he would take off $150.00 for the amount of $2,000.00 spent. I wonder if that’s worth it.

They’ll be here Saturday afternoon…”tentatively”.


BUYER BEWARE! Raymour & Flanigan is the company who lied to me three times about what had happened to my furniture. These people do not hold up their "guaranteed" 3 day delivery, nor was the manager polite or apologetic. He made it seem that I was the big inconvenience. Joseph Asala from Ramour & Flanigan did not keep their word, nor did they compensate me----in terms of satisfying their customer (me). If a company lies to you, would you shop there again? Advice? Don't shop there. Terrible customer service and broken promises.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Temporary ADD

It’s so easy for me to lose focus on something entirely when I get frustrated or just plain bored about it. Then there are other times where I obsess about a particular thing- like choosing a template for my website or finding the right codes to insert into my html, that I literally spend hours trying to figure it all out. I’ve been told that I may have OCD or ADD or some other disorder that makes me too extreme one way or the other. (With OCD, I become a clean freak- not the type where I check the doors a million times to see if they’re locked…)
My problem isn’t ADD---it has everything to do with something that interests me. People say, “Oh she can’t focus on something for too long.” Well, make it interesting or challenging for me. If something doesn’t challenge me, I simply become disinterested fast. Even when I first started dating- I needed the chase- I needed the “challenge”. If it came too easily, I wasn’t interested anymore. If the person didn’t stimulate me intellectually, I was looking out the window while she spoke about everything and anything. She didn’t even have to be “an intellectual”, but she needed to have strong beliefs or opinions of her own and not agree with every single word that came out of my mouth. I needed a conversation, not someone who “yessed” me to death. (Is that even a word?)Even in school, I wasn’t interested. The teachers didn’t challenge me. Their monotone voices turned me into a complete zombie. All I heard was, “Blah blah blah blah blah.” ...You know why? Because they weren’t even interested in it themselves to begin with. Then, you have those amazing teachers who are completely enthralled in what they’re talking about. They become nearly animated when giving a lecture. That makes a class interesting- when a teacher loves the subject they’re teaching. It makes all the difference. I’ve failed school, because my teachers showed a lack of interest in what they were talking about, and I lost interest too, becoming distant and eventually cutting out of their classes out of pure boredom. Then there was a time I was totally gaga over my art teacher. She made it interesting, of course, but I failed her class intentionally for two years. (I’m an artist too!) Sometimes being too much of an interesting teacher can be a bad thing.

So what does it take to draw someone’s complete attention? What can you do to draw someone in? The best way is to find out more about “them”. Ask questions. Ask them about their life and ask, “closed probe questions”---as opposed to open probed ones. If you really want to know something about someone, it’s best to inquire about it; instead of letting them pick the topic, leaving you with that glazed look in your eyes. (This only applies to people like me where I lose attention fast.)
Did you ever hear the phrase “nervous chatter”? It’s complete blabber about nothingness due to silence. It makes both parties nervous. One party feels obligated to knock the silence out by talking about their cat Fluffy or discussing the flowers in their garden, while the other one becomes completely withdrawn and disinterested. Take a moment and stop them in their tracks. Ask them a question about their family or---be brave and ask a personal question. Everyone loves being asked a personal question. I don’t care if someone says, “Oh, you shouldn’t ask that!” ----Everyone loves a good juicy conversation about a taboo subject. It always intrigues people.

I guess I can self-diagnose myself as having “selective ADD”. When you find yourself saying “yes” to, “Would you like red or white wine”, you know your mind has just shut down. I try my best to be polite, but sometimes you can just see the boredom oozing out from my entire being. I try to engage in conversations that are less than appealing to me, but you can definitely tell there’s a twinge of agony going on behind my smile.

What are the things that make you develop temporary ADD?

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 08, 2007

Anxiety Disorder

As some of you probably already know, I suffer from panic attacks. I’ve been experiencing these attacks since I was 16 years old. I have a lot of people in my life who make assumptions about why my anxiety disorder developed, but I still have a vague idea “why”, yet I know some things make sense. I’m going to talk about why I “think” I got this disorder, and what I do today to relieve them.

At the age of 16, I witnessed a very traumatic event in my life. I didn’t think it affected me all that much, because I handled it so well during the time it happened. What I didn’t know, is how it would affect me later as an adult. Being at that young age, I was still going to high school and trying to be a kid. I was influenced by my peers and found out that my stress levels were higher than the average teen going through trivial stuff. A lot people assume kids that age don’t have any stress. They do…very much so. And, when something traumatic takes place, it’s amazing what the body can do when it experiences high levels of fear, anxiety, stress and anguish. Depression is the demon that sometimes follows all of these emotions afterwards.

Although I felt stress, I didn’t experience a full-fledged anxiety attack-----yet. I wanted my stress to go down, and I relied on alcohol to take away my stressors. Eventually, alcohol led to pot. It took me to another place – a place where everything was silly and carefree. There were no worries or fears of anything bad happening…just laughter and giggles. It made me happy…until the day it took its toll. I experienced my worst anxiety attack while being high. Sometimes, I would just get paranoid, but this one particular day, it was much different where my heart rate went up so high, that I had to get medical attention right away.

I’m not blaming my anxiety disorder on anyone or anything; however, the circumstances at that time were just overwhelming for a 16 year old to handle. I literally thought I was losing my parents. I feared the traumatic event that took place would happen again.

Years later and tons of therapists seen, I still noticed that I kept getting these anxiety attacks. Why weren’t the professionals helping? I never received medication at that time. I relied on CBT (Cognitive behavior therapy) and relaxation techniques. It seemed to help somewhat. I started fearing everything---from shopping in a mall, to going inside a grocery store to just being home alone. My thoughts were, “What if I got an anxiety attack, passed out and no one was there to help me,” or “what if I passed out in the middle of a busy grocery store?” I feared people witnessing me passing out in a store or looking at me as if I were a freak. I soon developed agoraphobia. This is a disorder that prevents a person from going to busy marketplace or even going out of the house if at all.

I found this brilliant doctor in the area named Dr. Martin Knolls, in upstate New York. He was smart, witty and had this amazing British accent. He practiced CBT on me. Each session, he would make me visualize doing certain things that I normally wouldn’t do. But first---he took baby steps. He made me visualize touching the wall. I know- stupid, but it worked. I visualized it, and then went up to the wall and touched it. Then we took bigger steps. He gave me a project to do for a week. He wanted me to drive one mile down the road in my car by myself. If I felt a panic attack coming on, he advised me to just turn around. Little by little, I found myself going one mile…then two miles…then 5 miles all the way into town just to get gas. By facing my fear, I dealt with my anxiety disorder and agoraphobia in a more controllable way.

With his steady therapy and my determination, I started flipping through the classifieds to just go on interviews----not to take the job----but to go on interviews for my therapy. It was a challenge I wanted to take on. I went to a company that I dreamed about working for ever since I was a little girl. I prayed to God with all my might---I mean prayed on my hands and knees to get me through this. I called up, got the interview right away and drove there by myself. In the company’s lobby, waiting for the secretary to walk me up to the manager’s office, the palms of my hands were sweating and my heart rate was going up.

I started visualizing talking to the manager. I visualized the conversation going well, making the person laugh with small talk and showing them how worthy I am of this position. I visualized the people liking me and welcoming me to their company. I imagined myself as this important person that they needed. “They need me more than I need them.” I said this to myself over and over. I blew up my head with a confidence boost dialog.

What happened?

I made the three managers that all interviewed me at the same time laugh. I made them talk about their personal lives with me—they totally opened up to me and treated me as if I were a long time friend. I got the job and stayed there for a number of years. I visualized myself making a lot of money and succeeding. Mission accomplished. I did it. I was so happy and so grateful.

Did my anxiety go away? ...No. It lingered and I had to deal with it accordingly. I was taught that whenever I felt anxiety coming on, to experience the feeling—not fight it. I was warned that if I fought the feelings and tried to repress them---they would work in the same manner a riptide would. Whatever you resist persists. So, I went with it. I felt it. I let myself go through it. Eventually, it brought me back to calmness, just as a riptide would bring you back out to shore. It eventually leaves. An anxiety attack will not stay forever—always remember that.

Also keep in mind, that an anxiety attack will never, ever kill you. What’s the worst thing that can ever happen to you if you experience an anxiety attack? Feelings of panic, pins and needles, excessive heart rate or dizziness probably. Sit down, take a break, and let yourself feel the anxiety passing through you “temporarily”. When I did this, my anxiety lessened.

I eventually went anxiety-free for a year or so and stopped all relaxation techniques and cognitive behavior therapies. I thought I was “good”. Before I knew it, it crept up on me. I had to see another doctor, because my other psychologist relocated. She prescribed me Ativan (Lorazepam), to calm my nerves whenever I got an attack. She put me on a very low dosage and reminded me that this was only a band-aid until I got better and started handling it on my own. Well, ten years later I’m still on this damn stuff. It doesn’t do anything for me anymore, because I have reached my tolerance. I won’t “up” the dosage, because I don’t want to be dependant anymore. So, at the age of 33, I am weaning off of it little by little. I’ve tried antidepressants. They all chemically altered my way of thinking and basically gave me the most awful side effects ever. In my own personal opinion, antidepressants are like poison for your body. (I speak from my experience only.) I feel that it’s a way for doctors and major medical companies to make a buck. Too many children are all on medication these days. Too many “disorders” are coming up to the surface----why? Because they need a medicine to cure it. Pseudo disorders for pseudo meds. That’s how “I” think of it… I know that there are some people out there with major disorders other than anxiety, that need the necessary medications, however, when you start fiddling with antidepressants to relieve generalized anxiety disorder, you can really mess up your body—emotionally and physically.

This is not going to be a “happy ending successful story post”---so bear with me if you’re still reading this. I still suffer from anxiety, however in a less extreme way. If an anxiety attack comes on, I put on the new age station on my XM, or I play my guitar to take away my focus of the panic attack. It seems to help. Visualization is so important. I picture myself somewhere I’d rather be, like the ocean or sitting next to a beautiful waterfall. I even went to one of those stores that sells those weird stuff, like lava lamps and massaging machines, and found a sound maker that has the sounds of the ocean, a babbling brook, crickets and wind. I usually listen to crickets to remind me of beautiful summer nights. It seems to relieve my symptoms.

I still have trouble walking into a big grocery store, but when I have to, I keep in mind that I cannot die from this. It’s only an anxiety attack. It will only last for a few minutes. For ‘me’, I also visualize God with me. Prayer has been a major help with my anxiety. The most important thing to do, if you suffer from anxiety, is to keep up with your relaxation and meditation techniques and never stray from it, like I did. Relaxation and meditation techniques are good for everyone—not just people who go through anxiety disorders.

If you do need extreme help and opt for something like Ativan-----keep a grip on it and don’t let yourself get dependant on it. Use it as a therapy and make sure your doctor is aware of your progress. I admit, for myself, I tend to grab a glass of wine if I’m feeling tension—but that’s not a healthy way of drinking moderately. It ends up as a dependant too—even if it is one or two glasses.

Another technique that was suggested to me was exercising. Now, let me just say that exercising for “me” gave me more anxiety, because it normally raises your heart rate significantly. I will say that it helped me through my depression though. It releases endorphins to make you feel great. It does not relieve anxiety attacks though, in my experience. It helps with anxiety and tension if you make sure you are aware that your heart rate is up because of the exercise---and not just because you’re feeling anxious. If you can determine between the two, then that’s great.

I’m still learning as I go, but it helps a great deal to know that “you” have control over your own body. You can choose to feel it, go through it, but most importantly, release it. Medication can help, but I feel it should be last resort.


PLEASE READ: This post should not be taken as professional medical advice. This is a post regarding the experiences that I have had with anxiety disorder and what worked for “me”. My methods may not be the same methods that others go by. See what works for you and most of all, talk to a professional. This is only something that I’m sharing with you as someone who can relate to anxiety disorder.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I Love You, Carla!

“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double.” ~Toni Morrison

Today’s a great day. It’s the day my best friend was born. It’s a day where my clone was procreated before I was even around to see it. God made my clone, knowing that I would need a bigger sister to look up to---even though she's a tiny little thing!

When I was younger, Carla would give me sound advice on what to do. Being the age of 13 yrs old, I even came out to her, letting her know that I “thought” I might be gay, or bi-sexual. It didn’t phase her because she accepted me “as is”. She loved me anyway. I wasn’t flawed to her. She never said a word to anyone and let me confide in her about my huge crush on my best friend that I had. Carla never judged me –ever. She was the first person to know I was gay.

“A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.” ~Isadora James

Throughout my teen years, she helped me with my anxiety and panic disorder. She would come racing over to pick me up and drive me to the hospital.

“Carla! I think I’m having a heart attack!!!”
“I’ll be right over! Stay right there!”

She knew it wasn’t a heart attack. She was well aware, that what I was experiencing was just an anxiety attack. The process of taking me to the hospital calmed me down, knowing that medical care was right around the corner. As soon as I got into her car, it usually subsided. (Personal joke----"Chairs in the field!!!") She expected that. She knows, because she’s been through it. She knows what it feels like to have a panic attack. Through her experiences and her ability to endure it all, she helped me so much by knowing exactly the right things to do when I was going through it.

Carla has a gigantic heart. She would give her last dollar just to help somebody else out. She puts the people she loves before her, plus people she doesn’t even know. You can count on her for anything. She has self-respect, where she doesn’t let people walk all over her, yet she will go out of her way to make others happy. It’s just her nature. In my opinion, she’s the glue that holds our family together. She’s our source of comfort, stability and reliability. She's the source of our happiness. She's the definition of unconditional love.

First words that come into my mind when describing my sister:

Beautiful
Intelligent
Generous
Compassionate
Loving
Caring
Eloquent
Classy
Humorous
Modest
Refined
Delicate
Strong
Courageous
Lovable

The best memories I have of Carla are many. The ones that stick out in mind are the times where we spent many days at her house by the lake talking, having wine and hanging out with close friends. Everyone in her neighborhood loved her and wanted to be around her. She never judged anyone by appearance or lifestyle—she opened her arms and door to anyone who needed her. She used to help an elderly couple out who lived nearby. They simply adored her. She would go over to their house, have coffee with the lady and talk with her for hours- just to keep her company. The lady was lonely and needed a friend. Carla was always there for her. The husband was sick and incoherent at times, but Carla always made sure he was taken care of. She became a caretaker for many- without the thought of making it a career.

Carla radiates a room when she walks in. You’ll sense her presence, just by her personality- she just shines. The house feels empty when she leaves. You can feel it. People are drawn to her—not only because she’s an attractive and beautiful woman, but because she exudes positive energy. Sometimes this works in a negative way, because she draws a lot of people who drain her energy. I always chuckle when that happens. It’s a given anytime we go somewhere.

My sister’s tugged in many different directions, because many people need her in their lives. I don’t believe she realizes how special she is to so many people… I don’t think she knows how special she is to me. Yeah, she’s my sister, but it goes beyond that-----she’s my best friend. She’s the one I call when I’m upset or down. She’s the one I call when I need advice. She’s the one I call when I want to go out and have fun. She's the one I call when I need to laugh. She’s the one I would call first…for anything.

“She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink.” ~Barbara Alpert

Just last Sunday, she came over and acknowledged a tragedy that I had witnessed when I was only 16 years old. We had all experienced this incident, however I was the one that was there watching it all. This traumatized me for a long time, without anybody saying anything about it to me ever again. I had one panic attack after the other from this, yet no one could figure out what was wrong with me. Carla knew. I’m not sure she knows how important that conversation was, but to me, it meant the world.

“One's sister is part of one's essential self, an eternal presence of one's heart, soul and memory.” ~Susan Cabil

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Carla, my best friend, my sister… You've given me such joy in my life- a reason to smile and know that I'm not alone in this world. Thanks for everything you have ever done for me. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.

I love you!!!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Jail Time Fun

This video is just bizarre. I guess Britney Spear's choreographer is bored these days. Check out this video!

Simple Connections

What is it that draws people together? What makes two people connect as friends or lovers? Is it attraction? Is it same ethnicity? Is it the same religion or political views? What seems to tie the knot between two people who connect so well?

I’ve always noticed for myself, when I come across a friend who I simply connect with, I find that it has a lot to do with similar trials we both endured. We relate, we talk…we connect. It’s like being in a strange foreign country where no one knows your language. You walk around for miles trying to find somebody who speaks your own language- but there’s no one. Then days later, months later, or even years later, you find a person who speaks your language—fluently. The relief that follows brings pure joy.

I found that with a few people in my life. Some of those people are still in my life today. I received one of those forward emails a while ago that said, “A friend comes into your life for a reason, a season and/or for a lifetime.” I truly believe that. There are some people who I have connected with that are no longer in my life today, but I am so grateful that they’ve came into my life- even if it was only for a short time. I’ve learned something valuable from each and every one of them. There’s not one person I regret meeting. (Well, maybe just one!)

Isn’t it funny when somebody can finish your sentences, your thoughts and can totally relate to you on every level? It’s like a breath of fresh air. You hope that the friendship/relationship can continue forever, but you also have to keep in mind the ‘reason, season and/or for a lifetime’ quote. That person may be there for a short while to help you through a certain situation in your life, or they may be there for a particular reason and possibly for a lifetime. If we can just enjoy the journey and not focus so much on the future, it makes such a difference. You’ll never look back with regret.

This weekend, tell the person who relates to you, whether it’s a friend, lover or relative that you’re happy that they’re in your life ‘right now’. Tell them how much you care for them. Let them know how grateful you are…

Thank you, Michelle! I'm totally grateful.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

To Save a Homosexual...

What does it mean to be an ex-gay? It could mean anything to many people, depending on their beliefs and opinions. To radical Christians, it simply means to give up your “sin”. They believe homosexuality is an abomination, as listed in Leviticus. They completely ignore the fact that the rules of Leviticus do not apply to Christians today. It’s a good learning tool about history, and how some Jewish people still live today. To other people, being an ex-gay means suppressing your feelings and going back into the closet out of shame. It’s pretending to be somebody else. Who wants to live a lie? Wouldn’t that be a sin alone? Wouldn’t it be horrible to marry somebody of the opposite sex, while knowing deep down inside that you’re really gay? Is it fair to the other person who married the ex-gay?

“You’re not living for Christ!” A lot of Christians will chant this line to those who are gay & lesbian and living as Christians. For myself, I rely on God. I live for God. My life is His. When you ask God into your heart and repent for your “sins”, you’re made right with Him. The price was paid in full when He died on the cross. The problem is, some people don’t have enough faith that Jesus’ death was enough to save us. It takes away all “sins” of the past and present.

My conscience is clear, but that isn’t what matters. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns as to whether or not someone is faithful. When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. And then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due. ~1 Corinthians 4:4-5

With all of the teachings in the bible regarding judging others and criticizing your ‘brothers and sisters’, it’s surprising that there are so many people out there who worship God, but make their primary focus on judging the gays and lesbians.

Jesus said: “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. ~Matthew 7:1-5

This passage is completely disregarded by some Christians. When someone focuses only on the gays and lesbians, they’re taking away from other important issues they can help with. They’re so determined to make every homosexual into an ex-gay, that it becomes a type of idolization on their part. It takes away their time with God, in order to achieve the goal of getting them out of the homosexual lifestyle.

Christians who focus way too much on homosexuality:

*Christine from Talk Wisdom
*Mark from Chester Street
*Dani from Generation X-Pose

There are many others out there like them; however, these three seem to drill the issue deep into the ground. Although at times, it may seem as though these people are genuinely concerned about trying to get homosexuals to be straight, they seem to neglect other important issues based upon Christianity. Is it their mission to cure homosexuals? Do we need to be "cured"?

What is a sin? As far as I’m concerned, the Ten Commandments still apply.

Do not worship any other gods
Do not make any idols
Do not misuse the name of God
Keep the Sabbath holy
Honor your father & mother
Do not murder
Do not commit adultery
Do not steal
Do not lie
Do not covet

How about the seven deadly sins?

Lust
Gluttony
Greed
Sloth
Wrath
Envy
Pride

None of the above lists says anything about homosexuality being a sin. Christians will twist it a bit, and say that “lust” is sinful. They equate lust with love. It’s not the same. They’ll tell you that you’re committing adultery, since the relationship is outside of a marriage. Wrong. If we could marry legally, some of us would. And, how many heterosexual couples are out there having premarital sex anyway?

The truth is, we’re all in this together. We all have sins, flaws, imperfections that make us unique. We all have our crosses to bear and we all have to answer to God. The most important thing is---we don’t have to answer to a mere human. They have their own sins to contend with, but they’d rather focus on somebody else’s. That’s when the motives of certain Christians are revealed.

When does it become a matter of helping somebody, as opposed to criticizing people in order to hurt them? Do they have a hidden agenda? And if not, then why do they drill the issue so diligently?