Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The 7th Year - I'm Not the Same

(EDIT: This post was written early this morning. I was going to delete this, but instead I had placed it into a draft folder. I know it would have stayed in that draft folder forever.  Coincidentally, as I was working on something else, I was also listening to Joel Osteen's sermon to get my morning started. It was called, "The Seventh Year". It was like a confirmation to post this article. I was hesitant to publish this only due to the sensitive content in it - perhaps more of the raw honesty that I had poured into it. I let too many things hold me back. So here is part of Joel Osteen's sermon right after I had written this post. I'm just amazed. According to Deuteronomy 15 and the law of God given to Moses, Hebrew slaves were released on the seventh year.

Your Seventh Year 

When we’ve struggled in an area for a long time, it’s easy to think, “This is the way it’s always going to be.” The “seventh year” is when you break free from limitations that have held you back — debt, lack, sickness, insecurity, addictions, depression, constant struggle. You have to stir up your faith. The seventh year is when you break free from any limitation that is holding you back. With one touch of God's favor it will suddenly turn around. When you come into your seventh year forces of darkness will not stop what God wants to do in your life. The seventh year is a release from limitations and into increase. God will exceed your expectations. He will release you from sickness into health. He can take your darkest hour and turn it into your brightest hour. How do you get ready for your seventh year? Start talking and thinking like it's going to happen. When you're in tough times and think you're not going to break out, remind yourself that you are not going to be there for a long time. Your faith is what causes God to move. This is when the creator of the universe will show up and do amazing things. Your praise is what activates God's favor. Talk, act and praise like it's going to happen. A lot of times instead of taking our praise to God, we take our problems to God. It's easy to turn our prayer into a complaining session. Remember, God already knows our needs. Your financial situation may not look good, but thank God. Quit telling God what you've heard. It may look permanent but He's announcing your freedom. Announce it then declare it. Declare to be happy, content, confident, enjoying your life. This is what faith is all about. You have to call things that are not as if they already were. Don't announce defeat and declare mediocrity. Dare to do like I say and declare God's favor is coming. The tide of the battle has turned. Every chain has been loosed. You are breaking free. God is releasing you into favor and opportunity. He is releasing you into the fullness of your destiny. ~ Joel Osteen 

I don't believe in coincidences. So now, here is the post I had written before I even heard this sermon.)

Do you believe in the 7 year itch? It's a funny term to describe that 'itch' to get out of a longterm relationship, or perhaps someone in that relationship had changed drastically, to where the two who were once connected by commonality are now two separate people with separate interests. I don't know if the 7 year mark is accurate, but I do know that every 7 years (or so), I find that I have changed. I do believe that people change greatly within a 7 year's time. For instance, 7 years ago, I was a totally different person. I had different outlooks on life, different desires, different tastes in many things in life. I was more off-the-cuff - not knowing what kind of adventure would be waiting for me the next day. With that, I drank a lot. I mean…an awful lot. Mornings weren't my best suit. I was usually sick and dealing with some nasty hangover. I had quite a few family and relationship friction going on, to where I would numb the feelings by drinking it away. But it all came back inconveniently the next morning while popping Advil and at times, soothing my withdrawals with a bloody mary.

I remember my early 30's being very unstable, unpredictable and very challenging for those around me. I didn't know what the future held. My "job" was more like 'starving-artist-trying-to-make-it-big' type of gig, and my ability to focus on any one thing was next to nil. I have so many unfinished projects under my hat during that time of confusion that I can't even tell you what the point of those projects were. One day, I may finish them. But back to my 30's - what a terrible time and in the same breath, thank God for that time, because I learned so much from it. It made me who I am today. I believe I am stronger, healthier, (mind, body, spirit) and happier because of the outcome. I also realized, once I stopped trying to 'make it big' - things came together in a calm and steady way. My work was more enjoyable and not so much about trying to impress other people. And if it is about impressing others - I only want those who are in my field to take a look and help a sister out. So my work is like an online resume. I was finally given my big bad blue badge on my Facebook fan page. That's huge if you're someone trying to pursue a writing career. It means, people 'know your work'.

So where was I? 7 year ago…yes. I don't regret one thing, one person, one event that had taken place during that time. I can't say ohhh it was so so miserable, because there were happy moments within that time. But I was a mess. (That hasn't changed much, but I'm now a 'better mess'.) Have you ever connected with an old friend from childhood and realized how much the both of you have drastically changed? A close friend of mine from childhood had visited me over the weekend and it was quite an eye-opener. I learned that some things have changed, and others, not so much. We still had that 'sister-like connection' as we always did, however our lives - our lifestyle - our entire outlook on everything were polar opposites. Every second, she kept trying to score some 'smoke' and kept asking me if 'this one' had it and if 'this guy' still smoked. When she realized no one did any longer, she said, "What's going on?"

They grew up…?

They came into their 7th year?

And not to say that those who smoke marijuana are immature and haven't grown up, and some of course use it medicinally, but these people knew that this particular thing didn't benefit their lives any longer. Blame it on the 7 year turnaround? Or just growth in learning what works and what doesn't anymore? So here's my old friend at our home, biting her fingernails because nobody had any 'smoke' on them, watching us pour a glass of wine or two while we barbecued for the 4th of July. I was then hit with, "Well didn't you have back pain last year?" And of course, I was begged for my Oxycodone - a bunch of old pills sitting in a private section of my home. I never place medications in the typical places. That's when I had to step back, because her addiction was much more than just a hankering for the evening. I even got, "I'm in so much pain - wouldja' mind?" There was nothing to sooth her hankerings. From 12 cups of coffee a day, to driving around all day long searching for her 'smoke' - there was nothing I could do for her. And if she didn't have her 'smoke', she became irritable and irrational. Sadly, it was something I could not deal with, nor understand. All I assumed was, this girl was in a lot of "pain" - more so emotional,  and so she needed to numb every single sensation in her body in order to feel calm.

Then I thought about my early 30's and how I was so reliant on alcohol. If there was an event without alcohol, hell if I was attending. So basically, my addiction was no better or worse than hers. I remember when I first started going to AA for my '90 day clean out'. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. I learned (for myself) that I no longer wanted to get drunk. I didn't need alcohol to enjoy the people around me. And when I was finally 'cleaned out' - I went back to moderately drinking. I haven't had a hangover in quite some time and wow - does that feel good. But not many people can do the moderation thing. Even when I had back problems, ooooh those Percocets felt nice easing all the pain away. But I started to crave them after the pain as well. I quickly nipped that in the bud and now, no longer even touch the stuff.

Everyone has a "rock bottom" where they throw in the towel of their addictions. Mine was back in 2008 - the time when I first walked into my AA meeting because I was sick and tired of wasting my life away. My "rock bottom" may have not been the extreme type, where someone got hurt or killed due to my addiction (and thank God for that), but mine was more about getting my life together and living a healthier lifestyle. I remember a woman in my AA meeting who had mocked me and said, "You don't know what it's like to be a low-bottom drunk. High bottoms have no clue." She basically made me feel as though I didn't belong there. I asked her, "Aren't the only requirements for being here is to have a desire to quit drinking, even if it is temporary?" Thank God everyone supported my answer, because this woman was angry - foaming at the mouth over how much 'better' my addiction was. No, I didn't lose anyone because of alcohol, and no, I didn't almost lose my life (well maybe a couple of times), but I am here now realizing that I don't want to get that low. Does that even count?

So I think of it like this: because of that awful time 7 years ago - I am now able to sit and be content having 1 or 2 glasses of wine and I usually celebrate that because back then, 1 or 2 glasses of wine would have been 12-14 glasses, perhaps 3 bottles? And that's just for myself. Many of my Instagram 'wanna-be-a-photographer' types of pics are filled with beautiful sceneries, and a glass of wine. It's my thing - it's my gig. Although I don't judge anyone for smoking pot or doing whatever it is to relieve their emotional or physical pain, I know for myself that it hurts me to see someone I care for wrecking their lives on prescription pills. I can't deal with it nor do I tolerate that in my home. I have had the unpleasant experience of finding out a few people in my life who had accidentally overdosed, because one pill wasn't enough. Their tolerance had risen, and so did their dosage. The addiction also includes lying and manipulation to get from point A. to point B. - to get to the goods. And I have dealt with that sort of thing this week. I'm just hoping that one day, she'll come into her 7th year and realize how brutal that constant craving was and how miserable it is to have friction with every single person in your life due to the addiction.

My mother and I had a really interesting conversation about the 7th year a few months back. She said herself that she wasn't the same 7 years ago. And 7 years before that, she was a total different person - or as she says it, "That person is dead now." I remember back in 2000 she was working a full time job in Calvin Klein and coming home to cook and take care of my father who also returned from his day job. She drove on highways and got herself from point A. to point B. all the time without a fuss. Then 7 years flew by and she retired, loving her new life as a stay at home wife and enjoying her family and new grandkids. It was a much different life for her. And of course, she complained about both: "I'm so tired of working," and "I miss working every day." But realistically, she was in a better place in her life.

There are pivotal moments in our live where we discover that we're not the same any longer. We have different views, opinions, lifestyles and new people around us. We adapt to a new world, environment or even just a different state of mind. If you were to ask me 7 years ago if I wanted a dog - I'd say hell-to-the-no, because I didn't want to pick up dog shit or have to take them on vacation and have that responsibility of a life solely relying on just ME. I wasn't ready for that and I didn't want dog hair all over my house. Now? I cannot live without my dog. She sleeps with me, shares my couch and blankets and if I see dog hair on me, I love it, because it's hers. I used to be allergic to dogs - having asthma attack-like symptoms and burning eyes. Now I have absolutely no allergies from dogs. My allergist even told me that my allergy test (graph and blood work) showed up positive for being allergic to dogs. Despite his warnings, I did it anyway. They also stated that every 7 years (wow what a coincidence) - that our bodies develop or release certain allergies. There's gotta be something to that 7th year.

What about you? What were you like 7 years ago? Do you have the same convictions as you did back then? Do you find that you and your significant other sort of changed during that period - or have had conflicts? It would be interesting to hear from other people if they experience drastic changes after 7 years. And think about it - it's not something you're going to notice because it's 7 whole years ago. But think back to 7 years ago today. Were you different? Was your life different? And, for better or for worse?

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!