Friday, June 24, 2016

Pain is Inevitable. Suffering is Optional

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - regret for the past and fear of the future.             ― Fulton Oursler

It's amazing how time flies. It only seems like yesterday when I was a little girl lying on the grass looking up at the sky with my older sisters without a care in the world. We never left the poolside in the summertime. My mom would come out with a huge tray of iced tea and sandwiches after a long morning of swimming and playing. My dad would normally get home from work at around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. His big black van would swoop around the corner, and park nearby the pool area. He'd make a few snarky comments like, "Youz' have the life, you know dat?" He would chuckle and poke fun at us for a while, and then he'd go straight into the house and nap until around 6ish because of his long day working over at the fish market in NYC, to only have to wake up at 2am to do it all over again. We had so many friends come in and out of our home, countless parties and dinners with extended family -- it kinda seems like a dream now. Things were different back then. Or maybe, things are just what they're supposed to be, because I'm an adult looking back in on my past.

I honestly can't say that I've regretted anything in my past -- unless it's things like words I should've never let pass through my lips from time to time, but overall, no action was completely regretted. (Maybe a few wine-filled nights, but that's without saying...) I'd like to think that I have a good head on my shoulders. I understand life much more after I hit the ripe young age of 40. It's funny how blind you can be as a child growing up. You truly do not know your parents, as well as your siblings sometimes. Relationships are complicated. Many things are left unsaid and/or never revealed, only leaving you in a state of blissful ignorance. And it is bliss, or would've been bliss if we didn't find out "this" or "that". We wanted our world to be perfect. And most of the time, our parents hide their darkest secrets in order to save us from the trauma they were experiencing themselves. So with that, some things left unsaid can be a good thing in retrospect. Hindsight is 20/20.

Death is inevitable for all of us...I guess. My greatest fear as a child was losing my parents. And watching Dad suffer so terribly...so horrifically...so tragically, until his last breath was unfathomable. I honestly didn't get to recover long enough before Mom was diagnosed with cancer. So not only was I still mourning for the past, but I was fearing for the future. I was fearing watching my mom go through the same phases as Dad. Hey, everybody goes through it, right? In my mind: No! "It wasn't supposed to happen like this! It wasn't supposed to be so hard! It wasn't supposed to be..." And so I broke down and took the rest of the painkillers that were prescribed to me for my back pain. It wasn't enough to kill me, but enough to wonder if the alcohol combined with it would. And so, I found myself in the ER getting my stomach pumped and got the ol' "stern-tough-love" lecture by one of the doctors who wanted to throw me into a psyche ward. But since this was a questionable occurrence, as I told him I had forgotten how much medication I had taken before having that 2nd glass of wine (5th) -- then he decided it was an "accidental overdose".

That was my wakeup call. I mean -- nobody truly wants to kill themselves. Studies have shown that suicide survivors say one thing before they think they're dying. "I don't wanna die!" For me, it was a cry for help. This was only two years ago. I remember the first therapist I saw after this incident. Till this day, she's still hearing my stories and helping me in significant ways. I found other ways of coping and managing my fears. I even sought out for books that really changed my view about life and death and things we fear the most. I've read, The Power of Now, and The New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle and Dying to be Me, by Anita Moorjani. These books were complete life changers. The more I read from enlightened spiritual teachers, the more I began to realize and understand how so very fragile we are as human beings. I understood how much stronger the spirit is though. And as controversial as "life after death" can be -- I know that without a doubt, there is life on the other side. None of these authors and spiritual teachers persuaded me from my own faith in Christianity. They only increased it. Anita Moorjani began to help me personally, to which I am so grateful for. I believe our encounter wasn't a coincidence either. We met on not so friendly terms when I questioned her beliefs, as well as her empathy towards "bad people" -- like terrorists. From there, I learned one thing: hurt people hurt. It's the cycle of the human condition. And whether we like it or not, there will always be "good" and "bad" perceived in our minds, when in fact, it's all supposed to 'be'.

I began to calm down. My reactions toward things that would upset me lessened and I became somewhat mellow -- unlike my anxiety-ridden self. My outward circumstances would no longer rattle my cage. It was only up to me of how I was going to handle it or react to it. In the same breath, I will say this: I cannot be around negative or fearful people as much. That was what I was trying to get rid of in the first place. So when someone comes along and displays all of those fears and emotions I once had -- it automatically kicks in my retro-thinking (as I call it) and stirs it back up again.  Thing is -- when someone is extremely negative, they cannot hear you. They will listen (if you get a word in edgewise) to only respond. That's why I tend to shut down or disappear if I'm around too many people or someone who is negative. For me it's like sensory overload. My system can't take it so I emotionally as well as physically shut down for a day or two to recover. I understand people have problems, as we all do, but wouldn't it be nice if we could share our problems instead of invoke fear and intimidation towards someone who is only there to help us or stand by us?

It was interesting to learn what a "pain-body" was.  I never heard of this term before until I read Eckhart Tolle's books. A pain-body leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain. It comes together with other energy forms from other instances, and so after some years you have a “pain-body,” an energy entity consisting of old emotion. It lives in human beings, and it is the emotional aspect of egoic consciousness. I guess psychics and mediums would call it a "dark energy" if they met someone with a dense pain-body -- but it's more or less our own consciousness drawing it up -- our old past wounds, or an unforgiving past. And it is dark. It'll haunt our present if we don't deal with it 'now'.  If you deal with it now, then you are yielding and not resisting. Because as the saying goes, whatever we resist, persists. If we keep fighting off the past or pushing away something that needs to be dealt with, it'll take on a much larger "pain-body", or "dark energy". Have you ever felt a negative vibe from somebody, whether you knew them or not? And the energy feels so thick that you just feel the need to run far far away from them? Or have you ever experienced somebody who only talks about negative things, or belittles and insults you? Those types of people carry a heavy pain-body. Their own emotional struggle will cause the "misery loves company" effect. Their own pain-body wants you to energize them. It wants you to relate to them. It wants you to feel what they are feeling.

But I digress.

After watching my mother go through months and months of chemo and radiation, I truly thought the worst. And it wasn't too long afterwards when we heard the doctors say, "Well, the radiation worked! She's cancer-free!"

Cancer-free. Cancer-free!

That's all that rang through my mind. That's all I could hear. That's all I needed. I soon found out that being "cancer-free" doesn't come without a hefty price. She now has to deal with the horrific side effects of the radiation which causes a great loss of blood. Mom's in and out of the hospital getting one transfusion after another. She doesn't do the things she loves anymore. She no longer can cook, or do menial tasks around the house. It takes all her strength to even leave her bedroom. Strange, because she was more mobile and functional when she had the cancer. So once I catch my mind wondering if she'll make it out of this 'cancer-free' stage, I quickly catch myself and focus on what's needed to be done right 'now'. But if someone comes along and starts rambling off "predictions" -- especially grim ones, I try to tune them out. And if they proverbially rape my ear with their own fears and negative thinking, then I need a "time out" and hide out for a while. I know how life works and I know that we are all going to die. But to even go as far as tomorrow makes me cringe -- for any of us. They say that anxiety is fear of the future and depression is focusing more on the past. Why are we choosing to live in any of these illusionary states? The past and future is unseen, only witnessed by the mind's eye. Any one of us could go at any given time. Don't bank your health on tomorrow when fate predicts a car accident today.

Getting back to when I was a young girl lying on the grass with my older sisters -- it's all about that young girl still. I guess the young girl inside me still wants to hold onto her childhood, or a sense of it: the security of having our loved ones always be there, the familiarity, the unconditional love, the connection and the sense of safety and security, even if you're the one taking care of everybody else. It's having them there that sets the stage of being a child again. Someone once told me a long time ago, that we only become adults once both our parents are gone. I had to let that sink in. But it makes sense. By holding on too tightly to our mortal parents, we are also holding onto a part of ourselves -- the part that's the child. The child screams, "Noooooo," while the adult comforts whatever's left of the person inside. Don't get me wrong, I would love to spend one day in my past, laughing and joking with dad and spending time with the family like we used to, but the reality of it is: people die, people change, people get ill and people are people. Nothing lasts forever and that in itself has to be accepted. If denied, then we suffer. Again, whatever we resist, persists, which equals to suffering.

We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them. ~~Khalil Gibran

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!