Friday, September 29, 2017

Trying to Get My Heart to Beat Again

All I could do was cry out to God asking him why he had to take such an amazing person away from me. Clichés of, "He only takes the best," doesn't explain why some murderers, rapists & terrorists die too. It just kinda makes it feel worse. Sometimes I wonder if I'm being tested like Job was in the Bible. First you take away my dad, and now my mom, leaving me with some financial issues that need to be resolved. All of these "tests" -- or are they tests? Most Christians say, "Well, God would never test you." Sure He would. Satan tried to test Job by taking his family and his wealth. He was ok. The one thing that almost got him was when he took away his health. And even then, Job still remained faithful. Is it for me to stay in faith? I mean, ever since mom died, my faith has been stronger than ever. You would think I would lose all faith. But now that He sees how strong I am, or "could be" -- then maybe He's gonna do something worse? I still have questions, like WHY -- but I'm sure there is good reason for that.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. --Romans 5:3-5

If God is trying to strengthen me, then that only makes me think what else is brewing down the road for me? I'm finding that once I stop doing "this sin." then another one pops right back up. It starts with a thought first. Isn't that how it always works though? I first start stewing about something, and then it's whether or not I react to those thoughts. That's why even mere thoughts could be sinful. I have been overanalyzing many things since my mom's death, trying to figure out if she would've been here longer if I had done something differently. But realistically, no one could have helped her live longer. 

Tomorrow will mark my mother's third month in heaven. This is a woman I have spoken to every single day of my life. There was never a day we went without speaking, especially at the end when we lived together. I mean, to have someone there every single day of your life for you to only come to a screeching halt -- it can definitely put you in one of the most darkest times you've ever been in. Suddenly, everything goes out the window: your healthy habits, your need to socialize, your sleep, and of course, your mind. We never discussed anything about her dying. She wanted to live so badly. There was no "when I'm gone" talk -- nothing of that nature. She never even told me she was stage 4 cancer. Many things were hidden from me, but I saw she was dying. Every single day I saw her die a little more each time. 

One night, I had made one of her favorite meals. She sat at the table, and I could see the pain in her face. She started rocking a bit -- she always rocked when she was in pain. I asked, "Ma, did you take a pain pill?" She shook her head no, because she wanted to be alert and not fall asleep. But I never faulted her for being tired, understanding the nature of the disease. I just wanted her to eat a little something before she rested again. As I saw the pain intensify, I finally said, "Ma, it's okay -- you can go inside and lay down. I'll save your food for you, okay?" She shot me a look and yelled out, "NO! I'm staying here! I'm enjoying this so much and I hate that it's starting in again!" She dug her fork in her food and continued eating, until she couldn't anymore. I wanted to cry and scream in the other room -- I was so sad for her! I just sat there with a huge lump in my throat, secretly praying to God to take away her pain. But He didn't for some reason. He didn't. In the Bible it speaks about sharing in the suffering of Christ. It explains why good people suffer. I can see why atheists always argue this part about Christianity. It's hard to absorb all of that when you're suffering or seeing somebody else suffering who's a good person. Like, why? But the reward isn't here. 

"She's in a better place now." 
"Time heals all wounds." 
"She's not in pain anymore." 

True. True. True. All true.

But what's left behind is me lying in bed hoping morning won't come too soon. I dread the mornings. I pray to God to have made this entire thing one big nightmare, and then I can wake up and see my mom's face again...but without the cancer. We'll be moving by the spring or before the summer time. I hear a lot of, "Change will be good and healthy for you. Start a new beginning..." And I know that what they're saying is once again true, but my mom was supposed to go with us. We spoke about getting a townhouse or a smaller house somewhere and she loved that idea. She just couldn't muster up all that energy to do those things at this time. We chucked it up to, "When you get better." Even next week, we're off to the shore again and it's going to be extremely hard not seeing my mom's face in my rearview mirror playing with my dog in the backseat and not having her there to enjoy the ocean. She loved the ocean so much. She always turned into a different person when she was at the shore. She wasn't stressed anymore. She felt calm, relaxed and didn't seem to overthink things. Her worries were gone....temporarily. And on her last trip to the shore, even though she was reminded that the pain was there to greet her every single day, watching the ocean made it somewhat tolerable, until her pain meds kicked in and she was fast asleep. 

Some friends and family ask, "Well, how's Deb doing?" To appease them, Mad kind of gives them the, "Well, as good as she can get... Some days bad and some days good." 

To be honest, I'm doing horrible.

Some days I force myself to get up, do the shopping, clean the house, cook for Madelene or whichever family member is here to visit and still manage to do my work in between. Sometimes, I have to finish work late at night so I can get a head start in the morning. I pray to God every single day for 2-3 hours at a time. Sometimes I just sit there in silence, listening to His guidance or just feeling His presence. It always makes me feel better. Then there are days where my emotional pain affects every fiber of my being. I can't move, my back is killing me and every bone feels like it's on fire. Then magically, it disappears when I'm emotionally feeling 'ok.' 

Someone recently remarked about my cooking broadcast the other day. I do cooking and talk broadcasts, mostly about managing anxiety. She said, "You look like you're doing great!" But that's me on a public broadcast speaking to hundreds of people. I'm always honest and upfront about my struggles with anxiety, and then there's the part of me who loves to cook, put on my favorite Italian music and dance while the sauce is brewing. I have many facets of my personality that can baffle people. I'm not "faking" the joyful side of me, because the joyful side is screaming to come out, and sometimes comes out successfully. But there are days when it's just too heavy for me to even muster up pushing the "go live" button. Maybe I should do a broadcast in the state I'm in right now to show others what it's like to have a down day while grieving, but I don't like to depress people. It's kind of like Robin Williams -- where he just wanted you to laugh, all the while suffering emotional torture himself. (He was an extreme example, I am not suicidal) but you get my drift. Sometimes all you have to do to feel just a little better is to smile. The contagious effect of smiling or laughing can turn into a genuine case of happiness. THIS I believe with all my heart. That's why I think it's so important to surround yourself with those who are on the more positive-happy-funny side. Not everyone is going to be happy and funny 24/7, but at least those who have that side of them. 

So please bear with me as I'm going into another phase of my grieving process. I may seem to isolate myself, or not doing everyday normal things because my anxiety increased. I developed a little case of agoraphobia again, to which I'm fighting back. I do admit, I order groceries online and they deliver right to my doorstep (which is so so awesome by the way), but I will get my feet back into that supermarket again. For now, I go to small butchers and Korean farm markets to get my fresh goods because it's smaller and less crowded. I avoid big stores like, Walmart and other huge grocery chains. Sometimes, I even avoid parties that I'm invited to, especially if I have to drive more than 30 minutes outside of my comfort zone. I was doing great before Mom died, and now it seems to have come back. I know the steps to take with cognitive behavioral techniques and doing a little better. But if I decline one of your togethers or perhaps you don't see me as much as you used to, please know that I'm struggling really hard to live a "normal" life again. You can just call me and say, "Hey Deb, need a visitor?" And most likely, I would welcome that with all my heart. 

For now, I'm going to tell my heart to beat again.

Listen to Danny tell the story about the lady who was getting heart surgery, and how the surgeon did something unconventional to get her heart back to beating again. The song is just amazing.


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!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

When Anxiety & Panic Takes Over

Do you feel alone because you suffer from anxiety? Anxiety can make you feel like you’re the only one experiencing it, when actually, anxiety is the most common thing in the world. Some people smile through it, while others choose to use avoidance to cope. The one thing I noticed about dealing with severe anxiety is that once I focus on God completely — entirely focused on God Himself — I find myself less anxious. As soon as I feel it coming on, I sit down and take about 15 deep breaths. I had to work my way from 5 to now, 15. Mindful breathing is like throwing water onto the fire. And even though I may feel a bit calmer, I need MORE. I need to meditate and focus on God — even if my prayer is just saying His name, the meditation on Him changes the atmosphere in my home. I no longer feel the dread, the highly alert mania that somehow creeps in — all I feel is like someone is sitting there with me helping me through. I go through the promises of God if I don’t feel that euphoric sense that He is here. And He is, but sometimes, the anxiety can make me become blind to the blessings that God has in store for me. I sometimes use what's called a "singing bowl" to bring my thoughts back into focus and onto God. It truly helps. The sounds and vibrations help relieve the feelings of anxiety and fear and it also cleanses your meditation area. Singing bowls have been used in many religious practices, especially before Christian services.

Another thing that helps me deal with coping with anxiety is focusing on the promises of God. I'm going to share some of my favorite promises with you.

I command you--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. --Joshua 1:9

Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. --Psalm 55:22

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you. --1 Peter 5-7

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 6:6-7

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 know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasure of living with you forever. --Psalm 16:8-11

The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him sincerely. --Psalm 145:18

The Lord is my light and my salvation--so why should I be afraid? The Lord protects me from danger--so why should I tremble? --Psalm 27:1

I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. --Philippians 4:13

He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak. Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. --Isaiah 40:29-31

I have these scriptures written down in a notebook to remind me every single day that God is with me. I'm not alone. You're not alone. Some ask, "So why do I feel so lonely?" I used to feel that way too, but then realized that I still felt lonely even while surrounded by other people. Anxiety can make you feel isolated, even when there are people around you all the time. It's a very lonely place and it's a place that nobody wants to admit they attend frequently. Anxiety and depression have become such a stigma -- it's become "shameful" or seen as "crazy" to have. I even had someone roll their eyes at me because I couldn't attend a function with them. "Oh it's her anxiety again," as they shook their heads as if it was nonsense. Never let somebody make you feel that way. You'd be surprised that these very people have similar issues, but cope in different ways. They use this psychological projection, mocking your anxiety, all the while dealing with theirs in destructive ways, such as drinking too much or doing drugs. They're numb to it, but eventually, those aides won't last for long. They're going to sober up one day and realize that their anxiety was there all along.

Anxiety never goes away. Fear never goes away. The only thing that makes it seem livable is instilling courage and coping mechanisms that enable you to overcome the anxiety, especially if it's a chemical imbalance. You can do it naturally, and for some, they can't afford to do it naturally because it doesn't work well for them. Antidepressants for anxiety can trigger anxiety attacks. So make sure you tell your therapist exactly what you have. Of course, anxiety and depression go hand in hand, but if you're like me and mainly suffer from extreme panic and anxiety, an antidepressant will most likely not help you.

Courage leads to heaven, fear leads to death. --Seneca the Younger

"It's okay to let go, Ma."
While reading Anita Moorjani's book, Dying to Be Me, she explained that all of our root problems are stemmed in fear. In fact, while my Mom was ready to take her last breath, and I was going to approach her with my final goodbyes, Anita Moorjani said to me, "Whatever you do -- do not approach her in fear. She can sense that. Approach her and let her know it's OKAY to let go, without your fear of her letting go." Boy this was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but something came over me. My faith that God would be there lifting her up to her new and final home. My faith kicked in and my fear disappeared. I gently caressed her forehead, kissed her as I held her hand and said, "It's okay to let go, Ma -- don't worry, I'm going to be alright." She was so worried I wouldn't be okay without her. I tried to defuse her fear over my fear of living life without her. If you think about it, fear is what kills us. It kills our spirit, it kills our dreams and goals in life, it kills our quality of life, and finally, fear itself can kill us off completely.

As I still struggle and try and cope with anxiety, the tools I have for dealing with it have been much more effective. I'll never forget what my mom said one week before she went to heaven. As I was heading out the door to go to a meeting that was in another town, my agoraphobia started kicking in. She was on the sofa and said, "You ok, Deb?" And I admitted that I was a little nervous taking this trip out. So she turns to me and said, "Just picture me in the passenger seat and I'll be with you in spirit." I started getting all freaked out and said, "Stop that! That's creepy, Ma!" I totally believe her spirit knew she was leaving. I didn't even know she was leaving so soon. I do admit, when I feel scared, I pray to God and I also envision my mom taking that ride with me to whatever scary place it may be. A death of a loved one can really trigger your anxiety and put it into high gear. I find it important for me to separate the grief from the panic. Why am I panicking over the grief? I went through most of the grief stages and sometimes I repeat them all over again. Major life changes are huge factors in triggering panic attacks and depression. When I feel overwhelmed with all of these emotions, I bring it all to God. I haven't been so careful with my words lately, like saying, "I just wanna go home and be with Mom!" I've said that quite a few times. I feel disconnected from everyone which scares the living daylights out of me. So I try and reel it in and let go of it and let God handle it.

If you have any suggestions or coping mechanisms that help you through anxiety attacks, let me know over here on my Facebook page. The comment section is always open. Through my own experience with anxiety and grief, I hope that I helped someone who needed to hear this. Would love to hear from you.

If you're here, then you're here for a reason. Feel better and always reach out!

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

Friday, September 15, 2017

My Struggle as a Gay Christian

"Well what do other Christians say about the Bible?" 
"Oh, you mean 'other people' and their book of rules?" 

At the age of 19, I walked into a confessional booth, guilt-ridden and ashamed that I was dating another person of the same gender. The palm of my hands were sweaty as I entered into the small confessional booth, which had a tiny bench and a black mesh in between the priest and myself. I knelt down before the mesh and told him how long it had been since my last confessional (eek) and then poured out my heart, especially now that I was dating girls.

"What do you mean you are dating girls?"
"Well, I'm dating 'a' girl."
"What do you do with her," he asked as silence followed.

I didn't know what to say, other than tell him it was no different than dating a man, in some sort of innocent 'dating' way. I didn't want to describe my sex life with the priest, but he kept on asking me details of my sexual relationship. As soon as he felt my awkwardness with confessing sexual aspects of my relationship, he then said to me that living that lifestyle is a dead end road. I'll never forget those words being spoken to me, ever.

A dead end road.

I did the Act of Contrition and he -- the priest, forgave me. Shouldn't God be the one forgiving me though? Did I do something so terribly wrong? I didn't hurt anyone, I didn't make anyone feel bad about themselves nor did I have any bad intentions with any of my "sins" that I confessed. So how could it be wrong?

That's when I decided to study the Bible from front to back and from back to front again. Some days, it was like reading Greek literature in a dark room, while other times, it spoke out to me as if God Himself was standing before me. I started realizing and understanding that what the Bible refers to in Leviticus was an Old Law that Jews need to keep, not Christians. They also explain that eating shellfish is an abomination, a man shaving his beard, getting tattoos and sitting next to a woman who is menstruating were all great sins in the Old Testament. The list goes on. And how would you know if a woman was...eh, never mind.

This is when my relationship with God became stronger. Instead of attending the Catholic Church where my mom took me for mass, CCD and to get my communion and confirmation done, I gladly left and started attending a Trinity Assembly Church. I couldn't believe how different it was to be around spirit-filled Christians who were happy to be at church. They were so happy to be there, that they even stayed there for over two hours praising God and having fellowship afterwards. They were so nice to one another, unlike the Catholic Church where you felt as though you were being sneered at -- at least for me it felt that way. But here you had people talking in tongues and interpreting it. You had some crying for joy and raising their hands to receive the Holy Spirit. Wow! I always walked out of there with a sense of euphoria.

The following Sunday, I was surprised to see another pastor up at the podium speaking. She was a pastor who traveled here from Ohio to tell her testimony. But before she even spoke, people were gathered in the lobby shaking hands, greeting one another and having small chat before services started. Two older women approached my partner and I and said, "I hope you don't find this intrusive, but we do have a gay and lesbian ministry here." The two women looked like a couple. We were so happy that they had an LGBT group they catered to! How incredibly accepting of this church!

It was until we sat down that we realized the "gay and lesbian ministry" they spoke of was more about a "pray your gay away" kind of group. The pastor was a "former" lesbian who got out of the homosexual lifestyle. The two older women got up to give their testimony as "ex lesbians." Yes, you read that correctly. Ex lesbians. But wait, there's more. The "ex lesbians" still cohabited, but they practiced celibacy. That's OK, but the act is not OK. This was the message sent to my little confused brain. Each testimony had each of the women crying hysterically, not because the Holy Spirit moved them, but it felt like they were incredibly sad to withhold their true selves to one another due to what other Christians had suggested. My furrowed brow was giving me a migraine as my mind was racing with all of these questions. I needed to speak to the pastor about this. This is wrong. As the sermon went on with the guest pastor, she said that if anyone in this church are gay or lesbian, that they will miss out on the glory of God. The analogy she gave was this...

"You can't ride the coattails of other good Christians. You have to repent for your sins and do away with them forever. Picture this... You walk into your parents' house and you smell the delicious aromas of your mom cooking up a storm. You expect all of your siblings and extended family to be there, but as you approach the kitchen area, there's just a boiling pot with nobody around. That's how it's going to be when you die. Your soul will find just a boiling pot of what you could have had, but you missed the boat. You missed out on the forgiveness of God because you didn't repent for your homosexual lifestyle."

I raced back home eager to open up my Bible and check for everything! I read each condemning scripture with a fine tooth comb, hoping to find some answers within the book itself. I couldn't take it anymore. I sat there for hours upon hours, until it was 6:30 in the evening. There was another service being held at 7pm. I told my partner, "I have to make a quick run to the church." She just looked puzzled and was like, "Ok.....?"  I had to find out for myself and hear it through my own pastor's words on how my lifestyle is "evil."

As I pulled up to the church, I found myself panicking. My heart was racing, my breathing was shallow and I started to have doubts -- about approaching him as well as doubts about myself. How can I ever debate with a pastor who guides and teaches hundreds of people every week? But I was prepared. So I walked inside 20 minutes before the service started. They guided me to his office. I knocked on the door and there he was, sitting at his desk doing some paperwork.  I took a deep breath and closed the door behind me. He took off his glasses and said, "Well hello, Debra! What brings you here this evening?' How can I help you?"

This was my defining moment. Was I really prepared or this?

"Your guest speaker...she...she spoke about homosexuality today."
"Yes, how did you like the sermon? It was moving, wasn't it?"

"No."

He stared at me closely and then said, "So you disagree with her?"

"Yes."

I had my bible with me and pointed out scriptures that conflicted with homosexuality still being a sin. So I went on with my beliefs.

"Leviticus: Old Testament. Our sins were abolished once Jesus died on the cross. Christians no longer go by Leviticus as the Jews still do.

New Testament: Speaks about the promiscuity of all homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. They have taken the meaning of reckless sex and threw it upon all gay people.

The origins of the word "homosexuality" doesn't necessarily mean same gender sex. The passage in the ancient Hebrew is clearly talking about male-male sex acts, specifically anal sex. The issue was penetrating an anus with a penis, this making the penis literally “unclean” to the point of forbidding entry into a vagina.

Sodom and Gomorrah was about rape and humiliation -- not sex between two people who love one another. But Christians will cherry pick this and twist the story around to condemn those who are homosexual.

So with our handful of homosexual references in the Bible (some not even referring to homosexuals themselves but the act of reckless sex), they never seem to focus on the 100 plus verses on slavery and find it to be "okay" to accept those who are adulterers -- which can be someone divorced while her ex is still alive. In the Bible it talks about divorce being even more sinful than homosexuality, especially if her ex spouse is still alive. The Bible is convoluted with ancient stories that we no longer abide by i.e.: slavery (thank God), and if we were to go by all the rules of the Bible, then what kind of world would we live in? It would be a man-driven society to control the masses -- to control the immorality of people -- even if they're behind closed doors."

As I kept fumbling through my Bible, I pointed out to the scriptures that were confusing to me, or that proved that all that Jesus has done was fulfilled and his death was not in vain. He died to save us. 

I continued on...

"The law was abolished once Jesus died on the cross for us.

'So we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ--and not because we have obeyed the lawFor no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.' --Galatians 2:16

You will not get a ticket into heaven if all you do is 'good deeds'. Some good deeds come with an agenda, or an evil attempt. It's about your faith.

Continuing with Galatians:
But what if we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then find out that we are still sinners? Has Christ led us into sin? Of course not! rather, I make myself guilty if I rebuild the old system I already tore down.

'For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God's approval.'

So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this early body by trusting the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless.

For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die." --Galatians 2:15-21

Wait, there's more I have questions about." 

Then I fumbled back to Sodom and Gomorrah, since they use this story all the time to make references of how immoral we are. 

"The story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Basically, God says that He's going to destroy cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, if two angels cannot find any good people within the towns. Once the angels arrive, a kind man named Lot invites these angels into his home and entertains them. This angers the cities' men, and the men rallied outside of Lot's home, wishing to do 'perverse actions' to these male angels. Moments later, the two cities are destroyed by fiery rain. Many anti-gay Christian ministers use this passage to say that this is an example of God’s wrath against homosexuality -- as if the men of Sodom were all gay, and all trying to 'be gay with' these male angels. Historians and sociologists tell us that gang rape was a very common form of brutal humiliation of the subjects, in the ancient Western world. The Sodomite men did not come to Lot’s house to have monogamous, committed, loving relationships with the male angels residing there. They came to rape these angels.

All references to Romans were about promiscuous sexual acts between heterosexuals as they burned for lust toward one another, moving onto other partners, even of the same gender. They were speaking about orgies and reckless sex -- not a loving relationship between two people. They were defiling one another -- not loving one another. Lust is not love. There's a huge difference. What do you think about all of this I've found?" 

I went through everything I had. I went through all that I had read and understood. And he just looked at me and said one thing. 

"God loves the sinner, but not the sin." 

I walked out after pouring all of my knowledge and research of the Bible disappointed that I was given an one liner -- a cliché -- the same ol' spiel when they get hit with the homosexuality question. I then realized that I was in a church that had a religion, but they had no relationship with God Himself. They had no forgiveness or acceptance in their hearts, as Jesus once did. They didn't recognize us as human beings and so, I changed my church. I started to pray to God in the privacy of my own home. I studied the Bible in the comforts of my own home. Soon enough, my book, A Prayer Away From Healing was finally published. 

My purpose in life was starting to take shape. I started writing articles and helping those who struggled with their relationship with God as well as trying to find a place in the world given that they were gay or lesbian. God loves all of us, and those who condemn our relationships with our loved ones are way off base. 

I will say this though... Faith is something we have to respect as a non-scientific factor. Faith is something that we need to keep for ourselves, share with others, but not to force down anybody's throat. That's so important, because God gave us free will. We also need to respect people's faith or lack thereof. But once it comes off as disrespectful, we need to reel that in. 

What that pastor said to me wasn't "disrespectful" -- it was his faith. It was his "opinion." It was what he has read to understand as a "sin." That doesn't mean that it's all black and white just because a pastor said it. What it means is, respect it, and then move on. For instance, as I've said time and time again, if I walked into a baker's shop asking them to make a cake for my "gay" wedding and they refused due to their religion, I would walk out and find somebody else. 

Why? 

Because they feel as if they're sinning by partaking in something they disagree with. That's LIFE! We have to come to terms that other people will have other beliefs different than our own. That's OKAY. But there is a fine line with respecting their views, and bowing down to taking away our rights. I'm not saying it's okay for people to discriminate against one another, what I'm saying is, as much respect that we beg from society, we also have to give that same respect back in return. 

What I have learned about this 20+ year lesson is this... 

Put God first. Everything else will fall into place. 

Pray to God before you open the Bible. Don't just flip through a scripture without reading the entire story, or else you will get a strange message that'll baffle you and make you wonder if the book has any value whatsoever. Just as you wouldn't flip to the middle of a book at the bookstore to judge it, the same applies to the Bible. There are many books within the Bible. You can even start at one of the books inside the Bible if you wish.

For me, when God comes first, everything else seems to be okay. Spending hours at a time with Him is not "slacking off." Do not feel guilty about spending a lot of time with Him! That's what the devil wants you to think. Guilt and fear is not of God. Those are dreaded emotions that the evil one gives. 

Remember to not only pray to God, but also listen. Oddly enough, the word "silent" and "listen" have the same letters. I don't think that's a coincidence. He will answer you, maybe not in your time, but in His time. If you don't believe me, please contact me because I can tell you a million and one stories of how God has spoken to me personally. He has changed my life forever. 

Commit everything you do for the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you. --Pslam 37-5 
Put God first before everything in your life. Watch how your life changes. He WILL help you! I am experiencing this for myself. It's amazing. 

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. --Matthew 5:8 
God sees your heart. If you're gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and you have a good heart, don't you think God already knows you by now? People judge based on assumptions about certain lifestyles. Be confident that God loves you more than anybody in this world can. Trust that. 

It's about your heart. It's not about "good deeds." It's about your faith, it's not about the work you've done to establish a seat in heaven. Just be you, because everybody else is taken. 

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me over on the right side of this blog in the contact form. I will respond within 24 hours. 

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

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Greater Good

Have you ever had a time in your life when it just seems so awful, that nothing worse could ever happen? You don't even look at the worst case scenarios because you're suffering so badly. You even start resenting people who are enjoying life, laughing and having a good time. It consumes you. Whether you're going through the worst breakup of your life or you have recently lost a loved one by death, the world seems like a very cruel place. It also can feel like a very lonely place, even if there are people who are there for you. "They couldn't possibly understand--they've never experienced this before--it's not the same--how dare they have a good time," runs through your mind. There will be people who will try to give you some comforting words, and it just comes off as insincere and cold -- but it's not. Some people are very uncomfortable trying to comfort someone else going through a turbulent time. They're doing their best. Forgive them. Your friends and family may not be psychologists, so you have to accept whatever condolences and comfort they're trying to extend to you.

Nobody's loss is greater than another. As I was sitting down thinking about my own loss and losing my mother to cancer two months ago, one of my girlfriends was telling me about her separation with her partner/wife of 20 years. They have two kids in their teens as well. The separation is causing her so much grief, that I believe she's going through a worse time than my own grieving process. Think about it -- when you break up with someone, it's almost like a death, except that person is always still out there. Death is different. Your loved one passes, goes to a better place and there is (usually) zero animosity or angst within the loss. There are no complicated problems like custody of children or who gets the house. Death is just a permanent goodbye, a farewell, sad nonetheless, but survivable. So next time someone says to you, "Well, at least nobody died," while you're going through a rough breakup, just blow it off. These words are meant to comfort us in strange ways. People mean well, but sometimes, words are just meaningless, even though they have good intentions.

Whatever you do, never miss out on the joy that can be right in the middle of your storm. At times, we can run into our shelters and light up some candles and ride out the storm with a cocktail or three. Don't forget to enjoy your life even if there is chaos all around you -- because let's face it -- nobody gets out of this alive anyway. All of these horrible things that happen to us are things that will make us stronger in the end. It will give us much more endurance the next time around, and there will be a next time around. Be glad you went through the trouble, because if you're still alive, you will experience more tribulations. The strength you get from these storms will even enable you to help somebody else when their storm comes. You'll know what supplies to give them because you experienced this for yourself. Sometimes, our greatest losses are blessings in disguise. God uses certain situations for the greater good.

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

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Psychological Projection

How to handle a buncha' nuts...
Years ago, we had a seminar at my place of work. My company hired two motivational speakers who came in and completely enlightened us on techniques about dealing with customers, especially difficult ones. I didn't think much of it because I immediately judged it to be this 'over-the-top' non-religious sermon on "YES-YOU-CAN-DO-IT" kinda jibber-jabber. But not even an hour into their spiel, I started to learn much more than I expected to. Keep in mind, this was a two week motivational course. They showed us how some people respond when dealing with circumstances that didn't please them, or didn't meet their needs -- or just crap they didn't want to hear or deal with. They taught you how to react if you received a call from an irate customer, or if you were dealing with an irrational or abusive jerk from hell. We were taught to never say, "I understand," because before you even say the second syllable of "understand" -- they're like, "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING I SAY!" I tried it. Trust me, it always happens that way, almost verbatim. What you have to do is be on their side. Jump into their shoes without misrepresenting your own company. For instance, you would say, "Ugh, this is awful, sir. Let's see how we can fix this."

Never apologize. Ever.

Interesting, right? How can you buddy up with someone if you never apologize? This only applies when someone is downright wrong and accusing your company of a disservice or a charge they had no clue they were paying for. But in the bigger scheme of things -- like "LIFE" itself, it applies a lot more than you would think. Granted, if the company charged you $1,000 for a $25 service charge, yes -- apologize. You get my point. Anyway, applying this to life's circumstances means that when you apologize for something, this means that you have done someone wrong, right? Even with those stupid inspirational quotes that I disagree with a lot of, like, "Apologize even if you aren't wrong. Peace is better," blah blah blah. "Forgiveness is not for them, it's for you." NO. It's for them. Own your apology only if you are wrong. Forgive someone if you are OK and that should make them feel better.

What I also learned in this seminar was how people use psychological projection in order to raise a response through an emotional that the person is harboring.

WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL PROJECTION (IN LAYMAN’S TERMS)?

What happens when you have a whole bunch of uncomfortable, embarrassing and annoying emotions that you don’t want to unconsciously deal with? According to famous psychologist Sigmund Freud, these emotions are projected onto other people, so that other people become carriers of our own perceived flaws. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for us, this form of emotional displacement makes it much easier to live with ourselves … because everyone else is responsible for our misery – not us!----read more about it here.

Whatever insults or assumptions come flying your way, just keep in mind it may be their own insecurities purging through their argument. Sometimes it's so transparent (especially if you know the person well) that it becomes obvious that they're totally digging for some sort of relation -- a tie that binds you two together that you can understand them better. It's a warped way to go about it, but it happens more often than not. Think about someone who bad mouthed you or spoke badly about you to somebody else. This happened to me recently actually. Usually, this person will use psychological projection in order to see how other people respond to their assumption about you, or perhaps to escape their issues so that now you're the main focus on these burdens they've carried for however long. Sometimes they don't even realize they're doing it.

Regardless, none of this is foolproof because none of us are mindreaders. But what we can do is try to understand someone who is flipping the frig out, who has loss completely control over their own emotions. We can respond in a different way. Most of the time, if I am overwhelmed myself and someone I know is flipping out on me -- I do the silent treatment and avoid. I know that's the childish way to handle things, but right now, as I'm still mourning the loss of my mother, this is the only way I know how to deal with such things.

What about domestic arguments, be it your spouse, child, parent or other -- how would you respond when your loved one freaks out over something that you felt was nonsensical? Would you underestimate their feelings or make them feel bad about their behavior? Would you become silent and try to avoid them? Or would you actually sit with them and get them to tell you why they feel the way they do? Sometimes, there's no talking to some people. They just love to argue -- especially if they're in a rage-like tantrum. Speak softly and hardly speak at all if you want to defuse things. Listen to what they're telling you. Most things they're accusing you of, they're guilty of themselves. Think about this: if a spouse is constantly accusing you of cheating, then what may be the issue here? Nine out of ten times, it means that the person who is accusing you of cheating is guilty themselves. Now that's just psychology 101.

This is just what I have learned through this one seminar. Even though this was more for work-related issues, this applied to my entire life and how to handle uncomfortable situations. And I promise you --I'm not perfect myself, but it helped me to not only understand where other people are coming from, it also helped me realize where I was coming from.

Cray knows cray...

So, my disclaimer on this particular article is: I am not a psychologist nor play one on TV. I am a patient who lies on a shrink's couch hoping to get some answers about life. Sometimes the best lessons are learned from the patients themselves. And now it's almost time for wine o'clock.

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 30, 2017

Throw Away the Absentee List


It can't be easy being around someone who is dealing with horrible grief, especially if the grief is exaggerated by already existing anxiety and depression. We also can't fake being happy all the time, so there's a fine line between being real (even if it's a deep depressive state) and being accepting of all that has happened. I totally understand the concept of happy attracts happy, and the opposite alike. It's a dark place to be in when you're grieving, but it's also a dark place for anyone trying to help that person whose tears are literally drowning you out of their presence. And if you're the type of person that has broad shoulders and can be there during the times of somebody grieving, hats off to you. Not many are able to do that. We all have our trials and tribulations in life, so the amount of sharing is up to you, and it's up to the person who receives the 'sharing' to take a step back. We can only handle so much, but sometimes, it's nice when someone can lift us up when we're at our lowest points. I would never want to become a burden on anyone. I try to share as little as possible when I'm in someone's company. On my blog -- that's a whole different story. You can just "X" out when you feel like it -- when it gets too much. But right now, it's my time to purge. If you wish to stay, then thank you. Or maybe you can relate and get something out of this. I'm not just crying a river over here, I'm also telling others what helps me feel better -- so it's not all doom and gloom. (I hope.)

Yesterday afternoon, my friend texted me to see if I was okay. I told her I was doing crappy and couldn't shake this feeling of dread. She told me to something that I would've typically rolled my eyes at. She said, "Listen to worship music." I can't tell you how much I detest worship music, because there's really no melody in most of the songs -- it's noise and has no rhythm -- so I thought. When my partner turns in on, I'm like, "Stop! I can't listen to this! It gives me anxiety!" She just looks at me like the devil himself. I was so desperate that I turned it on while doing my errands. I don't know what happened, but it instantly made me feel better. My mood lifted and the entire energy in my home changed from dreadful to peaceful. I do believe that sometimes we're being attacked. God doesn't put the spirit of fear and dread into your heart -- only the devil does that. So when these songs are playing loudly, it drives out the bad energy. I experienced it for myself. I may not like the tunes so much, and perhaps it'll grow on me, but the messages, the calling of Jesus itself is calling the angels in to help with whatever you need. I'm a believer!


Once again (and again and again), I have cut back on the wine. I slept like a baby last night. I think when the alcohol wears off on me, my anxiety comes out tenfold. Since I stopped drinking the wine during the week now, I'm sleeping normally, and get very few myoclonic jerks and no seizures. There has to be something said about that. I'm not quitting my 'grape juice' -- I'm just limiting my intake. I think with everything that has happened in my life recently, I reached for the wine a little more than I should've.

I'm learning the hard way that you're all you got. I'm all I got in this world. I am solely dependent on God alone. Having this sort of mindset is helping me a lot, because things are starting to happen that doesn't make sense. Things are starting to work out better and good things are falling in my lap that I never expected. I'm in a good place, even though the worst thing in the world happened to me. Grieving doesn't have to destroy you. We all have to do it in our lifetime. The only thing you have to focus on is God. Take care of YOU by relying on God. Throw away the word "independent" and be DEPENDENT on God only. Stop yourself when you want to call somebody for help. Go to God first. See how that works out for you instead of relying on a human being to fix all your needs. For me, when I do this -- something falls into place where God gives me the help that I need. It may not be the help that I want -- but it helps me regardless. Sometimes it's even greater than I expected.

With great expectations, comes disappointments when it comes to people. I have learned that not everyone cares about what you are going through. You cannot control that. The only thing you can do is be an example of the conquerer you are. Your struggle as well as your victory will be a testimony. Thank God by praising Him for all He has done for you. I'm in the "reality slap" phase of grief right now. It screams out, "THIS IS LIFE, suck it up or suffer!" This whole anxiety thing is so incredibly stupid. I mean that in terms of -- look what our minds can do to us... I mean, sometimes I can't even walk out of the door because I'm paralyzed with fear. But I keep in mind that I am safer out in the world than I am in the confines of my own home. Anxiety isn't logical. It's a torturer. My attacks have been quite severe, but I'm a conquerer all because I'm not alone. God is here guiding me step by step. I have never believed so much as I do today.

Some tips on at least feeling a little happier...

  • Name at least 5 things you are grateful for. If it exceeds 5, wonderful.
  • Cut back on alcohol.
  • Make time to sit, pray and meditate every morning or every night. Don't only pray, but listen. Remember, the word "silent" has the same letters as listen. 
  • Change something around in your house. Rearrange furniture, even if it's temporary. 
  • If you can cook this, make bone broth. (Recipes found here.) If you can't cook it, find a speciality store that sells it. It's a wonder serum. 
  • Do something nice for somebody else. Anything. 
  • Keep a journal of all your feelings, whether on notebook or on your laptop. 
  • Get out of your head and read a book. Movies and TV shows sometimes aren't helpful enough. Make your brain work for the entertainment. 
  • Open your doors to friends and family. 
  • Spend a good amount of time thanking God for all you have, and all He is going to provide. 
  • Forgive yourself if you have a bad day and end up jumping back into bed. It's OKAY. Just pull it together tomorrow.

Sometimes there are people who want to hear your story, but not out of relating -- more so out of curiosity. I had one reader of mine, we'll call "Jill" email and tell me that she is caring for her mother who was diagnosed with cancer. Right now, her mom is able to do things still as she fights the vicious "C" beast. Jill knows that her mom's days are numbered, only because she is much older and opted out of important surgeries she should've had. My mom did the same thing. She said no to the one surgery that could've saved her life. We respected her wishes and went through the whole ordeal of radiation, chemo, doctor appointments and watched her suffer terribly. Jill fears that this is going to take place soon and is looking at my story as a "future Jill" -- and that's a scary thing. Watching a loved one suffer with cancer is just horrendous. Sometimes I would have to walk out of the room just to compose myself. Other times, my cries were audible from where she was on the other side of the house. I was having anticipatory grief, and Mom heard it. I felt so bad, but it just came out and I didn't realize how much pain I was in, seeing her in so much pain. So Jill is reading my blogs, watching my broadcasts and wondering if and when she is going to be jumping into my shoes. Luckily, I don't only talk about my sadness, but I do tell you what helps me through it. I think that's important when sharing something so traumatic. "How do you get through it?" That's what people want to know.

Again I will say this. People are going to judge you based on how "crazy" you seem by how hard you're grieving. Take it with a grain of salt and please, always consider the source. Sometimes, those kind of people are scared to see something like that, because they're scared they're going to be in the same position. Grieve the way you want to, the way you have to -- there is no wrong or right way to grieve. If you're angry, bring it to God. If you're sad, bring it to God and ask Him to send you someone who can help you. The one thing I can say is, you will definitely realize who is there for you while you're going through such hard times. Count your blessings and throw away the absentee list. That list can be long, unfortunately.

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!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why, God?

Have you ever felt like you were a complete burden to other people sometimes? And maybe you're one of those types of people who never ask for help, and in turn, nobody asks you if you need help because you don't appear to need help. Maybe this isn't such a great quality of mine, but I have never asked a single person for help. I can't do it. I have had people offer help, to which sometimes I accept or don't accept -- that's not what I'm talking about. Sometimes, I'm hurting so badly, or I need help with something so desperately, and when I pick up my phone to text or call someone to help me, my fingers become paralyzed with fear. I don't need much from anyone. I sometimes wish a simple phone call asking, "Hey, Deb? You okay?" ---- That's help. You don't need to do anything other than be you and just say hi. I have been so fortunate enough to have had my in-laws be there for me when my mother passed away. Just their presence alone -- their physical presence and offers to cook something (which they don't have to) makes me feel like someone actually gives a shit. My sister-in-law stays with us on and off, and she doesn't have to do anything but grace us with her presence. Sometimes, saying nothing at all and just being there is the most important thing you can give to somebody. Sometimes, just a simple phone call -- not a text -- a phone call saying, "Hey, how are you," can be the best gift you could give somebody.

As you all know, I had and still am having a very hard time processing the loss of my mother. We lived together. We ate dinner together. We were all we had. My partner loved my mom so much too. I'm very adamant on not comparing one grief to another, but there is something a bit different when it comes to losing a loved one who you shared a house with. Her absence screams her name to come back home. Sometimes, I'm okay, and other times, I cry so hard that I start retching. I always feel nauseous. Nausea due to stress can be due to not eating, so once I eat a little something, it goes away temporarily. The physical symptoms due to grief are rough! I never knew there was a physical side that could wreak havoc -- thought more or less emotional type of stuff...and it IS emotional, don't get me wrong.

One of my siblings have been texting my wife as well as other mutual friends telling them, "Oh, Deb's having a nervous breakdown. She needs meds and professional help."

Thanks.

Regardless, I am on anti-anxiety medication and I see one psychiatrist and one therapist. I make an effort in order to help myself. If I don't help myself, I can't possibly help anybody else. So what am I upset about? For my sibling tell other people that *I* need help, when I'm receiving help for my anxiety, especially with going through the stages of grief is quite hypocritical, especially if you're self-medicating yourself with two bottles of wine a night. That's not the point. The point is, if your sibling seems to be having a nervous breakdown, what would you do? Maybe a phone call and ask, "Hey, are you okay?" I received nothing -- yet, I'm always the one inviting her over, cooking large dinners for her cause I know she isn't eating much or at all. I acknowledge everyone's grief, and try to help the best I can. I don't ask for much, but instead of rattling off that I'm having a "nervous breakdown" to other people who don't even know me well, maybe it's a better idea if you called the person you were so "concerned" over. But she isn't concerned. She's curious. There's a quote that says, "Be careful who you open up to. Only a few people actually care. The rest are just curious and want something to gossip about."  I don't know who quoted that -- but it's so true sometimes. If I ever ask anyone if they are okay or if they need anything -- I mean it. And the most important thing about helping someone in any shape or form is to never brag about it or put it back into their faces once you have an argument. Give without expectations, or don't give at all.

For those who are there for me, thank you. Another quote I love is, whenever someone shows you their true colors, never try to repaint them....ever. Even my partner was taken aback by the text saying, "She's having a nervous breakdown."  And she would know this because....? She's never here. She never calls. She wants to believe that. Coping the loss of my mother has definitely made me lose my mind a little -- but isn't that kind of normal when you love someone so much and they die before you expect it? Even if death is expected, it's never expected. This has been the biggest loss of my life, so if I wanna cry and if I vomit from pure anxiety and sadness, ask me if I'm okay, don't smear my name and try to make yourself look "normal."

My advice to anyone who is going through a similar thing? Remove all toxic individuals from your life while you're grieving. People just wanna watch the entertainment of your misfortune. Most are ingenuine and this is why many people lack trust in others. I'm very disappointed, but I'm glad I found out now.

I pray that everyone involved who is mourning for my mom heals. Mom was loved by many. I pray that I somehow come to grips with my own loss. I flip-flop through the stages of grief. One day I'm like, "No! She can't be gone!" (Denial) and then go straight into the anger phase. Then it's like I accept her loss and pray to God that He'll take care of her....and then back to getting angry at God like, "Why??? Why, God???"

I'm gonna go outside on the deck and watch the rain. I'm gonna pray till I can't pray no more.

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!