Friday, October 24, 2014

Mild Dementia

There was a time when I actually used to love life. I looked forward to each and every day, hoping something new would be waiting for me. But as time grew, as well as my age, there seems to be little to no happiness, excitement, fun...or even hope. I used to laugh a lot more and take life less seriously. Time is flying by so quickly too. I think to myself, "Am I gonna be 75 years old sitting out on my deck, regretting all this wasted time in this wasted life? There are things that I don't quite understand, like those who made you feel special yesterday, would decide to make you feel like you're a nobody today. That sort of thing kinda stabs you in straight in the heart. I've shut down. I have decided to rid of all the toxic people in my life. My nightly seizure activity has increased greatly. I can't even get a phone call back from my doctor to get an MRI. The other day while shopping, I stepped outside of the store with two bags in my hand thinking, "Where am I? Where am I going?" Moments later, an employee tapped my shoulder. "Ma'am, are you ok? Can I help you with something?" I just stared at him thinking, "Who are you?" He said, "Why don't you sit over here," as he guided me to a nearby bench, he then said, "Are you waiting for somebody to pick you up?" And right when he said that, I started to remember everything. "Oh, I'm so sorry -- I wasn't feeling well and I forgot where I had parked my car." He smiled and then left me looking confident that I was alright. But, I wasn't. I walked over to my car, put my bags in the backseat and drove home. As soon as I set everything down on the kitchen counter, I called for Lola so I could take her out for a walk. We walked across the lawn and onto the dirt road leading away from the house. Then I thought, "Where am I" again. I had no memory of this road I was on but somehow, I knew to hold onto Lola on the leash. I walked back down the hill and looked at the house. I wanna say it took me about 2 minutes of a blank stare to finally remember: hey, this is my home.

I don't know what's happening to me. I'm a bit hesitant to drive now, since losing part of my memory. Is it stress? Is it the onset of Alzheimer's? It's a similar feeling like when you fall asleep on the couch or some place you usually don't sleep, and when you wake up, you get that disoriented feeling like, "Huh, what?" I think part of it is, I'm on my 4th night of insomnia, so I am just punch-drunk silly lately. I can't complete sentences without zoning out into space. I'm a walking zombie. I'm scared to even go to sleep, in fear that my seizures will start right back up again. They only happen once I'm trying to fall asleep. My doctors insist that it's anxiety and told me to take 3 mg of ativan before bed. Umm, that's enough to tranquilize a goddamn horse, but okay. It. did. nothing. Then last night, I had a glass of red wine before taking the ativan. It. did. nothing. I mean, my liver must be bigger than Texas if nothing can get me to sleep.

I have a lot of things on my plate right now that aren't even getting done as fast as I would like. My book is almost halfway finished, with a lot of editing ahead. If I get enough sleep, I can manage to focus on one thing at a time. Please bear with me as my writing is lessening and I'm just trying to push through each passing day. I don't like to burden others with my ailments and whatnot, and sometimes, there are a few people who believe that "it's all in my head". For those who believe that, I can only wish you were a fly on the wall when I'm trying to get some sleep. The seizures are unreal. I used to wake up with Madelene every morning, make coffee and breakfast and start off our day on a good foot. Now? I fall asleep at 6am and get up at 7am just to go back to bed for another hour and then start my day. I'm a mess right now. But, I will continue to push forward. I just need some prayers and some positive energy sent my way please.

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, October 21, 2014

And From There On, She Learned Not to Depend Too Much on Anyone in This World

You wouldn't know it when she walked into the room that she was insecure and afraid of almost everything. She wore a smile, even though she may have been crying all day. Her laughter was infectious. People drew into her web of 'happiness' to absorb it for themselves, all the while it was she trying to absorb the happiness from others. Outgoing as she may have seemed, she went into hiding in order to avoid people -- to avoid the negativities of others, as she was quite the emotional sponge. She was very sensitive, taking offense into all things said and unsaid. As quick as she was to help others, she was also in need of help but never dared to ask. Part of it was, she never wanted to impose on others and also didn't want others to know how badly she was truly suffering. Through emotional pain, came physical pain which ultimately boomeranged back into emotional pain again -- the 'being sick and tired of being sick and tired syndrome'.  She often would make statements like, "I don't want to live anymore," without the threat of, "I'm gonna kill myself" -- it was her soul crying out for help. It was true, she didn't want to live life anymore, because there wasn't any joy any longer. People were falling ill, loved ones were dying, relationships were falling apart, and of course, she was aging too, feeling worse and worse with each waking day. But that's life, right? That's how it's supposed to be.

All she wanted was one week of peace. One week, at least. People thought she had all the peace in the world since she worked at home, had a "nice life" with her partner and had plenty of friends, when she would choose to see them. But nobody ever saw the challenges in her life -- the ones that were hidden underneath the happy status messages on Facebook or the funny jokes on Twitter. Who wants to listen to a "Debbie Downer"? She wanted to inspire people or at least, make them laugh. She wanted to provoke emotion by capturing photos of beautiful things, maybe giving hope to someone else who was home depressed. Sometimes late at night she would call the suicide hotline, only realizing that the people on the other end of the line were only human too. She thought that perhaps they would give her some sort of magic spell through the wires to which connected them together. Unfortunately, she was given advice to go to the ER and be evaluated for 12+ hours to only be flung into some dirty psyche ward to absorb the insanity of others. She would quickly end the phone call and stay home instead. She was crazy…but not that crazy…yet.

She began developing insomnia. She'd text God late at night in the notes of her iPhone. It was her only comfortable way to pray sometimes.

"God?
Please stay with me and take away my fear and anxiety tonight. I feel very scared and tense. Please calm my thoughts, my heart and my mind.
I need you.
I love and trust you.
Love, 
Me

P.S. Thank you in advance." 

Moments later, she got message back from God -- an automated "messages from God" type of program that coincidentally threw her a message right after her text.

Her eyes lit up in shock.

It read:

"God wants you to know that, when the night feels very long, remember that a new day is just around the bend. With each new day we are given new hope, new possibilities, new opportunities. Each new day is a miracle." 

Usually, she'd received the unnoticed miracles that would arrive the next coming day. But there were miracles that God would give her which were sometimes overlooked. Her anxiety had lessened and whatever was wrong the night before would usually disappear. But other problems came swooping in to eventually take their place. She was lucky if she had at least 3 hours worth of sleep, so the day was usually dreaded with thoughts of fatigue, aches and pain. It was all she could do just to get out of bed in the morning. Nobody understood the fear, the anxiety, the sleepless nights, the pain the…loneliness.

She was always generous -- always giving more than she could afford. People misread this as 'wealth', when it was so far from the truth. Back in 1rst grade, there was a little black boy who she felt so sorry for. He lived with his mother in a tiny studio apartment on one of the worst streets in our town. He never had lunch money, so he never ate when he was in school. He'd sit by himself sketching stuff on his notebook in the lunchroom. The kids made fun of him -- called him "poor" and taunted him about the color of his skin. And then he met the little girl who would always give him $1.10 for lunch so he could eat. If she didn't have the money, she'd make him a brown bag lunch with a sandwich and some fruit. His eyes would light up like a Christmas tree. Luckily, she was fortunate enough to get an allowance from her parents who had more than enough to spare. She shared her allowance with him. Nobody ever knew this. She never told anyone about this because she would get in trouble. She didn't give him money for his friendship, she gave him money because she suffered watching him suffer. She still continued this sort of thing, but in different ways. She never told anyone because she was afraid others will be angry, because she didn't have a pot to piss in to begin with.

She hated to be touched in any way -- even a hug or a caring caress on the arm from a concerned friend will have her curled up like a threatened caterpillar. It's uncomfortable and awkward. It had nothing to do with her high levels of OCD -- it had everything to do with not trusting people. Years ago, she used to be a very 'touchy-feely' type of person when she talked with friends and loved ones. Some would even misread it as "flirtatious" when it was completely innocent -- but she didn't care. As long as it made someone feel good (not uncomfortable), a hug or two or a gentle grab on the arm while talking was in order. She became more reserved and shy of coming into physical contact, no matter how platonic it was. She was deathly afraid of being hurt again and again and again. People inflicted pain -- and that's how she saw the world. The most trusted people are the ones who turn around to hurt the most. She couldn't afford to be hurt anymore, so she drew more distant, taking her hand away or giving a "fake" hug. Her kisses hello became more of a side-sweeping facade of pleasantries.

And how she loved to cook! You can see it by the way she catered to her loved ones and also by her waistline. She freely handed out her "secret" recipes so other people could enjoy her culinary passion too. The one thing people never knew was that cooking brought her back to her childhood - it gave her a false sense of comfort. A Sunday shouldn't go by without the aromas of a marinara Italian "gravy" stewing all day long. making the house smell like heaven, or a roasted chicken with fresh herbs and other "comfort foods" to make home feel more like a "home". Every meal that was ever brewed on that stove or oven was prayed upon. She asked God to bless the food with health, happiness, love and laughter. Nobody ever knew this little secret of hers. In fact, her cooking was never noticed until she started praying upon it -- blessing it with good things so that people would feel good while eating her food. She did things with a purpose -- with a heart -- with good intentions.

She did the best with what she had. She made an effort to show people she loved them, even though sometimes it looked as though she was in hiding again. She was never stingy with compliments, but had a hard time accepting them. She grew tired of trying -- trying for a family -- recapturing her past family life or even, just having some sort of peace and "normalcy" as best she could. It seemed nearly impossible though. Nobody supported her will to have her own family. Nobody supported her while taking her partner's hand in marriage. Not one family member made it to her wedding. She held onto the hurt -- the promises of being "maid of honor" or the good intentions of helping out on our big day. She didn't want help. She wanted loving support on that special day. But, as she always says, blood is not always thicker than water. Her friends and in-laws were there to give the support that was needed. And from there on, she learned not to depend too much on anyone in this world.

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, October 17, 2014

True or False? Unless It's Mad, Passionate, Extraordinary Love, It's a Waste of Your Time…

I was up all last night with my little anxiety-induced seizures. I decided to just stay awake and maybe watch TV, but TV meant eventually flipping over to CNN to watch the ebola crisis, so I then decided to read a little. I found an article called, "Why I Hope My Ex Was a Once in a Lifetime Kind of Love".  It's not what you think either -- she isn't a "bitter ex", nor does she want a "better love". In one excerpt, she writes, "I hope I never find someone I love as much as him. I don’t say that because I am a cynic, and I don’t say that because I hope we get back together. I say that simply because the love I shared with him was too much for me. It was raw, it was passionate, it was all-encompassing, it was emotional, it was everything. He was the first thing I thought about in the morning and the last thing I thought about at night. I felt incomplete when I wasn’t around him, and when he was near it was like everything was right in the world again. He was my other half, and what I considered the best part of myself. He made me crazy and emotional. It was like our entire time together was a roller coaster of missing him, loving him, hating him, and needing him. And I pray to God I never ever feel that way again."----you gotta read more here!

I get it. There is no contentment -- that comfortableness that you get when you're with someone for years. I don't mean "contentment" in a negative tone either. It's actually beautiful to experience that stage. Contentment does not mean idle or stagnant. It means, you can be yourself without the feeling of being judged or ridiculed. You can still have all the passion of a newlywed, but with that one awesome add-in of feeling comfortable too. Many people don't understand it, especially those who are in a new relationship. In my experience, with heated passion comes heated arguments. When there is a lack of communication because you're so busy trying to impress that new love (even if new means 3 years), you are focused on impressing him or her. I was just talking to a friend about this stage. I said, "Remember make up sex?" She laughed and said, "Well, as we get older----" and I had to stop her, because I still miss it and would welcome it, without the drama that falls behind it. It's not that you're fishing for a fight, but it's that boomerang back into your lover's arms that makes it all worth it. Hell -- even take sex out of the equation -- it still feels good to make up and be in your partner's arms filled with forgiveness and love. Nothing beats it.

Back to the passion. When you find yourself so caught up in a new relationship, where all you can think about is the "completeness" with that person, then you're not really complete yourself. I think a person needs to be "whole" before they even jump into a relationship with another person. You can't be insecure and codependent, although 95% of relationships are like that. I figure, it's like two people living their own lives, but yet sharing with one another when they come back home. But then again, we wanna be "one" with our partner. (It says so in the bible. Does anyone go by the bible anymore?) Hmm. But think about it: to become one with your spouse and to live a life meshed into two personalities. So when you have a disagreement, you're having a disagreement…with yourself? And do you see where the drama comes in? My point is: a couple should be two separate people, perhaps even separate interests who come back to the home front sharing their experiences and passions in life. Confidence is much more attractive than an insecure and controlling person.

Trekking back to the article though. What this woman had with her boyfriend (in my opinion) was a super charged sexual relationship. I'm even going to venture to say that they started on the basis of sex alone before even cultivating a friendship. And let me explain my whacky views for a moment… Let's take a left field scenario and say you've been with the same person for ten years now. Things aren't going so well, and somebody else came into your life giving you things that you're partner isn't -- (emotionally speaking) and sometimes bearing gifts in the beginning to lure you in. They seem to compliment you more, gush over you, flirt, flatter, fall in love…get me? They are boosting up your ego, whereas at home, it got somewhat too comfortable. You've heard your spouse call you pretty or handsome years ago, but not recently. All the roses, the wine, the dinners, the excitement! And this new person -- wow -- you didn't think you still had it. And so it begins. Once you flatter the ego, the passion falls behind it. But what happens when you're in a full fledged affair with someone who is charming the pants off you…literally? It can become an addiction because your needs aren't being met at home. There needs to be a balance of passion and contentment.

I had to use this girl! Ha!
I've also been down that road before and it's lovely for the first few times and all. But believe me, once that first fight kicks in, you will not only see the true colors of this maddening affair, but you will also see how good it is to have "contentment" in your life with someone you trust. And being in a 20 year (on and off) relationship myself, there are times when I look into someone's else's eyes, and when they totally "get me" -- I'm like, "Am I with the wrong person?" I'm sure my partner has the same experiences. There are circumstances where I want to call it "pseudo attraction" (that's the only thing I can come up with right now) -- when a person that you think you're attracted to or who you want to be with, is only a person who has recently understood you, listened to you or perhaps even flattered you. Whether or not that person has mutual pseudo or no pseudo feelings for you, it's important to really understand why you are attracted to someone. Make a list. Make sure it's not about your ego trying to feed off of more kindness, or whatever you are lacking otherwise.

I'm gonna get real honest here. I remember years ago when I was attracted to someone -- I mean supercharged attracted. In fact, it was very difficult to look into her eyes because I didn't want her to find out how much I really liked her. My downfall has always been my attraction toward straight older women. Still is, but that's neither here nor there. And that's why my partner is ten years older than me. And so on and so on… Anyway, this woman was a trained charmer. A bartender. (Now my friends are all nodding while reading this.) She had platinum blonde hair, exquisite blue eyes -- where it feels like she's looking right through your soul. She was very tall and had the bust of Anna Nicole Smith. She actually looked like Marilyn Monroe (only while she was working), and then looked a bit toned down during off hours. First sign of her charm factor was that she was from Texas.

"Hiii, sweetie…" she said in her southern accent as she looked straight into my eyes, shaking my hand with a firm grip. That's a huge plus -- eye contact and firm handshake. Back then I was a smoker. As soon as I drew my cigarette out from my pack, her hand extended over the bar with a lighter. After many happy hours spent at her bar, she asked me if I wanted to meet for dinner later with a bunch of her girlfriends. What the hell, right? But this was different. I was devastated learning that she had a girlfriend -- a live-in girlfriend no less! So get this -- I was 19 years old and she was 33. Her live-in partner was 45. We all sat at the same table. Her partner was amazing though. She was a doctor for a nearby hospital and taught me some awesome things that night and believed in strange philosophies. I was awed by her, however not attracted to her. I can see why my bartender crush liked her. But they weren't getting along and she was so much older to begin with (in a 19 year old's eyes). In fact, her girlfriend would call her, "that old broad". And she was the older one!

Long story even longer, I got caught up in an affair with her because she knew how to treat me like a lady -- where the guys I had been dating treated me like crap. Date night was beer, chips and a football game, and "ceiling tile counting". I was so amazed over this "different" kind of relationship or whatever you wanna call it. There was no contentment about it. Like two snakes in the night, she'd call me up and say, "Sweetie, she's gone to do the night shift at the ER." Cue for, "Come over." She'd have a candlelight dinner ready, filet mignons, expensive champagne, caviar and stuffed blue cheese and anchovy green olives with expensive cheeses for appetizers. I was used to burgers and beer. She had a fire going and even set up the outside patio table overlooking the lake her house was set on. It was just amazingly beautiful. So this was just like -- whaaaa?  It blew my mind. I never had a date cook for me before. Of course, her being 33 years old left me speechless after dinner. I forgot what kind of ceiling tiles she had. I'll let you use your imagination for that one. I found myself completely addicted to this rare breed. Or was I addicted to the forbidden? Forbidden love seems to have quite a lure, especially if you're in a relationship or marriage that feels too comfortable. You need that "rush" --- that "fix" like a heroin addict. I quickly found out after a few months that my queen in shining armor was nothing but drug dealing prostitute. I'm putting that mildly too. Her disguise of a charming hard-working and domesticated culinary artist quickly transformed into something I could only imagine or see on TV. HIV and STD test every six months for the next two years.

Experienced received, universe. Thank you.

There is a quote that I absolutely love, but I sort of disagree with the "reality" of it.

“Unless it's mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it's a waste of your time. There are too many mediocre things in life. Love shouldn't be one of them.” --Dreams for an Insomniac (One of my favorite movies!)

This movie dealt with a beautiful woman who worked in a cafe who fell head over heels in love with this guy who was in a dead relationship. They spent some "innocent" times together and eventually fell in love. When he said "no" to her advances, because he wanted to remain loyal to his fiancé, that's when she said, "Unless it's mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it's a waste of your time. There are too many mediocre things in life. Love shouldn't be one of them."

But love comes in stages.

  1. New passionate love -- the courting stages
  2. A deeper love, getting to know one another's intimate details emotionally and physically
  3. A safe, content love -- a family type of love

All stages are good. All stages can have passion in them, if they two make the effort. Unfortunately, most relationships and marriages do not make the effort and feel that the passion is useless after they have kids or have been together for 10+ years. And sometimes, in some cases, we're in the wrong relationships or marriages. We went into them with the wrong reasons and intentions. I think it's safe to say that every one of us come to a place where we look into someone else's eyes and. just. wonder. What if? What if I'm with the wrong person? Why was this person put into my life? Or, why hasn't my relationship or marriage improved?  That's when you really need to either work on your relationship or work on resolving the issues and/or, separating for good. We're not getting any younger, but in the same breath, it's never too late to start a new love. Just keep your head on straight and understand the underlining reason of why you want to be with them forever.

Do you think unless it's mad, passionate, extraordinary love that it's a waste of your time? Would love to hear your thoughts.

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, October 15, 2014

Sometimes You Have to Have a Breakdown to Have a Breakthrough

I'm sitting here listening to the rain, trying to finish up a chapter from my book. Hopefully it'll be out before winter hits us. I've been thinking a lot. And by a lot, I mean obsessively thinking to the point of insomnia. I'm very sad, but I know that sometimes it's necessary to just drop people from your life without any sort of explanation whatsoever. Most of the time, it's because we're old enough to know what we don't want in our lives, and that the person who is filling up your love tank with a bunch of toxic waste should learn the hard way of why they're being dropped. An explanation would just conjure up a negative response. As I have learned, silence is the best communicator when distancing yourself from negative people. As I always say, "Just pretend I'm dead," and that's that. You don't have to give an explanation of why you died, because you're simply not there any longer. While pushing up daisies, they can figure it all out with a Ouija board for all I care. And you know, it's not me being a hard ass -- it's from learning through my own mistakes and being "dropped" myself. I learned through the silent distance of others of what I did wrong in order to learn from my mistakes. Remember when your parents would say, "Go to your room" -- and it was usually after you did something wrong? Why would they send you to your room (other than to pour another drink)? -- To make you think about what it was your did wrong. Why can't we learn from that time -- a time when silence would speak louder than words. We're not satisfied with that and we accept our poor behavior. If we accept our poor behavior, then others must accept it too, right?

Wrong.

In relationships, people have their limits. If one spouse is abusive to another due to an emotional disorder or an alcohol or substance abuse problem, then the only thing that may keep these two together is that the abuser must get help. Getting help does not mean that you're "crazy'. It means that you're also fed up with your behavior and the way your life is going. Getting help is like going to a massage therapist and working those sore muscles out -- releasing negative energy and reinstalling your peace back little by little. There's a huge stigma when it comes to getting help for our minds. Some feel that you ought to be a little 'cray-cray' to ask for help, but I feel that those who get help are the ones who seem to have their lives a little more figured out than most. As I was speaking to a close friend of mine who lives quite a distance away from me, I had discussed a few issues with her. It's amazing how much help you can get by someone who is also receiving help. She's like me, she has anxiety disorder and goes through spells of depression from time to time. We both seek help and seem to manage fine, if there aren't any major complications. But it's odd, how the people who get help, whether it be talking to a therapist for emotional issues or someone who gets help in a drug or alcohol recovery group are the ones who have the smartest answers. Thing is, they want help. They want to learn. They want to adopt various types of coping skills so they can handle life a little better. It takes time and a whole lotta' patience to really see the results though. People don't have the time, nor the patience to work things through. Most would rather see the bottom of their wine glass and call it a night. As simple as that may sound, it's just as bad as brushing everything under the rug and forgetting that the problem is even under there. I call them, "cowards".

With that being said, I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. I try to do the best I can. I'm unreliable and  sometimes unpredictable, but never insensitive to anyone's feelings. I may lash out if I feel like I'm being attacked or cornered, but that's after a long bout of patience. It takes a lot for me to lash out if I'm hurt. I'm extremely forgiving, but no longer tolerant to a pattern of abuse. Sometimes I pray for God to take me when I'm feeling suicidal. I couldn't kill myself because I'm a coward, but the thoughts are there at times. "I hate my life" may be my motto for that day, but that usually passes. My panic attacks are debilitating. My depressive episodes, even more so. I'm frustrated that most therapists say they could never picture me having a panic attack. It's not their fault. I like to hide behind a smile or make myself look "less crazy". My "togetherness" is a fraud, although if someone is in a crisis, all my anxiety is casted aside and I'm all about focusing and helping that person who needs me. Mom always says, "You gotta see her when someone is in a crisis! You'd never believe it!" I can be brave for other people, but sadly, not for myself…until now.

Maybe now you can see my reasonings for dropping a few toxic eggs out of my life. It's not that your issues are bigger than mine -- it's because I have similar issues that prevent me from absorbing all the drama. I need to fix myself before I can ever help anyone else. Right now, I'm all tapped out. I'm running on empty. I'm ready to check out, but my ride (God) hasn't picked me up yet. They say to never focus on the past or the future because you'll be missing out on 'the now' -- but I do go back into time and remember fond memories of when the world was a better place. I can't help it. Dad was still alive, Mom didn't have cancer and all my sisters got along so well. If I only had a time machine… I'm extremely hurt that my family is falling apart little by little, fight by fight, and it takes every ounce of energy I have to even get up in the morning anymore. My wife and I are at the point where we are going to open houses on our Sunday afternoons, looking for new homes more than an hour away from the life I used to know. I want to make my own life. Call it selfish, call it 'finally 40 & fed up' -- but never call me and say I never tried. I always gave 110%. Always.

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, October 09, 2014

Don't Drink the Poison: Learning to Forgive & Let Go

We weren't your typical everyday Italian/Catholic family. We held all the traditions of a typical New York Italian family, like the smells of dinner being prepared at 8am and dinner served by 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. We went through the motions of ceremonial rituals of a typical Catholic family: CCD, communions and confirmations, but rarely attended mass because those Sunday dinners were started way too early. We were always taught about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but we weren't bashed over the heads with bibles. We were taught right from wrong, but like any normal kid, two wrongs always equaled a "right". Kinda still does till this day. I remember grandma giving the "evil eye", and then telling us to always forgive one another. Sometimes Mom and Dad would fight about something. Dad would throw something against the wall and then Mom would be in another room in complete silence pretending to sleep. He never hurt her or any one of us, but he had outbursts -- like venting and at the same time, scaring us. I picked up those habits as well. But at the end of the day, they were both sleeping soundly in the same bed together. Even if the two didn't verbally say, "I'm sorry" -- no matter who was in the wrong -- forgiveness was always given.

Forgive so that you can let go.
Forgiveness is a difficult thing for someone with an incredibly large ego. Forgiveness does not require you to be a walking doormat. It requires you to lift the "sin" or offense off from your chest and realize that the other person is only human too. It requires patience and understanding. It doesn't demand anything back in return. If you want to look at it in another way, forgiveness is more of a gift for the forgiver. Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. (I believe that's some sort of Buddhist quote.)  Unforgiveness is anger. There's no difference. Even if you never speak to the person again, LET IT GO. Get rid of the poison and move on. And remember, you reap what you sow. Sow mercy, and you'll receive mercy. Sow judgement, and you'll reap judgment. If I'm having trouble completely forgiving a person, I pray about it. I can't wait until "I feel okay" in order to forgive someone. After I initially verbalize it while praying, God takes care of the rest. My mom always says, "She may get angry, but she's always quick to forgive."

There's usually a reason, a resentment or an unseen circumstance that makes people treat others poorly, especially if it's a loved one. True colors (or true opinions) come out once someone who has a huge gripe with you is under pressure. They can do anything under the sun without complaining when things are going smoothly. But once a wrench is thrown in the works, all hell is raised and debts to be paid. I think communication is so important. Talk to one another instead of it coming to a head and exploding. Why can't people lay it all out on the table? Like -- "Here, this is what's bothering me," or "I get upset when you do 'this'," -- in a humane way without any blowouts. Things can be resolved so peacefully if we give a tiny bit of effort. I also believe on the other hand, if you are dealing with a very complex and angry person, you just have to realize that this person is never going to change. You have to accept them "as is" and if need be, avoid them at all costs, or limit your time with that person if it's someone you have to have in your life for whatever reason. There's a funny quote that I love: "Sometimes, the first step towards forgiveness is realizing the other person is bat-shit crazy."

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, October 08, 2014

I Choose Life: Living With Anxiety Disorder

If you ask anyone if they're stressed out, the answer is going to most likely be one big "YES". If they aren't, I want what they're having. Aside from that, while I was heavily into the Paleo diet, trying to lose weight and boost my immunity, it's not all about the food you eat in order to keep you healthy -- it's about getting a good night's sleep and eliminating unnecessary stressors from your life. I mean -- how on earth are we supposed to dodge every stress bullet that comes flying our way? It's impossible sometimes. I remember an old co-worker of mine used to tell all the time, "Save it for the big stuff, Deb. Trust me." I was only 23 years old and stressing out as if I had 12 kids and an abusive husband. I had none of that. I stressed over every single little detail of my life. At the age of 40, I still fret over -- well, mostly anything sometimes. I tell my mom I get it from her. Although she is quite the worry wart, she doesn't quite get "anxiety attacks" or has fits -- she's very calm and collective. She gets super quiet when she's stressed out. I guess people handle their anxieties differently. Nonetheless, stress does affect us more than we realize. When I go through a very stressful situation, I come down with a cold or some nasty stomach bug. I'm not sure if it's psychosomatically produced -- the worry, the anxiety, the panic literally takes a physical toll on me. So if my mind is occupied with stress and worry, then my body just sort of shuts down. Having an anxiety attack alone drains every bit of energy from me. I'm usually passed out somewhere from exhaustion.

95% of what we tend to worry about usually never happens. In my case, I can be worrying about driving to a particular place far away and think, "Ugh, I'm gonna have a panic attack and pass out while I'm driving."  Never happens. I may get anxious, but I usually find some sort of coping mechanism, like calling my wife so she can chat with me while I make my way to my destination or finding good music on the radio. Whatever. I also worry about "if" I'll wake up the next morning due to my anxiety-induced seizures at. I'm here typing…thankfully. I worry about heart attacks, strokes, DVTs, the flu -- yes, I am a hypochondriac at times, and when I'm not so stressed out, I'll chuck up chest pains to 'just gas' -- which is usually the case.  I've learned to steer clear of WebMD and try to comfort myself by playing my guitar, even if it's at 2am. I'm so fortunate to have a supportive wife who helps and understands what I go through. And she also gives me some 'tough love' and gives me a few reality slaps that are very much needed. Most of the time, she's right.

If you're a long time reader of mine, you totally know that I am very open about my generalized anxiety disorder. I was never diagnosed with anything else, except for spells of depression after the initial attacks, which are very common among GAD sufferers. I try to stay away from people who drain the life out of me -- usually combative and reckless people who seem to hurt more than they do help.  I mean -- you can't control what happens every time you walk out of the door, but you can make changes to make it better. I go to counseling and I am very proud of it, because it has helped me tremendously. It feeds me new coping skills each and every session.  Just having someone to understand my situation from an outsider's point of view is a huge help. I find it odd when someone mocks another person for gong to therapy and counseling. Or someone who calls another person "crazy" just because they're trying to get some help. It's not only immature and ignorant, but it's extremely insensitive. It usually stems from their own inner 'crazy'. People like that are toxic and a waste of anyone's time. Again, psychological projection is usually the reason for their madness.  I also think just by the world we live in today -- everyone should be in counseling.

So, for the time being, I'm going to start being a little selfish for once. As long as my bills are paid and I take care of my wife and dog -- I have no other obligation other than to find peace for myself. My walls are built up high and I'm going to enjoy this life and let nobody steal my peace ever again. Sometimes, it's important to push certain people far far away, just to gain a little bit of sanity, otherwise life isn't worth living. I'm choosing life.

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, October 07, 2014

Closing the Book

There's a saying and I think it goes, "No one can offend you without your permission." I easily give away my "offended card" and chuck it up to just one of those silly events. More and more, I have been developing strength -- developing my spiritual muscle, so to speak. I have been trying so hard to maintain calmness even when those around me are explosive. But, I'm human and I can only take so much. That's not an excuse though. I can do better. Every single day, I pray and meditate on God giving me the strength to 'keep it together' when someone attacks me -- to remain quiet -- at peace. When someone pushes you to your limits, sometimes it's all you can do to just remain in your 'zen moment'. Perhaps a different approach needs to be taken, like what Joel Osteen said during his sermon this past Sunday. He was stating that you should put your walls up. He said, "Let them talk about you -- you must be someone of worth to have them take the time to attack you or speak badly about you." Whether that's just to make you feel better about the bologna that happens from time to time or whether or not that is true, why waste your emotional energy attacking someone if you hate them? And to hate someone means that they're on your mind. To truly "hate" someone falls under the category of "indifference". Indifference -- to not acknowledge one's existence -- to show absolutely zero interest or little importance on someone is the real definition of "hate". When you say, "I hate you" -- you're letting that person know how important they are.

Through my experience of being attacked, especially someone fairly close to me, I've notice one important thing: psychological protection. For instance, when somebody verbally attacks you about about a particular thing(s) -- often times, it tells us more about the attacker than the person being attacked. So let's say someone calls you a drunk, because you enjoy a glass of wine or two with dinner. Chances are, that person has a bigger problem with their alcohol consumption. Who knows, but that's what I always experience when I come into some sort of conflict with somebody who is vile and combative. They will scream insults about (you) -- but it's all about their very own shortcomings. Manipulative people thrive on making others feel bad about themselves, in hopes that the other person does exactly what they want them to do. But many people can't 'read into it'. Recognize it, and get rid of it as fast as you can. 

Years ago, I remember an ex that would never shut her trap about me after our relationship had ended. On and on and on she went about me to people we both knew. She still complained about me for over three years after the breakup. And then I thought, if she truly "hated" me, she would have simmered down and moved on with her life. Back then I was a mess myself and it became more of a tit-for-tat type of thing. She spoke about me, I defended myself and spoke about her. So on and on and on again. Finally, I decided to stop going around that same mountain because it was absolutely pointless. I was in a relationship finally and beginning my life with someone else. It. had. to. end. 

Even with family members, it can be a tricky thing. My philosophy with that is -- blood is NOT thicker than water. A true "family member" whether blood or not consists of these important ingredients: trust, loyalty, respect, love and friendship. I have friends who I consider "family members". Once someone in your family disrespects you like some piece of garbage in the street over and over again, it's time to cut the ties and call them a stranger. You can forgive a person, but never allow them into your life the same way. Never allow them to offend you again. Become indifferent. Build up your wall. Protect yourself emotionally and steer clear from toxic and vile people who seem to have the same pattern of hurting people when they don't get what they want. Sometimes being indifferent is hard for people because they have some feelings left for that person. But once a person offends me over and over again, it literally drives me to the point of from loving and respecting them, to then feeling totally indifferent toward them. It's worse than being hated. I'm going through that now. I am so sick and tired of faking the niceties, so that  my mom wouldn't get stressed out. I don't want to fake "liking" someone just to make peace. I want to avoid them at all costs, just to make peace. 

Life is too short to be bombarded by short-tempered, unpredictable time bombs. I had just gotten out of a severe depressive episode last month. I was actually feeling better. And then, the winds changed. Someone didn't like me being "happy" or having any sort of peace in my life. So, not only was I attacked, but others around me got her wrath as well. This will no longer be tolerated. It had gotten so bad, that I had to even get the police involved. I cannot live my life with this person in it. Madelene and I are so fed up, that we are moving out of the state just to gain a sense of peace without these vicious attacks. So bear with me as we're gearing up for our new home and new life. Although I'll be in another state, I am close enough to drive over to see my family and friends as well. But for now, I have to be proactive just to save myself…and possibly my life. I cannot live in fear anymore. I just can't. So for now, I'm closing the book. 

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!