Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Complicated Friendships As an Adult?

Every friendship is different. We acquire some friends by meeting them at events or through somebody else. We relate to them either by similar interests, or just relating because you are of the same culture and can share similar past stories and recipes. Whatever the connection is, it should be mutual, respectful and most of all -- a positive experience. Most of my friends were acquired through my childhood and school days. Anyone within the past decade or so are very few. I think it's safe to say that once you hit a certain age in life, you become more selective in who you want to spend your time with, and there's nothing wrong with that at all. For me, connecting with someone definitely means ZERO complications on any scale. It should be nothing but positive and edifying. Of course, you can definitely run into misunderstandings, and that's okay, but when it becomes a normal occurrence that your friend is constantly complaining about something you're doing or something you're not doing -- run.  Here's how I look at it: drama-filled individuals seek out this adrenaline type of rush by inflicting some sort of friction just to get a reaction, because either 1. you're not giving them the attention they need or 2. that's just their nature. Some people require much more attention than the average person can handle. If your friend yells at you for not calling them for two days -- even a week -- that friend should be the one to either check up on you, or maybe just respect your space as an adult.

The same respect I give to my marriage I give to my friends. I respect my wife enough to let her have her own space, her own life, where when we do come together, we can share our days and experiences. Nobody owns you. Nobody "deserves" your undivided attention (except maybe, God) and even then, God gives us free will, where He lets us choose when we want to pray and spend time with Him. As I'm approaching my mid 20's --- ok ok ok, my mid 40's, I'm beginning to see a strange trend with many of my single female friends. Some seem aggressive if not responded to, while others seem grateful and excited to hear back from you. They'll wonder why you hadn't updated your Facebook or Twitter status, or if you're completely ignoring them altogether. Some even cyber stalk you. The difference is -- the aggressiveness, the defensiveness of the response you get from friends who haven't heard from you in a bit is a form of a fear of abandonment. The insecurity that you may have left them for good can trigger a memory in their past that the person who left them without saying one word has now morphed into YOU. You cannot convince them it won't happen either. They stopped believing people because people have lied to them all of their lives. And it's sad, because there are good people out there who love their space, but love the quality time spent when they do come together with their friends. It's pretty much the same for both intimate and platonic relationships. It's the "I'm gonna hurt you before you hurt me" responses that come flying your way once you do contact them after a few days, which in their book is way too long.

Sometimes you also have to carefully listen to what people say. Some people aren't as genuine as you may think. I'm not trying to get anyone paranoid, but words are very powerful, and sometimes, people slip and tell their secrets without even knowing. For instance, I can tell if someone is fake. If you are trapped with spending time with someone, whether it be a coworker on a business trip or perhaps, your husband's or wife's family in whatever capacity, listen to their words. I had one person who was a friend of the family say, "Oh I can definitely fake being nice to someone and pretend to be their friend." You'd think, well, since they said this to me, then this doesn't apply. Wrong. There are some people who are capable of putting on a smile and saying hello in a higher octave to make you believe they like you. They may laugh a little louder or even compliment you in a roundabout way, but make no mistake, some of these people are just big fakes. Usually, they're out to use you in some capacity. Maybe it's to make peace with friends or family in common, or maybe it's to use you to get from point A. to point B. I have no clue why anyone would do this. I knew a saleswoman I was friends with and she would put on the charm and laugh really hard at my jokes as she was stabbing you in the back the next day. I usually found this with friends at work, but this definitely can apply to a personal situation as well.

I remember back in the day in my teens when I had over 100 + friends. I had parties every Friday night and everyone came over. We were truly friends! We truly loved each other too. In fact, most of them are still in my life today. As we grow older, we learn the art of manipulation. With the ingredients of insecurity and past hurts, it can create an atmosphere of a pseudo friendship, or worse off, being betrayed at every level and used for whatever it is they needed from you. I have had this happen quite a few times as an adult, which is why I keep very few close to me and others at arm's length. I don't do well when someone yells at me for not calling them back in a couple of days. I don't do well with interrogating questions, because only my mother was able to do that, even as an adult. And now that she has passed on, I'm starting to see who my real friends are. I always used to ask my wife why she would seem so "surfaced" while socializing with new potential friends. She never delved into personal matters or shared anything she deemed as "too personal" -- even if it was something really minor. She said, "Deb, I trust no one." And now I'm finding out that she's absolutely right. She has this sense about people that is so on the target. I always miss the target because I like to give the benefit of the doubt, but she is really one smart cookie. (Yes, Madelene, I complimented you...)

Another thing I do not tolerate is when people disrespect my relationship with my wife. This is for men or women. Men seem to think my relationship is more of a "playing house" situation and because I'm feminine, they don't think that I'm "REALLY" gay, or that I'm committed to one woman. Some women disrespect my marriage and try to steer me off into some strange affair. Not happening. I always have to wonder what kind of people they're hanging around with that may do this sort of thing. But once you disrespect my marriage, then I'm most likely gonna to disappear, or "ghost" as the kids say these days. There are many people who seem to have zero boundaries when it comes to that. It's not that I have a wall up, it's just that I expect "friends" to remain in the friend zone at all times. When you try to cross that boundary -- that imaginary line, then I'm most likely going to fly away.

If you're in a complicated friendship, run. If the complications get worse and worse, and you start to see a pattern, run. We're adults. Drama was only for when we were young and stupid. We're grown adults and shouldn't have these sort of issues, unless, we have underlining issues of our own. Time to start noticing the red flags.

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! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well! 

Friday, January 26, 2018

When Grief Consumes You

Honestly, I don't know how I'm still alive today. I do contribute most, even all of my survival with praying to God every single morning and night. Whenever my mom would talk about "post mom" -- I couldn't even fathom the thought. "When I'm gone....yada yada yada," -- no...no...no. One evening, we were talking over a couple of drinks before dinner. She went on again about her "post mom" talk. I immediately interrupted her and said, "WHEN I'M gone....yada yada yada." The thought, the 'talk of it' was so traumatizing that I told her that if she ever left me I would just die, or worse off, kill myself. "Oh no you won't, mama! Promise me." She used to call all of her daughters, "mama" or "mommy." It was cute. I truly believed the worst would happen to me if she ever left me. I was praying to God a lot then too, but not as much as I do today...post mom.

I hung onto God so tightly, that when the time came to hear that my mother left this world, I felt like I was in the arms of God. I grieved hard, but not enough that it would kill me. I saw beautiful signs, like the owl that came to my window at 4:17am (her birthday) and rainbows left and right days after she had passed. I heard Mom's voice, I felt her near me, I smelled her perfumed lotions. I felt her relief. I felt her happiness. I felt and knew that she was now in God's care. She was no longer in her bedroom in pain or going through a horrible depression because her life had taken a terminally ill turn -- and that's a scary thing to face! She looked death right in the face and said, "Bring it." She was the strongest woman I know. But I didn't think I was. I still have weak moments.

"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." ----2 Corinthians 12:9-11

The worst part of the whole thing was watching Mom suffer here on earth. THAT was the worst part. The torment you go through watching a loved one suffer in excruciating pain has to be one of the worst experiences you will ever remember. This alone, makes letting your loved one go a little easier, because you want to see them relieved from their ill-ridden body at this point. It would be selfish to want to let them stay and fight it out. The hardest thing I ever had to do was walk up to my mother's death bed, kiss her forehead, brush her hair back and hold her hand while saying, "Ma, it's okay to let go. You can let go now. I'm gonna be okay." I truly believed she thought I was going to off myself after her death. All my life I promised to 'off myself' if she ever left me. But God said there was much more for me to do. I'm still trying to figure that one out. I just have to trust in Him.

I spoke about this on my Periscope live stream last night. In our lives, we are expected at some point to lose our grandparents and parents. It usually goes into an order like that, unless it was an accident or early illness. But realistically, we are supposed to see our parents leave before us. That's just the cycle of life. If you're over 40 and got to spend time with your parents -- you are one of the lucky ones. The worst is losing a child. No parent should have to bury their child --ever. That's just my views on it, and I'm sure it's a popular view. Life isn't meant to be about all happiness and lollipops. It has struggles, hardships, difficulties and a lot of sadness. But if you hold onto God with everything you have, you'll have this sort of peace that goes beyond understanding -- the peace that is in the midst of all your chaos. It's like nothing can destroy your emotional wellbeing, and if it does, it's short-lived. You'll be ok if you just trust God. All the struggles and crosses to bear are what makes us stronger. It enables us to help those who haven't been through theses trials as well. We are meant to live and withstand the tests. "Well, God never answers my prayers!" Like they say, the teacher is always silent when you're in the middle of a test.

The only thing that I can say that has worked for me so far, is PRAY, hold onto those who are still living here with you, and tell your friends and family how much they mean to you. Delve into your passions, whether it's art, music, cooking, writing -- delve into it like you never did before. The best artists create the most beautiful work when they're in the midst of sadness or distress of some sort. And that's just raw truth. Find people who will uplift you. Stay away from people who will create drama in your life. Remain consistent, even if you have breakdowns once in a while, get back up and try again. Grieving isn't pretty and it doesn't guarantee sane days. I lost it quite a few times. Sometimes, it's just crying -- no wait -- wailing, where you can actually hear my soul crying out. And then there are days when I'm just angry. Let these emotions go. I just ordered a punching bag in case the anger one arises. Ha, I'm not even kidding. Emotions are raw when you're grieving and sometimes, you lash out at the ones you love the most. So hang on -- it's gonna be a rocky ride, but you'll be okay.

Breathing exercises are so important too. I started waking up with this strange cough that would eventually turn into dry heaving or vomiting. I thought something was seriously wrong with me. It's called, "anxiety cough." It triggers my asthma, so when I wake up and have a coughing fit from stress, I take my asthma medications and drink seltzer. For some reason, this seems to quiet my cough and I can rest a little while longer. I realized it was stress when someone told me to take deep breaths and hold it in for 5 seconds for a few times. While I did that, the urge to cough was less. Other symptoms can arise, like heart palpitations. This is completely normal, but scary. I had to go to a cardiologist and get checked out. I was okay. I had broken heart syndrome.

Sometimes the best thing other than what I've suggested is to just get off social media for a little while. Go outside. Watch a movie. Read a book. Hug your dog. Spend more time with your friends and family and leave the phone in your purse or pocket. Social media fasting is sometimes a true blessing. Get away from politics. Talking about politics or reading about it creates a level of anger whether you know it or not.

These are things that have helped me. If you ever need to talk to someone, please feel free to contact me (on the side bar to the right of this blog) or DM me on Twitter. My Twitter name is @DebraPasquella. I will be more than happy to talk to you if you're going through more than you can handle. I'm not perfect, but I've been there and I know for a fact, God is in control. Trust that.

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! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well! 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Navigating the Waves of Grief

Sometimes I wonder if there are truly signs from our loved ones or if they're just plain ol' coincidences. I have had major signs of my mom, but you could always debunk it to something else that just happened to make its way to my attention. Some people of certain religions, like Christianity believe that signs and contact with deceased loved ones could be what's called "familiar spirits." If you have ever gone to a psychic medium to contact a deceased loved one, most likely, you are contacting a "familiar spirit" -- which is a spirit that is not your loved one, but knows everything your loved ones knows, most likely, demons. They may tell you about a special pendant that you have in your jewelry box to prove to you that it's them.

I spoke about this incident a few times before, but one early morning at around 3am, I was reading an article on the sofa in my living room. I couldn't sleep. It was a few weeks after my mother's passing. I heard my mother's voice (audibly) -- not "in my head" yell out, "Debbbbb-beyyyyy!" Like in a singsong kind of way. It sounded as if she was excited to get through the veil -- excited that she knew I would definitely hear her. Two things: my Christian friends warn me about the 3am "calls" from the other side, mocking the number "3" for the trinity -- the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. They also warned me that this is not my mother, and that most likely, a demon mimicking my mother's voice. Well, good job! I got up and ran back to my bedroom and threw the covers over my head. I was so freaked out by it.

But then my Christian friends said, "Well test the spirits to see if it was real or not." I have no idea what that means at all to tell you the truth. I don't know how to "test the spirits." The only thing I can do is pray for a hedge of protection anytime I'm praying about my mom, or if I need God to send my mother a message. The thing is, my mom is in peace right now, living a life of freedom. Why would I want to call upon her when she's the happiest she's ever been? But what about me? (The selfish part kicks in.) "What about me, Mom? You left me here!" Or, "God took you from me, it's not fair!"

What I've learned so far from losing both parents is this: death is inevitable. We're expected to lose our parents at some point, and you're lucky if you've spent all of your childhood with them into adulthood. Right? So what makes it a "tragic" incident that a parent dies at the age of 79? I mean -- for ME it's tragic, but that's the selfish me. And I admit, it kicks in an awful lot. Many people, including someone I know very well who is very upset over my mom's passing --- sometimes you challenge God and say, "Well, I don't think I have anymore faith now. Why would God do this to me?" I did this too, and you guys know how much faith I have in God -- it's not even faith anymore -- it's more like "I know that I know that I know" type of faith...

Do you think you can lie to God and say that you don't believe in Him anymore? God made us! God knows that we're thinking and He also knows our heart. You can't fool him. I told my friend, "Get mad at him, tell him why you're upset, yell, scream, but then ask Him to heal you." You can get mad at God -- He UNDERSTANDS. But don't say you're not going to have faith anymore. That's like looking at a maple tree that's standing right in front of you and saying, "I don't see anything." The truth is, you can't fool God. Bring your case to Him. Pray until you can't pray anymore. Watch and listen and be conscious of the hidden answers. Nobody likes mysterious and hidden answers. They want everything quickly, as they would if they Googled the answer. It doesn't work that way. The teacher is always quiet while giving a test.

Last week I was in a very bad state of mind. Whenever I have a huge wave of grief, other emotions take hold and I become a little combative with my loved ones. I even think irrational thoughts, borderline paranoid assumptions. This can make me very hard to live with, (God bless Madelene's heart!) Grief can do that to you. It can rip your heart out and make other people feel your pain as well. So whenever I get those waves, I go back into my "Deb Cave" and pray. I pray until the pain stops. I pray until I have some sort of better understanding. I pray until my heart stops screaming for help. My mom left me with these little proverbs she once wrote years ago when she was a born again Christian. One of them said, "My soul cries when your heart hurts."  I'm not sure why she wrote that, or maybe she was writing it for God -- as God's soul cries -- but I found it recently and felt it was her message seeing me grieve so terribly lately.

Bear with me as I try to navigate through my grieving process. I'm not just going to vent, but I will also tell you what helped me as I go through this all. I'm here so that maybe someone can relate to my story as well as to help those who need some advice through my own findings and struggles. I play to LIVE LIFE and conquer this grief, and make it my testimony! Each wave of grief teaches me something new. I will always be sharing my experiences as well as coping mechanisms that helped me. Most of the time the answer is going to be something that God gave me.

Hang in there if you're in a bad state of grieving. The wave doesn't last forever. God gives us peace in the midst of chaos, please believe that.

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! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well! 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

My Hardest Cross to Bear

Have you ever just wanted to pack your bags and visit another state far, far away just to shut your mind off? Some would call it vacation, but I call it "the big brain reprogram." There's something to be said about being in a different atmosphere when you're going through a tough period in your life. I remember last May I was having horrible heart palpitations. I was caring for my mom, while watching her decline more and more. She needed more pain meds, more oxycodone, more morphine, more hospital visits. I wasn't sleeping at all. I was a walking zombie most of the time. I remember sitting in my living room in my section of the house crying. I didn't think anyone could hear me. My sister was downstairs visiting Mom and texted me, "Are you okay?" I didn't realize anyone could hear me. I didn't realize how hard I was crying. I was having anticipatory grief. I knew Mom was dying. I didn't want to see her die. I couldn't watch it....but I had to. My heart was palpitating to the point of getting checked out by an ER nurse. Everything was fine, so I made an emergency appointment with a cardiologist. It was more of a consultation for my workup for the following week, but I was leaving to go on vacation with my mom and my partner's family as well. How do I make these palpitations stop? What's wrong with me? Am I having a heart attack?

The doctor assured me that it wasn't a heart attack I was experiencing. He asked about my life's situation and then when he learned of what was happening, he said, "Go on vacation. I promise you this is just stress, or it could be a muscle spasm near your heart muscle that acts like the same 'twitch' you get sometimes on your eyelid. Relax. Breathe deeply. Sit next to the ocean this week." When I left his office, I never got another heart palpitation. I was able to safely drive everyone to the beach house and have the best vacation we ever had. And when I did get the full workup on my heart, I was fine. It was all stress related.

A month after vacation, I was grocery shopping. I was feeling weak from the lack of sleep due to worrying about my mom. I came home with her favorite dinner -- fresh Atlantic wild salmon. I looked over at her on the sofa and wanted to cry and sleep at the same time. I said, "Ma, do you think it would be ok if I make this tomorrow and we can order Chinese takeout for tonight?" She was more than happy with whatever. I felt so bad for not making the dinner that night, but I was literally dragging my feet from exhaustion. After she went to bed, later that night she called me downstairs. She said, "I have to call 911," calmly, and softly. She never wants the EMTs here. She fights it. She hugged me so tight, that I could barely breathe! How did she even have the strength? She said while hugging me, "I love you Debbie." I said I loved her back. Then she said, "I'm so worried about you." I said, "I am too, Ma...I am too..." And we both chuckled as we kept hugging. It was the longest hug my mother ever gave me. Then she went into her bedroom to make her bed and clean her room. She hadn't cleaned her room since she was diagnosed with cancer. She set aside all the remote controls in a pattern, like hotels do. She patted the throw blankets down so it didn't look wrinkled. But I knew what she was thinking as she stood there staring at her beautiful bedroom...

"This is the last time I'll ever see this room again."

I've told this story once before I believe. Losing Mom has been a long and tragic time in my life. I can't grieve anymore though! I can't! It's hurting me. They say it's good to mourn as long as you can, but I disagree. Even the Bible says to mourn for a couple of days, maybe a little more, but get yourself together and let the past be in the past. For the most part, my situation is a little different from all of my sisters' -- not better or worse -- just different. And what I mean by that is, since I work from home and do all the cooking and housework, I was home a lot with mom caring for her too. Trust me -- that woman took care of herself better than anybody else! She wasn't "disabled" -- only when she had bad days with excruciating pain. She was such a strong woman. Sometimes, she'd take care of ME! So my grief also involves feeling abandoned. Silly, right? But it's like, now what? Everyone is capable of taking care of themselves, so the feeling of not being "needed" has me in this strange limbo in life. My partner says she needs me, but if I wasn't here, she'd be just fine. I also miss the companionship, the conversations, her advice, her humor, her presence. I don't believe anyone will ever love me the way my mom did. She knew me so well, that sometimes I'd deny some things she knew about me and then think to myself, "How did she even know that?" Our connection was extraordinary.

I'm trying so hard not to grieve, and it's coming out in other ways, like outbursts of anger or extreme panic attacks during the day. It's affected my work greatly. I haven't written in a long time, just focusing on editing projects, and even that has declined. So please bear with me as I travel through this uncomfortable phase in my life. I'm trying to figure out how to live my life and where I fit into whatever purpose I have here. This year's horrendous flu left me with lingering asthma. Sometimes I'm scared to stay home alone because I get these horrible asthma attacks that turn into panic attacks, to the point of not being able to breathe, and then when I take the meds to stop the asthma, my heart races and palpitates, setting off my panic attacks again. It's a vicious cycle. I'm trying my hardest to fight off this relentless depression. Grief support groups only worsen my situation, and going to a therapist feels useless. I pray and I pray and I pray. God has been giving me these tests in life to make me stronger, but I'm so tired. I can't finish these tests. I beg Him to let up and ease my load as He states in the Bible. "Come to me those who are weary with heaven burdens," -- and I do, but then there's another test given that completely depletes me of all desire to live...and I want to live so badly!

Maybe leaving this house would help. Maybe getting a condo in a community would make me feel less alone. I always wanted to work from home ever since my corporate days. I hated going to the office! I hated it so much! And now, I hate being alone so much. I don't need a babysitter or someone to pacify my time -- I need to accustom myself to the deafening silence of my mom's absence. It's been 6 months since she passed. I didn't think I would be over her by then, because when my dad died, it took me years. I expect much longer with Mom. I want to focus on those around me who are in my life, but much of the time, it's just me with occasional conference calls with other people via video cam in other states. That's not "company." The weekends are okay. My partner has off and we usually spend them either going out to dinner or inviting friends over -- or just doing nothing at all, maybe cooking together and watching some movies. I sometimes meet a friend out for lunch or an early dinner, but it's not enough. I don't want to join "groups" or be involved in organizations just to appease the loneliness. I want to do things because I have a passion to do them.

The realization of all of this has me in a strange place right now. Like -- I'm trying not to be somewhere just to "be somewhere." I'm trying not to get out of the house just to "get out of the house." I want to have enthusiasm for anywhere I go. I don't want to spend time with someone just to pass the time. That's not only rude and disrespectful, but it's a burden on me as well if I'm not in the mood for company. I would never use a friend just because I'm feeling lonely. I want to be with a friend because I WANT their company.

I really miss her so much, but I have to adjust my attitude and accustom myself to this new and strange life I have now. Any suggestions would be appreciative.

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! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well! 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Keep Your Circle Small

You can probably scroll through my entire website and find an article or two similar to this one. I guess it's something I speak about often only because it rears its ugly head again and again. At this point in my life, I just want uncomplicated and pleasant friendships with no hidden agendas, or jealousy or some sort of underlining anger. I also want to say that I'm not easily offended, unless it happens more than a dozen times. Then I'm at my boiling point, where the comebacks or even downright insults (proverbial slaps in the face) come rising up to the surface. Simple rule of mine: be nice to me and I'll be nice to you. But I keep finding people who are just...not very nice. I'm very observant to the possible causes and can empathize. But I could never randomly hurt someone, or insult them, even if I didn't particularly care for them. It's not how I work. But when someone presses my buttons more often than not, I tend to be a little more blunt, perhaps even abrasive as I confront their behavior. I get friends who like to point out my "issues" in my relationship, while fumbling with their non-existent ones. Either their "significant other" is cheating on them, or they're using them for money, and some are with them because they came in 2nd place being rejected by their 1st choice. I tend to get digs about "you deserve better" and others have said, "it must be nice to be a kept woman" -- thinking I do diddly squat here just because I work from home. I do get a lot of that, and it usually never bothers me, unless it's coming from a very resentful place. I always ask, "What's the motive behind that one?" As they say, familiarity breeds contempt.

Here's the thing: friendships shouldn't be judgmental. They should be caring, understanding and relatable. It should be a give and take---a special bond where you can tell your friend absolutely anything in a nonjudgmental environment. It shouldn't be a competition of whose life is better. I see it like this: if my life seems worse than yours, then how can you help me improve? Maybe make me laugh and tell me something positive that you believe in. A true friend will uplift and edify you---not tear you down.

"Oh, you cook? Well I can do that better."
 "Oh, you like photography? Well, I can do that better." 
"Oh, you have a website and write? Well, I can market that better than you can." 

It never ends! This is why most of the time, I keep to myself and just stick by my old friends from high school and hang out with some of the people I work along with. There's no tension there, there's no judgement, no complications.

Another thing I've come across are friends who have a hidden agenda---the ones who make sexual innuendos or even 'romantic' innuendos. If you're the type of person that hits on another person who is married, then I have to wonder how desperate you are that you would try to be a homewrecker in order to have a relationship. When a relationship starts off with one person breaking up with their ex---then that person will end it with you the same way. If you are OK with being the "homewrecker" type, then you're not the type of person I'd want to associate with. People like that are insecure---they think in their tiny little minds that they're "playing it safe" all the while, hurting a special union between two people, possibly tearing the couple apart. They're also the types of people who like a challenge---to see if they can get the person to tear away from their spouse. It's kinda gross. They want what they can't have, and that's a special kind of mental illness I won't even approach. If a friend does not respect your relationship or marriage, then my advice would be to keep a safe distance from them.

The older I get, the more I wonder about people and their motives. I also question their integrity---do they walk the walk that they're preaching? Nobody's perfect, but if you insult me and say, "Oh you shouldn't eat that, you'll gain weight," while shoving three or more fast food tacos down your throat, whilst smoking a pack of cigarettes afterwards, then you're a different kind of "special" I can't relate to. I've been told, "You need to get out more," while they're sitting in a florescent lit office for 8+ hours, to only go home and play video games, as I'm walking around the pond in the late afternoon for exercise. Like, what is wrong with this picture? My work is very different than most, and my time spent outdoors is more than most would think. I quit drinking, which limits my time out in bars, so the assumption, "she doesn't get out much" is usually because I'm not sucking down a couple of martinis, followed by a half dozen glasses of wine some hole in the wall until 2am. I found quality of life in staying sober, thankfully.

I keep my circle of friends small. I have quality friends, I don't need quantity. I don't want to deal with insecure, narcissists who have delusions of grandeur, who belittle you all because they truly believe that they're healthier than you, that they're wealthier than you, and that they have a better relationship than you do---or they just think they know what's best for you. I don't need to be mocked because of my anxiety disorder, while they pop a few Xanax and Ambien to calm themselves down at night. I'm tired of hypocrites. I'm tired of people who hurt people. And of course, I know that from experience, because hurt people usually hurt people. I get that. I understand that. And, I'm also a very forgiving person. I just lack trust in people. I usually like to give the benefit of the doubt. But when it's on a consistent basis, where all you're doing is trying to defend yourself, or trying to make them understand why their judgments are so harsh---it's time to take a step back and shut the door to your closed circle.

"Don't tell people your problems. Eighty percent don't care, and the other twenty percent are glad you have them." ---Lou Holtz

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

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

It's Okay to Let Go...

Miraculously, I made it out of the holidays alive somehow. I didn't know how I would react to it all. I wasn't sure. Christmas without Mom? Without Dad? My partner, Madelene was a huge support system for me, although some people in her family were upset she didn't make it to their events over an hour away. I get it, but this was my first Christmas without my mom. If you can't understand why she couldn't just fly off during Christmas and leave me, then I'm not sure what to say. My partner has known my mom for over 25 years -- she even called her, "Mom." My siblings are her siblings. We decided to head over to my sister's Christmas Eve party and spend some quality time with them. It was important this year. I didn't want to stay home and cry all night, plus, that wouldn't be fair for Madelene. We had a nice time with everyone and then later that night, we headed up. It started snowing while we were driving. It looked so beautiful as the snow fell onto my windshield and blanketed the roads. The same exact thing happened when it was my first Christmas without my father. We drove home while is snowed. It was magical.

The next evening on Christmas day, I had a hard time. I fell into my feelings and couldn't stop the tears. I wailed. It was like my soul crying out to God, "Help me!" Days after, I started getting the same symptoms of grief that I got days after my mom passed away. I started coughing so much, to the point of vomiting. Every morning, I'd wake up nauseous and dry heaving. I was already dreading New Year's Eve, because every single year, we would spend it with my mom and some of my family. New Year's Day, I would just spend it with Mom. Madelene usually works that day, but this year, she thought it was important to stay home. Surprisingly, our New Year's was so incredibly fun and peaceful! I cook eggplant parm, crab cakes, pigs in a blanket, salads and little goodies like my mom used to do. We had champagne and celebrated 2018 coming in. I was "okay." I felt very at peace. Then I realized, that my prolonged grief was not only selfish, but it was making me sick too.

And then I went and prayed and found this scripture in Sirach 37:16-23.

"When someone dies, you should mourn. Weep and wail to show how deeply you feel the loss. Prepare the body in the proper way, and be present at the burial. Weep bitterly and passionately: observe the proper period of mourning for the person. Mourn for a whole day or maybe two, to keep people from talking, but then pull yourself together and reconcile yourself to the loss. Grief can undermine your health and even lead to your own death. Grief lingers on after the death of a loved one, but it is not wise to let it lead you into poverty. Don't lose yourself in sorrow; drive it away. Remember that we must all die sometime. There is no way to bring the dead person back. All your sorrow does them no good and it hurts you. Don't forget that. You will die, just as they did. Today it was their turn, tomorrow it will be yours. When the dead have been laid to rest, let the memory of them fade. Once they are gone, take courage."

Look up, "broken heart syndrome." You can literally get sick and even die from prolonged grief.

At first, this passage may sound a little heartless or perhaps a little more direct than one would prefer, but nonetheless, it's true. I think about all of the wonderful years I had with my mother -- 43 wonderful years, and the last couple of years was hard, because I had to watch her suffer so terribly. But I was lucky enough to be 43 and not 10 or 15 or 25 years old. I don't know how I would've managed being so young and losing a parent. I noticed I was letting myself slip into this awful funk. I was sick all the time, and caught a horrible flu and bronchitis. It compromised my immunity and I didn't get better until recently! I was hospitalized numerous times due to my asthma triggers. My intense grief made me sick.

Another aspect of grieving that consumed me was isolating myself from the world. It's the worst thing you can do while grieving. I know they say that there's no right or wrong way to grieve, but isolating yourself could put you into a depression you can't get out of. Let people help you. Let others come over. Distractions is not the same thing as denial. Distractions are a beautiful way to balance your emotions. So I started letting friends in, letting them stay, have dinner, sleep over, and I also started going out more. It felt really good. I'm on my 6th month of the loss of my mother, and I am feeling hopeful. Don't get me wrong, there are times when I will have my moments and cry -- I almost didn't make it to my sister's Christmas Eve party -- but I HAD to, because I WANTED to, and I know Mom would've wanted me to as well.

Life is for the living. Through prayer and meditation, I'm beginning to find out that this is the message God has been giving me, whether through scripture or some other sign. He speaks to us in various and mysterious ways. It's up to us to be more conscious of it. So my New Year's resolution is to celebrate Mom's legacy, make those around me happy and spend quality time with them, and to let those who have passed, pass....and not in a heartless way, but to let go, because before Mom died, I told her, "It's okay to let go, Mom...I'll be okay."  And now she's telling me the same.

Let go...

Focus on those who are still alive and with you.

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! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well! 

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