Saturday, October 03, 2020

Process of Elimination: A Personal Journey to Healing

What a long year for all of us. As we approach the fall season, we're also may be facing another lockdown here in New York, thanks to a couple of communities who made that possible. But it's much more than playing the "blame game" because thousands congregated in a venue without masks or social distancing (whatever you believe)---it's about control, it's about the elections, it's about corruption. So we citizens have to take the short end of the stick (closing our businesses, losing our homes, apartments and jobs) and just hope for the best. As our anxiety starts rising once again, so does our alcohol intake. Well, for some of us---it's incorrect to say "our" or "we" when some people have self control. I'm just going to start off by saying "me" and "I" with this one.

"I" found out the hard way why my heart rate was out of control. I found out why I was up all night, wondering why I couldn't sleep. I found out why I wasn't as productive or motivated to do much of anything. My culprit was the one thing I relied on at night to keep me calm: wine. And listen---I'm not a big drinker to start with. (I used to be.) I only go as far as two glasses with dinner. TWO glasses. You're probably thinking, "Oh it's all in your head--wine relaxes you." Well, over the years, I've been experiencing tachycardia (a rapid heart rate) which is a sensitivity to alcohol. Not all people are sensitive to it, but if you are prone to anxiety or if your chemistry makeup is sensitive when your blood vessels are dilated (which alcohol does, even just one drink) then you'll realize most of your issues stems from that nightly wine, beer or cocktail with dinner.

Let me just put this out there. I did not quit. I am trying an elimination experiment. So from the days of Monday through Friday, I refrain from drinking anything that has alcohol in it. What I found is, my usual morning 130 beats per minute heart rate turned into a 65 bpm. My 4am bedtime turned into an 11pm bedtime, with zero interruptions....well maybe to pee once or twice during the night because I'm a bit of a 'seasoned' creature. I started exercising again---just walking. I started cooking on a daily basis---enough for us and if we have some leftover, we share it with our neighbors or freeze it. I started doing more projects for work and it's been so much fun! I also started playing my guitar which I haven't done in almost a year. Most importantly, my prayer time has increased---not only mornings, but I have a nightly ritual to spend time with God. I grab my tea and head upstairs into my little prayer room, light some candles, put on ambient music and just meditate. 

I cannot tell you what a difference this made. I look forward to the mornings, instead of fearing it. I also look forward to going to bed at night, instead of fearing that I'll have insomnia. I look forward to every second of the day. My depression----what depression? (Knock on wood.) It feels like God literally grabbed my hand and pulled me out of a dark and very deep pit. I have a group of friends who support me in my new journey to become healthier, as they are too, even virtually supporting me. 

My grief over my parents has turned more about being content and at peace with where they are right now. They're at peace, so I'm at peace. Do I still have my moments? Of course. But I no longer stay there and entertain the grief session that can last for hours. I more or less reminisce about the good times, and forget about how and where they passed.

I've always been consistent with making my bed when I wake up and cleaning my home every single day, some more than others, some less than others. But now, I'm finding if I make everything around me beautiful, then I feel beautiful. It relieves my stressors to have everything around me look clean, neat, beautiful and comfy. Even just buying a nice throw rug for the living room made the place feel different. Sometimes changing up things in your house can affect your mood and wellbeing. I don't know much about feng shui, but I know that when the room is set up in a certain way, it does feel more open---much more breathable. 

With the buzz of another lockdown being threatened, I wanted to make my home my favorite place in the world. I want to be able to say, "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else." And lately, even with mourning my old childhood home that I had to give up---it took a good while to feel "at home" in my new place. And now, I'm in love with my new home. Someone asked me an interesting question interesting question the other day. They asked, "If you had your choice, and money was not an option, would you pick your old home all renovated and suited up to your needs? Or would you stay in your new place?" Of course I said both. But she said, "No. One home...one choice...which one?" And without thinking, I said, "My new place. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else." I finally completely fell in love with my new home, and I don't mourn over my old place anymore. I think it happened when I went to visit my old home two weeks ago. I walked around the property, looked inside the living room and saw where we would have Christmas parties, family events, or just lazy days watching Lifetime movies with my mama. Even with these sentimental memories that came flooding into my mind, I left it all there, because they were no longer there. The 'soul' of the house had left when the last heir left. I can't explain it, but going there gave me some sort of closure. It was as if the house gave its blessing for me to move on. I know that sounds strange, but if you have ever had to leave a home unwillingly before, especially due to an emotional attachment, there's a lot of heart in there---a lot of tears, laughter, pain and joy that was held in that big vessel. It's hard to just pick up and go. 

But I digress. Whenever I have my wine time, my mind seems to live in the past. It focuses on the memories, the 'what ifs' and the 'shoulda-coulda-woulda' scenarios. But now, with eliminating my 'wine time,' I am more in the present moment. I was planning to just leave my wine time for a Saturday night or a Sunday dinner sort of treat, but I'm loving this phase of my life so much, that I don't even want to feel that way again. And maybe I have to train my mind and be comfortable and content with who I am, and where I am in the here 'n now, before I can treat myself to a glass or two of wine. I have to heal before indulging. Without complete healing, the wine will hold me back, as it was doing. You know, people back in the day used to drink wine for celebrations only. It was for "happy events" ---not for grieving and going through pandemics, being completely and utterly terrified---it only amplifies what you feel. Alcohol hones in on the existing emotions. So before you pick up a drink, how are you feeling? Are you stressed? Are you sad? Are you worried? If you are, those emotions will amplify after the alcohol wears off. So for the two hours of that nice buzz and feeling so relaxed, afterwards, it gave me 24 hours of insomnia and panic attacks. I'm not willing to go back, until I am completely healed. The next time I pick up a glass of wine will be when I am completely healed and ready and celebrating something amazing. 

So long to my Chardonnay. Until next time...

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com
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