Cruel, Crude, Rude

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I use words all the time without knowing their meaning or spelling. Is it really necessary to know that information for EVERY single word that comes out of my mouth? Honestly, it would be very limiting because English is not my first language and also, I didn’t pay attention in school after first grade. I decided around the age of six that learning was too labor intensive. Why couldn’t I just chill at home with my ma?

When I brought up the idea of quitting school, my parents said, “Fuck no.” Then, they went back to watching TV like we were still going to be the same family after that, but something hardened in the middle part of my chest. Years later, that hardness took on a name (Sadness). Was I not worth loving? Why didn’t my parents want me around? What was my mom doing with all that free time while I was at school? Was she going to Montgomery Ward without me? I used my school hours to roll these questions around in my head. I didn’t have time for stupid shit like “learning” and “cooperating.”

Whenever people cast judgment because I can’t spell a word or I don’t know the techniques to solve multivariable calculus problems, I just stay silent and accept the blame. I want to protect my parents even though it’s solely their fault that I know nothing about everything because I spent so much time pondering their lack of love for me.

I’m making an effort to learn more these days even though it’s hard and it takes up most of the time I formerly devoted to Candy Crush. I no longer assume I know something just because it’s familiar to me. If I come across a word I’ve used many times but can’t define immediately, I’ll look it up. Urban Dictionary is my go-to source but occasionally I will use the rest of the internet just to shake things up.

When I saw Elsie de Wolfe’s words on a store wall (pictured above), I realized that I had no idea what Gracious really meant, so I looked it up. Definition: courteous, kind, tactful, compassionate, merciful, showing good manners

I didn’t go to the trouble of looking up antonyms for Gracious, but they were right there, so I took a look. Antonyms: cruel, crude, rude.

Fuck.

I am prone to: bad behavior, talking before thinking, making big decisions based on temporary feelings, being vicious and spiteful, always needing the last word, using brute force to convey my anger, and refusing forgiveness.

I want to become a Gracious Person. I want this so badly that I changed my 2014 Theme Word from _____ (I’m saving it for next year) to Restraint because I realized that if I can’t take care of base level matters like controlling my actions and my temper, I will never be next level.

In 2014, I am taking it back to basics. Instead of focusing on lofty ideals and goals, I’m going to spend the entire year rooting through Basic Rules for Good Living. For starters, I quit smoking. Again. I’ve been smoking on and off for the last 18 years. Mostly on.

I haven’t had a cigarette in 139 hours and 17 minutes. I really, really miss those bitches.

Happy 2014, y’all. This is going to be a magnificent year for you. I just know it. Hopefully, it won’t be half-bad for me either.
_____

P.S. In case you missed the New Year’s Day post…..

Would you please take my Flourish in Progress Reader Survey 2014? I tried to be brief. I want to find out more about you, what you love (or don’t love), and why you read Flourish in Progress.

surveygraphic

P.P.S. I hang out a lot on Facebook. Let’s hang out together.

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  • Melissa Burton

    Restraint is a good word but I hope in your case you won’t hold back too much. I adore your candor. Good luck with kicking the cig habit. I understand it’s a killer. My MIL used Wellbutrin to kick her 3 pack a day habit years ago.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’ve heard so many success stories with Wellbutrin. It’s, like, the magic bullet. This gives me a lot of hope that if I can’t quit the habit on my own accord, I can get a helping hand from a pill. I love pills. Wait, I don’t think I was supposed to say that.

  • Tottums

    You got this, lady. Make 2014 your bish.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Make Vegas your bish. Just think about it. No pressure. Okay, some pressure.

  • Steph@DontChewGlass

    I am supposed to be quitting smoking also, but I’m currently in my excuse phase. Right now my excuse is that my kids – all 3 – have been out of school for 25 of the last 30 days. So I’m risking frostbite and lung cancer for a few moments of blessed silence. You are amazing with words, so I don’t know wft you’re talking about there. I do agree that if your first response is to smack a bitch, you should maybe work on that. But I just adore you, violent and ungracious as you may be. ;)

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      This is one of the best things anyone has ever said to me: “…I adore you, violent and ungracious as you may be.”

      Also, holy shit, 25 days in a row with kids is tough cookies. I don’t know that I would try to quit if that were the case. I choose sanity over my lungs sometimes. <—That's been my excuse for years and years and years. Every time I get a little stress in my life, I want a cigarette which I claim "calms me down and makes me nice."

      • Steph@DontChewGlass

        You’re welcome, and that seemed very gracious, so you’re already rocking this.
        Cigarettes really do those things. I read somewhere that nicotine acts as an antidepressant, so when you stop smoking it can really mess you up. My therapist actually told me that she would not recommend that I quit anytime soon. Which is what I tell my husband, but he’s not really buying it. I think he expects me to bring a note home or something.

  • Andee

    Best of luck with quitting smoking. After 20 years of off and on (mostly on) smoking for me, the only thing that finally got me to quit was pregnancy. My son is now almost 4, and I still find myself amazed at least once a week that I haven’t started back up. Be strong!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Wow, that’s amazing. Fist bump, yo.

      I wish I had stayed a quitter after I gave birth. I have so little restraint!

  • Candy

    Honestly, I’m having a tough time getting past … “because I spent so much time pondering their lack of love for me.” That is heartbreaking, to me. It’s also difficult for me to think of you as being “vicious and spiteful” and “using brute force to show your anger.” I am so sorry, as I can imagine all that takes so much emotional energy. Energy better spent elsewhere … like quitting smoking. :) The best of wishes to you as you pursue the “basic rules for good living.” One of my goals for 2014 is to be more consistent with following and reading my favorite blogs. I only have a handful … and by handful, I really mean two or three. This would lead one to question why this even needs to be a stated goal. By the way, YOU are included in those three, just so you know. I’d say you were number one, but really, I need to give that spot to a prison blog I read, given it’s the brother of a dear friend. But as soon as that dude is on the outside, you move to number one! Hot damn! :)

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      One of the simple pleasures in my life is to read something and find it pleasant and enjoyable all the way through and then at the end get hit with something I totally didn’t expect. Like, right now. I can’t compete with a prison blog and I don’t even want to because, damn, that is some serious hardcore shit. Also, I really, really, really want to read it too. Oh my god I want to read a prison blog.

  • Martie Tolman

    My high school had a “Gracious Womanhood Award.” It was awarded to my friend in my age group. I, however, was never a contender for that pretty prize.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      That is, like, the weirdest award I have ever heard of. You don’t want none of that. (These are the exact words I would tell myself every time I was passed over for an award in HS. It worked pretty good.)

  • Heather Watson

    I bought my last pack of cigarettes 2 days ago. I told myself it was the last so I’m rationing those bitches like hell. Here’s to fresh starts!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Homegirl, I wish you the BEST of luck. We can do this. Oh yes we can.

  • http://acaseofthetuesdays.blogspot.com Meg Fox

    I am on the way out of smoking as well. I will tell you the biggest help for me has been the ecigs- the nice, refillable ones. (I think they call this shit Vaping). I haven’t had an “analog” in 3 days, and the controlled , smaller bursts of nicotine from the “digital” sates the desire to smoke. I’m avoiding the c- word (the other one) here because I know its a huge craving trigger for me :) Even if its not our year, at least we’re trying!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’ve tried vaporizers a few times and OMG they are so strong. They made me cough and I felt like my lungs were burning. It was kind of weird to feel that way because I’ve smoked regular cigarettes for so long…and also, um, crack, so I thought nothing would be “too strong.”

  • kmd

    Congratulations on quitting smoking! And I love your word of the year. I think I shall adopt it as well. In the words of Anne Shirley, “What will I do? Oh, this is terrible. It’s all my fault. I must learn to reflect a little before I go charging ahead recklessly”.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      So many years of charging ahead recklessly has been fun as fuck….but that kind of fun always comes at a price. I’m done paying up. I think I want to be a real grown-up. I’m scurred.

  • theblahblahblahger

    Ooooooh, RESTRAINT. Good one!!! And hard one…but they’re not supposed to easy, right?!

    Also, don’t be fooled…there’s A LOT of gracious in you!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I try harder to act gracious around you because you bring out the lady in me. I didn’t even know I could act like a lady till you came along. Props.

  • Laura Bezzeg

    A trick to get the worst of the cig craving is to breath – close your eyes, breath deeply in through your nose and out through pursed lips. Make yourself wait 15 minutes before taking any action towards lighting up a cig. I am smoke free for 6 or 7 years now after smoking for about 38 years. Chantix also can help if you want to do that, I did for the first 30 days. You will probably always have a craving, I still do, but less and less as time goes by.The 15 minute thing is important, it has to do with the nicotine addiction cycle. A good book is Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr. It is a good book and you can find it for about 7 bucks.
    Restraint? OK, work on the urge to do mayhem and murder if you must, but don’t restrain yourself in your writing. You’re quite good at it, and it is therapeutic for your readers as well as you!
    The best to you!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Holy shit…that is a major accomplishment. Quitting after 38 years is definitely no small feat. I’m a little sad about the “always having a little craving” thing. I am very bad at resisting temptation. If I want something, I just HAVE to have it. I was hoping the smell would be a big turn off after a while.

      I hope to write more this year. Last year, during the times I was feeling most shitty, I didn’t write at all for fear of sounding whiny. This year, I’m okay with embracing all of me…even the whiny me.

  • Robyn Chilcoat

    I seriously think we might be long lost twins! I too act before thinking, like to be in control, have to have the last word, and hold grudges til I’m blue in the face. My New Years resolution is to enjoy the moment as it is. A stop and smell the roses type thing.
    I like your resolution of restraint. It’s a good one and one that I could use too! I personally think you are pretty damn amazing and don’t need to change anything about you. 2014 is going to be great, hommette. I can feel it!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I would never have guessed that about you! You’re always smiling and you seem so at peace and settled.

      I really need to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes, I have such tunnel vision that I don’t even SEE the roses.

  • Misty

    I believe in you. If you want it, you shall do it. And restraint is a wonderful goal. But give yourself some slack, lady. Everyone’s immediate reaction is emotional. We must all control our actions, since we are human and not robots. Good luck to you. You’re gonna kick 2014 in the balls.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Did you ever watch Small Wonder? I spent years wanting to be V.I.C.I. Sort of human-like but without all the faults and weaknesses or emotions. Being a human is so hard.

  • mommyonthespot

    You are awesome for quitting! Keep up the good work!

    I say this with love – be kind to yourself. You are an amazing person and incredible writer.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’ve said this to you in person and now I want to say it in writing…You are hardcore. Also, you see through bullshit so goddamn quick. It is both scary and refreshing. Happy New Year, boo.

  • Sarah

    Good luck on quitting! The first Monday dare post I read of yours, and the post that made me start following your blog, was when you admitted to smoking. I had quit that day and I felt relief that someone else was as miserable as me. I am closing in on 2 years cigarette free now, and I know you can do it, too

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Wow. That is AWESOME. If I had just stayed a quitter back then….man, I wouldn’t wheeze when I walk up the stairs.

  • Johi Kokjohn-Wagner

    But I like you just the way you are!
    In all seriousness, I should be more gracious, too. Maybe we should embark upon this journey together?

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Let’s….but I like you just the way you are too.

      Either we do this together or we just get together and have a cocktail. I could go either way.

      • Johi Kokjohn-Wagner

        Can we just say “THANK YOU!” to the cocktail waitress and call it good? I vote yes.

        • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          MY GOD, that’s so gracious. I vote yes too.

          You are a good problem solver.

          • Johi Kokjohn-Wagner

            It’s one of my “life skills”.

            And thank you.

  • Emelie Samuelson

    You’ve so got this.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Sometimes, we need the faith of others to know that we can. Thank you.

  • KMcWriter

    Homeslice, can I tell you something? I was shocked to read “vicious and spiteful,” because, girl, that does NOT come across in your writing. Another thing that doesn’t come across: your “not knowing the meaning of many words.”

    In your writing, you seem sweet, caring, confident and clever. And I don’t think you’re misleading us. I think the real you is all of those positive words I just wrote. Why don’t you give that awesome chica a fist bump and invite her to NOT smoke a cig with you? :)

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I really needed to read this today. Thank you.