How to Avoid Everything (Notes on Self Care)

Keeping it real is a full-time job. This truth goes directly against my work ethic. I’m not passionate about much in life except living comfortably without toiling through all of the time-consuming, laborious tasks that usually entitle people to that kind of comfort. Basically, I want to live like a rapper without being a rapper. If you happen to meet anyone who’s never laid down a single track or been taken into custody for disorderly conduct and unlawful possession of a firearm but still lives like Rick Ross, then you may have a better understanding.

I’m not a fan of hard work, but very occasionally, I can force myself to do it. So at the end of June, when I made the commitment to get real and work through the ugly shit I’ve kept cordoned off in dark corners, I thought that a monthlong break would be enough time to address my demons, and I would come back, like, perfect. Allotting 36 days to clear away debris like addiction and anger and depression seemed pretty generous, and I actually made a list of things I might try in case I finished a few days early. I watched a tutorial on how to make an owl zipper pull using the Cra-Z-Loom, and of course that bitch was #1 on my list.

I’m not sure how 36 days turned into 102, but I just want to take this opportunity to mention that if any of the coping mechanisms you use to stay functional involve pushing down grief and pain and rage about your past or your present, and you unlatch the gate that’s been corralling those feelings and they all escape in a mad rush and you have to chase each one down to see if it really belongs to you or it can be returned to the wild, um, you’re not going to have time to make that owl zipper pull. Yeah, I know, it was a surprise to me too.

Since I’ve been going to therapy again and giving it an honest go this time (instead of just sitting there thinking it’s a crock of shit and counting down the minutes till it’s over), I was initially surprised by this overwhelming stampede of emotions because I thought I had been dealing with them. And I was. But it was kind of like when I used to smoke crack and then I would to do lines of cocaine as an intermediary step to come off my binge. Sure, I wasn’t smoking crack right then, so congratulations to me, but I wasn’t really addressing the whole problem.  I was just using stopgap measures to lessen the blow.

In therapy, I was working through smaller issues because I wasn’t yet ready to face my past as a whole. At some point, I realized that the smaller issues existed because of a bigger problem.

I realized this about three weeks ago at Target.

I don’t want to share too much of Cal’s personal business, but I was at Target looking for bras for her. She’s wearing “real” bras now, and prefers the wireless kind, but all the wireless ones I found in her size were really expensive, so I decided to check out Target. Cal is such a good kid, and she’s not the type to complain, so my goal at Target that day was to find a wireless bra in her size and buy the same style to test it out first to make sure it was actually comfortable. My bad for sharing that personal piece, but I think it’s important here.

Until I was a young teen, my aunt sexually molested me. It still causes me an immense amount of suffering just to think about it, and it’s permanently affected the way I handle certain situations. I’m extremely uncomfortable about breasts because my aunt used to touch mine. Being in the bra section at Target started a chain reaction of thoughts that drew me deeper and deeper into a pit of misery.

When I was 11, I finally told my mother what was going on. To simplify what happened between then and when I left for college, I’ll just say that my family didn’t come to my defense. It’s not so much that they denied the existence of the abuse. They just…didn’t think I should make such a big deal about it. To this day, they are upset that I won’t let it go.

I know it’s the compassionate and forgiving thing to say that I no longer blame my family for not protecting me. Or that I have overcome my misery and forgiven my aunt, but I can’t. It’s not the truth. I still blame my aunt for ruining my childhood and I still have trouble understanding why I wasn’t worth it to my mom for her to protect me. I thought that being a mother to Cal would help me understand my own mother better, but I’m the type of mother who can’t bear the thought of my kid wearing an uncomfortable bra (even though that would totally be my fault because I should have just shelled out for the $60 bra, but I ain’t about that life), so my empathy lessens the longer I am a mother myself.

Before I drove home, I sat in the Target parking lot to calm myself. I thought that scrolling through Facebook would be a good mental break, but clearly, I am not that bright. That Monday, TMZ released the video of Ray Rice hitting his then-fiance in an Atlantic City elevator. It was all over my Facebook feed.

Eventually everything connects, and for me, I finally made my connections in that parking lot. The years of abuse I suffered while I was a child altered the way I viewed my own self-worth. Which then led to years of abuse as a young woman. I thought about the man I dated who repeatedly asked if he could sell me to his friends for sex. I allowed others to treat me like I was valueless, and I treated myself the same way.

But you know what? I’m too old for that stupid bullshit. I’m not valueless. I can still be a good mother even if it wasn’t modeled for me as a child. Just because something is unfamiliar does not mean it is unknowable. 

When I got home from Target, I booked a photo session I’ve been thinking about for 4 years but never had the nerve to actually do. I’ve been the black sheep of my family for so long because I had a baby before I was married and because I didn’t finish college. Photos like this would mean that I was still just that dirty and dangerous girl. I’m not. And I will no longer allow anyone to determine my self-worth. I got the pictures back yesterday. One day, when I’m old, I’ll look at the pictures and think, “Yup, that homegirl didn’t give a fuck. You go, EJL.”


These past 102 days have been life-changing. Well, most of it happened in a two-hour span at Target, but I still wasn’t making no Cra-Z-Loom crafts on those other 101 days. I’ve cut out a lot of people who have been in my life for too long. It feels strange, and I’m dealing with a lot of guilt about it, but I have so much more space for the goodness I couldn’t take in before. And I understand now that I don’t have to hide negative emotions like hate. I just don’t really give a fuck anymore if my family accepts me or thinks I’m “worth it.”

I still have a lot of hate in my heart, but there’s more room for love and kindness too. If you think about it, I’m the living embodiment of a Coexist bumper sticker. I mean, yes, those bumper stickers are more about religious tolerance and my focus is more about how much I hate people, but get past that stupid detail, and there I am.

Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks in it.” -David Foster Wallace

Holler at me:
Flourish in Progress on Facebook: Lots of not-seen-on-this-blog stuff. Sometimes funny. Mostly a waste of time. But who doesn’t love to waste time?

Instagram @flourishinprogress: One more picture from the photo session posted on Instagram. Profile reads:  “Hallmark ornament collector on the outside. Ghetto as fuck thug on the inside.” Not a good match for people who want flower pics and shit.

Mad props to photographer Joshua McCaghren and makeup artist Renee Kim

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  • Kirby

    Welcome back thug. Missed you.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thanks for sticking around. xo

  • kim

    i love this, and reading this makes me love you. which sounds ridiculous, because the closest i am to you is that i once visited LA, but really, this was gorgeous and beautiful. and taking sexy photos of your gorgeous physical self does not mean you are in any way dirty, or damaged. it’s you, and you are beautiful and i love that you are facing your demons and kicking their mother fucking asses, slowly, but surely.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Is it weird that I want to know why you visited LA? Too nosy? I’m working on that but it ain’t going too good.

      Thank you, my homegirl. Much love to you.

  • kim

    also, your eyebrows are on fucking point. what the hell, girl. makeup post. do it. LEARN ME.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You just cracked me up.

      My friend Renee did those brows. I wish I could learn me too. (I WILL say though that Tom Ford’s eyebrow pencil has been life changing.)

  • Kait

    Once I realized (thanks to lots of therapy) that I could say “this fucked up thing happened and it hurt and I don’t understand why no one protected me or stopped it when the harm continued” it was a game changer. It didn’t make the process any easier. But it helped me realize that while I am still the 16 drunk girl being raped while her friend laughs in the next room, I’m also the 28 year old mom who is teaching her daughters that they are allowed to be fierce and fight back and be vocal about being hurt. I’m also the four year old girl who believed the world was completely good. I’m also the ten year old girl who believed her parents could fix anything. I’m all those pieces and a million more so I can’t keep going like that one event defines me as useless and dirty and bad.

    Your picture is beautiful. You are beautiful. I am thankful that you share so openly.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      This is such an empowering way to think. Thank you for adding it to my knowledge bank. It seems ridiculous now to let a few small pieces out of so many define me. Except for that time I met E-40. I let that one event dominate and I’m totally cool with that.

  • Beth

    Scary, vulnerable shit that you post actually helps those of us who may not be strong enough right now. Thank you for opening up like a boss and using your humor to inspire the rest of us. We may never meet up, but you would be considered a friend. Keep it up!!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Now, wait. What if I already consider us homegirls? It sounds like you’re still on the fence. ;)

  • Susan

    Sorry girl! Good luck with everything. Miss reading your stuff!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you. xo

  • AMber lynn

    I’m glad your back and working through all the bullshit you put up with as a child! Props to you for being a loving and caring mother for Cal! <3

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      That kid is pretty outstanding. Just tryna do right by her. xoxo

  • Crash

    Welcome back – hugs to my favorite thug. You’re incredibly brave.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      “Favorite thug” ranks
      top three as a compliment in my book. Thank you. xo

  • Erin janda rawlinGs

    I’ve been reading a lot of Elizabeth Gilbert and just saw her at Oprah’s Life You Want. She said that she used to pray for her life to change, but not hurt anyone and stay the same. Which is impossible. Real transformation means letting go of that which does not severe you. That shit is not easy, and sometimes it’s 1 step forward, 2 steps back. But you are doing it and serving as inspiration for others (like me) as you make there changes. Love you!!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Love you, my friend. I’m so happy with our new group and can’t wait for the new year. I know good things are going to happen.

  • Justine

    Fucking balls. I commend, I respect, I listen. I’m one of those moms that ‘suscribes’ to a lot of blogs, mom blogs, mostly so my mom doesn’t ask questions about my lifestyle. Yours in the only one I read. I get it, I relate. You’re real, proof in this latest entry. About that bra, spend the money- then you have leeway on Xmas presents. $$ for $$. Just sayin’

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      LOL. I like the way you think.

      So many blogs out there, so little time. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to support with your kind words.

  • RAe

    Brave! Much respect! So many of us have come through ridiculous shit, sat in counseling, done all kinds of things before we realize we are valuable. Your photo is beautiful and strong, and so are you. Thank you for speaking out and giving courage to others.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you. xo I’m so glad I stopped viewing therapy as a waste of time and gave it an honest go. It’s made such a difference in the process.

  • natane

    Welcome back! Your honesty and openness is amazing. Sometimes the epiphanies only take two hours to come out, but it takes much longer to be able to receive them. Your work wasn’t for nothing.

    PS. You look amazing.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you, homegirl. Your words just reminded me of that Steve Jobs quote. “We can’t connect the dots looking forward….”

      • Natane

        I had never read that quote before today. After googling the full quote and context, it has officially been added to my list of quotes to remember.

  • Natasha

    Lady, that is some serious shit. You are someone. And you are an excellent mother. Cal seems like an amazing child, and she got that from somewhere.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Probably from Harv but I will happily take the credit because um the first one who claims it, gets it? Seems like a solid motto to me. ;) xo

  • Elizabeth Aquino

    Just — well — YOU. You are IT. xoxox

  • Angela

    The idea that the unfamiliar is not unknowable is something with which I am eternally struggling. You are so gifted. I hope your journey allows you to see that. Thank you for sharing this. I really really needed to read this tonight. (Not that this is about me. :) sharing often helps other carry their burdens. You did this for me.) peace be with you.

  • chelsea

    wow. such rawness and intensity and i so appreciate this. figuring out your self-worth isn’t an easy process (one i’m still on) but appreciate that you have the courage to take this on. keep rocking it.

  • Ella Pretty Blog

    I’m so sorry for what happened during your childhood.

    You are such an amazing person and mother…and your photosession turned out amazing – you go, EJL :-)

  • Lasher

    When your mind is ready to deal with the hard shit, the hard shit has a
    bad way of smacking you in the face. It’s the mind’s way of saying, “I
    know you can handle this now, so we’re gonna pull it all out and look at
    it. You are going to feel like that little girl back when it all
    started, but we’re gonna grab that little girl by the hand, pull her out
    of the past and bring her with us. Your family didn’t save her, but we

    Families are not always what we want them to be. Some people just can’t deal with the hard shit, so they take the easy way out. Sometimes their judgement is more about them and how they handled the situation than it is about you. It usually means they aren’t in a place where they can deal with. Maybe they never will be, but that is theirs to deal with.

    Focus on that little girl. You are an awesome mom, and with Harv and Cal at your back, I’m sure you will do just fine by her.

  • Melia

    You. Are. Worth. It. I wish I could give you a family you deserve. I wish I could give me that, too, but life doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. I can, however, punch people for you. I wish you so much happiness. Happiness that you give yourself, most importantly, but also and happiness that comes from others who see just how worth it you are.

  • Shannon

    My husband had to cut some of his family out of his life too. They were abusive to him as a child and an adult. The guilt can be brutal, especially during the holidays, birthdays, but I can tell you that I have never seen my husband heal as quickly as he has until he let them go. I wish you peace in your heart and continued growth!

  • Lindsay

    You are amazing! Thank you for sharing. Cal is lucky to have you as a mom, and you are an inspiration to me, and I’m sure many others.

  • Mona

    You go, homegirl. You ARE worth it- all day every day.

  • Kathy Wilkinson

    You are a perfect example of what happens to you does not have to define you. Glad you’re working through these issues. Peace.

  • Robin

    Wow, Liz. Didn’t we become friends when we were 12? You are an amazing mom for Cal, and you are very much worth it. Love you.

  • Corrine

    I am so sorry for what you went through in your childhood and beyond. I am incredibly happy and proud (Is it weird to be proud of someone you have never met? If so then I am so weird!) of the hard work that you are doing to be the best you that you can be and there is no doubt that you “are worth all of the good!” You are an amazing woman and the pic is stunning!

  • Lorra Calara

    EJL….. not too many lives ago we were ride or die. All I can say is “Thank You”. You inspire more souls than you know. The picture is flawless.

  • James Schipper

    You’re making your own family every time you tell it like it is.

    I’d say gooder words here, but none of them are good enough.

  • Kelly Dane

    You are incredibly brave and are beautiful both inside and out. I applaud you and the hard work that you are doing. Rock on with your bad self, homie!

  • Julie

    You are a very courageous lady. Thank you for sharing, and for staying alive and kickin’.

  • Deb Stark

    EJL, I am filled with so much emotion reading this amazing, soul-bearing post. It hit me hard, resonated loudly, and brought me to tears. You are a true inspiration. xoxoxo

  • kristin

    You are my hero for dealing with the hard stuff. I’m still trying to squash mine, because I’m too scared, and it isn’t really all that bad. My Dad is currently trying to use guilt and religion to try to get back into my life, and I just don’t know what to do with it. My girls have birthdays coming up, and I can barely stand the idea of having him here.

  • heather

    The older I get, I come across childhood memories and sometimes get cringes of ick when I think about how my parents chose to do things. I cant imagine making those same decisions with my own children. But if I can see past my own hurt….I usually have to come to a place of understanding that like me in my everyday walk as a mom, my parents did the best they knew how. They were children once too with fucked up parentals dealing with generational and cultural bullshit of their own. Their parents saw war and depression and a lot of loss and I think handed down a stone-face-cold-as-ice-about-feelings way of dealing with hard emotional parenting/family issues. Forget your mom’s decisions. They were her decisions. Not yours. You know and do better with Cal every day because of your experiences. And whether you realize it or not, you are doing a greater good by writing so dopely (is that a word?) about it. I’m positive that your openess and rawness about real life bullshit that gets us down helps others because it helps me. We are not alone. We are enough. And congrats on those AMAZING photos. My future old lady self is jealous.

  • Nazia @ Your Sunny Side Up

    This has given me so much hope, thank you. Stay strong x

  • Makaila

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • MouthyGirl

    When I had my son, I too thought, maybe now I’ll understand my mother. The opposite happened. I understood her less, and like you, the longer I’m a mother and go through the trials and phases with my son, the less I understand. I too haven’t forgiven, or forgotten and I’m the only daughter who doesn’t talk to her regularly. But I’m also the only one that was the target of her beatings. When I became pregnant it became my new mission to learn everything I could about mothering, as I was sure my example was inadequate. I learned a lot, and applied it. While I may not be the touchy feely, kiss and hug on my son kind of mom…he knows I love him, and not because I sometimes don’t hit him, but because I tell him, I show him, and I never ever hit him.

  • Leigh Ann

    This is so, so, so powerful. My heart aches for you and all of the pain you’ve had to endure. No one deserves to feel so terribly worthless. I hope these are the first few steps towards a long road of peace. <— that sounds so corny. But I mean it!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Homegirl, words of kindness and compassion could never be corny. :) I’m so, so glad we crossed paths IRL this summer. You’ve really given me a lot of peace of mind and peace. Thank you for being so wonderful.

  • FearlessFibro

    I have missed you. Getting sick with lots of autoimmune stuff was actually the best thing that ever happened to me—-my wrong dx got me into therapy, which got me into a group for mindfulness, which morphed into self compassion. 3 years later, I am a different person, one I really like. My new me took my self-deprecating writing tone, but it’s okay. I like me, more now. And, you are worth anything you do to be a better you. Brene Brown has some amazing stuff to help you love yourself, which will then allow you to have compassion for others, even those that don’t deserve it. And, the next generation WILL do better—my daughter is so much of a better person than I am. Which I love! Keep doing you, keep working hard, and I hope the peace with your past you deserve is right around the corner. <3

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Gosh…I’m trying to think….and I can’t even remember when you haven’t been with me through this journey. Thanks so much for sticking around. I still don’t have the trained eyes to see that all the wrong turns we take, the ones that look like shitty mistakes and missteps actually lead somewhere.

      I’m so sorry that you had to walk through a twisted path to discover your wonderful self. But I’m so happy that you’ve realized your worth and fucking fabulousness.

  • Suebobaloula

    So proud of you for taking the time to help yourself. You are amazing and that picture is gorgeous. Grace Davis read a beautiful piece at BlogHer 2009 on being molested about not having to forgive your molester.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’m so glad you shared this. I’m slowly headed from victim to survivor and forgiveness has been key. I see that now.

  • Steph@DontChewGlass

    Girl, I’ve been working hard on myself lately too and it is a bitch. Currently it’s kind of like when you go to clean something up but you end up making a much bigger mess? I’m at that part. And it’s a big ass mess. But hopefully, eventually, I will come out the other side and all my shit will be organized and filed away and I too will have more room for love and kindness. *fist bump*

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      *fist bump* It takes a brave motherfucker to start that work grind knowing it’s gonna get a little ugly before it becomes baller status beautiful. Git it, my friend. The best is yet to come.

  • Tiffany Romero

    Beautiful. The words, the picture, the YOU.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you for seeing me. It has made a profound difference.

  • Josh D

    Gurl, we are like to peas in a fucking pod. I give you mad props for coming out and talking about your issues the way you do. Big respect and much love. Remember, I’ve always got your back. xoxo Josh D

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      And I’ve got yours. Even though I’m halfway around the globe, I’m your ride or die.

  • Emily Trout

    That DFW quote at the end really pulls the whole things together. That’s not to discount what you wrote- it’s amazing and shattering and such a profound thing to share, it’s just, I read that a few times and it was the most wonderful ending. You’re such a fighter, in such a good way.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      When I first found the quote, I had to read it multiple times too. Then mull it over. Then read it again. I wish DFW had chosen to stick around…he can say so many things in just a few words.

  • you gotsars!

    I know I haven’t commented much but I have been reading your journey and feeling extra stoked that you have started the process of healing. I know the road is narrow and winding and has a bunch of those little fucking rocks that make walking in strappy sandals a bitch, but it makes every plateau at a new level that much more amazing. You are beautiful, amazing and one classy bitch (yeah, I said that…. keepin real). Continue to do the work friend and when it gets tough, know that I will have a potato juice with soda and lime ready for you.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Ain’t no juice like potato juice.

      And I LOVE that you can use our mutual respect and adoration for shoes to say something so fucking profound. xo

  • Alison

    Liz, I haven’t been here for a while (though following on FB and IG, of course), so to come back to this post – wow. You are amazing (and beautiful). I’m sorry for all that awfulness that happened to you as a child (NO ONE deserves that), and props to you for emerging strong. xo

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Your kindness is so legit I can feel it from the other side of the globe. Thank you for the support.

  • Kim’s Kitchen Sink

    Yes, girl. Way to be. Self care is essential.

    • livemediahost

      I agree with you.

    • sharifa

      Harvard Medical School, has received a $500,000 gift.
      as you know , it
      depends on the national financial support. .
      The initial phase of the program
      is expected to run for approximately two years.
      at first, it is so important
      to make an operation plan that the doctors can serve for people well for

      If the program were to grow, the next phase would use the collected data to
      design and conduct clinical trials, administering the drug to individuals

      after then ,we need to make an analysis in details.
      i read this all

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      As is Botox.

      I feel like I messed this up somehow.

      Much love to you. xo

  • Misty

    I love you so hard. You are gorgeous, inside and out. What a brave thing to share on your blog and an even braver thing to actually shine a light on your own demons and try to vanquish them. Keep fighting the good fight, girl. I have every confidence that you will win in the end and be in a much better place. If you needed 102 or 1202 days to work it out, then you do what needs doing. Get healthy. You have friends and family that DO support you, no matter what others in your life might do. Feel that and hold onto it. And keep fighting.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Love you back, mami. You’re always down to show love and support, and I wish I had even an iota of what you had bc you’re so good about being a good friend even when life gets busy. Thank you. And mad props to you.

  • Bill-The Authentic Life

    Welcome back, to the beautiful woman and her words. You both were missed.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Miss your fancy face, homie. Hope to cross paths with you again soon. xo

  • lauriewrites

    I understand a lot of this. It sounds messed up to say I’m happy for you, but because I know how important this is, I so am. And the “coexist” comparison is perfect. When we get to the point where we start to let the edges blur and let the good stuff in more without feeling like it’ll kill us dead immediately, that’s the real good stuff.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’ve always been a fan of distinct lines. This edges blurring shit is throwing me for a loop but I am liking life better…as messy as it’s getting. Thank you for your wise words. They’ve really helped me tremendously. I’m glad you write.

  • nancy

    what a great piece of writing, full of honesty and wisdom! you will do just fine, my dear, you are already amazing and full of great courage. the love inside you is underneath everything you do and say.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you for those kind words. I don’t feel courageous most of the time so to hear it from an outside source is a real boost.

  • Corinna

    That photo of you is absolutely gorgeous!! Please don’t belittle yourself by making those damn owl pulls….

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Lolol I decided against it. Those Cra-Z-Loom things and the little bands aint cheap.

  • Jennie Goutet

    Hey. I love you. I knew that there was major stuff going on because I am not a stranger to suffering and I could read behind the lines. So all this doesn’t surprise me. But that you weren’t protected by those closest to you angers me. I can picture a fragile young YOU who deserved so, so much more and didn’t get it. I know you’re giving Cal everything she needs. And I’m glad you’re back because whether you write raw or humour, you are the total package.

    I know you hate to read and all, but if you think you might like my memoir, I’ll send you a copy. (At least it would be free). ;-) There’s the sad stuff in there, but with a huge focus on hope.

    In any case, I’m rooting for you as you work through everything. Whether it takes 102 days or 102 weeks.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’m bummed at the thought of not getting to see you this year, so I hope you’ll make your way here this year for another conference.

      I would LOVE to read your memoir. Sending you an email now.

  • Jenna

    Holy cow. I just… yes.

    All of this is yes. Thank you for writing your truth, sharing your story. In doing so, you make it easier, less confusing and less lonely, for those of us sorting through our stuff as well. A friend sent me this link today, after I finished a ridiculously hard therapy session, and then, when I quoted a line back at her with the text, “OMG I SAID THIS IN THERAPY TODAY OMG,” she replied, “You were meant to find this post today.”

    Thank you.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’m so glad we connected. For so much of the healing process, I’ve felt alone, and it’s been both amazing and inspiring to know that there are others who are making their way down the same path.

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Love you, my friend. xoxo (We are long overdue for a hangout session. Let’s make it happen.)

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Homegirl, I hope you know that you are worth every goodness. It was hard for me to let love in for a long time, and it made me feel very lonely. You don’t have to do this journey by yourself. xo

    • Angela

      Not going to lie. Got a little teary. Thank you. Really.

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Amen. Not an easy process. I didn’t think it was worth it at first, but I’m turning a corner on that view. xo

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Your kindness skills are off the chain. Thank you.

  • Kim Court


    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress


  • Tammy Ponce

    I am happy you discovered yourself at a young age. You will have many more happy years because of it. I tell my daughters that if you live you life afraid of being judged, you are living their life. Not yours.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      WISE WORDS, my friend. xo

  • Chan

    You are one brave and beautiful woman. Keep moving forward. Glad you’re back!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you. xo “Forward movement only” is what I’ve been telling myself lately.

  • molly

    Wow. Wow! This is the first time I’ve been to your blog (I think) and I’m glad I came here and read this tonight. There is so much I want to say. But for now I will just say that I’m glad you took the time to get better. I hope it only gets better and clearer from here.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for your encouragement!

  • Melissa Burton

    We missed you and your writing here in the blogosphere. I knew when you did come back you’d come back strong but who knew you’d come back as Wonder Woman?!

    You never cease to amaze me with your depths of strength. You are one amazing person.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I shared your Wonder Woman comment with my family and asked them to address me as such. They’re not on board. Haters. ;) xoxo

  • Amber Dorsey

    I just don’t really give a fuck anymore if my family accepts me or thinks I’m “worth it.” – resonates so deeply with me.

    For years I have / had been the black sheep. Baby before marriage, didn’t finish college in their time frame or the way they would have liked. Basically I went against every plan they had for me. I never understood how my mom could turn her back and say such hurtful things to someone she said she loved unconditionally……especially as a mother myself I can’t imagine telling my kid some of that stuff. Those words and feelings are scars we’re going to carry forever but, they will heal. Time will prove it.
    And that photo…..I mean….it’s BEYOND. I did a similar session about 4 years ago and I was surprised at how liberating it was…..I love that you were able to channel that empowerment and hopefully you see how beautiful you are. inside and out. and how much your words, stories and experiences help others. You my dear, are a beacon of thug light in this ‘hood.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Hard for me to comprehend how someone as fabulous as you could ever be viewed as the black sheep. You’re so wonderful and I’m thankful that we’ve had a chance to know each other a little more.

      It was liberating for sure. Also totally unnerving…but I don’t regret doing the photo session.

  • L.

    You deserve all the good things in life. Shame on your family for not protecting you- that is their burden to bear, whether they recognize it or not. It must have been very hard to choose between a sister and a daughter, but your mom should have made a better choice.
    So glad you found your way out of the drug problems and are now coping much better. I really love your writing style, and hope to see you around for a long time!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I hate that life gives us impossible and difficult choices sometimes. I hope to choose more wisely if faced with a no win situation.

      Thank you so much for your kindness.

  • Johi Kokjohn-Wagner

    I’m speechless. All I have to say is you go, girl! I think you are pretty damn amazing and I’m proud of you.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you for being my friend and for sharing this journey with me. I hope to see your fabulous self again soon. I miss you. xo

  • Karin Antal

    So, so beautiful. This post and you. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, EJL.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Your words have been such a boost for a long time. You’re brave and honest and you’ve helped me tremendously.

      • Karin Antal

        Me? No way. I’m here because you’re awesome and funny. Also, YOUR honesty is what keeps me coming back. Lots of love to you, lady. xoxo

  • Brittany Olson

    Oh lady! Funny thing, while you weren’t posting I got worried and somehow my blog roll thing skipped over that you were taking a break and today something said click on it so I re – registered you and wow you were back.
    So glad you are. Sad for your past but facing those demons head on makes one stronger in the end. I too am back in counseling facing my demons. Some good days, some not super days but I know that not keeping it all in is like you said freeing up space for more good.
    I even missed your b-day too and forgot it was one day after me so happy way belated b-day and I keep praying for you.
    Glad you a are back even if its only to keep us updated for a few.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Damn your sixth sense is on point. Im still working on my first five working correctly.

      I’m so glad you are sticking with counseling, even when the tough days come. Those can be some unforgiving bitches, but the better days just keep getting better.

  • Nina Mendez

    Incredible. I love how you mix humor and realness. I love how brave and strong you are even if you don’t always see it. Thank you for this post. Thank you for being so vocal about your insecurities. Thank you for being you. I feel incredibly lucky to read your posts and feel inspired by your strength, honesty, and courage. It helps me to look long and hard at my own twisted childhood and say, ‘it wasn’t my fault’. Forgiveness is something I struggle with every single day. As hard as I try to forgive those that hurt me, it is so much harder to forgive myself. Thank you again, for this. Cal is one lucky kid!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I once heard in a writing group Tragedy + Time = Humor. I’m still waiting for all this shit to see funny to me because I’ve put it behind me and it no longer affects me, but until then, I gotta make the jokes myself.

      God, you forrealz speak the truth when you say it’s harder to forgive yourself. I wish it were easier and I wish it were already done…for the both of us. In case you haven’t heard it today- you are an incredible person and you deserved so much more when you were a child and you still deserve the fucking best.

  • mwheatcraft

    The picture is amazing. So are you. Even if it’s a silly internet comment from someone you don’t know, I think you are such a survivor – and that’s an accomplishment. Congrats on the hard work to shine.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      We been knowin each other for a while now. We’re homegirls in my book, real life meet ups be damned. xo

  • Rocket Girl

    :) Great discussion..

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Agreed! Always amazes me how open and honest people can be.

  • Minnesota Red

    Welcome back to your glorious blog~ it made me so happy to see this post and know you are going to be alright. Your kid is a lucky girl.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you so much for sticking around and being so supportive through my hot mess-ness. xoxo

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Reading this did so much for me. Thank you. Instead of looking ahead into an abyss of bad and letting fear control where I go, I can instead focus on bringing that little girl out of a dark place.

    • Lasher

      Glad it helped. You’ll get more of those parking lot moments, but some of them will be good ones. ;)

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    The best people are the ones who are still around when you need to punch a fool in the face. Thank you. And please remember…you are totally worth it. Nevermind that family who couldn’t do you right. You deserve happiness too.

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Thank you for sharing this. You are so spot on- the “special” days (my brother’s birthday and my own came after I stopped talking to her) make me feel the guiltiest, but I…well…feel a lot of relief about us not being in the same space too.

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Thank you for the kind words. I’m lucky to have Cal as a kid. xo

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Reading this from an outside source does so much for my insides. Thank you.

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    I forget this all the time….we’re all so much more than just our past. Much love to you.

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Love you. And thank you for being my friend even tho I been crazy and weird for so much of it. xoxo

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    If so, I am weird too. It wasn’t until I started blogging that I realized that facetime isn’t the only thing that defines a friendship. Thank you for being my friend and for being so supportive.

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    STILL ride or dies. :) Thank you. xoxo

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    All your words are always good. You’re probably one of the most well-traveled people I “know” so your words come from a place of knowing bout some things.

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Damn girl, go on wit that encouraging bad ass self. Thank you. xoxo

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Being able to write about it has made such a profound difference. Thank you for being there and listening.

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    I feel so lucky we crossed paths. Mad props to you, my friend.

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  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Oh, mama…I feel you so hard on this one. I had a conversation with Harv and Cal in the car today about family ties and religion and guilt and how they are so inextricably tied sometimes. And how the ones who have stayed too long in our lives use whatever they have to to continue being a presence. I’m only asking this question bc I didn’t even know it was an option until I made myself do it….is it possible to um not have your dad at the birthday celebrations?

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    So much truth in your words…and also a reminder that what my mom experienced as a child colored her parenting. My mom grew up with so much chaos in her own life. But someone at some point has to break the cycle and I guess I’m going to try my hardest for Cal.

    It often amazes me how different Cal is from me (and I breathe a fucking huge sigh of relief about this on the daily) and this should teach me that I can choose to be different from my own mom as well. I forget that sometimes. Or…maybe I didn’t know that till now.

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Keep ya head up, my homegirl. It’s going to get better. xoxo

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    Thank you so much for the support. xo

  • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

    I got mad respect for you. What you just said…about not being the touchy feely type- I feel so much guilt about this because I am the same way. I think I’m nervous bc I don’t want any of my imperfections to bleed onto her. Even when I tell myself that I’m being ridiculous, it’s still hard for me to being as physically showy about my love as I would someday like to be. But until then, I try to show her in other ways.

  • michalmos

    I think I have got a good answer to this question. Avoiding everything means do not live.

  • alexandra

    There is so much to crack down to, and so many years spent keeping it down below. It’s work, and when we think back to those days of childhood, we just want to snatch that little girl up and out of there and tell her, so much of that is wrong, just wrong and unfair. Love to you, friend. xo

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’m not sure what took so long for me to realize that “back then” was wrong and unfair. What should have been such a simple thought was instead a major revelation. But I’m glad for it, because it’s set me free.

  • Emily

    Oh, my dear. I just read your account of your family’s response to your being abused. Every time I read this kind of thing I’m horrified all over again.
    My husband abused our daughter, something I didn’t learn until after we were divorced. If I had known, he’d be dead (seriously) and I’d be in prison. That is exactly how enraged I was. My daughter has suffered the low self-esteem you describe; however, you are doing much better than she. She’s newly out of jail & gone briskly thru rehab. I pray she’ll maintain the sobriety she sees to have now, but I have no faith. Meanwhile, her daughter is living with family friends and this is her third year there. And I am still in mourning for my child…this has been like a death.
    You are doing brilliantly, by comparison. I am on your cheer team. Yay, you!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Oh, mama. I hope you’ll remember to be kind to yourself as you watch your daughter go through her healing journey. The first time I went to rehab, I thought it was going to be my last but I don’t think I was ready to face the truth about some of the things in my life. What really helped was having a few people around me with the mindset that they weren’t just going to help me get over it….they were going to help me through it. I’m glad your daughter has you. xoxo

  • Jenn

    Thank you for coming back. We missed you!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you for sticking around. i didn’t realize what a boost kindness and support could be until now.

  • Robbie K

    you are brave and beautiful.

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  • Angela Kim

    You’re beautiful, your eyes are fierce. I’m sorry you had to go through that before you can protect yourself and I’m sorry your parents didn’t protect you then. Honestly I don’t care what anyone else says, what’s wrong is wrong. That’s how I see it. I’m familiar with all the abuse that lies behind doors in many homes, even Korean American homes. I heard so many stories, have seen women who had to endure a lifetime of guilt and lack of self-worth because of what happened in their childhood. There aren’t enough women in the Korean community who speak out against it so I commend your strong spirit and bravery. Your voice is so needed. I always hoped to give voice to the voiceless, that was my singular vision and passion. I believe yours is similar. :)

  • Chris

    I swear I’m reading my own journal or something. I’m sorry about what happened. I think the Korean mentality of “don’t talk about it… Then it never happened!” Is so disheartening and cruel. I didn’t go through exactly the same things but nearly and I often still battle my family and their loyalty. Loyalty is such a huge deal for me that I would hold onto people far too long when goodbye should’ve happened yesterday. I let my soul mate/BFF of 23 years just a few weeks ago Bc I knew in my heart… That a lion’s den will never ever feel like home to a rabbit.

  • Jessica

    I read your words and so many resonate with my own life. Thank you for being brave enough to put it out there. I once thought I wanted to do the same but never had the gall. I was physically and mentally abused for years until young adulthood. I thought I was worthless. I carried that with me throughout college which, as you may guess, was terrible baggage to have when dating. I let people use me and walk all over me because I thought it was the only way to get them to like me. I thought I had nothing to offer. Things have changed a lot since then. I’ve let go of a lot of the hurt and anger but the fear is what bubbles up. I fear my feelings of inadequacy will pass on to my daughter and it gives me hope to know you’ve raised such a beautiful and sweet girl. I hope I am as capable as you are. My baby is only 10 months old. She has the world in front of her. God I hope I don’t fail her.

  • Sophia Ball

    Fuck that.

    Forgiveness is overrated. Being ‘the bigger person’ is overrated. Those are guilt gimmicks designed to keep us in our places.

    Your aunt doesn’t deserve forgiveness, and perhaps your family doesn’t either. And anger gets a bad rap, we have a lot of negative connotations attached to it in an ideological sense, but it’s a normal (and sometimes quite useful) human emotion. The trick is to let it move through you, to not hold onto it. And you can totally let anger go without forgiving those who have done you wrong, and done wrong by you.

    It’s different for everyone of course, and we all must find our own path, but I hope that helps with the guilt.

    From one mildly damaged girl to another – I’m sending you much love.

  • Claire Evangelista

    Currently dealing with the same situation and familiar background. I’m glad I stumbled upon your post. It’s good to feel not so alone in this.

  • Maya Martin

    I just happened upon this site from The Bloggess. You’re a great writer and I’m excited to journey with you. It’s reassuring to think that we’re not forced to let go of our emotions about a certain person or experience.