You. You. But not you. You don’t deserve any love.

felist

I learned how to pronounce “corrugated” two days ago. A lot of people think that learning stops after you leave school, but just look at me, constantly improving and smartering myself. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to say it again, but not that many people want to talk about cardboard or metal.

The more I learn, both about myself and my surroundings, the more I start to question everything I already know- beliefs I’ve accumulated through personal experiences or because I just assumed they were the truth.

We went to church on Sunday, mostly because Cal had been asking to go for weeks and I finally relented out of guilt. I’ve been trying to incorporate more of what she wants to do into our plans. For a while, the simple task of driving Cal somewhere was overwhelming. It must be difficult and shitty to be a 14-year-old with a myriad of interests and a parent who says “no.” I feel so much anxiety about leaving the safety of my house sometimes, but I’ve worked out a pretty solid system to keep my fears in check. I allow myself to act like a little bitch until 3:15 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and then I just have to get my shit straight and be a functional human being until Cal goes to bed. My desire to be the kind of mom Cal deserves trumps my issues.

During service, I started thinking about the lessons I learned as a kid during Sunday School. My biggest takeaway was that Christians really like felt boards and activities that involve cotton balls. From the very first Sunday, I also learned that God is merciful and that Jesus loves without exclusion.

I want to talk about Jesus loving everybody. I don’t want Jesus to love everybody.

I almost never share this thought with anyone because I think it’s really telling about my true character. There’s just no way to say that I want him and him and her to suffer and suffer deeply without sounding small. Maybe that’s why I never grew any taller. Hate is heavy, and it pushes you down.

I believe that some people are defective and malicious and broken beyond repair. When I think about these people receiving God’s love and mercy, it makes me question my faith. It makes me angry to know that the worst AND the best of the bunch still receive goodness and grace, and the wayward often get more compassion. When I am confronted with a person who has caused me immense pain and an opportunity to be forgiving, I choose the other end of the spectrum.

I once told someone (a man that I was dating) that I thought he should kill himself. It is, by far, the most heinous thing I have ever said, not just because the sentiment itself was cruel and evil, but because I really, really meant it.

I hated him because I felt like he took everything away from me, and I hated myself because I let him. He wanted to be #1 in my life, first and best in every category. He resented the love I had for my daughter and the time I spent with anyone else.

By the time I said that fucked-up thing to him, I realized that he had carefully executed a plan to cut off everyone in my life. Because he was violent and because he would not “let” me leave, I sent Cal away for more than a year because it was the only way I knew to protect her.

I tried to keep the most shameful and volatile moments as late-night affairs because Cal would be sleeping then, and she wouldn’t have to witness her mother doing degrading things, like getting on her knees and begging for forgiveness for an offense she wasn’t even sure she had committed.

But Cal overheard us. I know this because recently, out of the blue, she turned to me and said, “Do you remember when he said that you were stupid and you cried? I don’t think you’re stupid.”

I want to turn away from my faith during these moments. I don’t want to be loved by the same God that loves that man. Coupled with that hard-to-stomach truth is the knowledge that the dude is still alive. Let this be a lesson that no one gets everything they want in life.

It gives me pause to think about him reading this one day. But I’m not sure if prisons have internet access or if he knows how to spell “flourish.” Not only do I know how to spell “flourish,” I can also correctly pronounce “corrugated,” so it’s pretty obvious that we’re unmatched. Checkmate, bitch.

Maybe God sent Harv soon after this man to show that for every badness, the goodness that exists is so overwhelmingly bright. Light always overpowers darkness. Always.

__
P.S. Mommyonthespot, you are the winner of last week’s giveaway. Please holler at me (flourishinprogress at gmail) with your mailing address.

P.P.S. Pics from our Fam Jam over the weekend on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress):

famjamdvfI love you first. I love you best.

Cruel, Crude, Rude

graciousflourishinprogress on Instagram

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.

Bitch? Please.

heybitches

Drama ruled much of my life until my late 20′s. I didn’t possess enough restraint to back down from a fight, even when I was clearly outmatched in wits and/or physical strength. Every situation went down in a fucking blaze because my emotions ruled all of my decisions. And because I never stopped to think about the consequences, I ended up losing every single time. I mean, I didn’t always know that I was the loser right away, but every storm leaves wreckage, and during the emotional and sometimes physical clean-up process, I would find bits and pieces of my loser status in the debris.

I haven’t gotten into a serious physical altercation since a group of four Asian girls jumped me outside of a college pool hall. Now that I think about it, that fight wasn’t my fault at all. Except for the part where I questioned the authenticity of one of the girl’s JNCO jeans earlier in the day. Now that I think about it some more, I probably deserved that ass beating because JNCO is an acronym for Judge None, Choose One, and I clearly didn’t uphold the first part of JNCO’s philosophy.

Most of the verbal exchange during my beatdown is fuzzy because I was covering my head (cuz you only get one face). Their angry words were muffled, but I could identify one word, used repeatedly: Bitch. I will never question the realness of someone’s pants again. My bad.

You’re a bitch. Why are you being such a bitch? What a bitch. I’ve heard it from men and from women. From people I do know and people I don’t know. I’m guilty of saying these things myself.

I can’t remember the first person who said these words to me, but it was around the same time that I uncovered a life-altering truth: It it acceptable to have my own opinions. I don’t have to behave/think/look/speak/live a certain way just to please another person. My opinion may not be correct and it may get my ass kicked, but opinions don’t have to be right or popular or even make sense. Those are called facts, and I only know a handful of them. That’s not really the life I picture myself living, all fact-based and shit.

I always want to ask the people who throw it at me as an insult: Did you call me a bitch because I didn’t agree with all of your opinions? Am I a bitch because you assumed that I would behave in a Certain Way, and I didn’t live up to your expectations? Is it because I stood up for myself?

On multiple occasions, I’ve tried to have people pay me something small and reasonable, like a nickel, every time they call me a bitch. I’m a big believer in passive income. There seem to be a few design flaws with my Bitch to Billionaire scheme. Apparently, people don’t even want to give you five tiny cents when they’re all riled up.

I am guilty of this same crime because I use bitch as a putdown. I also find myself adding or subtracting a few words and changing my inflection, and then something like a crude compliment develops. She’s a boss bitch. You’re one of the baddest bitches I know. That bitch is my ride or die. I’ve used it when I can’t remember someone’s name. Sup, bitch, you’re really working that gingham skort. Ok, I’ll be real with you. I use the term to address not only people, but inanimate objects and ideas and basically anything and everything. It’s been a noun, a verb, an adjective, and an adverb. (Well, probably more roles than that, but those are the only four parts of speech I know.)

Even when I don’t use bitch with the intention of insulting anyone, it can still be offensive. Another life-altering truth I’ve recently discovered: Be mindful of the way your actions and words are received. You can act any goddamn way you want, but not with blatant disregard for others. Only losers behave that way.

I’m making an effort to be more mindful. I acknowledge the derogatory origins. But I also recognize the evolution of the word. And the deep satisfaction I feel as my lips purse together to form the initial sound.

Also, I feel closer to Jesse Pinkman. I love that bitch.

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image via blueq