Thug Matrimony

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I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’ve only forgotten my wedding anniversary twice. Since I view life as a series of small victories, I’m not shy about reminding Harv that I’ve remembered FOUR out of SIX anniversaries. If you’re math-minded, that’s well over 50%.

We celebrated this year by going to an Earth, Wind & Fire concert, not only because their pimp game is still strong, but because it’s the one band we can enjoy together. Usually, I’m on the rap grind, and Harv likes Nerdist podcasts. I can’t remember the last time I heard music in his car. It still pinches my insides to know that Harv doesn’t understand any of my Trick Daddy references, but I’m a big believer in the Hands Off Policy. I never force the people I love into bettering themselves. Instead, I offer gentle reminders that they’re living in darkness.

I might say, “You’re only a dime-store version of yourself without _______.” (Possible endings: regular exercise, a multivitamin, self-worth, Tupac) (Note regarding endings: I don’t exercise or take supplements, and I have ongoing issues with self-worth, but I listen to a lot of rap so that makes me an expert in life, money, boss bitches, cars, parole, and Tom Ford.)

Harv never dismisses any of my helpful and extremely valuable suggestions. Instead, he always stops what he’s doing to make eye contact and listen. And even when I change my mind halfway through a thought and divert the conversation in another direction, he doesn’t act like he’s chatting with an elderly shut-in suffering from dementia. Only a handful of people have made that comparison, so it’s probably not even a real thing.

After six simultaneously long and short years, I’ve realized that these everyday courtesies differentiate bomb marriages from bombed marriages.

The problem in our marriage is that only one person is being courteous.

I’m the other person.

Once in a while, I’m a good wife. Harv brought home half a pound of candy from a business trip last week, and I saved him three jelly beans. Actually, it ended up being only two beans because the tip of the third one had already touched my tongue before I remembered anyone but myself. After I put the bean back, I couldn’t stop thinking about germs, so I ended up eating it. Not giving contaminated food products to a spouse is also another form of courtesy.

I’m quick to point out imperfect minutiae, but on the rare occasion Harv offers a suggestion, devoid of judgment, I’m all Your high standards are unreal, broseph. Everybody throws wrappers on the floor if a trash can is too far away . LET ME LIVE MY LIFE. 

Harv has never given up on me, even during the lowest moments of my depression and self-sabotaging behavior. When I ask him why he stays, he replies, “Because I think you’re worth it. I hope one day you know you’re worth it too.”

Instead of feeling gratitude, this always makes me wish he had married someone else. It must be hard waiting around for the woman you think your wife could someday become to show up. It’s a lot of pressure to know that someone chooses to see the best in you, despite daily reminders otherwise.

Last year, on our fifth anniversary, I tattooed the title of a song I’ve been listening to for over ten years on my arm. It’s my promise to Harv that someday…I’ll fly with you.

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Monday Dare: That’s mine, motherfucker

therightman

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or to learn more about its origin.

This week: Own it

This occurred to me very recently: I have the power to make my life easy or difficult.

It seems like such a simple thing. If something can be distilled down into just a few words, it has to be easy, yes?

Yes. I mean, sort of. Only “sort of” because now, to do this supposedly simple thing, I have to go around collecting my power from the people I’ve been giving it to since…forever.

There’s not much left in my own reserve. So little, in fact, that I’m reminded of all the times I’ve been too lazy to turn the near-empty bottle of hair conditioner upside-down before I step out of the shower. Then, of course, the next time I’m washing up, I have neither the time nor the patience to flip the bottle on its head and wait while the remainder pools near the opening. I open the lid, swish a little water around, and pour the watered-down contents onto my head.

“Fuck it. This diluted shit is good enough,” I tell myself.

The diluted shit has always been good enough for me.

I’ve been giving away my power for so long, to so many people who didn’t even really deserve it in the first place, that I’ve had to make do with the dregs of what’s left for most of my adult life. 

It is only now that I understand what a profound impact this has had on my development and my happiness. My broken memories are populated by broken people with either too much power or not enough power.

Almost every time I venture out of the house lately, I bump into someone I so willingly handed my power to back in the day. I am reminded of the things they used to say to me. I am reminded of how I stayed silent during all of it.

Your ass is too flat. You have a little girl’s body. I don’t like it when your hair is up. I don’t like it when your hair is down. You swear too much. You’re not friendly enough. Your laugh is too loud. You laugh too much. You talk too much. You’re not really the kind of girl I can bring home to my parents. You dress like a sa mo neem (pastor’s wife). You dress like a hooker. You’re not very smart. You’re too smart. Your cooking tastes like shit. You’re a piece of shit. You’re a whore. You’re a waste of time. 

FUCK YOU. I’M AWESOME. That flat ass? Mine, motherfucker. I own it. I love it. That laugh? Mine. I love it. My clothes? That’s my style, fucker. I love it.

tupaclove

“There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen.

As I become brave enough to OWN ME, and as I allow my cracks to grow longer and wider, the light grows brighter, highlighting all of my dark secrets and ugly imperfections.

All things, even ugly things, take on radiance in the light.
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That Tupac shirt? I “borrowed” it from my kid. More pictures on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). And I’ll be announcing some exciting news on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page this week. Let’s get connected.

WINNERS of last week’s Wallflower giveaway: 1. M (you have the word “fair” in your email address), 2. Kristyn (“80″ in your email), 3. Amy (“79″ in your email), 4. Corin (“cb” are the first two letters in your email). Please drop me a line at flourishinprogress at gmail dot com with your address.

Monday Dare: Payback’s a bitch

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or learn more about its origin.

This week: Speak out

I once gave away my last ounce of dignity and pride while begging on my knees to save a poorly-assembled IKEA lamp, a pink Starbucks mug, and two cushions. The cushions had, at one time, belonged to a couch marked for the donations truck by a rich-as-fuck family because it was the wrong color. I didn’t have enough space for the couch, but I asked for the cushions because, well, they were from Pottery Barn, and I love fancy shit.

I spent most of my teens and twenties giving my power away to people who didn’t deserve it. Not that anyone ever really deserves your power. Sure, a small circle of people may deserve your loyalty or attention or assistance or companionship or love or friendship, but power is a tricky beast to own and tame, and it’s not something that should be given away freely, if at all.

The more I gave away my power, the less control I had over my life. And the less control I had over my life, the harder it became.

And because I gave away so much of my power, I guess it was no surprise that I ended up on my knees one night begging my boyfriend not to destroy the few things I had in the dingy fuckhole I called “home.” I loved those things because they were mine. They weren’t pretty, and they certainly weren’t valuable, but they brought me immense pleasure.

Getting on my knees wasn’t my idea. It was his. I didn’t invite him along when a girlfriend came over for coffee, and he was angry. He had already taken all the power from my insides, and now, he wanted an outward display of what my broken emptiness looked like.

I did it. I begged. I cried. I asked for forgiveness. I could hear some small part of the Me that still remained hissing quietly in my head, “Ain’t no motherfucka your king, bitch. This is some BULLSHIT,” but my sobs were louder. It’s often the loudest voices that get their way, even if those voices are wrong.

He isolated me from the people I loved the most. Even when we weren’t together, he told me that every one of my moves could be tracked. He reminded me often that he could listen in on any of my phone calls, that he had a tracking device installed on my car, and that each of my keystrokes was being logged. For years I saved a threatening voice message he left on my home answering machine. In case I just didn’t show up for something one day.

I spent most of my free time watching Snapped. If you’ve never watched it, I can break it down for you in one sentence: It’s a show about angry women who kill (mostly) men. I don’t watch that show anymore. It makes me uneasy, and it’s only now that I understand why I needed it so much. I didn’t have the balls to break out of the tiny prison of my own life, so I watched these women do the things I fantasized about doing. Not that I advocate murder. Really, don’t kill people, you guys.

I sent my five-year-old daughter away and made up some excuse about a better school district. I’ve never really talked about that before, but there it is. He wouldn’t let me leave. He said if I did, he would kill my mother, and then my daughter. So I stayed, but I sent her to live with my brother across the country.

I spent so many years cowering in fear of you coming after me. You told me never to tell anyone about what you did. But I don’t keep the promises I make to evil people like you. I will never be like you. 
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NEVER give away your power, friends. And never keep the secrets of those that betray you. Speak out.
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