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.

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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.

Look How Far You’ve Come (Notes on Therapy)

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I’ve been going to Corner Bakery for their Loaded Baked Potato Soup once or twice a week for the past few months. Sometimes, I upgrade to a bread bowl for an extra $1.89. I don’t do it all of the time because I don’t want luxury to become my standard. Plus, all of the soups come with a focaccia roll anyway, and it’s really not that hard to dig out a little soup moat. I treat myself to these soup lunches on the days I go to therapy.

I’ve avoided therapy for most of my life because the whole concept seemed like a crock of shit. Still, I’ve gone on occasion over the past sixteen years. Many of those visits were part of different drug treatment programs. You have to go every day and act like you’re making breakthroughs, but really, you’re just thinking how many more times do I have to lie to this homegirl wearing all Talbots errything before she recommends my release. It’s never made a difference because I had no interest in sorting through my sordid past. Processing and transcending and letting go takes time and effort. Not only did that seem painful and unnecessary, I also believed that I had earned the right to harbor all of my rage and depression. They were my souvenirs for surviving, and I fucking love souvenirs. (A big shout out to my Disney lapel pin collection. You guys keep my lanyards looking fly.)

The only gift Harv wanted for our anniversary last fall was for me to find a therapist I liked and start going on a regular basis. At some point in 2013, I moved into Rock Bottom, and he could see that I had no interest in leaving. Actually, I was getting settled and quite comfortable in my new little hole, and every time I left and came back, it just felt like home.

The request came at a bad time because I had already ordered a Full Dozen Strawberry Medley from Shari’s Berries as an anniversary gift for Harv. Highly perishable items are extremely tricky to return…if you can return them at all. I said I would “think about it” which is basically a “no” in adult code language. He didn’t pressure me nor did he bring it up again.

A few nights later, I had a hankering for something delicious and ate seven of the nine remaining Berries. I am surprised by my own selfishness from time to time. This was one of those times. Shari, why you gotta make your products so delectable? It didn’t seem right to order another dozen, and I thought about blaming Cal but decided against it. I felt horrible and guilty so I told Harv that I would start going to therapy. I don’t know. It made sense at the time.

My advice to you would be to think carefully before putting someone else’s food into your mouth.

I am trying something new this go-round: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR for short. It sounds kind of creepy. Maybe it is creepy but it can’t possibly be worse than everything that I have ever done to myself because I, on a deep level and in a non-transient way, dislike myself.

EMDR is supposedly effective for people who have experienced severe trauma that remains unprocessed. It goes directly against the coping mechanisms I have become so good at- denial, dissociative amnesia, detachment. In each session, I recall traumatic and distressing experiences, and as I allow the memory to fully unfold, I am taken through a series of sensory exercises.

I can’t describe it more than that. I don’t have the right words and it sort of makes me sick to think about it. Poet Nayyirah Waheed’s words on love now cross my mind each time I walk through my therapist’s doors:

“like everything I’ve ever lost come back to me.”

Except none of my memories involve love.

I still go and I haven’t given up on EMDR yet, although I feel like I am being punished twice for each moment I recall- once by living through it and a second time by inviting it back to invade the small amount of peace I have gathered and stored. Everything that I have ever pushed out and ignored and left by the wayside is coming back to me.

Each time I leave, I call Harv. The conversations are most often about how lonely I feel. I complained about this loneliness for months. Just two weeks ago, it dawned on me that it wasn’t loneliness at all. It was grief. But since I had not allowed myself to grieve about anything for such a long time, the only label my mind could attach to the heavy feeling was loneliness.  I’m not very good at grieving, but I feel like it could become one of my better skills. Like scrapbooking. My scrapping skills are fucking legit.

“Sometimes just the act of sharing a painful secret can relieve some of the pain.” -Anonymous

I hope so.
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Holler at me: Flourish in Progress on Facebook (I post a lot of quotes and thug shit here. Pretty decent way to waste time.) Instagram @flourishinprogress (me in a crop top, my crack house window, shit like that) Twitter @ElizabethJLiu (I complain a lot here.)

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For Better or For Worse

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According to a free online personality test, I am an introvert. An ISFP to be specific. Even though the site states multiple times that none of the sixteen possible types are better or worse than another, I am not happy with ISFP, so I will be taking other free tests until I achieve the desired result. I would prefer to be an intuitive, thinking, judging extrovert. Basically, I still want to be me, but just the exact opposite.
——

Welp, I just took two more tests, and I’m still an ISFP.

My problem is that I’m too honest. After an extensive internet search on ways to cheat the Myers-Briggs test, I distilled my notes into one Super Tip: pick the opposite answer. It seemed easy at first because my Super Tip was only one action item, but some of these tests have sixty questions. I guess I’m too wonderful of a person to lie sixty times in a row.

The Introvert vs. Extrovert typification is most important to me because I’ve always considered myself an extrovert. I mean, yes, I:

1. Become extremely shy in larger social settings and many (MANY) people often mistake it as being bitchy and aloof.
2. Like being with just a few close friends or alone.
3. Need time to recharge if I’ve spent the day interacting with others.
4. Go to the bathroom a lot when I am out and stay way too long in there because I enjoy the silence interrupted only by an occasional flush.
5. Avoid eye contact because yes, I
5b. Am shitty at small talk.
6. Start feeling lightheaded on Monday if I am leaving for a conference on Friday.

Now that all of these seemingly unrelated factors are in one list, I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m an introvert. In my defense, I said I was wonderful, not all-knowing.

Maybe I wanted to be an extrovert so badly that somewhere along the way, I started believing my own bullshit. The same experience happened with my height recently. I’d never considered myself a person of vertical disadvantage until I stood next to some sixth graders. What the fuck are kids eating these days?

The one person who makes me feel completely at ease is Harv. That’s why I call him five times a day at work. Sometimes, the calls are necessary and important, but most of the time (like 99.9999%), it’s a short chat on topics I find most interesting at that moment- rap music, Tom Ford lipsticks, clothing care and moth prevention…I hate those fiber-destroying motherfuckers.

Harv has been especially busy these past few months. We don’t talk as much, but I often dial his number out of habit. I absentmindedly called him after taking the third personality test and a few minutes into our chat, I heard several voices in the background. He was on a conference call, but he told me to “keep going” with my story so I did. Less than a minute later, I heard more voices. He was on a conference call, people were in his office waiting for him, and he was on another phone with me. I offered to hang up, but he said, “No, it’s okay, I want you to hear about your day.”

I think….I think I don’t really care if I’m an ISFP. I guess I had to start with all of those words first because what I really wanted to talk about makes me nervous. It really blows my mind that Harv loves me at all. I can’t believe that someone so special thinks that I’m special and worthwhile too. He didn’t have to love me and it’s hard to love me, but he does it anyway. Not just because he’s a good person (he is) and not just because he has a lot of patience (he does), but because for him, since the age of 17, I was different and special and he never forgot me.

His love has allowed me to heal in ways I can’t verbalize quite yet, and I finally feel like I can accept myself just as I am because he reminds me all of the time that I’m a good person too and I’m going to be all right.

That’s what I wanted to say all along- I am awed by my husband’s love. Also, I hope he loves me enough to help me cheat on some online tests tonight.

Holler at me: Flourish in Progress on Facebook, @flourishinprogress on Instagram, @ElizabethJLiu on Twitter
So much not-seen-on-this-blog shit on these 3. Forrealz.

P.S. Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names Print WINNER: Rommy Delgado Coleman. Please email me at flourishinprogress at gmail with your mailing address.