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.

Walking in L.A. (Notes on That One Time I Didn’t Die) Also, GIVEAWAY: Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names Print

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I’ve been feeling unwell lately, and I really thought it was because my body missed smoking so much (Today is my 50th day of being cigarette-free. Cold turkey after 18 years.), but I went to the doctor this morning, and now I have to go get a scan or some shit. Also, they told me I can’t eat or drink anything until then, and as I have shared on multiple occasions, one of my biggest fears in life is dehydrating to death. I’m trying not to engage in conversation because I don’t want to open my mouth and allow air to touch what little moisture I have in there.

I really wanted to make this an extremely long, self-congratulatory post about how I walked the streets of L.A. and didn’t die, but I’m thirsty and I just want to use what little brain power I have left to think about my favorite beverages (Cactus Cooler: #1).

Water is wonderful. I love it. Please drink some. I am so thirsty.
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Even though I’ve moved more than 20 times, I’ve never lived in a city that required a lot of walking except for Boston. Walking requires a basic level of caution. Balance. Agility. Attention. It seems like a pretty difficult activity once you break it down like that, but a lot of people do it and do it well. I don’t. That’s why I live in L.A.

A few weeks ago, I dropped Cal off at school and then headed to a service center because my car was making a “noise.” When asked to describe the noise, I was not able to provide a satisfactory response, so I had to leave the car. It seemed like more of a hassle to get a loaner for just a few hours than to get a ride home.

It’s so hard to get into a home without a garage opener or house keys. :( That sounds like an excuse because burglars do it all of the time, but I’ve never robbed a home before. Did I ever think that not violating CA Penal Code 459 would one day come back to bite me in the ass? No, I did not. I don’t fuck with felonies. Once you become a parent, you can’t really go beyond misdemeanors. Think about your kids.

I also did not have my wallet. Or any loose change. My phone was about to die. Luckily, I had an unopened package of Pez and several high-end lip balms in my purse.

My first priority was charging my phone since the service center would call when my car was ready. My garage opener is programmed into my car, so that phone call would set everything right. I decided to walk to Best Buy, where I could use one of the phone chargers they already had out for the display models.

Have you ever tried walking the streets of Los Angeles? I probably walked, like, 12 miles. I don’t know. Is one average-length block about one mile? Maybe I walked 17 miles. I never knew that the walkman/stophand sign made little tweeting noises. Is that noise for the visually-challenged? I don’t think you should be walking the streets of Hell Ay if you’re blind. I’m not blind, but if I took out my contact lenses, I would not walk down Wilshire or San Vicente because I don’t want to die right now. I have too much unfinished business. I just ordered so many things from Etsy, and I want to at least see those items in person before I go meet the Lord.

Anyways, I walked about 35 miles to the closest Best Buy. It was a good day for my FitBit. One important aside: If you drive a Bentley, stoplights still apply to you. Even though my phone was dead and I had no money and I was temporarily homeless, I felt really good about myself for coming up with a solution, deciding on a course of action, and following through with it.

I couldn’t get into Best Buy. It was still closed. For 57 more minutes.

I sat on the curb but I didn’t cry because I had no way of buying water to replenish the fluids I lost. I never let my stupid emotions fuck with the delicate balance of my body’s hydration. I closed my eyes and thought about the younger me and how she always wanted to be an adult because adults had it so, so easy. That younger me was very stupid, and I wish there was a way to go back in time and tell her to sit down and shut up.

I heard someone call my name in the distance. My immediate reaction was “this is how I’m going to die,” but then I opened my eyes and looked towards the voice because most murderers would not have that level of affection or sincerity in their voice. It was one of my best homegirls, Trace, who lives NOWHERE NEAR me or that Best Buy. She just happened to be in that parking lot at that exact moment because….this is for real….she was meeting a friend who had her phone charger.

I’ve thought about that moment every day since then. Sometimes, what we need most is to hear the beloved and familiar voice of a friend. And also, her phone charger.

GIVEAWAY: Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names Print

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Even though my little “I’ll just pack up some junk” office project has somehow turned into a whole room makeover, Harv has been patient and supportive. I’ve been eyeing this Pop Chart Lab Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names print for a long time, and after we spent nearly a week glittering the fuck out of some walls, he gave me the print “for my new Thug Office.”  Due to a shipping mix-up, we ended up receiving two of these posters. When I hollered at Pop Chart Lab about the extra poster, they very kindly told me to keep it. So I’m giving one away. This sensational and extremely educational 18″ x 24″ print is perfect for a Thug Office/ Thuglet Nursery/ Gangster Living Room….basically, any room that is important to you is the perfect place for it.

To enter: Leave a comment below with your favorite lyrics from a rap song. Only comments left on this post qualify. Giveaway closes Sunday, February 23, 11:59 p.m. PT. I’ll announce a winner in next week’s post.

My favorite lyrics:

Cop lights, flash lights
Spot lights, strobe lights
Street lights
Fast life, drug life 
Thug life, rock life
Every night

Kanye West- “All of the Lights”