Archives for September 2013

Inhale the good shit. Exhale the bullshit.


I tend to discount advice from friends, because honestly, if they’ve chosen to be friends with me, then what exactly does that say about their ability to make solid life choices? Hm?

Eventually, “Shalinda” might repeat something that several other people have opined, and if those several other people and this “Shalinda” aren’t associated with each other (Always a giveaway in my mind that it’s a joint venture intervention and Goddammit I’m onto you.), then I might consider it as a possibility. Very rarely do I ever complete the thought process and make a decision as to whether the statement is actually right or wrong. When I’m forced to perform difficult tasks like thinking, especially if it’s for more than a nine or ten seconds, I become emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally drained for days. By the time I recover, I have to use my brain again for a completely different thought. Life is hard.

I’ve always believed that my self-image comes from no one else but me. This is so far from the truth that I am totally embarrassed to admit it. In eight grade, I found out that Achilles is actually pronounced “a kill eez” and not “a chill eez” in front of the entire class, and that was pretty rough. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but my recent revelation was even worse than that time in eight grade. Sometimes you need a point of reference to understand the gravity of a situation.

I came to the realization that the way I view myself is largely comprised of other people’s opinions and not my own during lunch with a good friend. I wished out loud to be more like my family. Harv and Cal are so brilliant. I’m just the odd thug out.

“Elizabeth, you’re smart,” she said.

Out of habit, I immediately launched into a list of reasons backed by actual events and a few fun factoids that discredited her kindness.

She replied in a no-nonsense tone, “I can’t be friends with dumb people. It’s exhausting.”

I let myself consider the possibility for more than nine or ten seconds. It blew my fucking mind. Like, forrealz.

Since kindergarten, when I repeatedly peed in my pants because I couldn’t remember enough English to request a hall pass, I believed that I was dumb. After lunch, I sat in my car and thought about being stupid and other “truths” which shaped my self-image. They were so deeply rooted and long-standing that I had just assumed they were true.

The passing comments and direct criticism I heard as a kid shaped my Me View. Because the majority of those early comments were negative, I learned to discount any positive statements. And worse still, any time I heard negativity that fed those early seeds, I welcomed it because I thought that person was seeing my core.

I find it ironic that it was yet another person’s opinion that lifted the curtain and propelled me to examine the wasteland I held as Core Truths. I’ve always regarded kindness with suspicion, but I was wrong as fuck. It’s actually cooler than shit to have people in your life who can tell you the truth and be kind too. It may not always happen at the same time, but these people help you see the truth about yourself…if you let them. THANK YOU, L.


My homegirl, Shannon Bindler, wrote this: “I Am Beautiful” Are Not Dirty Words. I love it. I’m so grateful to have people in my life like Shannon who keep kindness king.


I experimented with my new work method: One Game Of Candy Crush Per Paragraph. Are there some design flaws? Yes. However, I am not a quitter and will continue to modify aforementioned method. You can “like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page or follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress) to get updates on my exhaustive research and for other (t)hug life happenings like snapshots from my past weekend at Rock the Bells aka Gangsters Paradise. Thank you for your support.

Ghetto University (Notes on Getting Over the Past)

EJLgoodintentionsImage: Flourish in Progress on Instagram

The first time I landed in rehab, I met a woman who’s addiction ended up saving her life. She had two children, a husband, a home in the country, and a small apartment near the Ivy League university where she taught (for late nights when she was too exhausted to make the long drive home).

A few months before voluntarily checking into rehab, she sunk into a low place where she felt broken beyond repair and decided that what she wanted most was to kill herself. But before doing it, she wanted everything around her to be perfect, because she hated the thought of inconveniencing anyone. She deep cleaned the carpets and laid liners in drawers and responded to student emails and wrote letters to her daughters. No matter how many tasks she completed to tie up all of the loose ends, the list just seemed to grow. To numb her exhaustion, she started doing meth. What began as an occasional boost quickly grew into a raging addiction.

When she realized that she had spiraled from “just” suicidal to suicidal addict, she was forced to admit that what she had previously defined as her rock bottom wasn’t really the bottom. This inability to determine just how fucked up her life could become comforted her. She decided that leaving would be so much worse than staying and that she was, in fact, NOT broken beyond repair.

I’ve thought about her a lot over the years.

I turned 33 yesterday. If someone had told me on my last birthday what the year ahead would look like, I would have started drinking immediately and stayed shitfaced for the entire twelve months. Unfortunately, I don’t have any psychic friends, and I don’t keep alcoholic beverages in my home.  (Side note: My mother still brings up that one time in 1992 I called the Psychic Friends Network for eleven minutes at a rate of $3.99/min. Please let it go, ma.)

I allowed myself to feel dirty emotions like grief and regret and shame. I sunk into a deep depression. On days when I spent the majority of my time in bed, hiding away under the masses of pillows and blankets, I agonized over the poor life choices I’ve made since becoming a teen, and I realized that I hadn’t ever carefully considered what it is that would make me feel like a whole person.

And because I am not yet whole, I am afraid that my pockets of emptiness will swallow anyone that crosses my path. I don’t hug my daughter as much as I want to. A very large part of me believes that my dirtiness will rub off on her and sully her remarkable sheen.

Processing my past took me to Ghetto University. I’ve known for some time that by holding on to the ghosts of people and places and moments that are no longer part of my present experience, I’ve relinquished my right to enjoy life. But still, letting go seemed like such a waste- all the effort I had put into obsessing about what could have been or what I was owed or what I still owed others.

I stayed away from blogging. Everything I wrote looked exactly the same, week after week. I was waiting to be perfect to start again. Which is, like, totally fucking weird, because I’ve never been perfect before. The probability of stumbling into perfection while eating Kit Kats in bed and then throwing the empty wrappers on the floor is extremely low.

Because I have lived for so long suspended in the belief that I’m not equipped to make smart decisions for myself and that I don’t really deserve forgiveness, I didn’t know how to step out of that pit at first. Peace seemed foreign. But strange places can be wonderful.

I’m still working my way out, but all of it, every ugly crack I’ve tripped over, has been worth it.

I must remember: I do not have to be perfect to be good. This applies to you too.


P.S. Yesterday also marked the 3rd anniversary of this blog. I had no idea when I started that this would bring so much goodness into my life. For between-post updates and random (t)hug life thoughts, “like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page or follow along on the Instagram (username: flourishinprogress) grind.