Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Be your own best friend.

One day in grade eight, a handful of public health nurses came to visit our classroom. They warned us about the excessive hair that was probably already growing in all sorts of places, about the technical difficulties we might experience while inserting a tampon, and how most women don’t lose all their baby weight.
During one session, a nurse stood at the front of the classroom holding a piece of paper. ILAC, it said on the paper in big black letters.
“I’m Loveable And Capable.” That’s what ILAC stood for. “This is your self-esteem,” the nurse explained. She proceeded to rip up the paper. Apparently once your ILAC breaks into pieces, it could never ever be the same. The nurse illustrated this by taping together the ripped pieces of paper. You could still read the letters ILAC, but she was right, it wasn’t the same. It looked all ripped apart.

A couple of years later, I remember seeing this same nurse at the gym, where I engaged in a vigorous and extensive, self-loathing exercise regime. Like me, she had a solid two and a half hour workout. We started with at least an hour of cardio, preferably the stairmaster or rowing machine since they burned the most calories. Next was a fast-paced dynamic free weights routine, crunch-til-you-can-no-longer-menstruate, and a brief conclusion of minimal stretching.  
There is a story about taking a shit on the treadmill. Some other time.
I’m Loveable And Capable. I lack without a k.

When I was in second year university, my beloved roommate came home with a mission. It seemed she had a realistic opportunity to give a blow job in the near future. She was both excited and bewildered. How do you give a blow job? Neither of us had any idea. There was only one thing to do. Call my older sister. Earnest and focussed, my roommate faithfully wrote down my sister’s step-by-step instructions. My sister was full of helpful tips. Lovingly, my roommate stored the list in a drawer. As far as I know, the blow job was a success. 

Back then I thought that spooning involved spoons and vaginas. For this reason, my roommate and I had to call McGill nightline for clarification. So I learned that spooning is significantly more wonderful than I imagined.
On the fridge of second year university apartment, we’d stuck a hand-out my therapist had given me. The hand-out was about negative thinking patterns.

“Be Your Own Best Friend,” it said at the top. Underneath were the words, “Treat Yourself Well.” Every once in a while my roommate would repeat this, when I was frenzied and frazzled about some essay, dude or food hang-up.
Be your own best friend.
“You’re really hard on yourself,” a friend told me recently.

“But it’s the only thing I am good at,” I said. “I am so good at it!" I am amazingly good at it. And it’s hard to find something you are consistently talented at. Even if you have an expertly dictated how-to blowjob list tucked into a drawer, next to the condom jar.
When I was fifteen years old, a few months after I shit my pants on the treadmill, I was hospitalized in an adolescent psychiatric ward for eating too many laxatives. A terrifying psychiatrist named Dr. Roberts ran the ward. The bun on the back of her head was so tight it looked like it hurt her face. All the patients would seize up and shudder whenever they heard her high heels clicking from down the hallway. It seemed Dr. Roberts could not speak without snapping. I suppose she had a difficult childhood. They say this why people become psychologists and psychiatrists. Maybe I should have given that a try.
While I was in the psych ward, I vowed that I would never again puke or purge or obsess about my weight if it meant that I would avoid being re-incarcerated. It seemed so simple. The day I left, I was certain that my eating disorder was all over. Her voice void of compassion, Dr. Roberts announced otherwise.
“You are not out of the woods,” she said. “You have a severe eating disorder and because you are an externally motivated person, you are going to have a hard time.”
Damn. And with that vote of confidence, my parents drove me home. Although Dr. Roberts’ delivery left about a million things to be desired, that part about being externally motivated has proved to be somewhat true.
Fame, Money, Weight Loss, Prizes, Sex (FMWLPS), none of these things are a given. Stunning Blog Stats (SBS), Innumerable Facebook Likes (IFL), these too pass away. If such items are your main source of motivation, you are probably going to have a hard time.
In less than two weeks, I am going to be thirty. I no longer have a severe eating disorder, but that took a really long time. And I remain highly motivated by external things. Stunning Blog Stats. Sources of Sexual Gratification (SOGS). Prizes. Sometimes I have a hard time. I am not my own best friend.
Back when I was twenty years old, I lived and worked at house for people with intellectual disabilities. After one year, I had to decide whether or not to stay for another year. During my weekly 32 hours off, I used to write down lots of things in a little purple notebook. Like this list of my goals for my whole life. I have already published this list, but since I am going to be thirty, and because I used to be such a darling, I get to publish it again.

The Purple Notebook

Life Goals

never get fat, that is to say, always be physically fit
                master French

Learn a new language
                                Either Spanish
                                 Italian or

 Properly perform
headstands and

Develop flexibility

     Live in Third World Country
     Live in Europe

Finish University Degree

   Develop piano talent

       Fall in Love.

Be immersed in a language Other Than My Own

                Write Novels
                    And Short Stories.
                                ->Become Famous
                                        Doing This

Not to worry about money but to live simply

Not to worry.

   Be Close to Someone Who Dies
          Fall in love
              Not get cancer.
                Be Grateful for Life

Always be helping children and/or adults with disabilities.
The End of the List.
Life Goals, by Erica
I ended up staying a second year at the house for the people with disabilities. Over the next decade, more than half of the list came true. Many of the important things. Some of the embarrassing things. As it turns out, many of the items you put on lists end up happening. Whether or not you hang the lists on your fridge. It’s possible that you don’t even need a list. Just like you don’t really need blow job instructions.

Even so, here’s my list for the next seven years. Feel free to put in your purple notebook, or on your fridge, or in a drawer next to your condom jar:

You’re loveable and capable.                                                                                                                         
In fact, you are kind of a darling.
Be your own best friend.
Treat yourself well.

The End. 
Me and my friend the Corn Puppet

Not Separate From All That Is
The Benefits of an Ashtanga Yoga Practice, Part Two
The Closer I am to Fine

Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Is anyone on Twitter anymore? @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go by Erica J. Schmidt

P.S. Parents from Eastern Ontario: If you have a teenager in distress, take them to CHEO in Ottawa. The staff there are so lovely.

Also, thank you to everyone for reading and sharing my blog series, Where is Emma Fillipoff. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, here is Part One: The Grieving Mothers of Perth Ontario.

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