The following was originally published by Ace Priscilla on her blog Much Like Sarah, Exactly Like Me. We at the Sarah Connor Charm School highly recommend reading her blog to see what our program is all about. Pri is chronicling her progress through our curriculum. She will also answer reader’s questions about it. This is an awesome opportunity to see what we’re all about at heart.
This is how it is.
I graduated high school approximately six years ago, and since that time, I have failed at everything I have attempted. Please, don’t give me the tired line that “the only failure is in not trying” because I am from the south and we know better.
I started college a few short months after graduation, and I still don’t have even a two-year degree. My first engagement broke off bitterly. My marriage ended in disaster. I haven’t finished a multi-chaptered story since I was sixteen. I’ve wanted to be everything from a high school teacher to a boxer.
Let me back up a little.
I was born on an island, and I live about an hour from it. I’m a gulf coast girl. My parents divorced when I was six months old, and neither of them have ever given me siblings. I solved that problem by finding my own. I have three sisters, all younger, and an older brother. They occupy the largest part of my heart.
Now, let me explain how I got here.
While my marriage was falling apart, an old friendship eventually turned dark and headed for the graveyard as well, and I broke under the strain. I coped by giving into the insecurities I’d held for as long as I could remember- my appearance. To be more specific, my body. It began innocently enough: I went back on a diet. (I’ve been on or off a diet for most of my life.) I decided I would cut down to 1200 calories a day, a little low but not starving. Within two weeks, I decided I would cut that down to 1100. Then to 1000 calories. This was dangerous territory. Within a week, that became 900. And after that, my calorie allotment dwindled faster and faster. Eventually, my goal each day was to consume no more than 300 of those hated calories. 300. I had it mapped out. A typical day, if I were alone, consisted of toast and cheese for breakfast, a yogurt for lunch, and a glass of milk for dinner. Milk was my best friend. Milk made me feel full.
Now, of course, I could rarely keep that goal. I don’t have the willpower necessary to starve myself for weeks on end, which is a blessing. This almost daily failure was torture on my already mostly destroyed self-esteem. I hated myself. I would cry when I couldn’t stop myself from eating. I started cutting again, thin lines on my stomach or breasts that I made with a safety pin. Eventually, to help myself meet my goal, I would take things like Motrin or Tylenol on a regular basis, because this made it impossible to feel the hunger pains.
The failures kept adding up, because I was trying so hard to snap myself out of my bad habit before I really fucked myself up for good. But it was addicting- For no other reason than calories gave me something to obsess over other than my marriage, and later, my dissolving friendship. Eventually, someone in my life made a mean joke at my expense. They chastised me for ordering dessert after dinner. I defiantly ate every bite. Then, I rushed back to my home and crossed over from obsessive dieting to very dangerous behavior. I knelt before my toilet and I forced myself to vomit until only bile was left. Pride filled me. Pride that I had gotten the food out of me, pride that I had managed to make myself vomit on command. And immediately after, I felt fear. A lot of fear.
If I returned to that moment in my life, I would take a different path. I would call one of the many available hotlines and talk to a stranger about my fears, about what had just occurred in my bathroom. But, I didn’t do that. I talked to my old friend, and I talked to one of my sisters. I am talker, that is who I am. I talk about what’s on my mind, and what was on my mind, constantly, was my deteriorating mental status. The way I deal with things, even today, is by talking through them. (This means I often put my foot in my mouth.) My old friend had no patience for this; they had their own problems without adding mine to them. And this is when things began to dissolve between he and I. For awhile, my sister and I weren’t doing so well either.
Around this time, I met Sarah for the first time on a trip to the city. She didn’t say anything about the dark circles under my eyes or the sadness in them. Mostly, she talked about her son and a deep hatred for technology. She talked a little about Kyle, and then it was my turn not to say anything about sad eyes. Sarah left an impression on me, and I hoped I would cross paths with her again.
It would be six months before I did. I had barely moved for weeks, though I had managed to go to the park to work out most mornings after many sleepless nights. I was exhausted with my life. My divorce was in full swing, my friendship was dead, and I was content to let the misery have me. There were many days I didn’t leave my house at all. And then, by a stroke of luck and a little determination, I managed to find her online. I sent her an email, never expecting her to reply, but she did. Her words gave me the hope that I so desperately needed, and she directed me to a woman named Saigh, who would eventually become my friend.
Saigh is the dean of a very unique charm school named after Sarah, and that school is the reason I’m on this blog today. It has taken me three years since I was initially accepted into the SCCS for me to be mentally recovered enough to really pursue my degree. This school saved my life, because it gave me a positive focus. It showed me I could be healthy and strong and be beautiful. I didn’t have to choose. That beauty came from strength and ability, not from being so thin a strong breeze would blow me away. I’ve spent my life watching action movies, wanting to be like the men I saw, but wanting to look like the women they saved. Now, I want to look like myself- like the best version of myself, whatever that is. The healthiest version. And I still want to be an action hero. Sarah showed me that I can be. Now that my mind is as healthy as I can ask it to be, I am ready to take on what I’m sure will be a very rewarding challenge.
Upon my graduation from my beloved Sarah Connor Charm School, I will be much like Sarah and exactly like me.
You can call me Ace Priscilla.