Nikki

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To be "at home in one's body" has been, for much of my life, a curious and foreign phrase to me. My body and the brain it houses have generally been at odds with my own existence in this world. 

For instance, when I look at images of my body, I see the scar where, at the delicate age of eight, a tube was inserted into my lungs to deflate them. Then, there is the scar on my back and under my ribs: the hole cut to break a rib and fix the aberrant vasculature of my heart that was suffocating my own organs. 

Alongside these scars proving my body fought to live, I see the faint lines along hips and ankles, of my own doing. The ones regularly made years ago by a knife or piece of glass that, for a brief moment, would numb the pain of my brain and  (emotional) heart. The ones that mark the moments of hopelessness, despair... and nearly throwing in the towel.

I see the innumerable invisible scars that have scabbed over with time. Being told I was the kind of girl "you put a bag over" when you want to fuck her. Looking in the mirror and counting my ribs, weighing myself and letting the numbers mean everything. The countless invasive fantasies of a billion ways I could end it quickly. The countless nights trying to sleep while being driven by a motor to stay awake and do, do, do. For a decade, letting my body and brain be owned by another - to violate, to manipulate, to use. I called that love. 

"Love" - it seemed- was a cage, a scar, a similar hell as being inside of my brain and limited body. The four years since escaping the cage of that “loving" relationship have been a journey of learning how to free myself of the cage of this brain and body I live in. It has involved physical, sexual, mental, spiritual, and emotional exploration, struggle, pain, love, heartbreak, and release. 

In that journey, new scars have formed, but they are from rock climbing, various adventures, banged up knees, healed bones and tendons. When I look at my body now, I see muscles that bring it places, a heart that beats (and loves), and lungs that breathe. I see smile lines becoming more indented than the arrows of tense forehead lines. I see eyes that have known deep rest within warm arms and love (real love) that knows no bounds. I see a quietness, a lightness, an ease.

The ease comes in letting go:
Of numbers on the scale,
Of any size or shape,
Of any labels of “health” or “pathology,”
Of any standards society
Says we “should” be.

This ease comes in acceptance:
This body
and this brain
are mine
and no one can give me others,
nor (now) would I wish they could. 

This ease comes in compassion:
My body and brain 
have been through 
much suffering
and I can choose 
to end the cycle.

It turns out that my body can be my temple,
The brain it encases my peace.

Finally. I think I understand now what is meant by “being at home in one’s body.” Day by day, I welcome myself at the door of my own home - the home I have been building my whole life, but regularly ignoring. It is a home that continues to grow stronger, safer, more nurturing, and more loving...

on the inside and the outside.