My Body is My Home

By Rachel Dowda

My Body is My Home

Sometimes I wake up bursting with love, wrapped tightly in blankets, with the sun streaming through the blinds and my pup at the foot of the bed. 

And those feelings sometimes last through the day. But even if a day may start well, at any moment my skin can start talking, telling me that everything feels tight. Even the hair on my head feels tight, like a baseball cap that’s too small. And that illogical observation is what I'm grasping on to, to tell me that this constructed reality is not true. 

You're hair doesn't shrink around your head. It just doesn't work like that.

But my jeans, shirt, bra, underwear, socks, shoes, and jewelry feel tighter than normal, like someone stuck me with a bike pump, and filled me with air.

I want to rip this skin off, let the air come out, and get into a smaller skin suit. But I know that I wouldn’t be able to fit into the skin suit I want; it wouldn't be able to zip no matter how hard I sucked in. 

The frustrating thing is that just this morning my clothes felt soft and roomy, maybe even cute. But it just takes one hurtful, frustrating, or triggering thing to make the fabric shrink around my body.

The problem is that I’m not even sure what my actual skin suit looks like. Even during those sunny mornings, I’m not truly certain. Maybe it looks fine. I know my eyes are not able to see myself correctly; the reverse of the Emperor's new clothes. I’m wearing invisible skin that my mind picked out of my Eating Disorder’s closet. And even though I’m in recovery, these dysmorphic glasses are really hard to take off.

Will I ever know if I’m seeing my actual self? Will my eyes ever adjust to 20/20 vision? Or will my body always be a mystery, a guessing game where I depend on photographs, mirrors that lie, and friends to provide the data. But I’ll never know if the data is accurate. 

I feel like a sixth grade science fair project gone bad, where the results aren't accurate and the baking soda volcano didn’t erupt because something went wrong along the way. But its confusing and I can’t find the error no matter how many times I repeat the procedures.

As the judges walk around my tri-fold board, I don't receive a ribbon because the data is skewed. On my board there’s a cutout of my body, alongside bar graphs and flow charts; and the judge is looking at it, shaking his head asking, “where’s the evidence? You need to start over”. 

But then with a deep breath I waltz out of the gymnasium, passing volcanos and bean sprouts and tooth pick roller coasters; leaving because I don’t want to be a science fair project. I don’t want my body to be defined by bar graphs, flow-charts, gluesticks, and poster boards. 

I don’t want my body to be defined by my mind that is reaching for wholeness but who’s eyes just aren’t there yet. They mean well, they just aren't seeing my body for who she truly is; what she truly looks like.

I was made to sleep under stars and tell secrets with friends around campfires and hike mountain tops, where the wind can play with my hair. In those moments my body is at peace and my skin suit doesn't feel tight but like a little sister: slightly irritating but so lovable. I’m made to innovate and create and believe the impossible. And right now the impossible I’m believing that I’m ok, and I’m not wearing a suit that is put on and taken off everyday, but what i’m wearing is my home. A home that deserves love and belonging, no matter how I feel about it. A home that is safe and full of kindness. 

And that “ok” is truth and good enough for now. 

 Rachel Dowda

Rachel Dowda