My Body Is My Home ((TED Talk))

girls like me don’t find comfort in
bedsheets or city streets
the refuge does not come from the outside world,
not for someone who has everything they need
within the warmth of their skin.
there was a time when
my body was not my own
and my soul was taken piece by piece
from people who sought
to destroy the innocence that made me so alluring
i was a blank canvas
a dorian waiting to be
now, my body is my home,
and this is where the dissection begins:

i am barefoot and there is soil in between my toes
flower petals under my heels but that
doesn’t bother me
nothing does, yet.
i am spinning in circles and laughing because
it is the first time i’ve ever felt dizzy
and i didn’t know that anything could be so confusing
and beautiful at the same time.
everything is sunflowers and yellow skies and crooked smiles
because i’ve lost my first tooth and i feel
like i am finally growing up.
idealism is embedded into my palm lines
it dances across my irises
my mother looks at me and smiles –
i am utterly and inexplicably pure.
my feet are the front door,
a deep mahogany with cracks along the sides from
the tripping and adventuring and exploring
from all the steps i’ve taken and mistakes i’ve walked right into
the front door is my gateway back to innocence
and my avenue into awareness.

follow the corridors of my legs,
long and winding like the hallways of
a castle in the Victorian era with artwork hanging
on the walls as you travel
a melting candle lighting the path until you reach
my thighs.
the entrance to the bedroom,
door shut and only to be opened by the ones who’ve
made their home inside my soul first
some men enter with keys,
carefully twisting the lock,
so as not to damage the woodwork
or hurt the girl pressed up against
the other side of the frame
i was a white rose giving fragrance even to
the hands that tore into my petals
there are some kinds of love
that are given willingly
quarters in wishing wells and five dollar bills
at coffee shops
but sometimes, the love is not given at all
it is stolen
i used to hand out keys like party favours,
wasting them like eyelash wishes
until there are stitches that run deeper than just the skin.
some men enter with knives
breaking down the door until the splinters make their way
into your flesh –
some men will take and take until your body is not
your home anymore.
i’ve learnt that girls like me
have to be careful
careful of puppet masters tying rope around
your wrists while whispering pretty words in your ears
twisting heartstrings and restructuring
your DNA until
all the power is theirs
it was here when i started to believe that being a woman
made you weak
and i would spend the rest of my life proving
that i am not fragile or passive or soft
i started adopting masculine traits because i thought
empathy would only slow me down
and feeling too much of anything would label me
as just another emotional girl who
doesn’t know how to think logically
this visceral need for control and power over myself
started when i searched for my innocence
and i couldn’t find her anymore

she is gone and i want to have a funeral
for my childhood
to bury her under fresh soil and bid farewell
i want to tell her how much i miss everything she was
and everything she could have been
how i feel like i’m burying a part of myself
that died a long time ago
i just couldn’t recognize it
until i started to feel so empty
that all the lilacs disappeared
the awareness swallows me whole
and now
i am the girl of mist
slipping through the fingers of everyone who tries to
love me because i don’t know how
to love myself
i am ruined
i’m wearing my skin inside out
my organs
blood exposed to the world
my organs
blood is everywhere
not even the stage lights can make me whole again
heartbreak is a beautiful colour on me
and somehow the sadness has made me even more desirable
than i was before
it is here where i learned how to write
in my brokenness the words appeared
i used poetry to say the things i dared not speak out loud
metaphor and imagery
to dress the hurting up in its Sunday clothes
my words were raw and truthful and all the blood
was pouring onto the white pages
it was in the brokenness that i found my purpose
i start lusting after destruction because it’s all i’ve ever known
balancing purity and promiscuity
sanctity and sexuality
organs collapsing

i meet a boy at the crossroads of heartache and hope
who tells me my soul is pure
despite how dirty i feel inside and out
and i start to believe him
inch by inch he makes his way from my thighs
into the fireplace of my heart
he is my muse, my light
he teaches me how to love and i teach him how to live
for the first time in a long time
i am not searching for my innocence, i am searching
for myself
i start to see the woman i aspire to be
he plants roses in my lungs and although they are beautiful
i am suffocating
i need to breathe on my own before we can breathe together
so i say goodbye to him
and hello to my new body
the embers are burning and the forest fire begins
here, i am growing, learning, watching this new version of myself
bloom that i never thought could exist
witnessing the beauty
the staggering intelligence around me
the flower gardens and twisted sisters
waffles and ice cream
star wars and push ups – these are the guys i swam with.
i am no longer the girl of mist i am
a name that never had much weight in this school or
in this world until
i started saying it with pride
the fire of my heart started moving up into the chimney of
my throat
smoke rising every time insight strikes
i string words together like music notes in the
most magnetic symphony
you could ever imagine
i realize that femininity is not fragility
i stop looking for power because i realize how deeply it flows
within me
i may have the body of a rose but i know how to use my thorns
i’ve always been a pretty girl-
and that’s what people remember
long eyelashes fluttering above my chocolate eyes
wrists so delicate you’re afraid to touch them because
they’ll snap at any sudden movement
cheekbones so defined they’re almost hollow
“you’re so lovely,” they would say
but now, i am not just lovely
people can see the fire smouldering out of my fingertips
i will not shrink myself down in order to
make room for people who don’t deserve it
i will not let anyone dim my light

here are my veins
writing the story of my ancestry in cursive
beauty was my birthright
intelligence was my inheritance
but strength is my destiny
these are the stories i will pass on
if i ever have a daughter
i will make sure to tell her that a man should love her selflessly
or not at all
i will look at her almond eyes resembling mine
and make her understand that i feel the weight of her pain
even when i don’t say it
my roots are twisted and tangled
like the umbilical cord wrapped around me in the womb
i knew then that my life was not
something to be taken for granted
i was fighting before i even took my first breath
there are girls coming up to me in the hallways
telling me stories about how they wished they were me
how this girl of mist
this girl who was lost for four years
without a roadmap or compass to lead her back home
has become the ideal
all i can say is i hope they never feel like they are living
inside someone else’s house
i hope they never wake up with shards of glass coming out of their sides
because a boy has gotten into their home by smashing a window
i hope they don’t taste bruises at the back of their mouths
from all the words they held in
for fear of sounding too –
for being too much
i hope they find what their hands were made for

because after everything
after all the heartache and hurting and hope
after innocence turned to awareness
and shame turned into feminism
after insecurity turned to pride and
lust turned into love
i know what my hands were made for
and i know that my refuge
does not come from the outside world
i have broken and rebuilt myself so many times
that i know i have everything i need
within the warmth of my skin.

Author’s Note:

This spoken word is my journey from innocence into awareness through the lens of my body. Within this piece are lines from everything influential that I’ve written in the last three years. It is an amalgamation of poetry and prose, heartache and hope – it is everything I was, am, and want to be. This was my journey, and all I can say is thank you. I love you all.

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