“i was still mourning, still sick, still living partly in another place.”—Barbara Kingsolver
i remember watching Eve Ensler’s TED talk, “Suddenly, My Body,” and as it ended, the only clear thought running through my mind was that i wanted to come home to myself and come home to my body. badly. i suppose in some ways her words ignited a mission within me, a mission to come home.
like Eve Ensler, there were many reasons i, too, had left home, many reasons i had left my body, and many reasons that i had come all the way to thailand on my escape route. i was still mourning a variety of things. i was still, in some ways, defined by them. my identity was all tangled up in my mourning. i was still horrifically and entirely affected in the depths of my bones, in the core of my being. i was still considering myself a broken, fucked-up, and damaged little girl.
i was living in a place—metaphorically of course—where things were as good as they could possibly get. i thought i had reached a place of healing, and i, naively, thought i had a clue. i didn’t. i was still sick—sicker perhaps than i could have possibly realized at the time.
i look back to that girl who got onto a plane headed for thailand a year ago, (tears still in her eyes from the brief phone call and goodbye with her baby sister, fears of weight-gain and a million other insecurities still consuming her distracted mind) and see that she was so young, so timid, so stupidly thinking she was grown. she was a girl, a child wanting nothing more than someone to love, protect, and care for her. little did she know that over the course of the next eleven months, she would learn to love, protect, and care for herself.
i would be lying if i told you that i won’t always mourn bits and pieces of my life’s story. to say otherwise would in fact dishonor my own reality and my own pain. forgetting these things completely, i fear, would distance and detach me from my own humanity and, therefore, from the rest of the world, which is something i am absolutely unwilling to do. but i can also say, with just as much confidence, that i am not sick anymore. i am well enough to come home—back to america, back to my roots, back to my family, and back to the hope i once had of creating my own beautiful home—the place i know in my heart that i will be most content and at peace.
until this moment, i am not sure that i have ever been ready, and maybe in some ways i never will be completely ready—whatever that even means, but i am all in one place now instead of a woman half in and half out of her own body. i have finally found the way home into myself, into my own skin. i am mary theresa—daughter; sister; friend; fierce and generous lover; passionate dreamer; over-caffeinated energizer bunny; honest writer; uncaged bird; wild dancer; timid singer; smiling wanderer; extreme questioner, thinker, and feeler; nurturer; and occasional loner. i have been transformed both by the love of myself and by the love of the people in my life. i have hit rock bottom and, by the grace of a higher power, made it back out to tell the tale. i have discovered love so strong that has knocked me off my feet, joy that utterly consumes me, pain that all but paralyzes me, and laughter that moves through my body like a wild dance. i have been changed by things i didn’t choose, but i have learned that i get to choose how i change. i have learned to love my olive skin; my multi-colored, starburst eyes; my strong legs; my wide hips; and my sometimes bitten-off fingernails. i have given of myself and learned to take sometimes, too. i will never be any more or less than the woman i was created oh so purposefully to be, but i have learned that, in my own right, that woman is so totally and perfectly lovely. this year has opened my eyes to my own limiting perceptions and helped me to start to rid myself of those perceptions. this year has begun healing me and allowing me to exist, finally, all in one place, in my body, in my home, in my skin, in myself.