Trying to explain the relationship with my body is like trying to explain a blatant disdain for the house you grew up in. It is familiar, it is mine, but it has always felt far from home. The foundation is far from solid.

There is clutter where I would prefer clarity. I have accumulated nearly two decades of memories--the scrapbooks, the photographs, the postcards of my heart and mind. I loathe the mess it has become, but the task of de-cluttering is far too daunting.

So when do I find solace within this temple I have built? When do I become a mature, strong, self-adoring woman who can look in the mirror and see a sound body and mind? When does love emerge from tolerance?

These are questions that I have asked myself for years. Questions that have no answers and no rational argument. They live in a garden in the backyard of my psyche; they are weeds I cannot pull.

The pleasant thoughts are flowers that I cannot grow. All that has ever cultivated in the garden of my brain are self-deprecating phrases, anxiety, and blatant panic I could never control.

And what about my heart? The very thing that has kept me alive. I have decorated its walls in poetry and art. I have made it a comfortable guest room for strangers I did not invite. I left the door open for people to come inside. But this means they must eventually leave. They must always leave.

So I am taking a breath. I am pausing to check in. I am looking in the mirror. At the eyes that have cried a thunderstorm, but have seen breathtaking sunsets. At the hands that are callused, but have the unflinching ability to create.

At the legs that are bruised, but have never shied away at an opportunity to dance. At the smile that is always crooked, but has spoken great words of kindness.

I am looking at the stomach that has always had a certain excessiveness but has felt the soreness of laughter during a night with friends. I am thinking fondly of the heart that has felt pain and numbness, love and wonder.

My body doesn't feel like a house because it isn't. I am a living breathing paradox. I am a complex organism capable of love and pain, of creation and destruction.

If I never had anxious thoughts, the favorable thoughts would no longer comfort me. If I closed the door of my heart, if I locked myself inside, I would never feel how it feels to hear someone you love to say your name.

I would never feel joy at the laughter of a baby or a funny cat video. I would never feel the ocean wrapping around my knees, the perfect song, my favorite book, the warm summer wind whispering through my hair.

My body is my creation. It is flawed. It is scarred. It is strong, magnificent, terrible, capable. It is always too much, it is always not enough. My thoughts are occasionally threadbare of joy.

My heart is often like a weight in my chest. Self-love is messy and scary. But day by day I am discovering all of these hidden parts of myself--all of the chaotic rooms and spiral staircases that exist within me--and I am learning how to love them.