I suffer from keratosis pilaris or KP for short. The word “suffer” sounds like a bit of an exaggeration when I see it. However, it feels amazingly accurate. I suffer because this chronic skin condition has become a shroud over my arms and back. These annoying, unsightly, persistent bumps that mimic chicken skin hold me hostage.
Backless tops and dresses are out of the question. As are tank tops and any other fun arm- and back-baring outfit. I am confined to long sleeves and full coverage backs. Bathing suits require a coverup. No fashion fun for me. And yes, I have sought many a cure. I’ve tried loofahs, topical creams and lotions. Oh my! And nothing seems to work. I feel cursed with no solution in sight.
Or so it seems. Our skin can manifest all kinds of things brewing under the surface of our bodies and erupt when our body can no longer contain or suppress what’s happened. This KP is a reminder that at one point in time I probably felt I needed protection. I don’t feel like I need protection anymore. However, there is a piece of me that feels like I’m hiding. And KP requires me to cover up so much. Physically and then ultimately, emotionally. So again, I’m being held hostage, but this time by my emotions.
I have tried to address the emotions that stem from this condition. Journaling, forgiveness letters, and on and on. But those external remedies don’t get at the root of the problem: I am terrified of being vulnerable. I want people to like me. At all times. And frankly, that’s impossible. And honestly, it’s completely unnecessary. I need to like me. And if someone else doesn’t then that’s okay too. But I have to be willing to be vulnerable and throw off this shroud of protection and playing small. I have to be okay with feeling and being exposed.
There’s a story in there too that needs telling. And it’s painful and dark and ugly, yet it must be told. Because then, and only then will I feel like I can be free—and vulnerable. And open.
So I am summoning up courage to tell that story. In a public forum. Laid bare for all the world to see. Then maybe once I’ve met that demon face to face, I can get rid of the KP holding me hostage once and for all. And not just be free of KP but free to be me. Finally.