On Being Naked

exposedThere’s a dream that everyone has at one time or another, of being naked in front of a large group of people, exposing yourself in all your imperfect glory for the world, or maybe just your colleagues/classmates/judgy friends to see. I tend not to go for dream interpretation all that much, but this one seems pretty straight forward, don’t you think? You’re quite literally laid bare. Your little (or big) muffin top is out there, the scars and scabs and that weird tattoo you thought was funny once aren’t covered, and all your little embarrassments that you try so hard to hide from the world glow in that bright, hot spotlight. There’s often a sense of fear, and humiliation (or excitement and titillation, but that’s for another blog).

You don’t have to be Freud to figure out it’s a metaphor, of course. The naked body represents all the bits of us, and they are legion, that we keep even – mostly – from ourselves. From the secret weird fetishes to the little embarrassing blunders, and maybe even a for-real little muffin top you’d normally camouflage with dark shirts or over-sized hoodies, because nobody needs to see that, right? Not even you.

Anyone who follows me here, or on Facebook, knows that I share pretty openly parts of my life that others don’t, or cannot, and I’m sure, though very few people have said anything, that doing this makes some uncomfortable. Because they see reflected bits of themselves they shy away from, or don’t like their shiny life interrupted by another person’s reality, I can’t say. I almost said it’s not my place to judge anyone, but I believe, and have said before, that we all judge each other every day, in ways small and large, and it’s the importance and weight we give those thoughts that matter, not that we have them. At any rate, I stand naked before my extended community now all the time. Not because I’m an exhibitionist, but because:

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” ― George Orwell, 1984

In past posts, and even on the Who Am I? page here, I’ve talked about sharing so openly as the method I use to enable emotional, intellectual, and often physical self-honesty. For many years I ignored my struggles even as they glared at me in my efforts to go around them. They only got bigger. I was ashamed of not being able to leave my house, of not having either the money or the fortitude to do things I wanted to do like a regular person. Once I even told someone that I was applying for disability benefits because of my knees (which really are not great). I was ashamed of having to do that, too.

If I wanted to move forward, if I wanted to be able to live a relatively normal, manageable life, then I needed to be as brutally honest as I could and not hide those secrets from myself, let alone the rest of the world. The funny thing is, there was never any conscious decision to do that; It simply began happening. Weird, huh?

Now, there are certain pieces of my life I don’t share, but not because of embarrassment or shame but because they’re not particularly germane to my path or recovery. Things that are simply a part of me, and I forget about most of the time. If I really did stand naked before you, you’d see the birth defect, and the resulting scars from the surgical repairs done to correct it when I was three years old, but what’s that got to do with anything? Unless we’re planning on sleeping in the same bed, I’m not going to tell you I snore like a bear, either.

There is a great power, a liberating freedom, in this sort of approach, and let me tell you it feels absolutely wonderful. To shed that particular brand of fear and shame, more easily done than you might think, has allowed me to work more diligently on the deep-seated ones, to use the limited energies I have on more positive things. It may not be for everyone, not yet and not at whatever stage they may be on in their own journey, but it seemed to have been my time, and I like it.

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

You will judge me, good or bad, for my open-ended honesty and the fact that I share it pretty freely, and that’s okay, really. As a normal human being (more or less) what people think of me is important, but that has its place on the sliding scale of things that matter, and it will always fall below what I think of myself, though it didn’t always. I think much more of myself now than I have for many years, and I love that.

So let’s get naked.

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