I wrote about this a bit on my blog Shameless Woman over at Psychology Today. The blog that I wrote there that still haunts my heart is called "Stripping in Public" and here is a bit of it: "There I was standing in front of a group of people - perhaps 30 or more in a beautiful independent bookstore in Seattle, Washington. I could feel the quiet in the room, the soft breathing of the crowd as I read from one of the more provocative chapters in my memoir - Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure and Somehow Got Home In Time To Cook Dinner...." I could feel the anticipation in the room as I read aloud about "The Dark Knight" looking deeply in my eyes and asking me if I could surrender to him. And it occurred to me that I was actually stripping in public. Have you ever done that? Allowed yourself to be excruciating vulnerable in public? So vulnerable that you felt like you were stripping off your clothes? That has been what it has been like for me on my book tour. Doing a reading from a memoir - especially one as provocative and intimate as Shameless has really challenged my own notions of shame! Could I read to a group of strangers, and share one of the most intimate experiences of my life? It was one thing knowing that people all over the country were reading my memoir - it is quite a different experience reading your most personal thoughts aloud to a group.
As I read, I felt the color rise to my checks as I tried to connect with the group of spell bound listeners. I made myself look into the eyes of my audience. It was terrifying! Was there healing in this for me? Was there healing in allowing myself to be truly naked in public? I wasn't sure. The only thing I was sure of was that I was allowing myself to be completely vulnerable with this group. It was like falling backwards - and trusting that you would be caught. I finished the chapter - and was met with applause, laughter and the longest question and answer of the entire tour. It was fabulous. I almost didn't read that chapter - it was near the end of the book - and it felt too intimate to me. But I trusted that somehow it was the right chapter for the group that was assembled. So I stripped naked in public, and I didn't die. Instead I found myself embraced, loved, and something more. By sharing my soul with people - they shared theirs with mine. It was a risk worth taking."
Somehow - I keep doing this. Last weekend at a Body Electric Workshop for Women, we were asked to do a "Reveal" - where we stood in front of the group of women that we had spent the weekend with - and we had three minutes to share something very real and vulnerable about our lives. Three minutes can be a long time. We all did it. After I did it - I couldn't stop crying. I felt too opened up - how could I say these things out loud? What allowed me to do that? Was it healing for me or educational for my audience? Was it a way of truly being seen? And if I allowed the world to see me in such a real way - what would change for me? Would I be comfortable with that? I wasn't sure - and I was a little shaken.
And then yesterday on Psychology Today I published a piece on Female Ejaculation. It was a very personal blog about a truly transformational experience for me. The comments on Facebook kept coming in - thanking me for sharing my story. The readership on that blog is growing minute by minute. I read the comment where Dr. Christiane Northrup (a woman who I consider a mentor and teacher) calls me a pioneer. Really?
I try to put some breath around that for myself. Is that what I am? Am I a pioneer or a woman who needs an edit button?
I don't think that it is the subject matter that I am talking about that is so pioneering really. What I think stuns people is that I am willing to use the first person. Make it about my experience - my orgasm, my ejaculation, my weight, my sexiness, my self loathing, my sessions, my marriage without hiding behind a fictional character or perhaps a made up "client".
I don't know how to do this any other way. I suppose that it is startling. Frankly - it is often that for me too. I often jump off the cliff of my story telling - and then go back and say something like "Did I really tell the world that?" Yet - we are all still standing!
Yet, it is in my ability to leap and be a vulnerable truth teller that allows other people the permission to really take inside what I am sharing. When I am real - you get permission to be real too.
I am not going to say that this is easy. Allowing people to come inside your heart for a little while - and perhaps even inside your most intimate experiences can leave me breathless. But it is the place that I write from and coach my clients from. I simply don't know any other way to communicate and teach.
So, I will continue to strip naked in public - whether it is at my workshops, my blogging or my books. There are times that I reach for the blanket of love of my community, my family, my friends, my readers, my social network fans, to cover me up and hold me. Sometimes, I need to be rocked too - and comforted. I am mindful of my body - and my own emotional limits. It can be exhausting stripping in public on a regular basis - but if you have never tried it - I dare you.
It can be a magical, transformational and healing experience.
When was the last time you "stripped naked" in public? Allowed yourself to be truly intimate with people? It can feel really scary - but the lessons of my life as a public sex and fertility educator has taught me that taking the risk to be intimate is the most rewarding experience of all. And in the end - I have no regrets at all.
Have you ever had an experience like this? Have you ever stripped in public? How do you feel when you read about my intimate disclosures? Do they support you? How?