Getting Naked

Letting You See Me Naked

I have written a lot about my feeling around stripping in public - which is something that I think that I do - often on a daily basis  - not only through my memoir - but also through my blogs.  I am in the habit of writing as though nobody is looking - and that is a pretty naked feeling.  I just finished watching "Naked on the Inside" on HBO. It is a documentary that profiles six different people on the issue of body image. If you get a chance to see it - check it out. It inspired me, touched me and stirred me. I have spent a great deal of time feeling naked on the inside. I love that language. "Naked on the Inside". It really speaks to our core vulnerabilities. When we work at opening that up - When we allow our own selves to really look at our own most naked places - and then decide that it is really okay to let others hold that part of us - or even just to see that part of us - tremendous healing can happen. It's about making the choice not to be invisible anymore - to yourself or to others.

I keep getting closer and closer to those places in myself. And, some of my friends and my sexuality coaching clients - are beginning to open themselves too. It is like watching flowers open. Each petal opens in it's own time, and then one day you are staring at the carpels and the stamen...the most secret part of a flower. And like flowers, opening one petal at a time...when they are fully open - it can be stunning to behold.

I keep looking deeper and deeper into myself. I am amazed by how many petals that I have. When I allow myself to admire myself - to truly feel good about all the parts of me - sometimes, I need to put aside all of your eyes.

Sometimes, we "become" the reflection of other's perceptions of us. And sometimes, those perceptions are simply their own projections, assumptions and prejudices. It is hard to put aside the eyes of others to truly look inside ourselves and see our own nakedness in our own reality.

It is really hard. None of us are the glossy pictures in magazines. Not even the people who are photographed. And I don't simply mean their physical beauty - I also mean the inner "stories" that the pictures encourage us to layer on the images.

And then there is the paradox. Sometimes, I want you eyes on my nakedness. I want your projections, assumptions, prejudices and approval. Because in those, there is a learning and a healing too.

I have gotten to love walking around naked in public - at places like Harbin Spa in Northern California - where there are out door hot tubs and nudity is allowed.

I have spent so much of my life hiding my nakedness. Now I want all of me to be seen. I am very self aware of my nakedness. It is not self conscious - it is self aware. I like to feel my body as I move about. My strong legs and ass. The curve of my waist - the softness of my belly. I think that being naked in public (where it is allowed and acceptable) has been one of the most healing things that I have done for myself.

My middle years have been one big self reveal. In my book, Shameless I have let you see and hold my soul, and I have let you see me naked in your imaginations.

I have allowed myself to open my petals....and simply be the flower that I am. I have let who ever has wanted to look - by opening my book - view deep inside of me....even down to my carpels and stamen. I have let you all "see" what I "see". Sometimes, we actually see different things. Sometimes, my readers have even pointed out parts of me that I didn't know were there. There are times, that I do not like what you reflect back to me - and there are times when you have provided a much more loving mirror than I would ever have held up for myself.

Perhaps the best part, is that my writing - my willingness to show you my nakedness - has allowed you to look at parts of yourself that perhaps you didn't know were there either. Some of my readers are becoming great friends because I have shared my journey - and it has become a great big exercise in "I will show you mine, and now you have shown me yours" - or perhaps the game of "You have that too?"

Naked on the inside....and allowing others to see. Perhaps that has been the journey all along.

Come Inside My World....

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?