I’m ready to get naked. How about you?
Shed my fears, my inhibitions, my shame.
I’m beginning to realize how much shame each of us carries. Shame of our bodies. Shame of our desires. Shame of our needs.
Shame is like a pack of rank, moldy critters scurrying around in the dark crevasses of our subconscious.
Shame causes us pain; shame causes suffering; shame causes us misfortune.
More over, shame keeps us from our truest and most authentic selves. If we are ashamed of parts of who we are, how can we ever love ourselves in our totality? Can we learn to accept the beautiful and the terrifying parts of ourselves as one holistic unit? Can we love our love-handles, our proclivities, our relationships to food?
For if we cannot accept all part of ourselves, including the scary bits, how can we ever love another human being in their entirety?
These are the questions that have been running through my mind as of late.
Like many Americans, I grew up in a very sex and body negative environment. I grew up in a society where bodies should be covered at all times. Affection generally isn’t publicly displayed between couples – even in the home space. I notice that I have never really watched my parents kiss romantically or even spontaneously hold hands.
In gyms, we dress as quickly as possible, dancing behind towels to keep our bodies hidden from our peers. On social media apps, we only share the most carefully curated, filtered, and photoshopped versions of ourselves to present the most flattering images of our white-washed lives.
And this is so gross and unfortunate.
Our messy parts are beautiful. Our unrefined and unglamorous angels make us human and relatable. If our minds and bodies are born to act and look a certain way – these qualities should be celebrated.
This shame in regards to sexuality is as logical to me as a shame of walking. Imagine a society where it’s shameful to walk. Feet are to be subjugated. We must only roll on wheels from destination to destination. Do not use your feet for their designed purpose. How dare you highlight the fact that you even possess feet.
Why are we like this with other parts of our bodies and psyches? Perhaps its partially due to our Puritanical heritage as Americans.
The Ancient Greeks used clothing to highlight the natural lines of the body. They didn’t cover areas for modesty – but utilized accoutrement-ization to highlight their best assets.
Why is there so much shame in our culture for exposing a breast – even when feeding an infant? Or a bulge in a man’s pants? Why have we become so sterile? Europe certainly isn’t this way.
I have recently begun to realize how much shame I carry regarding my own sexuality. Although I came out as a gay man several years ago, much of me has still felt dirty for admitting that I actually like sex. Now, I’m discovering how “vanilla” my relationship to sex has been. I realize that in my mind I’ve been holding biases: like believing that someone can want or like sex too much. Or that one should only have it in certain ways. Or that it is acceptable only in certain contexts and relationships. That we shouldn’t be horny. Or be raunchy. Or express …all those desires you buried inside that you might actually, really want.
And this means that I’ve not been been expressing my truest version of me. If we deny our deepest impulses, if we deny our bodies’ innate truths, we are living inauthentic lives.
In Jungian psychology, they have a concept called “The Shadow Self.” We have the normal, socially appropriate self that walks around everyday. But hidden behind that is The Shadow Self. It’s comprised of all the things that titillate you, inspire you, excite you – but your conscious mind feels is forbidden. Maybe that drag queen caught your eye – and maybe you feel angry that you want to look. Maybe that extra dessert lures you fantastically – but you can only think about your already too significant waistline. Maybe that person in the blue jeans, of a different gender than you are usually attracted, entices you – and you suddenly feel unexplainable frustration towards them.
These forbidden desires exist within all of us. And they have to be resolved. As long as they seem interesting and yet impossible – they will pull on our subconscious, and we will build shame around our unacceptable impulses.
Instead, if they can be healthfully acknowledged and expressed, they can be integrated into one’s regular self.
And it’s not that, suddenly, you will find yourself every Thursday night at the local drag bar, kicking up your spangled heals (although, that might be possible – and that’s totally okay – if it is); but it by opening up to your fear and shame, you might heal a very deep trauma in your psyche, perhaps keeping your from deeply integrating your masculine and feminine qualities. That forbidden curiosity might be a symptom of some deeper issue that needs addressing and bringing back into wholeness.
Shame causes disease – it’s been proven by healers and health psychologists again and again. And there’s so much that American society says to feel shamed about. Our weight, our food, our bodies, our desires, our partners.
So this season, I’m blowing the lid off my basement of creepy, shameful creatures. I’m letting my full shadow self dissolve into the light. I am healing – and allowing myself to accept all aspects of this beautiful and contradictory human experience. And this takes guts and bravery – and a willingness to accept that not everyone will understand it. Others may question or judge me for my choices.
But if there is any source of inspiration to counter that judgement, it is this:
“This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou cans’t not then be false to any man.”
As Shakespeare said it like no one else ever could – when we are truer to our actual, authentic selves, we become truer citizens, lovers, brothers, sisters, parents, children, friends, and human beings overall.
If I can fully love and accept every aspect of who I am – I can thereby accept all other walks of life. If I can hold no judgement or blame of myself – I can accept all others openly and with compassion.
So long as I resent my deepest self – I will resent others too. This is the truth – and the crux of the issue with shame.
I’m moving further towards the light – shedding my inhibitions (and my clothes) – and asking you to join me.
Please share in the comments section below how you are working to share your “Naked Truth” – your most vital, uninhibited, and joyous celebration of your truest feelings and desires.
Learning to love ourselves for who and what we are – free of shame.
Love and peace to you all!
Namaste, Kaelan #nakedtruth