Now before you go getting your knickers all in a knot, rest assured my knickers are still exactly where they should be (under my cut-off jeans). I have no problem being naked (literally) but I don’t make a habit of lounging around sans clothing on a daily basis.
When I say I am naked what I mean is I have finally (and I do mean after a long, exhausting, sometimes brutal haul) come to a place of absolute, comfortable, fully transparent vulnerability. I have shed my armour. I am a turtle without a shell. To the best of my ability I speak and act my truth. And here, with these musings, I write my truth. As a matter of fact, when I started this blog I discovered the phrase “The drunken tongue speaks the sober mind”. And I altered it to “The drunken pen writes the sober truth.”
Sure, I’ll freely admit a glass or two of wine always helps the truth shake free. And as long as you still have the wherewithal to share that truth succinctly and eloquently what is the problem with a bit of liquid courage?
The trouble is most people tend to drown their truths in gallons of alcohol. And then if anything escapes their drunken tongues it ends up being blitzed babble.
So let’s get back to me being naked. I did not coin this metaphor myself. It came to me last week from one of my dearest friends. We were discussing a text conversation I’d had with my ex. He’s great at sharing snippets of our son’s life, news of mutual friends and occasional family doings. But as soon as I say anything personal he shuts down.Immediately. And I’m not talking personal as in “what you used to do to me in bed”. I’m talking personal as in my health or my opinions. Shuts the conversation down like it never happened.
And my pal says to me “He can’t handle your nakedness, Vickie. You have long owned your shit, good, bad and horribly ugly and he can’t handle your willingness to bare it all to him even now, all these years after your marriage concluded.”
Maybe he just doesn’t care and I’m boring.
But I do see her point. Can you imagine if you were enjoying a nice dinner at a lovely bistro and suddenly your waiter appeared stark naked to take your order? Yeah. Might be a tad uncomfortable.
And that’s what I have discovered most people are like when metaphorical nakedness arrives on the scene. When someone is willing to share their whole truth damn the torpedoes no matter what the outcome of that outpouring … well, we get antsy. It’s awkward. And distressing. Because we as a society are unfamiliar with that amount of skin. We are unfamiliar with dealing with armourless humans. We have built a very civilized culture around acting correctly and saying the right things and not divulging too much and playing our cards close to our chests. We don’t dare bare our souls but to a few sacred few. Or anyone. Certainly not just about everyone.
Okay, so when I say I’m naked I don’t mean I run around engaging virtual strangers in discourse about my deepest secrets. What I am saying is the fear of getting hurt is no longer a driving force in my life. I’m going to repeat that because I think it is monumentally important – THE FEAR OF GETTING HURT IS NO LONGER A DRIVING FORCE IN MY LIFE.
Think about it. Think about your own life. Think about the last time you did/said/wrote anything that was not YOUR complete truth because you were protecting yourself. Protecting your heart, your soul, our facade, your veneer. Protecting the “public” you from humiliation and indignity.
Think about it. And then think about how often you actually fudge on the truth in order to protect your hard-won disguise. And before you clamour “I don’t wear no fucking disguise!” think about that too. Because we all do.
When I used to sing in public regularly, I painted on my disguise the moment I walked into the restaurant. I was charming and fun and super friendly and convivial with everyone and sometimes damn hilarious on stage. But then I found that more and more I was getting very emotional by the end of the evening. The music would really get to me. The smiling faces would overwhelm me (with gratitude). The wine would kick in and ultimately “Moon River” was more than I could handle and I would be singing with tears streaming. I mean, c’mon. “We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waiting round the bend, my Huckleberry friend, Moon River and Me.” How can you not weep?
Okay maybe that’s just me (or the wine). The point is, I could no longer manage my armour. And when it melted on the floor in a flood of tears I was done. Done.
Except I wasn’t. I was just done for that night. And the next month I’d go back and do it all again. BUT … for the longest time I was TRYING to keep that armour in place. Sing the damn songs, readjust my cloak and go home. And when I could no longer do it, I gave up singing in public. I’d like to believe my fans had got used to my nakedness. Maybe on some level they even found it endearing. But at that time I just couldn’t keep stripping down regularly. IN PUBLIC. It was too painful.
As with most things, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. And in recent years I have practiced nakedness with fervent regularity. I am not afraid of the repercussions because the fact is … there are none. When we own our vulnerability NO ONE can hurt us. Because we have already stated “OPEN TARGET!” You don’t shoot a guy in the back, right? And most humane souls will not further torture an open wound.
(and trust me, those who would are not worthy of your consideration or anxiety)
I truly believe it is WHEN we guard ourselves fiercely we become exposed. Assailable. Unsafe. We are so busy maneuvering we can’t even see the next hit. Until we are felled.
Try figuring out your truth. Then owning it. Not just in your mind but in real life. In real conversation. On paper. In a text.
A few evenings ago I was alone listening to music and a Michael McDonald song showed up. “I Can Let Go Now”. It is heartbreaking in its honesty and simplicity. And it has long spoken to me of my broken heart 15 years ago when “the love of my life” ditched me for the fourth and final time. It’s the song I kept longing to sing. To live!
On that night it brought me to my knees.
Because I realized I had not. Let go. For many reasons, none of which are important here. But the truth is I had not let go.
So I pulled myself off the floor and listened to that damn song 15 times. I guess one for each year. And then I sent that old love a text. I thanked him for the love that “tossed me so high I almost never came down”. I was grateful. I was sad. I asked him not to respond. And I wished him well.
I let go.
In all my nakedness I made a choice to let go. Not just in my head but FOR REAL. I chose vulnerability and I chose honesty and I CHOSE to make a conscious effort to abandon old hope and old pain. I made a choice to abandon some strange old power that boy still had over me. Well, maybe not him per se but the magic we made. The fairy tale we shared. The dream that was so difficult to let go of. But I did.
I let go.
And I did it officially. On paper. Un-take-backable.
Because THAT is important. You can do any number of things in your head but seriously they do not count. As my friend Tom Wade says – Don’t think it or imagine it if you’re not going to say it or do it.
So what happened after, you may be wondering.
Well … nothing.
I called my friend and she said “Oh my goodness GOOD ON YOU! You got naked again!”
And we laughed. And then I had a most lovely evening and slept like the babiest baby who ever babied.
Turns out nakedness is freeing. Immensely so. And now I am free.
It’s also really fucking heard, just so you know. Armour is way easier. Way more automatic. Way more manageable.
Nakedness however is freeing. It is blessed freedom at its finest. Please give it a go.
Who knows … if YOU do maybe tomorrow … I’LL go commando?