In every aspect of our life we have to deal with a multitude of emotions that can bring both positive and negative reactions. These emotional reactions are not just our own either, but the reactions of those around us prompted by our own actions and those from a third party. Like many of you, I deal with a lot of emotions on a daily and weekly basis. Personally, the ones I have been dealing with most recently are, generally speaking, joy, happiness, fear, and compassion. I’m sure you’ve been able to pick up on some of these in my previous writings, but it wasn’t until recently that I started to take in and begin to understand what these emotions are and why I tend to have so many at times. This got me thinking about how we as humans perceive and understand emotions on a more intimate level, and how these emotions are taken into account when take our clothes off or when we see someone who is naked. I want to take a few minutes of your time to travel down the path of what emotions are felt by those of us in the naked community, and how we can use those emotions to understand each other rather than calling each other prudes, weirdos, or some other term that is a result in misunderstanding an emotional reaction.
Joy is a sudden, unexpected, short-lasting, and high-intensity emotion that can overwhelm us to the point of tears. The feeling of joy can be characterized by a connection with others, God, nature, or the universe. Brene´ Brown says it best by “thinking of joy as ‘the good mood for the soul'”, and based on her research defines joy as “an intense feeling of deep spiritual connection, pleasure, and appreciation”. These words really resonated with me because this is how I feel when things are going right and I am in a good place. This is my general feeling when I get to spend any amount of time in my naked sanctuary. I feel like this time gives me a chance to reconnect with my natural self, God, and the universe. For me it’s a state of being and contentment that allows me to clear my mind, refocus myself, and let go of the rot in our lives that society is pushing on us. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed nudist or someone who just enjoys being naked at times, neither can deny the soulful feeling of just being naked and the happiness it brings to us. When we experience joy, we don’t lose ourselves, but we discover that we truly become more ourselves. This is exactly how I feel when I am naked.
While happiness may sometimes be confused as joy, they are two distinct emotions we feel and with a different timeline and meaning. I think most of us have confused the two emotions as falling under the same umbrella definition of as a state of positive emotions, and we may sometimes use these words interchangeably as a way to describe to others how we are feeling. Going back to Brene´ Brown and her definition, she sees happiness as a “feeling of pleasure often related to the immediate environment or current circumstances”. I find this definition to be very true. For example, let’s take my new relationship after 20 years of marriage. During my 20 years of marriage I never really felt a state of happiness. I would describe it at best to be disappointment and sometimes fear (more below). I’m not talking about a fear for my safety, but more of a fear of disappointing others, my family, or even myself. So I allowed myself to stay because I didn’t know what else to do. I think this was the feeling for both of us. However, now that I have dated a bit and seemed to have found a good man to keep around, I am starting to feel what happiness actually means. I get a sense of joy when we are together and that joy grows when I actually have someone who wants to make me happy, and not try to keep me down due to insecurities and narcissistic behaviors. I will admit that I am still afraid to ask or say things for fear of upsetting him, but I think that is just a conditioning that I need to let go of and allow myself to actually feel safe. The current environment and circumstances are providing me with happiness because for the first time in my life I can actually express my feelings openly, honestly, and I can ask for things without feeling guilty about it. While it is scary (more fear) and uncharted territory for me, I finally feel loved and I am beginning to let my guard down and allow myself to love and be loved. To make things better and more enjoyable is the fact I can be naked and not feel judged. There have been a couple of weekends when neither of use have had kids, and we spend the entire weekend naked together. We didn’t go anywhere or do anything, but it was such a great feeling of joy and happiness all in one. Just this week he was out of town on business, and while we were talking and texting he said “I can’t wait to get to my hotel room so I can have a couple beers and lay naked on my bed”. It was like music to my ears. I was so happy that was a forefront thought in his mind. I may have gotten proof of said statements. 😉😏 I have expressed many times over the passed couple of years about how happy I am to finally have the chance to enjoy alone time to be naked, but as I look back it was more of a feeling of joy and gratitude that reflected upon my deep appreciation for value and meaning, and not so much on a mindful state of experiencing happiness.
Fear is something we all experience many times throughout our life. Some may even experience fear on a daily basis due to an immediate danger presented to oneself. Fear can generally be explained by a negative, short-lasting emotion in response to a perceived threat. Like me, I’m sure many of you have this fearful anxiety when you take your clothes off in front of someone or someones for the first time. When you have this fear pop up do you have an imminent threat on you? Is there someone whom you fear will do something to you, say something, or otherwise have a negative impact on you at that very moment? Most likely you don’t have that in your typical, non-judgemental clothes free environment. I know I had anxiety the first time I took my clothes off for someone other than my husband. For the most part he was the only one who had seen me naked in any intimate encounter. While this intimacy doesn’t necessarily happen in a clothes-free, nudist setting, the situation can still bring upon fear because we let it. Although I love being naked and will certainly take my clothes off whenever I feel comfortable, there is still that lingering threat that someone may be judging me, scoping me out, or having some other ill intent or thought. I know this basically my anxiety manipulating my brain to think there is an imminent threat from someone, but in reality there is no threat at all. At least not one that is noticeable outside of my own fabricated imagination. While there could be a potential threat to fear in some pubic situations (i.e. festivals, some beaches, etc) where there is no one to essentially hold someone accountable, you should not look upon your intimate relationships (friends or romantic) or a safe nudist space as one to fear. I have never had any negative experience or any threat come upon me from an intimate relationship or respectable clothes free setting.
The fear we have from getting naked is something that is taught to us either by our parents, society, or organized religion, and it is something we understand as being wrong, shameful, or even made to feel like we are not pretty or fit enough to engage in. I have scars from surgeries, moles I don’t like, freckles in places I don’t want, and even a bit of the mommy fat we all hate and try to hide. Do any of those things warrant enough to have an immediate threat? Nope. They are all figments of my imagination that I need to let go of. I’m sure you have them as well. I’m sitting here right now and my nipples are pointing in different directions because my boobs are not perfectly similar. It doesn’t bother me because I see them all the time. My ex-husband never said anything about them because it didn’t seem to matter to him. My boyfriend has said he loves the way my body looks and has said many times that he enjoys my nakedness and prefers me to be nude. Just today I was given the most amazing massage of my life, and once he finished he leaned over me, kissed me lovingly, and said “You are perfect and I love to see you naked”. Today I finally admitted to him and myself that “as long as you are happy, then I am happy”. At the end of the day his desire and love for me is all that matters. So when we take our trip to Jamaica this fall or we venture out to any new clothing optional resorts, I know that it does not matter what I look like naked and that I have nothing to fear. What matters to me is my comfort in my own skin and his continued desire of me and my imperfect body he so much admires.
Over the past couple of years that I have been trying to find myself, my place in this world, and even branch out to make new friends, the one thing I did discover was my need and desire to feel and show compassion to others. In our vast and broad society we don’t do enough to show compassion to our fellow humans. This has been evident in our relentless pursuit of racial disparity, judgement, and conquests of success. Compassion is an emotion we all possess but not not an emotion we often choose to exercise. I hear a lot of “it’s not my problem”, “it sucks to be you (them)”, or “even a sense of being “better than” or in a better place than someone. Compassion is a beauty of the human soul that provides us with the understanding and knowledge that all of humanity has a shared pain on some level. Even if you don’t really know what a person is going through or what they have experienced, you can still be compassionate and try to understand what they are going through. I took a professional development class years ago from Steven Convey called 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and one of his 7 habits was Seek First To Understand, Then Be Understood.
What would our world be like if we took a step back and actually sought to understand people, their choices, and why they are the way they are? Why do some of us have an aversion to clothes when others have an aversion to nudity? I have no idea why I am the way I am, but I think a lot of it has to do with my tendencies to be naked as a child. My mom still has pictures of me standing naked by one of those large stereo record players. Not a table-top style player but one that’s an actual piece of furniture that looks like a long buffet table. I remember going to bed at night, and as soon as my mom or dad left my room I would strip naked and throw my clothes under my bed so they wouldn’t be seen. I’m pretty sure I was always caught because my sister would tell me she would see me laying naked on top of the covers when she woke up. Oh well. Nothing was ever said to me and I think most of my family thought it was cute. I’m sure if it was a different scenario then I would have made different choices. This is where my sense of compassion and seeking to understand others comes into play. I think in general we as a clothes-free community tend to have compassion for others because we want to understand others as we want to be understood. Just the same as all racial ethnicities, sexual orientations, disabled, or even struggling veterans. We all have a shared pain that we are going through. It may not be the same pain, but it is a pain nonetheless. So when someone is taking off their clothes or too afraid to be nude in front of others, I think it’s our duty as a society of humans to have compassion for someone and let them know that we support them regardless of fear, anxiety, or other emotion that hinders them from trying it. All it takes are a few words to someone. Rather than tell someone it’s okay to take their clothes off because no one cares, maybe lets try the compassionate approach by seeking to understand before being understood, and offer words of compassion letting them know you share their pain and have lived through the same issues. No one wants to go through struggles alone.