Why Am I a Naturist?

Dark clouds and wind over the sea

Dark clouds and wind over the sea

The sky is wild this morning. One minute it is dark with ominous clouds flying by as if they are on a freeway, and the next minute there is glorious sunshine. And the speed at which this is all happening makes the mind swirl. The wind has been blowing all night following a long period of rain yesterday late afternoon and all evening, and is still blowing strong creating whitecaps and pounding waves along the shoreline. Sometimes nature serves as a good metaphor for what is happening within one’s psyche. I know that in today’s case, it is quite the mirror.

Light does emerge from the cover of darkness.

Light does emerge from the cover of darkness.

I didn’t sleep well and it wasn’t because of the rain or the wind. Rather, it all had to do with the stirring of shadow contents within, stuff that lies below the surface of my awareness. I was asked why I was a naturist, why I needed to be naked when the rest of the world, the civilized world was doing well with their clothing on. I wasn’t able to give a satisfactory answer nor did I think that there could be a satisfactory answer in terms of having another person who is not a naturist, understand and accept. Of course, saying that, I open myself to the possibility of being very wrong. I don’t really have an excuse for not finding the words to answer this question, even if it is just for myself.

Because of my long involvement with depth psychology, I knew that the answers did exist, somewhere deep within my psyche. So this morning, I opened up the door to the question during my time for meditation which then lasted longer than usual. It was essential to let the question stew for a while, allow the contents within to become stirred up in the darkness of the unconscious. Later in the morning, after sitting for a while in silence with my morning coffee, not actually thinking but also not banishing thinking, I went for a long, two hour walk along the beach. I refused to force an answer but I also left an opening as if an opening in the clouds, for whatever needed to come to consciousness to have an entry.

As a child I was sexually abused, emotionally abused, physically abused in my family of origin by my biological parents. The sexual abuse extended to include my maternal grandfather and more than one parish priest. I was a docile child, the eldest of a large group of children. It was my job, the expectation that I came to embrace that I was there to please others, to take care of others, to put others before myself. I forgave my parents before they both passed away, enough years before their death so that I would be able to include them in my own children’s lives as grandparents. It also gave them time to acknowledge their part in my wounding – but that never came to be.

The patterns learned in early childhood that continued through to a few years after I was married with children of my own carried over into how I interacted within the family in which I was husband and father. It carried over into my career as an educator, coach and then as counsellor to students, staff and people within my community. I was well trained to put myself behind me and do my utmost best to be a good father, a good husband, brother-in-law, coach, neighbour. This is a story I knew well, one that I wrestled with through midlife and my own course of psychoanalysis. But where does this almost primal urge to naturalism come from?

In the safety of a forest, reclaiming control of body

In the safety of a forest, reclaiming control of body

It was soon after the sexual abuse from my grandfather, the last time I was sexually abused as a youth, that I found myself in a quiet meadow in a nearby small forest with a book of poetry. It was a warm late spring day, about six months following this last incidence. Feeling the warmth of the sun and feeling the words of classical poetry, I soon found myself naked. Over the next two years, my last two years at home, I took every opportunity, weather permitting to hide in this forest and meadow in order to be free.

Leaving home, I found other opportunities, especially the opportunity of sleeping in the nude, to recapture this sense of freedom. A job at the other end of the country found me enjoying social nudity in swimming pools and saunas with my co-workers, other young adults. The exhilaration of  body freedom acted as a sort of barrier that banished my history of being abused.

body hairYet now, the pull to nudity is again strong so I look to these roots and it dawned on me that it is being nude where I claim control of my body, control of my identity, control of my sexuality. My body is not about pleasing others, making life easier for others. Do I remove body hair or make sure it is groomed for my own sense of well-being, or do I allow the needs of others dictate what I do or don’t do with my body hair? It comes down to control. Am I in control or do I defer control to someone else?

Now, in my sixties, I am saying this is my body and I will care for it, and my identity, and my psyche as best I can. I will not be a child and give control to another. I am a man, not a child victim continuing to seek approval, seeking to please others while disregarding my self.

I wonder if this is an answer, or just the beginning of an answer?

About A Naturist's Lens

I am a therapist that focuses on the use of active imagination, photograph, dreamwork and Jungian Psychology in order to uncover the whole person hidden beneath layers of personae, complexes and clothing.

Posted on May 24, 2013, in Jungian Psychology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I almost missed this one, but something told me to scroll down and keep reading…
    I think this is one of your most powerful posts: thank you for sharing it.

  2. Now that you’re naked, who are you?

  3. This is a very powerful story of personal transformation and healing. It illustrates so many things about our ability to overcome the worst of circumstances as well as the role that naturism/nudism can play in that for many. Thank you for sharing.

  4. A powerful story. You have bared your soul here for all. But we also think you have found healing also baring your body for others to see and obviously have found that by doing so there is nothing wrong with you, your accepted for who and what you are. Hopefully your time with nude friends will help you forget your past and to realize none of what happened in the past was your fault.

  5. Thank you for sharing. I found much similarity in the events of our lives. Your story has given me reinforcement my beliefs in my life.

  6. Great insight

  7. Michelle Raymond

    As a non-operative transgender nudist person who was repeatedly sexually, physically and emotionally abused as a child by my father, I related profoundly to your moving post. Thank you for sharing. I’ve yet to experience social nudity as I fear the reactions of others to me as a non-operative M to F trans person. My strong desire to be nude with others is the only secret I still keep.

    Thank you again. I will continue to read your posts with great interest.

    • Thank you for adding your words to mine, Michelle. I would risk a closed nudist community rather than a beach for a first experience of social nudity, the smaller the group the better in my opinion. In a smaller group you are taken for who you are [personality] rather than appearance or orientation. Closed nudist communities work hard to keep gender issues off the table. Please don’t hesitate to add your words in where you have something to say, or something to ask. – Robert

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