We just concluded a weekend rendevous with Brian's parents, Hud and the Coopinator. I almost forgot that I was in grad school for a short period of time, but now it's time to get back to business and finish out trimester #2 this week. With one more paper and a final - the end is in sight. I'll have about a week off and then hopefully I'll be ready for a round of summer courses. As I anticipate what the next couple of months will be like, I can't help but think bitter and envious thoughts about you and your little cruise vacation. I imagine you're out basking in the sun right this very minute listening to a great mix of music on your ipod and reading a thought-provoking and engaging book attempting to solve some of life's little mysteries. Am I right??? I don't even have to ask...I know the answer.
So thinking about you in a swim suit has triggered a few thoughts about a conversation we had a little over a week ago about exhibitionism (Ha - how'd you like that transition?). I was primarily reflecting upon the ways in which I have demonstrated exhibitionistic behavior in my own life. No - I've never freaked out an innocent group of kids by pulling open a trench coat (in fact the only times I've ever been completely naked in public have been in those nightmares where you're at school or something and everyone's looking at you really funny). But I have, in fact, exposed myself, my story, my wounds, my shortcomings, to others in ways that were less than gracious - towards myself, or others for that matter.
There seem to be primarily two types of people - let's just call them exhibitionists and manic prudes. Exhibitionists tend to shock people with their over-exposure of their rawness. Manic prudes are so completely covered up that they are often perceived as being robotic rather than human. Both styles of relating destroy intimacy and both kill true desire. The Exhibitionist becomes detached from her own beauty and power. Though desperate for others to see her, she reveals her flesh in such a crude and exploitative way to those who least deserve it and so they turn away from ever being able to truly see her and honor her. She harms herself by continually exposing her most private parts and through some manner of self-fulfilling prophecy she proves time and time again that no one can handle her wounds. She's simply too much. The prude never reveals herself to anyone for fear that the other might actually see her weakness, her vulnerability, her neediness. Her own desire terrifies her, so she locks it up and hides it away until she can no longer remember where she put the key to unlock the damn door. Her nakedness becomes a barren and lifeless place void of experiencing the pleasure it was created to produce.
Our friendship is unique, to say the least. My style of relating has fallen somewhere along the exhibitionist side and you are discovering the root of your prudishness. And we now find ourselves longing for something more. I'm learning what it means to honor my own nakedness...and you're trying to find yours. My hope is that we'll both learn, as we unravel the many messages that have kept us trapped by these patterns, what it means to be naked and unashamed. What is required for such a radical transformation to occur? I have been a recovering exhibitionist for the past two years - my trenchcoat was traded in for a straight jacket that couldn't be taken off even if I tried to undo it. In the recent months, I've adjusted my attire once again. I'm literally wearing khaki pants, a white buttom-up collar shirt and a blue and green striped sweater over it. It is a fairly conservative outfit - and yet I've been able to unbutton the top button. That's where I'm at right now. I'm discovering what it feels like to be seen with reverence by others rather than feeling exploited or over-exposed. I still experience my moments of regression, but for the most part I'm learning to honor myself and my story.