naked body, naked soul

2017-06-11

monika-jia-rui-286

I look at the photo above and feel physical and emotional closeness. Intimacy. Finally being able to connect on that level fills my heart with so much joy. It’s kinda .. funny how quickly and radically I tend to shut myself off from people when the greatest desire within me, the thing that keeps me going, is to connect with others. But today I find myself where I’ve always wanted to be.

For years I’ve longed for people I could share my deepest feelings with. I’ve wished for friends with whom I can share the intimacy that comes from knowing each other’s dark places. I’ve longed for friendships in which touches and hugs feel natural. There was so much longing, but a certain dread has always held me back.

It’s so hard to reveal your darkest secrets you’d rather hush up and ignore. Even more when you’re an insecure loner and struggle with self-hate. And as if this emotional barrier wasn’t enough, there’s also an innate blockade preventing me from being physically close to others in a platonic way. How can there be so many conflicts within a person?

We can’t expect things to change if we don’t do anything about it. So I decided to be brave. I started sharing my raw thoughts and feelings. I stopped running away from difficult situations. I showed more and more skin in my self-portraits and somewhere along the way, some friends turned out to be rather touchy. Put all this together and bang, the door to a new world opens, I stumble over the step and there I stand with big eyes.

I’m not going to lie – this level of intimacy is intense. So intense I struggled with it at the beginning.

I was raised with very conservative values. Showing skin wasn’t – isn’t – okay. I wish it was different, but my sense of shame used to be super high, only decreasing slowly. Additionally, even though I like physical contact, I wasn’t used to it, so it always came with some confusion. I was one of the most inhibited people I knew and I hated it.

But I endured the uncomfortable conflicts and mess. And here I am – embracing intimacy as the blessing it is. I can bare both my body and soul without any shame. Today I’m finally able to show who I truly am, flaws and all, and feel loved and appreciated anyways. And thanks to that, the connections I make become even deeper, too.

I love that I attract inspiring souls by being brave and becoming who I want to be. In the past months, I’ve met people who are wonderfully honest and sincere. Vulnerable. It’s a rare thing in a world in which you always have to guard what you say. These people have a certain air of innocence and ease. They are good for me; I crave their presence, feel a bit addicted to them. They inspire me.

Because I’m still not as brave as I’d like to be. There are still too many things I don’t dare to talk about. Voicing them might change everything and I’m afraid of scaring people away. But when I think of the way I want to live, I remember I don’t want fear to dictate what I feel or do. I don’t want to look back and see a life only half-lived because of the boundaries and constraints imposed by society.

I want to remember bumps and bruises and grazed knees, but also the deeply satisfying happiness that comes from living without giving in to fear. So I’m going to say those things that scare me. Yes, people might get hurt. Maybe my heart will get hurt. But what’s the point of staying on the safe path and abstaining of being true to myself?

I look at the image above and feel empowered. There’s a fire burning within me and I desire to share it with the world.

68 Comments
      1. Me too! We want intimacy but are afraid of it, afraid people wouldn’t like us – never mind love us – if we really shared our secrets and they knew what we were like.

    1. Monika, this picture and your heart is beautiful on EVERY level! I’d say that I am on such a similar path as you at this very same time… and I am… but this is not about me. It’s about you finding the courage and self-worth on your own, and then claiming it as a foundation of love for yourself and everything around you! Yes, it’s hard. No, not everyone is able to be this brutally honest. Yes, it may scare some people away… but those people just aren’t ready. The true joy, and I know you have found it, is finding the true flowers amongst the weeds of society. THEY are the ones that will get you and THEY are the ones your soul will connect with. And those friendships are what makes the insecurities and fumbles worth it! Much love to you on this journey!

      1. Dear Kate, thank you very much for your thoughtful and encouraging comment <3 please feel free to share as much about you as you want; I'm always very happy when I realise that people can relate to what I write :) but I do appreciate your words of support a lot; the last weeks have been a bit confusing and it's great to be reminded of why I'm on this path. I hope you're doing well xx

    1. Kudos Monika. I admire your courage to admit your fears and limits, be vulnerable and know that you want more intimacy. I find verbal (and physical) intimacy to be very nurturing. hugs, Brad

      1. Hello Brad, thank you for your kind words! :) I hope you’re doing well, take care!

    1. I’m glad you decided to make a change, despite it being SUPER scary for you. I admit I hate doing things that scare me, but it gets better with practice. :)

      1. Thank you for your comment <3 It really gets better with practice! Though the worst thing is when the consequences kick in and you realise why it scared you so much in the first place haha
        Anyways, I hope you're doing well <3

    1. It’s great that you’ve managed to reach the stage where you can open up to people in a more emotionally honest way – I had a talk with my dad where he told me, ‘You can’t trust anyone because they’ll betray you,’ and that made me really sad. Honesty is such a rare commodity in this world we live in that I want to be as emotionally open with the people I encounter as I can be. Keep on rocking it!

      1. Oh, it’s really sad that your dad has this outlook on life! But I understand why he might think this way; so many people open up and get hurt in the process. I know that this risk is there, but somehow it has worked out for me so far and I’m starting to think that having a positive and trusting mindset might attract people who think and feel similarly. Thank you for sharing <3 all the best to you, my dear!

    1. Opening yourself up can lead to hurt, but it can lead to places of intimacy that are so incredibly fulfilling. I’m proud of the journey you’ve shared with us and look forward to where it will take you in life! :)

      1. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement, Darin :)) I’m glad to have you around and hope that you and you’re family are doing well! :)

    1. This piece has power…and emotion. It takes courage to open up, and that’s something that we can all relate to. Thanks for sharing.

    1. That is a stunning picture that you have created – like all your photography. I’ve always found difficulty with sharing the mistakes of my life. Friends and family have always seemed to have life come easier for them, from getting a job, finding fulfilling relationships, and achieving the “dream.” The one way that I have found happiness is focusing on what has made me happy when I was younger and life was simpler – art and writing. They’ve created an anchor to my daily routine that has allowed me to return to my definition of success: immersion in words and art. Your honesty and journey is a roadmap that benefits all! Thank you for being you.

      1. Thank you very much for your compliment and thoughtful words, Carl :) I’m glad you’re writing “always *seemed* to have life come easier for them” – it might be different behind the scenes, or maybe it’ll change at some point. But I’m sure you know that :) Focusing on art and writing sounds lovely! I’m glad you’ve found something that works out for you. Thank you for following me on my journey xx

    1. “…funny how quickly and radically I tend to shut myself off from people when the greatest desire within me, the thing that keeps me going, is to connect with others.”

      So true! Thanks for continuing to connect & speak to those fears we all have but are afraid to give voice to.

      1. Thank you for your lovely feedback, Denise! It’s so good to get so much support here <3 take care!

    1. Came across this because you liked my post (thanks so much for that!), and I’m always glad to see things like this. I’ve come across a few other people who are like-minded, and it’s a wonderful thing. I hope you continue to grow more comfortable in your skin and your soul!

      1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving those lovely words! :)) I appreciate them a lot. Take care and all the best to you :)

    1. This is truly a very raw and vulnerable post, yet delivered with such an eloquent style the likes I have only seen this once. I commend you on your bravery and courage. Well spoken and inspiring. Two thumbs up from me.

      Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow.
      Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.
      Mary Tyler Moore

      1. Dear Mary, wow, thank you very much for the lovely compliment! It’s very encouraging to receive words like these. I hope you’re doing well, have a lovely week and take care! <3

        1. I was quoting Mary Tyler Moore at the end. I am not actually named Mary. But you are very welcome. It was a well deserved comment.

    1. I can relate with your post and with how you feel. I’ve been there for the longest time. Now at 46, it is very clear to me that we are sick as our secret, and the only way to find healing is to expose myself into the light. Just be careful, we are not taught how to be wise as serpent and gentle as dove. So many predators around who are lost themselves. Thank you for dropping by at my site :)
      By the way, your photographs are great! Speak so much from the soul :)

    1. I appreciate work like this, especially from another young person. i think you’re on a rad path, facing fears and challenges and stepping outside of your comfort zone is where i truly believe life begins. big ups to you!

      1. Thank you so much for your positive and encouraging comment! <3 as corny as it sounds, life (as I want to live it) definitely happens outside our comfort zone. all the best to you xx

    1. I stumbled upon your post and I’m delighted with your words!! Congrats to you for living with vulnerability!! Shinjng outwardly, radiating with beauty and confidence.
      Thank you!

      1. Aw, what a lovely comment, thank you very much! I hope you’re doing well, take care <3

    1. You are a brave writer. I find that so inspiring. I want to write more brave things; I’m in the middle of learning so many things, but they are not all pretty or nice. And people might get hurt if I write about them. Because the truth hurts. I wonder if that means we should avoid the truth? I don’t think so.

      1. Thank you for your kind words! It seems like we’re in the same situation, I’ve been learning some ugly things lately and didn’t know how to put them into words.. when I write about a delicate matter, I try not to name the things and obscure them a bit. I believe that we have to face the truth but do so without hurting others. Hope it makes sense :) all the best to you, I’m sure you’ll find your way! <3

    1. There is devastating and transcendently beautiful honesty in the words and the image here. I felt the intimacy of this as if we were alone in a room and you speaking only to me. A writer and an artist is uniquely able to mine this well of emotion and convert it into meaning.

      “There are still too many things I don’t dare to talk about. Voicing them might change everything and I’m afraid of scaring people away.”

      I look forward to that voice.

    1. What i love about your photography and portraits is that you are not looking for gratification. You and your subjects are beautiful but you don’t need any outside source to tell you that.

      1. It made me really happy that you see this in my photography. I’d like to think that’s true, so thank you very much <3 take care x

    1. Not to discourage you, Monika, but nobody showed his true self by showing skin ! Hugs of love.

      You are a fellow traveler I admire not only for the experiences you share with uncommon frankness but for the grit you show through your posts that underscore what is it that you want or are doing or going to do about them.

      I like the being-on-fire part though if it is assuredly non sexual. I am an Easterner, a Hindu, who admits to opening up sexually only in acceptable and approved togetherness; as a matter of practised values system; hence the reserved view.

      It’s a privilege to know you and I wish the best for your educational, stability, and career endeavours. I know, there’s no one more qualified than you to succeed at life and, when it’s time, to raise a family the world will be proud of.
      That’s how people at my age, who are parents themselves, wish for you and believe to be true.

      1. Thank you for voicing your disagreement in a very respectful way – and for the kind and encouraging words, too, of course :)

        I know there are many different opinions on the topic of ‘showing skin’; it’s a very personal topic and for me it was a part of the struggle of becoming someone braver and listening to my heart. Thus coming closer to my ‘true self’. It doesn’t have to make sense for others. But I can assure you – none of this is meant in a sexual sense. Though I believe it’s not wrong if it was, at the end everyone has to decide for themselves how they handle sexuality.

        I simply believe in having the courage of living life the way it makes us happy and listen less to the voices that try to keep us down, may they be outside or inside our head. And what works out for person A might not work out for person B.

        Thank you very much for your kind wishes even though you don’t fully agree with what I do. I appreciate your kindness :) take care and have a lovely weekend!

    1. Beautiful post. Congratulations you have met your soul and have set it free. Hold on, because living of life has now begun. Enjoy!🦋🐝🌈

    1. I read this and it resonated so well with me! You and I struggle with some of the same things and it’s nice to see how you’ve found ways to combat some of those. I look forward to reading more of your work and conversing as well!
      -James

    1. Thankyou Monika,
      I loved your raw and deep piece about the courage and difficulty it takes to step out of those very difficult ingrained coping mechanisms that keep you trapped. Look forward to reading more on your blog

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