Nu comme le jour où je suis né

Month: June 2018

On Being Faithful to One’s Primary Relationship

My naturist home away from home

I return to the second part of this series of posts that focuses on Daryl Sharp’s quote: “the license to be unfaithful”?

When we hear the word “unfaithful” the first assumption is that one partner has engaged in sexual relationships with someone outside of the relationship. Typically the scenario plays out where a man has stepped outside of his marriage to have a mistress. We assume that it is all about sex. He is deemed as unfaithful to his wife.

Now, if the same man has poured his extra-marital energy into his work, the result is still the same. Work becomes the mistress. All sorts of similar scenarios all point to the same result regardless of which partner in a relationship has stepped outside of the marriage to find a sense of fulfilment – finding something that helps to fill in the holes of the psyche. Daryl Sharp was talking about typical marriages between a man and a woman with the unfaithfulness being sexual in nature. Yet, it is obviously more than about sex, and not limited to heterosexual relationships. Any relationship can become threatened by one of the two stepping out of the relationship in search of the missing pieces of “self.

I am a naturist. My wife is not a naturist. I drive off every once in a while to go to a naturist venue where I am naked in the company of other naked men and women. Imagine the threat that this must feel like for my wife as I hang out with naked people while she is at home. This is something that we don’t share together. I have a different set of friends and I do different activities, something that I never did in the past. We were always joined at the hip, doing everything together, sharing the belief that otherwise we would be placing our relationship, our marriage in jeopardy.

With that said, I want to shift to a different scenario which has the same relationship impact. I am a writer. Many of my friends are writers whether they are friends in cyberspace or in the face-to-face world. My wife is not a writer. I drive off every once in a while for a writing retreat or to engage in book-signing events. For example, as I write this post, I am in a city more than 500 kilometres away from home, camping alone between events. This is something we don’t share together. It is as though I have a different life being lived in the shadows. I am doing my thing while she is at home forced to find a way to do her own thing, alone.

Two different realities. Writing is my mistress as is naturism. My relationship with my wife somehow remains strong – in a way, I have the license to be unfaithful, giving time and energy to those two mistresses, time away from my wife. Somehow over the past few years we have both realised that if either of us don’t invest in our primary relationship to “self,” the relationship with each other is put an a greater risk. She tried being a naturist and suffered. I tried not being a naturist and suffered. So, what then?

Our marriage survives because we can honour the differences, allow … give license to … having separate passions that make us better people, perhaps allowing us to be better together as a result.

Is One Unfaithful When We Need Others as Mirrors

Holly is once again appearing in these pages. She is anything but unfaithful to her mate. Yet by allowing others into her life, she is able to see an aspect of herself through the response to her images that she shares on Twitter. I do the same thing, I share images that some might feel are inappropriate since I am in a relationship, one that still is going strong.

Daryl Sharp sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable, a good thing if one realises that one needs to feel uncomfortable if one is to make the necessary changes to become a better person. In the quote above, Sharp where in Not the Big Sleep, one character states that the prerequisite for a good marriage is the license to be unfaithful. I could hardly believe my eyes in reading this, a statement that seems to condone extra-marital affairs. But when I calmed down, I wondered if that was really what was being said. What did Sharp mean when he said “the license to be unfaithful”?

“No one person can fill all our needs all the time. We can plumb our own depths to some extent, but we still need others to mirror who we are.”

I know that this unfaithful business is about one’s partner/spouse or some significant other. When one invests in uncovering and discovering who one is beneath the surface of ego, and in the process uncovers and discovers more about the person with whom they have invested, the relationship changes. Does a person feel guilty for seeing themselves in a different light? It may seem that in placing self ahead of other, that is a betrayal. But, I am getting away from the topic.

I am an ordinary person. I see a beautiful-to-my-eyes woman and I respond at some level or other, physically, psychologically, and sometimes emotionally. At that moment, I am being unfaithful in a way. As my wife has often explained, it isn’t necessary to have sex with another person to be unfaithful. Women know this truth. So how then do we stay together? I mean, is there even one man amongst us who has never “strayed” in thought, dream, desire, wish, or instinct?

Hmm … I think I know what Sharp is now talking about. We need to give each other the gift of “others” who can mirror more of who we are. We need to trust that what holds “us” together in relationship has a foundation that could survive either being unfaithful.

And it isn’t just about sex, one can be unfaithful in a variety of ways such as “not holding faith” with a particular belief system or life style. When one partner adopts naturism while the other holds to a long-held life style where social nudity is held in very low esteem, the choice presents itself – accept or not accept. If the move to naturism results in a deep negative response, then one exists in a relationship where there is no “license to be unfaithful” to the original container of the relationship. It is as though one has “slept with the enemy.” So many of my friends who are naturists found themselves unable to keep their relationships together. Naturism became the mistress, just like money had become the mistress in other failed relationships where the “significant other” stopped being at the centre of the universe.

A few pages further into the book, another line leapt out at me:

“Partners often stay together long past the time when their relationship has ceased to be mutually satisfying.”

I think I’ll have to come back in another post to wrestle with this quote. I need to look at my own relationship and the relationships of others I know who have been married for quite some time to get some perspective.

Recover Personal Authority – Only Embrace Naturism if …

Focused on being present

So many people are focused on the outer world. And if one hears any of the news that is flooding all of the media, they [we] need to have a strong focus on the outer world lest it careens out of control into all sorts of collective nightmares. Regardless of what is transpiring in the outer world, it doesn’t mean that we need to abandon our private, inner world. If we don’t maintain our own personal authority, we become puppets, just another echoing voice in the crowd yelling across a divide at opponents, a divide that appears to be widening. Rather than dialogue to negotiate, both sides harangue and heckle. The individual is powerless though seemingly engaged. Authority lays within the collective.

Naturism, daring to step outside of the collective, appears to be one portal that may allow an individual to recover personal authority. As in the past number of posts, I am returning to James Hollis’ book, Living an Examined Life. Here are a few words from Chapter 4.

“The second half of live occurs when people, for whatever reason – death of a partner, end of a marriage, illness, retirement, whatever – are obliged to radically consider who they are apart from their history, their roles, and their commitments.  …

We have to recover personal authority because the din and demand of the world is too huge to ignore, too intrusive to resist, even if we think we have rebelled and held to our own course.”

So where can we begin this process of recovering personal authority? In my opinion, one valid place to start is with the body. Our bodies have been controlled by the outer world in various forms and formats including age-old scripts that are handed down through generations. To actually confront our bodies without hiding the parts that we have been taught are not to be seen, is transformational.

It is one thing to finally come to grips with the ownership of one’s body, to recover personal authority of one’s body. Yet it is something else entirely to maintain that authority outside the safe haven of one’s private space. Many find other safe havens, naturist campgrounds or resorts, or nude cruises, or other nakations. The problem then reappears as one finds a level of comfort and once again gives up authority to the naked collective. The challenge is to push the boundaries found both within and without in order to flesh out, to uncover the authentic self and its raison d’être. It’s a long process, and often filled with detours and potholes.

One doesn’t undertake this psychological journey of self-discovery unless one is jarred from one’s old life regardless of how uncomfortable that old life was. Even when the old life comes crashing down for various reasons cited by Hollis above, most will resist the psychological journey and embrace being a victim of fate. Obviously, one can never recover one’s personal authority if one doesn’t do the work.

Naturism as a Conscious Choice for Self-Discovery

Solo nude activities

Probably the hardest part of coming to grips with oneself at midlife, is the realisation that one is essentially alone. Regardless of how filled one’s life is with people, there is a sense of aloneness. Though others may share the same house, or even the same bed, the space between self and other widens the more one becomes conscious. This is a very difficult time for relationships including marriages. As James Hollis points out what we already know, “Marriages often end at midlife.”  And if the marriage doesn’t end, it often becomes more of a shell as both parties invest in diversions that keep the truth at bay.

When my wife and I got married, we both believed that it was forever, that we had found the one person in the world who would complete us and meet every unspoken need, every unconscious need. Since then, we have both felt betrayed by the other for ceasing to be the person we had imagined we had married. The person we had married was a flawed human. We had to learn to take responsibility for our individual selves once we realised, painfully, that the other couldn’t.

Naturism is one of those things that define the self that is evolving within me. I am a naturist, she is not. I have dug through the ruins of my early years in order to make peace with the past. There I found a young man who had discovered a healing space outdoors in nature where he hid without clothing. That young man has aged over many decades and now finds himself again in nature without clothing in order to feel the same sense of sanctuary and well-being that had rescued him as a young man.

Couples can agree to disagree yet still find enough in common to be willing to remain together. Those points in common are vital and need to be given the space needed for a relationship to survive the differences that would otherwise overwhelm the relationship. Yet, those differences need to be honoured as well. We need to learn to take care of our own separate needs rather than expect the other to take care of them for us, and we need to allow space and time for the other to do the same. James Hollis tells us:

“There is no one out there to save us, to take care of us, to heal the hurt. But there is a very important person within, one we barely know, ready and willing to be our constant companion.”

If one thinks about it, the journey at midlife is similar to the transition one has to endure when passing from childhood to adulthood. A child loses the Magical Other of parent and is confronted with his or her smallness in the world. Then, as if a miracle, the young adult who emerges from childhood finds someone who then takes on the mantle of Magical Other.Then in midlife, an older and wiser adult is forced to realise that in spite of a career, family, and societal connections, one is alone, a stranger to themselves and to the Magical Other who has vanished only to be replaced with a complexed stranger. It’s a wonder that any marriage could survive the losses of certainties about other and self.

“What is so difficult is to trust that one’s own psyche will prove sufficient to heal itself.”

The task then at midlife is to give up the idea that someone else will take on the responsibility of healing the broken and bruised parts of who we are. We need to let go of those infantile magical thinking beliefs and find an inner and perhaps an outer place of solitude in order to take responsibility for self. For me, that place of solitude is in naturism. Where is your place of solitude where you can take ownership of your own complexes and become a more conscious person who can have a conscious relationship with other?

Being Naked, Mindful and Dignified – It’s a Matter of Choice

At Green Haven

I am sitting in my tiny camping trailer while a gentle rain falls outside. The temperature has fallen to single digits and the breeze is brisk. It definitely isn’t the most pleasant situation for me to go out for a nude walk. I tried and the walk was shortened as I hurried back to my warm, tiny trailer. There is no Internet here at Green Haven, so I spend most of my time writing, taking occasional breaks to read. Having had the foresight to have loaded this page into my browser when I had Internet access, I can build this post to give to you later. As I mentioned earlier in my previous post, I am reading Living an Examined Life, by James Hollis. Today I returned to that book to begin reading the first chapter – The Choice is Yours. Hollis begins with a tough challenge:

“Whether you show up as you in this brief transit we call life or are defined by history, or context, or shrill partisan urgencies substantially depends on you. No greater difficulty may be found than living this journey as mindfully, as accountably, as we can, but no greater task brings more dignity and purpose to our lives.”

It is all about a choice, making decisions rather than abdicating our authority to others who would rush in to make choices for us, others who avoid finding their own dignity and purpose in life.

Naturism is one of those choices for me. Needless to say, almost everyone in my world, my face-to-face world would rather I didn’t make that choice. Making this choice creates tension with all relationships. I could pull back, in effect turning the power of my “choice” over to these others, but I don’t. In spite of going against the collective who resist being authentically individual, I have made the choice to stand naked in front of the world. I know that I am not a “fine specimen” of muscle-crafted, masculine power; and I realise that my body shows the ravages of time. However, it is my body and I have finally let go of the collective-induced shame of having a naked body that the collective tells us to keep hidden at all costs.

The dignity does show up in attitude. An example comes to mind. One bright, warm, late summer day I was trimming the bushes in my back yard. While I was busily engaged with the task, a neighbouring woman entered my yard with the intention of borrowing a tool. She was late in registering my presence, my nude presence. I had noticed her, but kept on with my task. I didn’t try to hide the fact that I was naked, nor did I try to make myself more visible to her. When she finally saw me, she apoligised for interrupting, for invading my privacy. She didn’t protest my nakedness, nor hide from it. She accepted it for what it was. In the process, we both maintained dignity. In case you are wondering, my neighbour isn’t a naturist. I made a choice to continue working naked in my yard, and she made a choice to continue with her task – as Hollis tells us – “the choice is ours.” But he goes on to qualify that statement:

“We survive in this life by adaptation. We learn from our world – families of origin, popular culture, world events, religious training, and many other sources – who we are, what is acceptable, what is not, and how we have to behave, perform, in order to fit in, gain approval from others, and prosper in this world …”

Now obviously, this world really doesn’t want us to be present as naked people. Nudity is not acceptable unless there is an economic benefit to be made which renders the nudity to be objectively defined, rather than a subjective experience. Rather than approving human nudity, society goes to great lengths to censure nudity and those who adopt a lifestyle that includes being clothing free. Hollis goes on to say:

“We become too often a servant of our environment, given our need to fit in, receive the approval of others, stay out of harm’s way.”

Becoming a naturist or a nudist has a person, at least for the moments he or she is clothing free, make a choice to not fit in, to stop being ruled by the fleeting approval of others. And as long as we hide our nudity behind privacy fences, or behind closed doors and draperies in our homes, or behind the gated barriers that separate a group from the outer world, we can stay out of harm’s way. Yet, for a good number of naturists, there is a compulsion to be more authentic with the world.

Another personal example that comes to mind is my tendency to step outside the safe boundaries and risk. For the past few days while it was warm and sunny, I left the naturist grounds carrying a small bag on my back which contained my wrap – a cover in case I would be seen by others. I would then hike down the public gravel road to a junction where I would then follow a dirt road to reach a point about five kilometres away from the naturist site. I would then return following the same route back to reach my trailer. Everything I did not only wouldn’t have met with the approval of the world outside the gates, even those within the naturist community would have disapproved – my actions could have put their comfortable life within the confines of the site, in jeopardy.

I make choices, not always good choices in most other people’s opinions, and sometimes in retrospect, I have to admit that my choices aren’t always about being mindful or dignified in terms of my soul’s needs for authenticity. Regardless of the choices I make – to do or not to do, to be or not to be – I learn to become a better version of who I am, a more conscious person.

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