Coming Out of the Closet – Disclosure
It has been awhile since my last post here on Through a Jungian Lens. I have been distracted and in that distraction, I stayed far away from myself and filled the space and time with the outer world. I want to return to the idea of “coming out of a closet.” The idea of discovering something about yourself and then sharing it with those you trust and love, is what coming out of the closet is all about. In recent times, the phrase has been associated with making public one’s sexual orientation – but, that is not what I am trying to understand while I try to explain something I can only say is intuitive knowledge.
For all of us, whether we realise it or not, there is much (if not most) of what it is that makes us individuals that is beyond our awareness at a conscious level. We begin to believe early in life that we are what we see and think about ourselves. As we mature and have many years of life experience, we learn that much of who we are is basically a mystery, even to ourselves. Teenagers wrestle with this question of identity for a few years before life catches them and involves them full-time in an outer life – friends, family, career, hobbies, relationships, issues such as environmentalism and human rights, politics, and/or religion just to name some of the ways we fill our lives. Then, at some point we realise that we have somehow been consumed by the world almost to the point of disappearing as individuals. We wake up to the fact that we exist outside of our external reality, that there is some depth to who we are. The problem is, we don’t know what is in those depths. So, like teenagers, we find ourselves once again facing an identity crisis – “Who am I?”
Obviously, we are individuals in a collective sense. We know our roles in life and identify with those roles. But, when the questions come later in life, we look within to find the answers that let us know more about ourselves. We look within and find for the most part, darkness, closed doors. What lies behind those closed doors? Of course, anything hidden in darkness, hidden behind doors is felt as something threatening and dangerous. We want to keep the doors closed. However, our growing awareness of these doors behind which answers to the question “Who am I?” are to be found becomes harder and harder to ignore. Like Pandora’s Box, we can’t pretend anymore. Most of us try our hardest to build layer after layer of barriers in hopes of preventing any of the doors to be opened. We work harder, we play harder, we become addicts, we give up authority over ourselves to others and organisations – anything that might let us hopefully forget about the doors. Many of us spend a lifetime, the last part of our lifetime in this work of keeping the doors closed.
Yet, for some, there is no real choice. I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but some become desperate for answers. Life has somehow knocked one to his or her knees like a sinner who now begs for release from the pain of a sinful life. No god in the outer world has been able to forgive. Like others before me, I found myself in this place and like them, looked inward, into the darkness at the doors and in spite of fear, began to open the doors in search of needed answers. Joseph Campbell called this diving into the darkness and opening doors, a heroic journey. As my readers already know, years have passed in my heroic journey and some of the doors have been opened giving me a better sense of who I am.
What have I learned? I learned . . . and this is the coming out of the closet disclosure that I have dreaded . . . I have learned that I am not a hero, not the wise philosopher that I have cultivated as an identity, not some future famous author of a famous book, not a shaman or medicine man who will talk to the gods in order to heal others, not a skilled musician in hiding . . . the list goes on and on. I learned that I was addicted to perfection. And like Icarus, I got burnt by the sun in my attempts at flying too high.
What I have learned is that I am ordinary. I am a quiet, short man who knows some big words and has had a career that gives him status. The people in my face-to-face world think I am busy writing some epic book of wisdom and as a result stand back with some small awe of my supposed wisdom. But in truth, I can’t put the words down into a book, the wisdom isn’t there. In spite of reading more and more, I learn that I know less and less. There is no hero buried in knowing less and less.
I am a closet naturist who has almost come to terms with his body – almost. My body is unremarkable, ordinary. As I have uncovered the darkness, I have also uncovered my body giving both light and air which heals as they bring awareness of body and soul. I don’t let my face-to-face world know about my need for nude healing time, mostly out of fear, fear that I will be shunned, fear that others will also shun my wife. There are no naked heroes.
It is as though as I open these closed doors and disclose, I become more and more like the Emperor With No Clothes in my world, naked and an object of ridicule. But, at the same time, in risking all of this, I approach learning to be at peace with who I really am. And, with this knowledge, I get relief from the demands of my ego to be perfect, to be a saint, to be wise, to be famous, to be respected. Now, I can be me – an ordinary man who loves to write, to think out loud, to sit quietly in the sunshine, to wander with my camera, and to discover more and more of the world without and within. I don’t have to be perfect for my wife and children and grandchildren – they love me for who I am, not for who I have pretended to be, aspired to be. It’s okay to simply be.