Letters to DOMAI
I have been "off the grid" for some time -- since Feb., 2007 -- and never knew you published my letter until today, June 5, 2007.
Today is my first day getting online in months, and I just spent better than two hours reading all the wonderful and insightful replies to my letter, which you gratefully published. [Here and in following weeks.]
Let me start by saying thank you for providing a safe haven for decency and nudity on the internet.
Thank you, kind readers, for providing a wonderful atmosphere and truly touching replies to my original letter. I read each and every one, and am grateful you took the time to respond. You provided wisdom and insight, challenges and observations, experience and expertise about an area I am still fumbling with and figuring out slowly: myself.
Thank you, of course, to the concept of Domai. Honestly, Eolake, you have created a wonderful community of caring people. Allowing me an outlet to express my inner fears and thoughts -- especially when I thought nobody else would listen -- was a vital first step toward my "acceptance" of myself, if you will. Reading all the responses today further justifies where I'm headed. You were absolutely right: Things Take Time.
Since that letter (which I wrote in Nov., 2006), I have changed quite a bit.
I'm more confident in myself, for one. I now feel considerably less alone. I don't let guilt consume me so much anymore. I have continued to question the "flaws" (as I see them) in my upbringing -- it's odd how much "religion" gets in the way of faith. I've succeeded in two healthy relationships; time and distance cooled both (respectively), but I still remain friends with each. I witnessed my brother "come out" to our parents and watched in amazement with their response being love. I've realized that knowing myself isn't a moral crime. I understand now that it's not ugly to appreciate beauty.
Now that I'm back on the internet I'm anxious to see if I'll fall back to my "old" ways, or if I've developed and matured a bit. I am hopeful it will be the latter. Consider that domai.com was one of my first stops online today, and it's proven to be such a rewarding encounter (again and again). On top of everything, my birthday was in April, so I consider this whole thing to be a spiritual/cosmic/whatever sign. I'm on the right track. Thanks to you all for helping to guide me toward the right path.
Twenty years ago, I moved to a particularly pleasant and attractive part of the United Kingdom from the dirt and grime of London. I came down here in the removal van, and asked one of the lads about the local beaches. He listed a few that I knew about, but then said "... and, of course, there is the nudist beach at the Undercliff."
What he meant, of course, was a naturist beach, and a couple of summers later, I paid it a visit. Like a great many naturist beaches in the UK, it is difficult to get to, scrambling over rocks and soil that are still on the move following the latest land slip, and trying to work out where the path actually goes this year, as it is very different to last year's route. Once down, there lays a beach made up of small, smooth, rounded shingle (very difficult to walk on for any distance), backed by cliffs and the remains of cliff falls, with the English Channel beating on the shingle.. It is a truly wonderful beach, facing southwest, but with no shelter from the sun, and a long climb up if the weather turns.
So it was here that I discovered naturists, and learned a lot about human psychology, self-esteem and 'openness'. The English are a little reticent about talking to strangers, especially those who are not wearing any clothes! So many of the people on the beach said 'Hello' that it was rude not to reply, and thus began a series of chats about all sorts of things.
Eventually I felt over-dressed, and joined them for a while, experiencing the breeze on my skin and a general degree of freedom. During my talks with the naturists, I discovered that they were very different from the average Joe Public in their outlook on life, possessions and their inner self. For a start, nobody ever said "Does my bum look big in this?" because there was nothing covering it - there was nothing covering anything.
These people were, and still are, completely relaxed about their bodily appearance - there were all shapes and sizes, some with surgery scars, others with stretch marks - and accepted themselves and others for what they were, and not for what they appeared to be, or wanted to be. There were no designer clothes to hide behind, no gold bracelets or obscenely priced watches to 'accidentally' reveal their financial worth - just themselves with a 'this is me - take it or leave it' attitude. I can see how this could be unsettling to somebody who was not 'at peace' with their body image, and had the psychological hang-ups that seem to be so prevalent (certainly in the West).
I wonder how many people could stand naked in front of a mirror in the privacy of their bedroom and say 'this is me' to their self, and feel comfortable about it. Being able to accept oneself, warts and all, makes it easier to accept other people for what they really are, and, perhaps, to be able to look beneath the surface to see the beauty of the real person.
Not only all this, but the whole atmosphere was totally asexual. Men and women of all ages, and some children, all happily co-existing on an English beach. In my frequent visits there, I have never observed any sexual activity of any sort, and for the men who are worried about naturist beaches, no visible problems! If you ever visit the Isle of Wight, then Blackgang beach is well worth a visit if you can find your way down.