Tag Archives: naked

Throwing the towel down and being seen


My dreams are trying to tell me something about how I see myself and what a liberated version of me feels like. It’s hard not to ignore a vision of me running around naked with not a care in the world! And to feel the delicious caress of a breeze on naked skin is like a huge billboard advertising how good it would feel to just try this new idea or concept.

What I find interesting is that my mind has used someone I know with powerful energy in real life to drive a message across. To give you a quick background so you understand the context of my dream, M is a business colleague who is also an acclaimed writer, producer and comedian. We have met a few times at events and chatted about our lives. M is lesbian and has been with her partner for around 20 years. Her partner is a psychoanalyst and M was in psychoanalysis (obviously not with her partner!). M and I always chat about psychology, the meaning of our relationships and the effect that our past has had on our present. We also both keep dream journals. M can seem quite butch and intimidating but has a magnetism to her. She has been an autobiographical ghost-writer for two famous women and described to me how attached they became to her in the course of sitting together for many months. It’s hard to describe whether her magnetic energy evokes the feeling of a powerful but nurturing mother or that of a “sensitive” father.

Now to my dream about her. I have highlighted parts that have meaning:

I arrive at my aunt’s apartment, which I am looking after. Just as in real life, her apartment is trendy, airy and light. The walls are white and everything feels comforting. The only difference is that this dream apartment is on the ground floor, like a house, and is surrounded by garden. My gran’s little black poodle pup is there. I am not staying in the apartment but in a small attached cottage that seems outdated and misplaced. The furniture is a bit old. The place seems dull and scruffy in comparison. I am about to shower and lock the door connecting the cottage to the apartment. As I do this, I hear the front door of the apartment being unlocked. I wrap a white towel around me and go to see who it is. It’s M.

We are surprised to see each other and she says my aunt gave her a set of keys to the apartment for emergencies. Today it is my aunt’s birthday and she has come to drop off and arrange purple lilies in a vase in her kitchen as a surprise. While we speak, I feel quite vulnerable and exposed in my towel. She asks why I am covering myself and I am surprised by her question because I think the answer is quite obvious (you don’t show yourself to people you don’t know). In the moment, I am ashamed I am not more confident about my body. She appraises my body. I leave her to arrange the flowers and tell her I will be in the cottage. As I am about to take my towel off in the cottage to shower, I see boys playing cricket outside and they notice I am semi-naked. I try to draw the curtains closed. They run away. I look through the window and see my gran’s dog playing in the garden. Dogs from other apartments are running across the lawn and into our property. I am scared this will put her in danger because she is so small. I run outside to chase away the dogs and M comes through because she hears a commotion. My towel flies off as I chase after the dogs. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter that I am naked anymore. I am aware that M is looking at me but I feel beautiful in the moment. Her loving, appreciative gaze radiates. As I run, I feel the grass tickle my legs and the breeze caress my bare skin. I feel free and sexy at the same time. I manage to scare the dogs away and grab my gran’s dog in my arms before walking back to the cottage.


I think the comparison between the apartment and cottage is like a comparison between myself and my aunt. She is comfortable in her skin, confident, bubbly and a true role model in the assertive way she tackles life. Growing up, I have always tried to emulate her but felt like I paled in comparison.

M adds something beautiful to my aunt’s space. The shade of purple is quite spiritual, intuitive and healing. She leaves it in a transparent vase in the kitchen, a place of nourishment. She has used her key because it is an emergency, what she describes as celebrating a day of birth (or re-birth).

I am in this dingy cottage trying to clean myself but never getting around to it. I am naked save for a fluffy, white towel. I feel vulnerable but at least it swaddles part of me.

My gran’s dog is a symbol of the wild, spontaneous and carefree animal urges. She is very affectionate and I feel safe, close and loved when I have her in my arms. She has a child-like playfulness to her. The pet dogs running amok represent the natural drives that, despite usually being well socialized, have a tendency to revert back to their wild, spontaneous state. I scare these away because they are a threat to my playful but more well-trained poodle pup. Scaring them away and having her in my arms feels like I have a healthy balance between the two sides of the animal.

And the running free part is quite self-explanatory. The fact that my senses were ramped up in the moment made it particularly memorable. Could it be that M’s adoring gaze, as someone interested in women, made me feel confident enough to truly be seen? Or did she act more as an archetype of the loving parent, a somewhat androgynous being in that she is female physically but more male mentally… a union of both parts shining the way to self-acceptance.

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The “perfect” therapy client


Sitting on the therapy couch activates intense anxiety and I always feel like I am display, on show. For a naturally guarded and private person, it makes sense that speaking about myself would seem scary and revealing. For that hour, my muscles stiffen. I am hyper-aware of how I am being perceived. Extended silences make me even more anxious. Although the silence is intended to act as a loving holding space, it feels reproachful.

I specialise in past tense, present tense and future tense…

This tension in the therapy room is something I have often explored with DS (my therapist Deep Soul). Perhaps it’s because therapy is a place where you cannot hide. You can try to pretend with words but your body language will deceive you. It’s a space where shame is under the full glare of the therapist’s gaze. It’s a place where, try as you might, your less desirable side will be exposed and scrutinised, albeit with kind intention.

These feelings have very little to do with DS and everything to do with what I am bringing to the room. In one session, we discussed how important it was for me to be the “perfect” therapy client. Maybe you’d find some of this familiar…

– You’re super accommodating when your therapist announces last-minute changes.

– You always make sure you are early or on time for appointments.

– You ensure you look and smell good, even if you’ve just come from a work day where you were stuck in a cubicle of sweating Jabba the Hutts and dealt with people who make teeth-gnashing Rottweilers look more approachable.

– You politely greet your therapist and ask how they are.

– You listen carefully to each and every insight because it’s what you “should” do, even when you really don’t feel up to it in the moment.

– You dig a hole to China trying to explore “how you are feeling” because you think an answer will satisfy them.

– You consider the burden and impact your words and actions will have on your therapist and the relationship.

– Even if your therapist is not the homework kind (like DS), you avidly Google topics discussed in the session, make mental notes and basically create your own detailed homework schedule.

– You don’t leave all your crumpled tissues on the couch. You place them in the bin before you leave.

– You make sure you pay your therapist beforehand, like clockwork and without fail.

Trying to be perfectly imperfect…

What may become clear is that not all of these behaviours are particularly helpful to the client. Theoretically, part of the therapist’s job is to give up their needs and life for you in the paid hour. I say theoretically because it’s easier said than done. The hour becomes a space in the day where you can let the mask slip. Trying to cut out these tendencies can also be potentially unhelpful. I told DS one day that I “shouldn’t” be so hard on myself and expect to be perfect at all times. Basically, I was again trying to be the perfect therapy client by trying to force myself to be fixed, simply by stipulating what I could and couldn’t do. So many rules!

It’s easy to say that self-compassion is what is needed in this somewhat confusing healing process. I personally think that’s a harder tool to grab if you struggle with low self-esteem. Someone who thinks they are a piece of crap may not feel they deserve to cut themselves a break. This is probably where your therapist’s unending empathy becomes an important catalyst for change.

Do you stock Therapy Client Barbie?

Obviously, there are very blissful times when their attunement is so intense that it uncoils the springs in our bodies and we exhale in relief. The distance between the couch and the therapist’s chair is greatly reduced when DS tunes in like a curious detective fiddling with the dial of a radio, trying to cut through the fuzziness until he’s found a crystal-clear channel. It’s like time stops. We revel in this comforting moment together and our heartstrings pluck in perfect harmony.

So, as you can see, feeling safe and trusting enough to “not be perfect” is one of my own therapy challenges. One day it will eventually be okay to not be perfect in therapy. And hopefully, that will extend to life. Until then, feel free to share “perfect client” moments so we can cut through any  unnecessary shame.

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