(The original emotionally naked blog is here.) Emotionally Naked® is a registered trademark owned by Anne Moss Rogers and Emotionally Naked LLC.
The closest definition is vulnerability times ten.
When I wrote the newspaper article about our family’s tragedy that went viral, “vulnerable” wasn’t enough to express how exposed I was. I had stripped away the facade and laid bare my soul in public. And it was scary.
It had taken me five months to write those 1,200 words in that article. And when I sent it, I felt vindicated and elated. I was proud of myself. But when the editor of the paper called me to say it was published, I was terrified!
I came from a family that believed a family’s dirty laundry was meant to be held in a secret vault with a 13-foot steel door. The trouble was, I never liked being that way and was always pushing against that norm like a teenage rebel much to my family’s chagrin.
Once it was published in the paper, I went through an inventory of fears, quieted a panic attack, faced up to each worst-case scenario of going public, and decided that none of those were enough to push me back into the closet of silence and secrecy. The feeling of freedom from the shackles of Victorian “don’t ask, don’t tell” propriety was euphoric at a time when the best way to describe my life was chaotic despair.
Charles’s death inspired me to move forward and lead a more authentic life. I have experienced episodes of terror since then. One of them was right before my first book was published. I quieted the roar of doubts and walked into a life that would include incorporating my grief as part of who I am, never denying my son’s existence, his issues, and his gifts.
Strangely, I’ve had some people object to the phrase emotionally naked as if it’s “dirty” or sexual in some way. But it is a process that has felt more like a cleansing or a birth.
Some have pointed to the word naked likes it’s some kind of sin.
So let’s unpack that.
Babies are born butt naked, right? I’ve not seen any of them squirt out of the birth canal fully dressed in cute Gap brand clothing. After they take their first breath of air on earth, they have a visceral, piercing cry. We can refer to that as a strong emotional response to being forced through a narrow canal into chilly air with blaring lights after months suspended in a cozy, warm womb.
An innocent baby is born into the world and their response to it is emotionally naked. So conceptually, how can the phrase itself be anything but pure and authentic?
What one teen told his school counselor was so perfect. He saw the title of my book for educators, Emotionally Naked: A Teacher’s Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk, and the teen contemplated what he thought it meant.
And then he said, “I know what emotionally naked means. You got to expose all your feelings to someone and you have to strip down and express everything how you feel and what’s going on in your mind. I had to tell all my feelings, my story, all my emotional stuff. I had to expose myself.”