I used to be a Massage Therapist. One of the first things we learned in school was that you never say the word ‘exposed’ when working on a client. The logic behind that rule was that the word could trigger something within the person – it could cause them to feel vulnerable or unsafe as they lay partially nude on your table. Exposed, for me, took on the meaning of a swear word – it was not to be said. It fell away from my vocabulary and was replaced with the vetted, professional word ‘undraped’, which meant, in essence, the exact same thing, but was gentler on the client’s ears. It was the ‘exposed’ wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Since my time as an RMT, I have lived several lives. Along the way I have collected, as we all have, some good and some bad, all of which gets packed into baggage. And as I go, as we all go, that baggage gets heavier and heavier. Eventually, inevitably, it will weigh us down. And when that happens, we turn to people, practices, information to help clear those bags out. This ‘spring cleaning’ phase comes to different people at different times – some people believe that if they drag their heavy baggage around with them until they absolutely cannot take another step, it is a sign of strength. Others know that as soon as they feel even a little extra weight on their backs it’s time to declutter. But no matter when this time of shedding comes, the goal is the same; to sort through whatever you’ve been carrying – on your mind, in your heart, in your body – that feels heavy, and drag it into the light. Because once it is in the light, you can have a good look at it from all angles, decide if it’s something you hang on to or leave behind. It is exposed.
Exposure as a word is harsh. The hard “x” sound at the start lets you know it means business, the “poh” spits out at you as if electrically charged, and the “zsh” steals the soft whisper of an “s”, morphing it into something foreign, igniting feelings of discomfort. In this sense, the word perfectly embodies its definition. For exposing things about yourself is harsh. It leaves you feeling a sickness in the pit of your belly. Your heart takes up residence in your throat, and your palms get layered in a film of sweat that never seems to dry. Exposure is messy. It leaves you panting and crying and emptying out everything in your tear ducts, stomach, bowels. It is foreign. It pushes against your walls – the ones you have so carefully constructed over years and years – until they are brought crashing down, leaving you vulnerable for the attacks that are no doubt coming. Or are they? Or is the only one who ever truly threatened to ruin or judge you the very same person left standing once the walls are crumbled? And that person doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, maybe you even like them. Love them. Find them beautiful. Similar to a butterfly pushing out of its rough cocoon, there you are standing free of your walls, free of your heavy baggage. Free. No, it wasn’t easy, but don’t the most beautiful transformations and beauty come from doing hard things?
Exposure is pulling back the heavy blanket with which we wrap ourselves to protect us from the world. The blanket is comfortable, feels safe, but it stops the sunlight from warming our skin.
Exposure is a white-capped mountain peak revealing itself through heavy clouds, the beauty of which can drop you to your knees.
Exposure is a pearl – the secret of an ugly shell – that is sought and found by those of us who know what magic lay within.
Exposure is truth.
Truth is beauty.
And now, more than ever, doesn’t the world need more beauty?
Yes, to lay yourself vulnerable and exposed to the world will make you feel unsafe. But it won’t kill you. It forces you to look yourself in the eyes, stripped down and naked, and accept who you see staring back. It creates a new norm – one that is accepted by the collective. It sets an example for the up and coming – be real, be raw. Be you. In an age that is governed by social media and influencers, be your own person. You do not need to be influenced. Do the work. Find your truth. And once you do, expose it.