I know you know what I’m talking about. That dream. That really awful terrible dream where you’re walking down the school hallways, sauntering across the sidewalk or giving a formal presentation to an important group of people and suddenly you realize that you are completely naked and you do not want to be.
I’m a dreamer of many dreams and this is one of the worst. Right up there with the one about being attacked by sharks or threatened with a machete. It isn’t that I have a problem with my body or a fear of my own nakedness. (I actually quite like being free of my clothing every now and then.) It’s the shame that comes with it that I find so unbearable. That terrible, stomach-dropping, gut-turning shame.
I don’t put too much stock into dream interpretations, but I do think that our dreams come from somewhere, that they often (though not always) express something that the subconscious just doesn’t know how to deal with or hasn’t finished processing. Based on my very limited research, naked dreams are usually linked to vulnerability in one way or another (makes sense, right? naked spirit, naked body). They often come when the dreamer feels he has revealed too much of himself, often unintentionally, thus causing him to feel exposed and vulnerable. He has put too much out there, has been too honest or gracious or generous or…well, naked.
This is a problem when you decide to publicly blog about your personal life. When you buy into the mantra that “what is most personal is the most universal” (Carl Rogers) and you believe that by sharing your own thoughts and fears and pains and reflections that somehow you will minister to someone else, that you will help them to feel less alone and more connected, which is really a large part of what it means to be human (Genesis 2:18).
It is a problem because at some point you will over share, even if you do not think you are capable of over sharing. Even if you believe that you are totally cool with vulnerability and willing to write about pretty much anything because these are the stories God has given you to tell and so you tell as many of them as you can as often as possible. Until you over share. Then those stories don’t seem quite so God-given. They feel a little less profound and a little more painful.
Sometimes the over sharing starts infiltrating other areas of your life. You over post on Facebook, over text in messages, over talk on phone calls. You volunteer all kinds of information that you were never really asked for about your thoughts and feelings and desires. You think this is really cool, not necessarily that you are really cool, but that this act of sharing and posting and connecting is really truly great. So great that you wonder why you did not put your life on display sooner.
And then there is a day when you realize how public you have made your heart. How available it is floating around the internet in little bits and pieces. So available that no one really needs to ask about it. They can just read it online, access you as often and anonymously as they choose without your ever knowing. You begin to wonder if this whole vulnerability thing was really such a good idea. You feel cheated out of reciprocity, as if you have been standing at the entrance to Disney Land freely doling out tickets that cost you everything you had. You start toying with the idea of privacy settings and viewer blocking. You second-guess that series you were going to write about what you really want to be when you grow up. You start dreaming that you are naked. You start sleeping with a bath robe.