• Michael Bilkis

Naked Not Nude

reprinted from another blog September 18, 2021


Have you ever been naked in front of another person or a group of people?

What comes to your mind when you read this question?

Did it have to do with nudity?

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The last few months I’ve been in a transition. I bought a new house in Savannah, Ga this past March and then closed on the sale of my home of the last 24 years in Rockaway, NJ at the beginning of August. The process was very surreal. I thought I was doing a good job living in the present moment and doing what needed to be done without thought of tomorrow. Or, more to the fact that I was suppressing my grief. I suppressing my grief over

moving, my grief over retiring Dermatology as my full time career, and suppressing my grief over leaving many people who are near and dear to me in NJ.


So what does this have to do with naked vs nude?


Let’s start with the latter. At the end of August I visited a clothing optional beach multiple times. This was my first experience going au natural. I found the experience very liberating. When I arrived at the beach I noticed about 2/3 of the people were nude. And, they acted like every other person I’d experienced on any other beach. I set up my umbrella and disrobed. Feeling a little self conscious, at first, I noticed that nobody seemed to care nor notice that I wasn’t wearing any clothes. I was now one of many nude bodies enjoying the beach.


I very much enjoyed the experience. I felt liberated and free. I enjoyed the breeze on my body and the feel of the surf. I read a book, swam in the ocean and walked along the beach. It didn’t take long for me to drop my self consciousness and relax. I felt more empowered by the experience. I also loved that I didn’t have the discomfort of wearing a soggy bathing suit after a dip in the ocean.

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I was certainly nude, however, was I naked? I mean truly naked?

I’d say no. I was just one anonymous clothes less body on the beach.

So what do I mean by being truly naked?

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For the purposes of this essay, I define naked as authentically expressing your feelings and emotions with and to another person. It is taking the risk to be vulnerable in the moment; to especially truly express your pain, hurt, or grief.


I had to opportunity to truly “get naked” with my wife during this period too. My wife moved out of NJ on the Friday after the moving truck left with most of our stuff to bring it to our new home. We originally planned on leaving a few valuable and fragile things behind. Things didn’t go exactly as planned. Many more things were left behind. I discovered this a couple of days later when I started to pack up the remaining things to move to my temporary residence as I wouldn’t be leaving New Jersey until September 13th.

I reached a point during the packing when I realized how much was left behind. I felt overwhelmed, I experienced fear that I’d never get the house cleared out before the closing. The fear became despondency. I called my wife and I told her I was feeling overwhelmed and then I dropped my armor with her. I started to cry. When I say cry, I mean wail. I cried with her on the other end of the phone like I’d never cried before.


Many years before, at some point during my childhood I knew how to authentically cry. It was unfortunate that my father didn’t know how to hold the space for a wailing child. So he sternly told me to stop crying or he will give me a reason to cry. Looking back I feel more sorry for him because he never grew out of his discomfort with another’s emotional distress. His lesson did result in me bottling up my emotional pain until I was 47 years old.


The bottling up of my pain had a secondary effect. To protect myself from anyone getting to close to my pain and vulnerability, I developed a strong armor and then I also developed a caustic temper. Subconsciously, I decided that the best way to protect myself was to push anyone getting to close to my pain away through rage. It worked and I kept my pain safe. However, it was not an effective tool to create close relationships. I created almost irreparable damage to my relationships with my wife and children.

I wanted to let go of my anger and rage and yet it seemed to arise uncontrollably, similar to when Bruce Banner would become the Hulk. I continued to fail at any attempt to curb it. My first glimmer of change I began after my 47th birthday.


The turning point came after a pivotal moment during my participation in the New Warrior Training Adventure offered by The ManKind Project. At that point in the experience, I had a major breakthrough and tears started to run down my cheeks. A man who was on the staff said, “Those are the tears of a warrior. Be proud of them.” Be proud of them? That was the first time anyone had ever celebrated my tears.

The New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) was a turning point for me, however it wasn’t the event that healed my wounds. It did open the way for me to continue my healing and growth through my continued participation in my men’s circle and as a staff member on many more NWTA’s. Even with this growth, My anger and rage continued to rear its caustic head. I needed to do something to stop the damage I was causing to my family. My wife found a person who used EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to facilitate healing. As uncomfortable as it was to work with her, I leaned into the discomfort. My work up until that moment prepared me, taught me to create safety and I did indeed get “naked.” I bared my soul to her. At times I felt raw and very vulnerable. I continued to show up every week for for over a year..


I still get angry, however, I no longer rage like I did so many years ago. I also become aware of my rising anger and work with it to express it in a more healthy and safe manner. I now have tools to consciously work with my anger.

A few days after my wife held me in my overwhelm, I finally was ready to leave my home for the last time. The house was empty. I walked around it one more time. I felt my grief rising. I remembered many different events when my sons were very young. In my head I heard them saying, “I love you Daddy” over and over again. I started to cry and then I started to wail. Over and over again I heard in my head, “I love you Daddy.” Then I started to say it out loud and I realized I was calling out to my Daddy who died March, 2018. I wailed and I cried out to him, for I hadn’t shed a tear at his funeral or afterwards. Nor did I shed a tear for my mother who died 24 hours after him. I once again dropped all my armor. Naked, I expressed all the love and pain I never could express to him before.

Therein lies the gift of vulnerability: connection. When I had finished crying with my wife on the other end of the phone, I felt lighter and more loved by her. When I cried out to my father, I finally dropped my anger and condemnation and felt the heart connection underneath. It wasn’t easy nor comfortable. It was life affirming. It was a gift for my heart.



The first step in opening to vulnerability is to drop the need for armor. This is a process. It often requires working with the right person or people. It also is uncomfortable. Growth of any type requires stepping out of the comfort zone. So be prepared to feel uncomfortable and prepared to begin the process of healing your emotional wounds and possibly trauma. For me the first step was releasing my anger. The next step was healing my beliefs of unworthiness and not being good enough.


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Getting back to being nude..… I highly recommend everybody visit a clothing optional beach at least once and strip down to your birthday suit. To some of you it will feel comfortable and others terrifying. The experience will teach you much in the few hours you spend at the beach nude and perhaps even naked.


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