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What to Do with Shame

by Elliott Doxon

I used to set a hard limit on how far I'd let a relationship go. At a certain point, I would always hit the eject button. I knew that eventually if the other person asked enough questions, I would have to tell them about something I did once that changed my life and haunted me with shame and guilt. 

When I was seventeen, I crossed a boundary without consent, and I felt horrendous about it. The next morning, I honestly had no idea what to do or what to say or who to talk to. The girl reached out to me to talk about it, and I pushed her away. Since I couldn't find any way to come back from what I had done, I gave up on showing up fully in any of my relationships. That was the disconnected world I lived in for a long time.

Music as Refuge

In college, I studied music, which seemed like a way out of my hole. I thought music could give a voice to the painful part of me. After graduating, I worked as a tour manager for bands. I liked it for a while since I could stay behind the scenes and still express myself through my work. Eventually, the stress of managing people got to me and left me feeling isolated. 

I landed a few jobs in recording studios in New York, and then the work dried up, leaving me feeling anxious a lot of the time. A voice of criticism was constantly nagging in my head, saying there was something wrong with me. I had a few friends, but I didn't feel like I could be honest with anyone. I often thought, "I just want to figure it all out. How did I get here?"

Desperate for change, I started taking yoga classes, did some drugs, and then found a Buddhist community that was engaged with philosophical aspects of spirituality. It was a place where I could have the conversations I wanted to have, and I could show up and be my weird self. Soon, I meditated for half an hour a day and took courses on Buddhist texts.

Fear of Rejection

I kept thinking back to an article I'd read once about OM that made me think it was something I wanted to do. It seemed like these people were practicing meditation with a focus on sexuality, and I thought they might understand me. But I was worried if they didn't, then nobody else would, and I'd really be in trouble. So, I put off checking it out. 

One-on-one relationships gave me hope. I worked at developing communication to the degree of intimacy and safety that I needed in order to trust. But the few times I actually told the other person about my past, they were shocked, and we never spoke again.

Discovering OM

Eight years after reading the article, I finally started to OM. The first time I tried it, I was really tense, and not much sensation got through. Then, I got on the subway on the way home, and I loosened up a little bit. Everything rose to the surface. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating, and a grip in the center of my chest started to relax. As I let it happen, a soft, warm feeling oozed out from my chest. I realized there must be a lot of power to the practice.

I talked to men who were OMing, telling them how tense and self-conscious I'd felt, and they said to keep trying, that I'd be able to push through. I tried to OM as much as possible so I could work on the skill of it. I learned to confidently hold my position in the container – the structure that defines an OM – which reduced my vigilance around being intimate with women. From there, my attention was free to focus on the highest spot of sensation on the clitoris. 

Authentic Connection

There's a truth in the OM connection that makes it hard to fake anything. If I think I'm on the spot, but I'm actually not there, it just doesn't work. The connection dries up and disappears. So in that way, it's like meditation on steroids. It brings me back to the moment to find the spot. When I'm not on the spot, I have faith that there is a spot I can find. 

OM gave me a sense of holding the container, which provides a sense of safety for both partners. There had been a voice in my head saying I did not associate myself with safety. But OM allows me to hold space for that out-of-control, involuntary part of our nature to express itself without harm.

I used to try to make women feel safe by pretending the sexual side of myself didn't exist. In OM, there were moments when I would let myself feel that part, and it added energy to the connection. OM gave me the visceral experience that all parts of us are wanted and necessary, and it gave me a space to consciously navigate them. 

Self Acceptance

Eventually, I told some men I'd met through OM about my past secret. I felt from them a sense of permission to speak and an acknowledgment of that hidden part of us all. Then, I wrote up my story and shared it publicly. I didn't express myself perfectly, but it was a relief to know I could go to people and talk about painful, shameful feelings and not be ostracized.

It's not the first thing I tell anybody, but it's part of my story. Now, when I get to know someone, I'm confident that if this person wants to know about my past, I can share it with them. I'm seeing a whole new possibility for the world.

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