I was getting ready to go to a social event where I expected to meet interesting, creative people, and I was excited. But as I looked in the mirror to put on my earrings, my confidence drained away. Since my two sons had entered their teens, they didn't need me as much, and I was beginning to shift away from the society of mothers. This invitation was the first big one of my changing social life, and it came to me that I would have no idea what to talk about.
For so many years, I had been attached to my identity as a single parent, and specifically a single mother of two sons, not an easy role, and as that role was starting to fall away, there was a gap. I had gone straight from adolescence to motherhood, and I didn't know who I was as an adult, except for being a mom. At the party, I felt inept and awkward, which wasn't generally my experience with social events. Every time I spoke, I absolutely cringed. It was one of the moments where I realized I had to figure out how to make some changes in myself.
My life was pretty good. I liked my job. I was a caring and creative mother, taking my kids on weird adventures. Once I found a company that led alternative camping expeditions, and we slept in canvas beds up in the trees. Sometimes we'd get in the car and drive for hours, take spontaneous trips up the coast. But as the boys got older, I felt there was something missing from my life. When everything was quiet, I felt an itchy, achy place inside. I had a lot of evenings to myself now, so I filled the time by reading. Three books in a row were about issues of identity and different kinds of ways of looking at the body, especially as we get older. They hit on topics of womanhood, spirituality, and sexuality.
My only previous activity that even came close to fitting into those categories was joining a running group. That sounds odd, but I knew that I needed people, that we had to have something in common that wasn't children, and that there should be a physical aspect to it. I specifically found a spiritual running group, and people talked about chi and moving the energy as you run. To me, running is invigorating, but it doesn't touch the place inside yourself that gets your attention the way sexual energy does.
One day I was doing the laundry, endless loads, with sports and school uniforms. I was balling up socks, sitting on the floor with my heels tucked underneath me, and I felt really weird. I thought, "Wow, I hate these socks. I want to pull them to bits." All this anger came up through my body. I tried to figure out what was going on, and I noticed that my heels were pressing against my genitals. It struck me that I hadn't had sex in a really, really long time, and the sexual part of me was mad because I was ignoring it. I looked down at my hands, which were yanking at the socks, and I thought, I've got all this energy in my body, this heat. I'm still young. I'm a sexual creature.
I remembered that one of the books I'd been reading was a memoir in which the author gave an account of her experience with OM. Could I actually do that, me, this tired mom? I did a bit of research and discovered that I could meet with some people who had an existing OM practice and were open to talking about it. When I heard what they were gaining from OM, I thought, "I will do anything to have that in my life."
My first OM was really sweet. I had set up all these restrictions to make sure I would be safe. I had to start with a woman, and it had to be not too far from my house. As soon as I met my OM partner, all my worries about safety melted away. I thought I would be receiving a service, but the OM was a shared, co-creative process full of lightness and joy. The depth of connection was extraordinary. After fifteen minutes of being stroked by her, I felt like I knew her deeply. It felt like taking a deep inhale after holding my breath. I'd been dormant, and now I was awake again.
I've continued to practice for the past three and a half years. About a year in, I started asking for lighter strokes from my partners. The first five or ten times I thought, "Oh, that must just be the mood I'm in today." I gradually realized that in fact, I'd become much more sensitive, and not just in my clitoris but all over, including my emotional sensitivity and self-awareness. I have a recognition now for human beings' wish to connect with each other, as well as a new capacity for connecting. It's made me more confident with other people because I've gotten to know this part of myself so well. Because you are a human being in the same way that I am, I just know that if you're willing to try, we'll find that place of connection.
I'm also better at noticing if something is not the resonant way to connect with this particular human. I might have an idea about what to talk about, and I'll try it and then notice whether it feels right. If not, I can soften and listen to what the other person wants, and I can shift and go with them. The other day, I had a twenty-minute conversation with an Uber driver about our families, and he talked about his daughter's psychotic episode. We ended up saying, “Oh, families challenge us, but thank God for our families.” I never would have had such an intimate conversation with a stranger before OM.
The sensitivity of my body also helps me make decisions. Duty used to be really big for me, especially in the mothering realm. When I made an arrangement with someone, I felt obligated to follow it through, even if on that day I was feeling tired and sick and didn't want to do it. This attitude produced a cumulative drain on my energy. At least once a year, I would end up exhausted and in bed for days, not knowing why. Now my body lets me know ahead of time whether I should agree to a plan. It's challenging to trust those sensations, but I'm getting better at it because I know if I keep taking care of myself that way, I'll be in much better shape.
I used to feel things I did for myself were less important than my responsibilities as a mother. Now I'm realizing I had it the wrong way around. The last few years have been tough, as my kids crossed the threshold into becoming adults. I've needed the solid foundation of knowing myself, and I have no doubt this time would have been much harder if I hadn't had the OM practice to support me. My kids have benefited from my increased confidence and grounding.
OM is not something extra or nice to have. It's a practice where I listen to my body in a deep, nuanced way for fifteen minutes, on a regular basis. It creates connection and a sense of reverence. It's fundamental to my well-being.