A long time ago, I read an article about OM. It stuck in my mind not something for me, but something that could be great for a friend of mine who was going through a rough divorce. I sent him the article and urged him to check OM out. I just sensed it would be ideal for him. He went, and it changed his life.
Years later, he took me out for a drink, just as friends. I was hopelessly depressed and had been stuck in a rut for months. My relationships were a mess, as were my finances. Nothing was working. I was struggling with so much darkness, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to alchemize it. The sadness flowed from a well too deep to cap. I blamed everyone else, and I blamed myself as well. It was a miracle I still had people who wanted to be around me.
This old friend told me that OM had shifted everything for him, just as I had predicted it would. Now, he told me, it was his turn to encourage me to go. I had nothing to lose, he said; “I trusted you. I need you to trust me now.” He told me that my main problem was that I couldn’t stop the sadness because I didn’t believe I was entitled to happiness. I’d chosen not to want things because I wasn’t permitted to have them. It struck a chord in me. That was exactly it. I didn’t believe I could have better than this.
I loved what I heard when I came to the intro to OM class. My first OM, however, was tougher. Intellectually I could grasp that it was important to give adjustments, but I couldn’t get past the fear that the stroker wouldn’t like me or desire me if I gave him too much feedback. So, I gave him the adjustments I thought he would want to hear. I asked to be stroked harder and faster, which was familiar to me, and could reliably get me to an orgasm. I was so lucky that this guy was familiar with what was going on; he could hold my confusion and anxiety and not be rattled. In OM, we talk a lot about the concept of a “tight container” – this man held a tight container for me from day one.
What OM showed me was the exact way my brain short-circuited my own pleasure. It’s like I was hardwired to spoil perfect moments. I’d be OMing and I’d be connected and present, and then the thought would come: you’re not supposed to have this attention on you. You don’t deserve this. Instead of bailing out, though, I stayed with it, and eventually I started to feel good about receiving that attention. And once I felt good about it and realized I could keep the good feelings, I could play with the corrections I gave – and start to have real conversations between my body and the stroker’s.
A key part of my story is that OM helped me stop drinking. I was starting to notice how hard it was for me to have fun without drinking. Alcohol was a constant in my life. It was what I did after work and every time I found myself in any social situation. I was tired of it, and tired of the way it gave me the illusion of feeling without actually feeling. OM had me feeling so much; why would I want to numb that? I had this moment of clarity where I knew I needed to take a break from drinking. That was 15 months ago and surrendering alcohol has made my life so much richer since. All the stories I thought were mine, aren’t. I have better stories now.
I think a lot of women are raised not to take up space. If we get something, especially from a man, we’re supposed to be grateful. It’s foolish to ask for more. You learn to restrain your wants. What OM teaches is the opposite. You’re supposed to want. You need to want. Your life and the life of everyone around you gets better when you want and you start asking for everything. Nothing is ever too much.
I’ve come to see OM as a lot like hiking in the mountains. It’s only when you get to the top of a peak that you see all the other peaks. That can mean a couple of things. In one sense, it’s about realizing that you might start to want things you never even thought about before. This isn’t just about fulfilling old desires that were suppressed, it’s about entirely new desires you couldn’t even see until you got to the summit. There’s a second way this metaphor works. We get stuck in one emotion, like sadness, and we don’t even dare contemplate other emotions. When you acquire intimacy with one emotion through OM, you suddenly start to see all the other feelings you can begin to deal with. You get access to this whole emotional landscape you couldn’t see before.
Before OM, I assigned value to emotions. This one feels good, so I want more of this. This one feels bad, so I don’t want to feel that. Let me avoid that. I shut off half the world just to avoid feeling certain things. Now, I desperately want to feel things, and I want to feel them deeply. Bring it on, all of it. Bring on the good, the bad, the embarrassing, shameful, whatever it is. I want to feel all of it. I’m not saying I always handle all these emotions perfectly. Whenever I do start to feel overwhelmed, though, I feel like I can expand my capacity to hold that feeling. OM can always stretch me to hold more.
Do I feel sadness still? Oh yes. I’m not sorry I do, either. The difference is, I don’t let the sadness consume me anymore.