Healing Shame-Based VocabularyBY JOSEPHINA LASCAL
I grew up in the Filipino culture and the Catholic religion. There was a lot of strictness and social rules and a lot of shame and shame-based language growing up. Actually, shame is a really big concept in Filipino culture. I constantly heard things like, “Shame on you.” Or, “If you do this, you'll bring shame upon the family.” I've been overweight for most of my life and was shamed a lot for that. Growing up I felt unattractive. Because of that, I didn’t feel worthy of certain things like appreciation and acknowledgment. I basically negated my body a lot.
Socially, I got along well with a lot of different types of people. But when it came to intimate relationships it was really hard for me to dive deep. I was always looking for the perfect match, a match that was something out of the fairy tales. I definitely had expectations of men that I couldn’t live up to. It was really frustrating and disappointing. But I would always blame the other person for being the one who couldn't go deep. As a result, I had the same types of short-lived relationships over and over again.
I heard about Orgasmic Meditation from a guy I was starting to date a couple years ago. He told me that he did the practice for enjoyment, but also as a way to ground and settle himself. When he said it was a practice that was highly consensual and that the woman is in control of her entire experience, I was intrigued. He said, “You can say yes to everything and you can also say no at any time.” That really hit home. Growing up, consent was not very well valued. As a child, cultural values where simply impressed upon me. I was always being told what to do and what to think. And I definitely had a lot of different experiences with sexual trauma where there was no consent, no agreement. So anything grounded in consent feels very healing to me.
In my first OM, I remember being very self-conscious, but I was very trusting of who I was with. He checked in constantly to see if I was okay. I didn’t feel much sensation the first time, and my partner asked very politely if I would like to OM again. The second time there was some sensation, but there was also a lot of confusion in my mind over mapping out where the sensations were occurring in my body.
My next OM was someone I knew less well. That was my first practice in trying to develop trust with somebody new. It really helped that the stroker named the different steps of what he was going to do. “I'm going to step over you now,” he would say. I'm going to do this. I'm going to do that. I think doing that is very humane and important for anyone who's had any kind of trauma around non-consent.
Today, as I look back, there are so many things I’ve learned. I am much more appreciative of my own shape. Even though I’m at probably one of the heavier weights I've ever been right now, I'm still getting that vibe of attraction and appreciation from men that's totally genuine. Since starting OM I'm able to look at things in a much more value-neutral way—including my own body. One of the really important things I’ve learned is the ability to say, “Yes, thank you,” and “No, thank you.” I have free will and choice, and it took a long time for me to really realize how I could use that in my own life outside of the OM container.
The adjustment piece has also been very significant for me because it helped me learn how to map and really understand my body. Because I had negated it for so long, to settle down into my body and get to appreciate it and know it better was truly significant. Recently, one of my strokers told me that he was impressed by how well I know my body. I am pretty proud of the fact that I can really feel it and know exactly where something is and what feels right and what needs adjusting. It’s really helping me practice being aware of other things in my body during the day, like when I feel a buzzing in my chest or a stomach ache or a tingling in my hands. Rather than ignoring sensations when they come up, I’ve learned to pay attention and see where they lead.
Another thing I’ve healed is the shame-based vocabulary in my head. It just doesn’t affect me like it used to. When something happens, I’m no longer automatically thinking, “Oh, what did I do wrong this time? Why am I like this? Why can't I be like somebody else?” I'm able to access a neutral frame and be an observer in my life. For example, one of my favorite employees recently left my employment. My first reaction was, “What could I have done better? Why is she leaving me? Am I that bad of a boss?” But because I've hit that spot so many times, I’m suspicious of those automatic negative conclusions. I reframed the situation and chose to remember that when I was her age, I was seeking new experiences. I realized we’d had a kind of mother daughter relationship and that she was ready to find her own way. I realized that her leaving had nothing to do with me.
OM actually helped me to discover my personal purpose. The creative self, the artist, the person who is really passionate about family engagement and social change is being birthed. I’ve realized that one of my biggest passions is making sure that the parents in our communities have a lot of support services. And in helping others, I'm finding that I'm healing myself.