Overcoming Sexual Shame from ReligionBY SAMANTHA FISCHER
I grew up a Fundamentalist Christian in the American South, where sex was reserved for one reason and one reason only: to pop out more Fundamentalist Christian babies so they could grow up and make even more Fundamentalist Christian babies. That’s how I was trained. So, I stayed abstinent. I stayed pure.
I got married three times just so I could have sex. However, I wasn’t equipped with the emotions that came with having an intimate relationship. I contracted an STD from my first husband, and I carried the shame of that. My second husband was physically abusive. Then my third husband and I got married basically because we were drunk. After we divorced, my daughters were the ones that told me, “you know you can stop doing this, right? You can have sex whenever you want mom, you don’t have to get married.” Prior to that I never even conceived of that idea.
It wasn’t long after my third divorce that I found out about Orgasmic Meditation. I was really tired of hanging out in bars and wanted something different and meaningful. I didn’t know you could do such a thing, and it seemed really attractive. So, I found some private training.
I was nervous before my first OM, but I was more intrigued than anything, and in a way, I was proud. I saw it as a beautiful thing I was doing for myself, as something that I as an adult woman had wanted and had asked for. I had given myself permission for this. Life as a southern woman had been one big no. For the first time in my life (except those three times on the altar), I was saying yes.
In that first OM, even though it was only 15 minutes, it seemed like a long time. However, it felt liberating to be able to make adjustments; to say, “Would you stroke a little lighter?” or, “Would you move to the left?” I’d always been taught to lay back and just take it. Before, in all of my relationships, I was taught to think that anything involving my genitals was just for him. That as long as he was happy, I should be happy. Though I had fun dressing up as a schoolgirl, or whatever it was I did to make my husband happy, I never felt included. I felt like I was in a world I got to visit occasionally. A man’s world.
At the end of the OM, my partner did what’s called the final grounding, which consisted of placing his hands above my genitals and putting some firm pressure down. This helped me to feel more grounded at the end of the OM. Out of nowhere, I started to cry. I cried and I cried, and it changed my life. The care and attention and deliberateness of the whole OM touched something in me that I hadn’t known before.
I practice grounding myself now, in everyday life. When I’m getting news that could be bad, or I’m getting ready to get on a plane, anytime life gets to be too much, I’ll ground myself. I’ll press on my thighs, or my knee, or my stomach, subconsciously. It helps me feel my feelings without getting overwhelmed or leaving my body. The first time I realized the power of grounding was at a dance practice. We were on the floor rolling and doing our normal exercises, and I realized, ‘Oh my God! We’re grounding.’
The concept of creating containers, or having a set of agreements and following them, has had a huge impact on my relationships. My boyfriend and I have such an incredible relationship. It’s better than any of my marriages, and I attribute at least part of that to our ability to communicate boundaries and agreements. We set up a conscious container before we even walked into the relationship, and now it feels like we have this vast playground to explore.
He and I just moved into a small place in Australia, and beforehand we created a very conscious container such as if either of us is feeling claustrophobic, he would go for a walk on the beach and I would go read a book. I remember I told some of my friends about it and they were surprised commenting that even married people don’t do that. Having been married three times, I told them that if they knew what a container was and the importance of it, they would.
In OM, at the end of the practice, we share a frame, which is sharing with each other a visceral experience of the OM. My boyfriend and I do that after each OM and we’ve also brought that practice into our daily life. One day in yoga class, noticing that the teacher was feeling overwhelmed by the size of the class, he jumped up to help set up all the mats without being asked. In the car ride afterwards, I shared how that experience touched. I told him that moment when he saw that the teacher needed some help and he got up to put out the mats, I felt a feeling of being proud at his attentiveness and service. Our ride home felt sweet and connected from sharing that frame.
Coming from a fundamentalist family, I always felt like I was the problem. Like I was Eve, eating the apple and causing herself and Adam to be casted out from the Garden of Eden. My experience is OM is a practice that takes me into my body, where I get to feel how whole and complete I am, just as I am. The practice has altered my life story beyond recognition. My life is so full now, and when I think about it, I can see how I’ve built it, day by day, since that very first OM.