From Nice Guy to Honest ManBY STEPHEN
The only place I could be honest about my desires was in porn. I’d go home and get drunk and open up my computer and go to town. I spent hours on end for 15 years like this. I tried to tell a couple of my friends about some of my fantasies, but I felt so much shame that I only let them see five percent of what I was really into. It was the same with women. I’d only show them a few percent of what my desires were. I’d relegate the rest to my fantasy world where I could let the real thing out.
I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh with very conservative parents. They would kiss each other, but they never talked about sex. So I grew up with a lot of shame around it. I started to have fantasies when I was 11 but didn’t feel I could talk to anyone about them. That’s when it all started, the feeling I had to keep all this stuff private.
When I got older, I thought no woman could give me what I needed. I always had one foot in and one foot out of my relationships. I was terrified to talk to women, and I’d usually get into a relationship just because some woman was attracted to me. I was always looking around to see what other women I could get.
I moved back to my hometown of Pittsburgh. It was one of the lowest points of my life in terms of my sex and connection with people. I kept getting rejected. I’d call my best friend in San Francisco and he’d tell me about this Orgasmic Meditation practice he was doing that involved stroking a woman’s genitals. Every time I spoke to him, he would be happier and happier. Meanwhile, I was just getting worse and worse. It was so confusing to me. He had all these women around him, but he wasn’t even that attractive.
In the end, I flew to San Francisco to get trained. During my first OM I felt nervous and excited. I remember being surprised by how big her clitoris looked. I had never seen such a big clitoris before. I don’t remember many sensations. I was pretty much in my head.
When I first started OMing, I only did light strokes. I’d heard that’s the way you were supposed to do it. At one point, when a woman asked for more pressure, I actually said to her, “Hey, I think you’re doing it wrong. It’s supposed to be a light stroke.” But more women started asking for more pressure, so I gave it once and noticed it really turned me on. There was a lot of electricity, a lot of sensation in my body. The shame bubble popped in that moment. I realized that the same thing had been happening in my sex, in my relationship to my desire. I’d been holding back. It was the first time I realized that more could come out than just the nice, polite guy. There’s a dirtier, darker part of me, too.
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking about finances with my wife. She said she wanted me to slow down, and I kept trying to take her adjustment, to speak more slowly and deliberately the way she asked for it. I felt myself becoming more cautious and conservative in the conversation. Then I was like, ‘Whoa, hang on. That’s not who I am. I’m a little bit more outspoken. I get excited.’ I took all the layers off of who I thought I should be and just assertively said: “This is what I’m going to do.”
As soon as I said it that way, she opened up, and there was more connection in that moment. Before, I would have tried to rationally explain myself. We would have gotten into this deadlock where we’d both try to be right. There’s no fun in that.
I like the part at the end of the OM where we say a frame of a moment where we felt something. It’s the time we get to bring words to a visceral experience. It’s helped me pay attention to specific things I’m feeling. In fact, it’s helped me expand my ability to feel.
At first it was hard. I didn’t really know what I felt. Then eventually I started to notice buzzing in different parts of my body and then body temperature changes and then stillness. It surprised me that I could feel stillness.
Now when I’m out and about in the world, I still have access to my sensations. Like when I’m having a conversation with a coworker and my belly clenches, indicating that I need to slow down or tread lightly. Or when something is opening and tingling in my body, it usually suggests I’m headed in a direction I can trust. My brain doesn’t always give the best advice, but when I follow what my body says, it keeps me on pretty good track.