Taking off the LookBY BETH
As an independent producer in the film industry in Los Angeles I tried to keep my real self under wraps. Movies and shows, by their very nature, aren’t necessarily authentic or vulnerable spaces. The “Biz” is still very much dominated by men and the masculine paradigm. So vulnerable and authentic just don’t pay off. Bottom line, the less vulnerable and the less feminine I was, the better I did and the safer I was.
Living in LA and being in the Biz I also, not surprisingly, ended up with a pretty big ego. I was very attached to certain identities, like being a successful executive and a woman who owned her own home. I was sought after. I was a person who was someone. I was a mother with great children. On top of all these personas, I also had a lot of good girl conditioning. If I worked hard and did my job and kept my nose clean, things would work out. Life was structured in the sense that I knew what would keep me at the top of the heap and what would not.
And then one day I found myself out in Calgary, Canada, standing in the freezing cold while producing a show that wasn’t going well. The weather wasn’t cooperating. The actors were having their dramas. The network decided they didn't like wardrobe. That sort of thing. Every day was a mountain I had to climb.
I found myself feeling terrible about being away from my kids who were my adorable little Munchkins. “What am I doing this for? I wondered. “Why am I here?” So I flew my husband out with the kids, thinking that would be fun for all of us. But then that Monday when he came to visit me on set, he brought the kids into the room where I was working and said to me, “I'm just a glorified babysitter to you. What am I even doing here?”
As shocking as it was, my immediate reaction was, “Yeah, that's true.” And so I started reevaluating what I was doing—at least in terms of my domestic situation. Not long afterwards I left my husband and took on the next role: successful single mom.
At that point I went on a quest for love. I went on a date with a guy who represented just the kind of person I wanted to be with. We met for drinks and had a great first date but I didn’t know where to stop it. I knew I had to keep the brakes on and be “good.” I had these really adolescent 16 year-old thoughts like, “No, wait, if I give up too much, he won't ask me out again.” I was in my head like I was negotiating a bid to get an actor for a show. What would work? What wouldn’t work to get me what I wanted? So what could have been this beautiful, moonlit, late night date turned into an internal wrestling match. I had so much desire, and yet my mind was so busy I couldn't actually be in the moment with him. It was so painful and one of the things that actually drew me to OM.
I also realized I was really a feminine-essence being who had been trying to be a man in the world—staying in my head, staying in control, trying to figure things out, trying to keep up appearances. And I really sucked at it.
That first time, taking my pants off in front of my OM partner was revolutionary. It felt like I was doing my part to take the lid off of my ancestors’ programming, my upbringing and my social and sexual conditioning. Finally, I was in a space where the feminine was venerated, and that was transformational.
All those years I thought I was powerful because I could bring home the bacon and wrangle deals. I thought I was powerful because I was able to leave my marriage. But when I started OMing, I realized I didn't have the ability to feel into things or to even know what my own inclinations were. I realized I felt more like a passenger in my life than the driver. And that completely demolished the whole ivory tower of images I had in place about myself.
And yet, at the same time, it gave me the strength to learn what really matters. There's a certain lightness that comes when you OM, but at the same time when you’re OMing you can’t ignore things or paint them over. There's a way it brings issues into stark relief, because you drop into your body and drop into what's present. You’re connected to life and yourself and others in a real way.
OM even opened the doors to transcendent states. I found that if I did three OM sessions in a row, I could see/feel the synapses in my brain start to merge. Suddenly, I had access to caverns of memory that I had been unable to access. I was able to remember things I hadn't been able to remember. I experienced an egoless kind of feeling of just being part of everything.
In the last year since COVID, there’s been no work. The studios aren’t calling me. But I’m now sensitive enough to realize that that’s not the spot for me anymore. I could go after it. But I'm not--I’m listening for the deeper thing. I'm being called to surrender into a relationship with this moment, and the next and the next and see what comes. And it's actually the scariest place that I've been in. But I can't settle for the same old life. I can't settle for the same level of relationship.
When the pandemic hit it was like what I always wanted. I actually got to be home with my girls. I was finally able to be the fulltime mother and to live in my house and clean the corners and cook and bake and garden. I’ve paired my life down to its simplest form. And it feels awesome. Both OM and COVID have given me the opportunity to feel everything—grief and joy. Desire and transcendence. They both have given me permission to go into the depths. And there’s no place else I’d rather be.