The Freedom of ConfidenceBY STACEY GREENWELL
I was going through hard times. My marriage and business fell apart. I had had a public relations company for nine years – and I’d been married for 24 years to a man I’d met when I was 22. It was a one-two punch of losses, and I was reeling.
At first, I focused on getting through these crises. My daughters were eight and 12 at the time, and I knew I just needed to be there for them. The whole thing about motherhood is that you relentlessly give yourself. You just don’t give yourself the luxury of asking what you need for yourself. It was easier to focus on others because I didn’t have any self-esteem. My ex had convinced me I was ugly, that I was fat, and that no one would ever want me. I was a distance runner and a triathlete, but I had no confidence.
Friends convinced me that I needed to date, to explore new things and get my confidence back. At first, I didn’t want to listen. Gradually, however, I realized I needed to shift something – my misery was exhausting! One girlfriend told me about OM. I thought it sounded crazy.
I went anyway, despite my skepticism. I loved the intro. It was so much less intimidating than I thought it would be – at least until it came time to ask for my first OM. What had seemed intriguing now seemed terrifying. I was scared to ask someone to OM with me. I had to challenge myself to walk up to this man and ask. “Yes,” he said with a smile. Relief washed over me. And then that relief became more of a giddy joy, as if I already could feel something working inside me. My first OM started before I took off my pants; it started the moment I heard that “yes.” That “yes” only came because I had the guts to ask. Just that initial part of the process made something click for me about what might lie ahead.
Still, a lot of my early OMs were challenging. I was uncomfortable having my naked lower half exposed. Also, I’d always been quiet in bed. I took what I was given and made the best of it. The idea of asking for more, or being specific with direction, was really challenging. How could I give someone else direction about what to do when I wasn’t sure what I wanted? I didn’t have the vocabulary yet for my own desire. I had to learn that in the OM itself, and it wasn’t easy. I kept doing it, though, and I let my voice come from what my body was telling me. I tried to think of it as an athlete would: this is just a muscle that needs a lot more exercise.
Over time, that comparison to endurance sports really became clear to me. OM is very different from doing triathlons, but there’s something that runs through them both, like a golden thread. They both feel amazing. When I’m swimming in the San Francisco Bay or doing a long bike ride, it’s just about doing what feels good for me. It’s not about serving other people’s needs. When I cross that finish line, I’m exulted. OM gives me that same rush. It’s a gift that’s given to me, but it’s also something to which I, like everyone else, am entitled. I just have to go out and get it.
Progress as an athlete isn’t linear. You have good training days and bad ones. The coaches say that you learn the most on those hard days. I’ve found the same thing is true in OM. I had this experience a while back where I could barely feel the stroker’s finger on my clitoris. I asked him to stroke harder, to apply more pressure. He didn’t seem to respond. I asked again, and he increased the intensity a tiny bit, but not nearly enough. And I started to play an old tape from my marriage in my head. Why bother trying? He’s not listening. He’s got a bad attitude and doesn’t care. Maybe you just want too much. I was angry at myself and annoyed with him.
The OM finished, but it wasn’t satisfying, and the memory of it nagged at me. I knew I had slipped back into an old pattern, and I needed to shift it. The old me would have just tried to find a different stroker, but the next chance I had, I went straight back to this guy. I knew there was something there for me to fix, not for his sake but for my own. We OMed again, and again the pressure was too light. So, I asked, and I asked, and I asked again. I knew the lesson was to not give up on either of us. At last, something shifted and he heard me and he began to stroke me the way I wanted. He was so much happier because he was able to get affirmed for doing it how I wanted, and I felt so good that I had pushed us both. If every OM was easy then it wouldn’t be OM, you know?
Another big breakthrough I had was around money. The loss of a business and a marriage had left me scared I’d end up on the streets. I was afraid to spend a dime on myself. OM shifted that for me. I don’t waste money, but I’m not afraid to prioritize experiences anymore. I’ve gone all over the world – to China, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile. I am so hungry for all these experiences. I trust that I can make the money I need to make, because I have confidence in myself. And from that confidence comes so much freedom.