Finding Freedom By Listening to My Inner VoiceBY SHAWN GREEN
I was five when I first saw the ocean, and – as my mom tells me to this day – I started sprinting towards the water the moment I caught sight of it, screaming in delight. When my feet first touched the wet sand, I yelled out, “I’m free!”
I’ve been battling restrictions and limitations for as long as I can remember. From childhood on, whenever I felt pressure to conform, I could feel resistance rising in my body. I would do whatever it took to get out. If I needed to sabotage to escape, I would. If you try to contain me, I will bust out of the cage and do whatever damage I need to in order to be free and stay free.
I began to call myself trans before it was as common as it is now. I started going by he/his/him pronouns early. I dated straight women. I found OM through one of those women, my boss at a restaurant where I worked. She wasn’t just someone I dated; she was a catalyst who helped set me on my spiritual path. My ex put honesty first, even if it was hard to hear.
The big truth that I came to in that relationship was that there was more to me than my trans identity. When someone transitions, we tend to think of them as “done.” Like it’s this huge secret that they’ve finally been brave enough to tell, and now that they’re living as another gender, they’re somehow more complete. What I realized was that being trans was for me more like being in transit than arriving at some sort of settled state. Otherwise, it was just another cage out of which I needed to break. There was something bigger for me, and I needed a community to explore what that might be.
The first time I came to an OM class, I saw a woman I’d grown up with. I hadn’t seen her since we were kids, but we reconnected instantly. She asked if she could OM with me, if she could be my stroker, and so my first experience with the practice was with her. That was incredible, because she’d known me before, so it was as if she could not only witness my transitions but not be limited by them. I’m normally reluctant to stick with anything if I feel it starts to take over my life, but OM felt different. It wasn’t taking over anything. It was putting me more in control, not less.
I’ve always struggled with jealousy. One time, pretty early in my practice, I saw my ex’s ex-boyfriend in a class. I had known vaguely that he OMed too. I got triggered and felt this overwhelming impulse to leave. Instead, something inside me said, “Stay, stay, stay anyway.” I’ve always been so impulsive to bust out of things, and that’s served me well – but sometimes, I need to stay and do the work no matter what.
I remember after the ex’s ex had left, I felt this rush of energy from having done something contrary to my normal way of being in the world. I’d broken out of a cage of my own making. As a result of that break-out, I realized how much I was pigeon-holing myself with this limited view of my own sexuality. It wasn’t just important for me to stay in the room in order to push through my jealousy. It was important to stay and focus on myself and my own experience because there was a freedom that was coming from listening to my inner voice, and that freedom only came when I did something difficult.
Montessori has theories around child development. One of the first periods through which a child passes is the one where they’re incredibly sensitive to details. So, when you’re reading them a story from a picture book, they’re likely to interrupt you to point out some tiny detail on the page. To the adult reading, it’s just background information, and not the point of the page – but the child in this phase is tapped into a significance that we dismiss as background noise. The adult wants to move on to the “point”. The child says, “Wait, I want to talk about why that dog in the background is yellow and not black.” Montessori teaches that we should let that stage last as long as it needs to--it opens up a child’s perception and psyche. OM has helped me go back into that stage of hyper-awareness without being trapped in it. I can still see the big picture, but my psyche opened up to an entirely different way of looking at the world. I can see the smallest details now, and know someone’s story from how they dress, or even how they walk down the street. That’s not making snap judgments; it’s intuiting real truths through heightened observation. That power keeps growing and growing the more I do this practice, and I hope it never stops.