The Battery that Powers a LighthouseBY DANA LAWRENCE
I had miscarried twice before, but the third one broke me. I was 20 weeks pregnant with a son, and I lost him. I remember that awful night in the hospital, bleeding and in pain and in so much grief I could barely breathe. I felt so ashamed, and so sad not just for myself but for everyone else. This was such a wanted baby, and it was going to make my boyfriend, my mom, my dad so happy. And in one terrible night, all that lovely future was gone.
It was only because I’d been to that heartbroken place that I was able to find OM. Before I get to that, a little background:
My father left us when my twin sister and I were 15. It wasn’t a typical divorce, whatever that is, where the parents say they just can’t get along anymore but everything will be fine. My dad announced that both he and my mom had been having affairs, and that he was tired of living a lie. He added that he’d never really bonded with my sister, or with me, and he wasn’t even sure if he really loved us. It was as traumatic as it sounds. My sister threw herself into sports to escape, and I ended up trying to take care of everyone. On top of everything else, it came out that my mother had bipolar depression – and the divorce sent her into an almost childlike state. I became the mother, making it all work. I kept the family fed and sane, and I kept my father around.
I don’t know how I did it, but I did. In some ways, the relative success I had in keeping the family running despite the chaos made things worse for me in the long run. I got this idea that I had this power to give other people love and safety and protection, and if I worked hard enough, everyone else could feel okay. I might never have felt safe, but the next best thing was giving that sense of security to everyone else. I ended up in an unhealthy and abusive relationship with my boyfriend, but I remained convinced I could fix it. I could fix anything. I knew that having a baby I could love and that my whole family would love would be the glue that would hold it all together. That’s part of why that third miscarriage was so devastating; it was the loss of a son I already had begun to love, and the loss of something I had been counting on for everyone else.
I found OM through the women’s group I joined to heal from the miscarriage. I heard this woman speak about depression, and she said the opposite of depression was clay – clay that could always be molded and shaped into something new. That struck me, and I asked where she’d gotten that concept. She told me about OM. It sounded strange, but at that point, I was ready to try anything. If she said bungee jumping while blindfolded could get you through this pain, I’d have attempted that too. When you’re at emotional rock bottom, you’re ready.
When I told my boyfriend about OM, he was against it. I wanted to try it, but he was adamant. I almost gave up, but I was in so much pain from the miscarriage, I found the strength to go without him. I was scared – who could I trust to do this with? To be honest, part of my fear was that I would be judged about how my genitals looked. That might sound silly, but since I was a teenager, I’ve had this fear that I looked different down there. I was frightened about repulsing someone, or being laughed at. The anxiety about that was tremendous, and yet I pushed through it. The first man I found to OM with was perfect – he had a wife who wasn’t interested in trying it and told him to go check it out on his own, and he was also feeling insecure and uncertain. He was vulnerable with me, and that gave me permission to be vulnerable with him.
When my first OM began, I was hit by this overwhelming feeling of selfishness. It’s so difficult to focus on me. I wanted to worry about this man, and what he was feeling and thinking. I forced myself to breathe and connect to what I was experiencing. The first thing I noticed was that they had been cold for a long time, and that I was breathing in warmth. Then I was breathing with my partner, and together we were breathing heat into my body. The strangest thing was that I realized I was connected to this man and yet I wasn’t thinking about him. What was happening was beyond thought.
For someone who spent her life taking care of other people, coming home to my own body and my own desires has been the most healing thing imaginable. I’ve cried a lot in OMs, just out of the joy and surprise at the awareness it’s okay to have desires, it’s okay to want, it’s okay to focus on me. There are times the tears have come even before I’ve been touched, because just getting into position in the nest has opened up something within me. I’ve gone from feeling selfish to feeling nourished.
My birthday just passed and a friend asked me how it felt to turn 54. I told them, I feel like I’m unstoppable. I’m limitless. I have so much to give to others, but now I’m really able to give because I’m so filled up. You can’t give away what you haven’t got, but I tried. I tried for years, and now I can give so much because at last I have so much. I only have so much because OM taught me it was okay to want to be full. That’s the great paradox: the more I get for myself, the more I have to give. To use an image I first heard about in OM, I’m a lighthouse – and to save lives, we need that lighthouse to shine as brightly as it can. To shine as brightly as possible, that lighthouse needs its battery to be fully charged. OM is that charge.