Learning to Let the Love In


I remember about a year before I started OMing, a friend was telling me about this group that she was going to that was all about authentic relating. She described how she’d spent the evening staring into other people’s eyes and talking about her feelings, and everything she was saying scared me so much I had to ask her to stop talking about it. “That sounds like the worst night you could possibly have!” I said. “Why would you go do these things?” I simply couldn’t grasp it because I had no desire to be vulnerable. I had no desire to let people in. I had no desire to admit my feelings and, God forbid, tell someone about them.

I found my way to OM via a dating site. I met a guy online who lived in Houston who wanted to go to an introductory event, the one with the communication games. I was new to the area and showed up because I was looking for something interesting and a way to meet people. Even though people sharing feelings and intimate things about themselves felt like high stakes to me, I managed to stay within my comfort zone and not feel too vulnerable. The part I didn’t want to admit then was that I also felt really excited and exhilarated by the intimacy I felt there. I signed up to do the intro course afterwards, mainly because I liked all the people that were there. I was curious with nothing to lose. I figured, “Oh, well, worst case somebody strokes me, and if I don't like it, whatever.”

To my logical mind it was all really about the tangible practice, which was a little bit of an adrenaline rush just thinking about it. Once I started the actual practice, though, I didn’t really physically feel a whole lot the whole first month. It all just felt like some kind of awkward, boundary-crossing gynecological visit. I was constantly saying, “I need more pressure. I need more pressure. I need it faster!” I was a hundred percent in my head the whole time and basically so numb overall I couldn’t feel anything.

Then I had this really unique opportunity that I think that maybe a lot of women don't have—I had an OM with another woman, one where she stroked me. It felt really loving and very gentle. She created this incredible, safe space for me that felt like a really private, intimate experience, which, at that time, was still wildly uncomfortable for me. But there was something about being stroked by a woman that gave me permission to allow her in a little bit more.

After that I actually started feeling emotions and crying more often, which was great. I started getting connected with more women—not just chatting about the logistical things happening in my life over cocktails, which is what a lot of my female connections looked like. I was getting to really share what was happening with me, how I was feeling and how the world was impacting me. 

Every person’s OM journey is different. I used to hear women talk about having these mind-blowing OMs. But that wasn’t my experience. For me things didn’t change overnight. It was always minor incremental changes that were hardly even noticeable. But then I’d suddenly realize, “Oh, I can feel this now.” Or “Wow. I'm able to ask for things now!”  

My biggest OM was so slow. I’ve always been an impatient person, urging my partners to stroke faster. But there was one OM where I felt like it couldn't go slowly enough. It was so soft and so slow that I could hardly believe he was touching me. Again, it was a little thing that created a big change, because that one OM showed me that I have the power to open my body, feel, and receive. 

Because of OM I’ve learned to receive external opportunities better. For example, I got laid off and had to move from San Francisco back in with family in Texas. And all I could do was laugh because I’d been relentlessly asking the universe to move me back down here to reconnect with my family and to get away from the winter cold. It didn’t happen how I wanted, but it's exactly what I wanted. Five years ago, I would not have seen the opportunity. I would have been too busy complaining about the move and feeling like a failure, living a story that wasn’t true at all. 

I've also learned it's so much better and more rewarding when I can say an uncomfortable thing to a friend, and then sit in that discomfort and see it through to the other side. OM taught me how to be with the discomfort, how to open to it rather than brace against it, and how to be curious about it. You stick with it and learn how to adjust it. And I apply everything I’ve learned there to uncomfortable situations in relationships—not only with people I might be dating, but with my friendships too. 

For example, a couple years ago I had a messy falling out with a friend that was really painful. They recently called me to reopen our connection and apologize. It was an immense call for me, and if I’d taken it five years ago, I would have been silent the whole time. I would have given up nothing, which would have made them feel even worse by the end of the call. And I was able to genuinely thank them for what they had to say and at the end I said, “I miss you” and cried and didn't feel like I was being the weak one. And then I got to just say, “How the hell are you??” We were able to move on and catch up. I didn't hold that grudge, the way I would have. I was actually able to sit through the discomfort of, here's somebody who did hurt me, and here they are wanting to make this right. I have a choice here, and I choose to let the love in. The ability to see that and make that choice has been one of the biggest reward I’ve gained from the practice. 

Today I’m in a place that’s 180 degrees from my original fear of intimacy. All my life I had this story that I couldn’t be vulnerable and cry because no one could possibly like someone who was all red-eyed and blubbery and snotty. I remember I was scheduled to hang out with some friends who also OM. I’d had an emotional day at work and felt all teary and vulnerable and didn’t want to go. I tried to cancel but instead, I actually listened when people said, “Come as you are. There is space for you here.” And I went. I had permission to cry and be real, and when people told me, “You’re beautiful,” I believed them.  

I finally could let the love in.