Appreciation for Every MomentBY TOM
As a young person growing up, I had the idea that in order to be liked I had to somehow prove myself. I also thought it was ideal to be sexual earlier than later in life. Of course, this is an idea I might have gotten from my father who eventually got into recovery for sex addiction. My mom got a divorce because of all my father’s affairs, raising me as a single parent. The way that she talked about men, and particularly about my father and sexuality, made me sort of afraid to grow up to be a man and afraid of sexuality because those things were totally mixed up with hurting women somehow. So I had all these different kinds of confusing mixed messages, first having to prove yourself by being sexual and then this other negative stuff around men and sexuality.
Not surprisingly, all of these kind of weird energies around the whole subject of sex made it really difficult for me to show up sexually in my life.
I was ashamed after the first time I had sex. After that I rarely got intimate with a woman, going long periods of time between relationships. I went through one period where I had no relationships at all for 15 years. I was carrying a lot of guilt and was confused and anxious to the degree that I developed an eating disorder. I’m five nine, and at the low point I got down to 104 pounds—which was pretty serious. I went through long dry spells interspersed with short unsatisfying love affairs. But eventually, in my 40s, I found a woman I liked around my age and we got married. We tried to have kids, but she had a couple of miscarriages. After that sex became painful for her. No matter what I did, that aspect of our relationship just didn’t work between us anymore.
Mary went to a therapist, who, among other things, recommended that we read the book Slow Sex. I did, and I really appreciated the book. It just spoke to me, delivering the clear message that sexuality is natural, and that healthy sexuality is a worthy thing to attain. It's not exactly a birthright because it's not handed to somebody at birth, but it's something that could be possible for any person. That’s when I became interested in OM. I thought, “Oh, this would be a cool thing to do together.” And she was open to that. So we did a 14 day course where you OM twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
From the very start, it was powerful. It didn’t particularly shift things for her in a dramatic way. But it definitely was an intimacy building practice. Just the fact that we both showed up for it and were willing to have this experience without knowing what it was going to be like – that, in and of itself, was a positive thing. We completed the course and then OMed a few more times afterwards. But it turned out that I was more open to it than Mary was. Eventually, our relationship became more conflicted, and we separated.
One of the things I learned from the short time that I did the practice, was an appreciation of every single moment in the OM itself. And this attention to the moment and appreciation of whatever was happening in the moment, whether it was great, or so so, or not so good, kind of spilled over into a greater appreciation for all of life. Even though so much of my life has been kind of painful, there's appreciation for every moment. For instance, the long years being single and then meeting my wife to be and how we were very slow in becoming sexual together. It was lovely. There is even a sweetness to getting older and arriving at age 40. Somehow OM showed me that it's all good.
It also gave me the ability to notice the energy in my body, to notice when it comes up and when it doesn’t—to notice when I am receiving and when I am not. To notice when I am giving and when I am not. It seems like a valuable practice and, in some ways, contributes to my sense of hope. It shows me I can have more experiences along those lines—that I can become more sensitive and grow.
Today I'm in a place where I'm thinking maybe it's time for me to start exploring this whole realm again. I’m understanding that my intention is possible, and that there's support for that kind of growth. I don't have to reinvent any wheels. And that's super valuable.