What I Craved

BY LILA HUXLEY

I would say a big defining piece of my life before was that I was in two very long relationships with men I loved.  Both of them were people I found to be funny and kind and good partners. Each time, over the course of four years, the sex and the intimacy would go from excellent to okay to nonexistent. Each time, I went from being madly in love to not caring about them at all by the time we broke up. I didn’t care about hurting their feelings, or never spending time with them again.  I just wanted to be done.

My last breakup was especially rough. Right after we broke up, he thrived. I struggled, and he seemed so much happier. Everyone told me how well he was doing.  To make it worse, this ex talked openly about how bad our sex life had been.  I was humiliated, but I also knew he was right. Maybe he shouldn’t have told the world, but there were no lies in what he was saying.

I longed for another relationship. I wanted to find someone hilarious and kind again, with that great sex that happened in the beginning. I had stopped believing that could happen for me.  Eventually, I gave up and focused on myself.  Six months after that last breakup, I was, as one friend put it, living my “best possible life.”  I had a beautiful apartment.  My diet was clean. I exercised.  I dressed well; my career was thriving. And I was miserable. I had no one I trusted to let into this immaculate life.

One day, I got a text from a good friend, a gay man with whom I had monthly lunches.  Seeing his name pop up on my phone jarred a memory. Weeks earlier, we had had this great conversation about how we both want to be touched so badly, but whenever someone does touch us, we flinch. That makes people not want to touch us. It’s crazy-making, and this friend was the first person I’d met who had this same problem.  Over lunch, this friend had mentioned in passing that maybe something called Orgasmic Meditation could help us.  I’d laughed it off, but now the memory came back into my head, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I hadn’t been ready to even consider it when we’d had that original conversation, but now I was so unhappy I was ready to try anything.

My first few workshops left me feeling as if I were being completely seen.  The more the workshop leaders talked about OM, the more I realized how much was missing from my life. I was so confident and outwardly comfortable in my own skin. I dressed cool, I didn’t eat anything bad for me, I didn’t drink or do hard drugs. I was particularly proud that I’d given up negative self-talk.  But as I sat in these sessions where the dynamics of the male and female brains were explained, the more I realized how small my life had become. I was so shut down.  I was completely disconnected from my body, especially my genitals.  Before my first OM, I knew that this was the crux of my problem.

I did not have a problem reaching orgasm. My problem was that that orgasm was so muted.  I was still nervous, still holding back. What changed was one day, I let myself fart during an OM.  And over the next few OMs, more things happened that would have once been incredibly embarrassing to me.  Another day, I had a little toilet paper still stuck to me; another time, the moment I took off my pants, I could smell myself.  Women are taught these are the most mortifying things that can possibly happen, and they all happened to me – and I still enjoyed the OM.  Nothing was as bad as I feared.

What I realized was that all of this focus on how I looked or smelled was about control, and what I was really trying to control was my own rage.  I had so much anger that I didn’t know what to do with, so I redirected myself onto all these things I could control.  I know it sounds absurd, but I realized that if I could let out a fart, I could start to pay attention to my rage.  

I realized my anger lay in feeling cheated. I was so angry that my ex was out there, thriving and having great sex with other people who feel sorry for me for being a lousy lay. I wanted to show them – and I wanted what he had for myself.  As uncomfortable as it was, the only way to get there was to become more open. Not just about my body, but about what I wanted.  I realized that actually asking for exactly what I wanted was as hard as letting myself pass gas.  Giving direction and correction to a stroker was about so much more than having a better orgasm.  It was about giving myself permission to be human and—finally—ask for the things I wanted.

The more I had pushed away my feelings, the harder it had been for me to grow.  It took me more than two years to get over my last relationship because I had such a hard time letting myself grieve. OM connected my body to my feelings to my voice.  I could start to get angry in front of people, or cry when I needed to.  I could ask for physical touch when I craved it -- and yes, I could stop flinching when the touch came. 

If you can tell someone how exactly to touch your clitoris for 15 minutes, you can ask for so many other things.  I can say to a friend, “Will you hang out with me in the kitchen for a bit?”  Just that simple request would have been impossible before.  Now, I can get what I need by asking for what I want.