Truth Brings Connection

BY KATIE

The first man I ever had sex with gave me a sexually transmitted disease. I felt ashamed. I knew I should have set up clearer boundaries with this man. I didn't want a monogamous relationship with him, but I could've said we absolutely had to use condoms at all times. The experience caused me to contract around the sense of my own sexuality. I still had a huge sexual appetite, but I made a hard rule that I had to be within a relationship in order to have sex. I still fooled around with guys but my heart was not open in those interactions.

By the time I fell in love with Lowell, I had not had sex with anyone except that first man. I was honest with him about my past, that I’m a woman who really enjoys sexual experiences. He didn’t like some of the experiences that I’d had, and his anger made me feel ashamed. I slowly shut down my appetite for sexual experiences, partly because of shame. I've discovered that you can't selectively numb. By numbing out my sex impulse, I also numbed out the passion of our relationship. Our marriage was mostly sexless. When we broke up, we hadn't had sex for two years. I was 25, and I felt old and dried up.

Looking back, I see a pattern of not being clear with men about my needs. In my marriage, I certainly wanted sex more than Lowell did. It was hard to ask for it for fear I'd look desperate and unttractive to him, and it was painful not to be desired. I felt rejected and lonely. 

Once we were separated, I did a lot of self-healing work. I read books and took online classes, trying to work through the stuff that went wrong in my marriage. I was determined to believe that sex does not have to die in a long-term relationship. Growth became my number one value. 

I went to a yoga exhibition and strolled past rows of booths for groups discussing aspects of wellness. I sat down for a talk on intermittent fasting, but it was cancelled at the last minute. A woman came onstage to talk about OM. She said, “This is the opposite of fasting.”

So much of what she said felt absolutely right to me. It struck me that OM wasn't a hack. So many products and classes promise quick ways to get a better life or whatever. OM was clearly a profound practice that required focus and brought insights. I dived right in.

Adjustments are an important part of OMing. When the strokee feels the stroking is a bit off, she can ask the stroker to change the movements to return to the spot of highest sensation. At the beginning, it was hard for me to ask for adjustments. When I became aware of what I wanted, it would take me a whole minute to bring it up, and by then it would no longer apply. Often I would notice my voice being shaky. It took me a while to feel confident about asking for what I wanted.  

Two years into my practice, I was having an OM with a man and it was nearing the end. The timer had gone off, and he was applying the grounding pressure that follows the stroking. His hands were in an awkward position, and it didn't feel good. I thought, Okay, I can put up with this for the last five seconds, and then I'll never have to talk to him again. I reacted to that thought, as if I was running from telling the truth. It occurred to me that I could slow down and tell him what to do.

“Can you place this hand over that hand? Then cup them and press upward.” I spoke in a completely neutral way, with no criticism implied. That one remark brought us into a point of connection. When we shared frames at the end, he said he would never have understood the positioning had I not explained it that way. He was grateful for the adjustment. It always blows my mind that people like receiving adjustments in a neutral tone, so they can learn how to do something right.

That little experience had so much packed into it. I realized how far I'd come, just being able to give an adjustment in real time. I saw how a mature strokee isn't taking on entitlement, assuming the stroker should know what he's doing. She actually makes the stroker more brilliant by how she adjusts him. Giving that adjustment was an act of generosity because the next person that man OMs with will have less of a barrier to a satisfying ending.

The implications go even farther. It was a case of, Okay, I could wait a few seconds and not have to deal with it, but I'm experiencing it now. There's a practice of admitting the truth right now, and having the courage to name it. OM has helped me have more neutrality around reporting the truth. It doesn't make someone a good or a bad person. It's just what you're experiencing. In my relationships, I've found the truth contains an electricity that can bring us into connection. 

Both inside and outside of OM, the truth is often associated with the point of highest sensation. I've been in a relationship for three years. One day my partner and I made the decision to become monogamous. A week later, he wanted to talk about it again because he was wavering. Like any human, he was having fear about taking a big step. I didn't like that. At first, I was impatient with him, thinking we should have had this conversation a week ago. Then I realized, We're having the conversation now. This is the experience we're having right now. Can I open to it now? 

What actually came out of that conversation was the admission that I felt uncertain about where we were in our relationship. He said he did too. I came to see that I have an attachment to certainty. If a relationship is going through uncertainty, it's bad. It shouldn't be happening. But as soon as we both named that we had uncertainty, and we didn't know what was going to happen in our relationship, I felt more connected to him. Even though it wasn't what I wanted to hear or feel, the truth brought us into greater intimacy.  

My desire is my responsibility. I have to find a way to get to a state of rightness with it. Part of my work as a woman is undoing places where I gravitate towards shame. I've learned that shame can be an effort to protect myself by covering up desire. Maybe I feel undeserving, or I fear I'll be rejected. But the desire is still there.

I have a relationship now that is electric and alive. I knew it was possible, but I had to allow myself to fully open up my hunger and feast. It was scary. I worried, Will he still love me when he sees how much is in here? Cracking myself open and being with the discomfort helped clear a lot of shame. I'm reaching a new level of what it is to be sexy and what it is to be a sexual woman.