I Like Things ComplicatedBY STEPHEN TADDEO
I’ve always been a hider. When I was very little, I went through a lot of hard experiences, and I got some very negative, painful feedback. It’s not important what happened – what matters is that I responded to it by deciding that I was going to hide. Some kids disappear into drugs or alcohol or depression. I disappeared into logic and science. I became an electrical engineer, and that’s still my profession today. The difference is, I’ve learned to stop hiding.
From the time I was a teen, I was fascinated by women, by sex and the erotic. I wanted very badly to connect with women, but I kept withdrawing when they got close. I realize now that I expected them to withdraw from me, so I just bailed out first. Instead, I read as much as I could about sexuality and relationships, trying to understand the “problem” scientifically. The funny thing was that I could never grasp what now seems so obvious to me: women and men are not that different. We can play different parts, but we all have the same feelings in the end. We all want. That wanting unites us.
I came to OM because of my wife, Karla. We had had this long, off-and-on romance for years before we got married. The issue that kept coming up was always the same one: I couldn’t open up and connect. She wanted me to reveal myself, and that was still the last thing I wanted to do. I had gotten so accustomed to shutting down that even on those occasions when I wanted to reveal myself, I couldn’t.
Right before I started OM, I remember one night sitting on the couch with her. We put on some music, music I knew she liked. She smiled at me, and leaned forward, and I knew she wanted something from me, and I just felt this incredible frustration well up in me. I couldn’t break through to connecting with her, to showing her my real self. I also couldn’t grasp what she really wanted. It was so painful to not have any way to reach her. It was like she spoke only Chinese and I spoke only French. There was just not enough common ground.
It was a mentor of mine who suggested OM to me. I knew something needed to shift – and I admit, I liked the idea of learning something new about the erotic, which had always been my favorite subject.
My first OM, though – that was tough. I like things complicated. The more complicated I can make it, the more I can work on solving it, like a long and elegant logic problem, and the more I can distract myself from my anxiety. Stroking a woman is the exact opposite. It’s one single act. There’s no elaborate build-up. My brain had nothing else to focus on except this one woman. It was frightening, because I couldn’t solve it like a puzzle. I just had to be there.
It didn’t take me long to appreciate the paradox of OM, at least as it applied to me. My problem had always been this inability to let down my guard. And in OM, I’m stroking a woman who has literally taken off half her clothes and allowed me to touch her genitals. She’s the one exposed – but her vulnerability communicates with something in me, and somehow, I start opening up. I felt it the first time, and I still feel it just about every time I OM.
I mean, it sounds almost too simple. I hate simple, remember? I like everything complex.
Through OM I was able to come out and show myself. I discovered that to be seen, to be witnessed, was my greatest joy. It’s what I had always wanted and never been able to access. All I want now is to be open and not hide my feelings. It's so incredibly liberating.
So not long after I started OM, I found myself back on the couch with Karla. We were listening to music again, and this time, I knew what she wanted. She wanted to dance; she wanted to be held and to sway around the room. I didn’t have to be a mind reader – I just knew. And instead of finding a reason not to do it, I just opened my arms and she stepped into them, and we danced. I felt so much joy, and I could feel myself feeding her with my joy.
That all sounds almost too easy, right? Well, the part of me that likes complicated has come to see that there’s plenty complex about the erotic. For example, I still struggle a lot with jealousy. Sometimes, I’m embarrassed by it as it seems illogical, or it seems like something I should have outgrown, but there it is. It comes up and it can be so intense. Before OM, I never shared with anyone if I was jealous. Now, I can.
With Karla, for example, it comes up sometimes. I’ve learned that if I share what I’m thinking and feeling, she’ll be able to receive it. She even says, “Thank you, thank you” when I tell her – not because she thinks I should be jealous, but because she can hear that I really do have strong feelings. And for someone who used to hide out so much, and be so shut down? It makes me feel fully human and allows me to show my humanness to others. OM gave that to me.