I melted anger and numbness into connectionBY ANDRE GONZALEZ
There was a time when the only way for me to survive was to numb myself to the world, not just mentally but physically as well. I was literally the walking dead. One day I was running, and I fell on my foot, and I didn't realize I was hurt until my foot wasn't working. It swelled up and turned purple, and I couldn't even feel it. In sex, I would feel nothing. I stopped having sex for years.
Many traumas in my life led to this numbness. I grew up in Mexico City, in a conservative, well-educated, upper-middle-class Catholic family. Sex was considered sinful, and sex outside of marriage was forbidden, so I always had guilt about sex. The only time I remember anyone in my family talking to me about sex was when I was in college, and I was riding in the car with my mother. She stopped the car, turned to me and yelled, “If you ever get a girl pregnant, you're not going to marry her! I'll send you to the US or to Spain with your aunts, but you're not going to marry her.” Thank you, Mom.
I got a degree in engineering and had a job as a rescue diver, and I got fed up and quit. Then I worked for Club Med as a diver and sailing instructor, and there were women all around me. I was having sex with so many women, but I was just like a machine, having sex and letting them go. So that lifestyle numbed me to sex instead of opening me up.
I was married for a while. A few months after the wedding, my wife was diagnosed with cancer. She had a couple of late-term miscarriages, so I then had a reason to associate sex with pain. I became angry with the world and was always looking for fights. There was a lot of violence in my life. I had no friends because I would take everything personally. I felt hollow. Everyone hated me at work, and no one wanted to hire me. I started driving an Uber 80 hours a week, and I went numb.
One day, a woman who was riding in my Uber started asking me about myself. “Do you have a girlfriend?”
I said, “No, I don't need a relationship. I don't have time for that.”
I think this woman saw me because OM develops the ability to read people. She kept asking questions.
“Would you like to have intimacy in your life?”
My relationships with women had been a mess, so a girlfriend didn't interest me, but I was starved for connection with people. So I said yes.
She introduced me to people who were OMing. With those people, I found a place where I could actually express myself without being kicked out. When I got angry, they would hold me and help me let it out. They wouldn't run away from me. I found acceptance and approval of the darkness I was so ashamed of.
I felt guilty about the way I had objectified and used women in the past. The shame made it impossible for me to ask a woman to OM. I couldn't muster up the words.
Finally a woman asked me to OM, and I said yes. But then the next time I tried to ask another woman, she said no, in a way that wasn't so nice, not in the matter-of-fact way we're supposed to use in the OM work. I was devastated and furious. I decided next time I asked a woman and she said either yes or no, I would just walk away. I'd show her.
A few weeks later, I asked a woman to OM, she said yes, and it disarmed me completely. After that, the floodgates opened, and I started asking everyone to OM. This asking process made a huge transformation in me. A woman agrees to let you touch her in this intimate way, trusting that you're going to respect her and not play with her. I've lived for a long time with the idea that I'm a monster because of all the violence and anger in my life. But this woman knew about my past and doesn't think I'm a monster. I started to feel accepted and appreciated.
My first OM itself was not, in a way, a positive experience. I was sure I was going to mess it up, so I was anxious. Also I was still numb. Years of drug abuse had depleted my serotonin and dopamines. I could feel something on the surface, but there was no connection inside, and my stroking was very mechanical.
Even now, I can't usually feel the electricity people talk about, so I've learned to OM, not from the finger, but from the gut. Often I make changes in the way I'm stroking, and the woman says, “I was just going to ask you to do that.” As an engineer, I've always been logical and rational in my thinking, but now I've learned to trust my intuition.
On the other hand, there are times when my intuition doesn't get there first, and women ask me to make adjustments. I used to take it personally. I felt angry and rejected, and there were moments when I wanted to just walk away. It still happens sometimes. But I know I can learn from the adjustment if I stay connected.
That lesson applies in other parts of my life. I was always shy and insecure, using my strength, size, and intelligence to compensate. With women, I felt scared and unworthy, but I was resentful of feeling that way, and I generally blamed other people for my emotions. When you're a man from a conservative culture, being vulnerable is for sissies. OM has taught me that's not the case at all. It takes a real man to wear pink, as they say. My relationships with women have changed completely.
In the past, all my relationships ended with myself and my partner hating each other, and we never spoke again. But now I'm reconnecting with all my former partners or former lovers, including my high school sweetheart.
One problem I bring to a relationship is the habit of making sarcastic jokes. I'm good at putting my finger on places that are hurtful. When I'm with a strong woman, she comes back hard, and I get angry. I realize now that I'm provoking that situation. So I'm learning to calibrate, to be more aware of those painful spots. If I want to have those relationships, I have to be resilient, and to be resilient, I have to learn not to run away when something makes me angry.
With my current partner, I made one of those jokes, and she reacted, knocked me right out with a word. I got stuck and went around feeling resentful for a week. Then I realized my anger was serving no purpose, just making me disconnected. I apologized to her, and she received it graciously.
I decided I'd rather be connected than right.