Learning to Receive What I Needed MostBY SUSAN
When I was in fourth grade, Katie Campbell taught me to put what she called my “wheelie” under the faucet while taking a bath. (Thank you, Katie -- though my parents got so mad at the length of those baths that they turned off the hot water heater.) Ten years later, when I was 19, I was gang-raped in a motel in Needles, California by five guys over the course of four days. I had orgasms during that rape. For years afterwards, I told myself that it couldn’t have been rape, that I must have wanted it, because I wouldn’t have had orgasms otherwise.
I start with these two stories because pleasure and shame have been wound tightly around each other for most of my life. I’m 55 now, and I’m only now coming to terms with the messages I got as a girl, the trauma I endured, and the fascination with sex I’ve always had.
I decided to make lemonade out of lemons. I became very sexually adventurous in my twenties. I had many boyfriends and loved sex with them. I started to recognize a pattern – there would be this one man I’d have great sex with, and then another man with whom I wouldn’t have quite such an intense physical connection, but we’d have this wonderful emotional intimacy. That pattern continued after I met my husband. I didn’t cheat on him physically, but I guess you could say I had emotional affairs with other men. I realize now that was my way of keeping myself safe.
For more than 30 years, I’ve explored a lot of different healing and spiritual paths. I’ve taken all kinds of classes and completed all sorts of programs. Some people think it’s a waste of time and money, but I’ve always received something I could take away and use. (My husband generally has gone along with these adventures, sometimes with more enthusiasm than others.) It was a few years ago that a friend told me about OM, and all the benefits it had brought her, so I brought my husband to check it out.
We went to a demonstration, and we sat in front. I was amazed. I realize I had never seen an adult woman’s genitalia. I raised five daughters, but I’d never seen a grown woman naked from the waist down. I remember seeing this woman light up as she was stroked, and when I say light up, I mean, her whole being started to shimmer. I wanted what she was having!
My husband was worried about signing up for a retreat weekend. He thought it would turn out to be an orgy or something. I had to explain to him again and again that that wasn’t what OM was about. As I told him, even if that were what it was about, he should know me better than that. This is about me getting my needs met, and about doing some healing that needs doing. I had to stress that to him over and over again, and he finally got it.
I felt very extremely vulnerable and anxious when we finally OMed together. I was excited too, especially about asking for what I wanted. When we had sex, I couldn’t often ask my husband to go slower or faster, higher or lower or anything like that. The way OM was presented before we started, though, he knew he’d be receiving adjustments, and that was part of the process. The first time, though, it turned out to be too much for him to handle. Halfway through the OM, after I gave him an adjustment, he got up and walked away. He blamed it on his bad back, saying he was in too much pain, but I knew that wasn’t it. My husband needs to be good at everything he does, and he has a very hard time hearing corrections of any kind.
We kept trying. It got better, but it was always difficult for him. I wish he’d been able to stay with it, because it did mean so much to me. Even the glimpse I got during our season of OMing together was very helpful, and it’s stuck with me ever since. It healed a lot of the trauma I’d been carrying for so long.
Even though we only practiced OM briefly, the work we did together continues to affect our marriage in a positive way. I can see him differently and see the way he works to meet my needs in ways that I hadn’t seen earlier. One of the things OM does is it opens you up to receiving what you hadn’t been able to receive before. He says things all the time like, You're a really loyal person. You're a very dependable person. You're a good mom, you're a great wife. I love how well you take care of our animals. (We have 14 animals on our little farm.) I love watching you with the mini horses. It’s so cool that you teach the koi fish to eat out of our hands, and that you care so much about our kids.
Those words feed me too. It means more than him telling me I’m beautiful. Because of what I’ve learned in OM, I can be vulnerable to his love language. I don’t have to wish it were something else, which is what I did for so long. I wanted him to do it my way. Now, I can say thank you, truly take in what he’s saying, and be fed by it. It’s not the enduring lesson I would have expected to get from OM, but it’s by far the most valuable one. It’s strengthened our marriage and brought me real healing and peace.