I was raised in a normal middle class family and had a pretty happy childhood. The only thing that was different is I had a biracial upbringing. My mom is Black and my dad is White—which presents a very labyrinthine puzzle of identities. My parents weren't perfect, but they did a great job. My dad was Christian but my mom had been raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and wanted nothing to do with organized religion. When she came out as gay, my parents got divorced. I don’t think my dad has really recovered from that.
I never endured any real hardships in life, nor did I experience any ultra-high highs. In Catholic school I felt very middle of the road. I was the second-best basketball player on the team and wasn’t in all the most advanced classes like my friends were. I tried hard to achieve, but I was never the best at anything and that made me really sad in high school. Looking back, I can see this gave me the sense that I can't have what I actually want, and that thought seeded itself throughout my relationships. To compensate, I played them role of an atheist tough punk and pretended to thumb my nose at the Church’s antiquated ideas, even though the whole time I actually did believe in God.
I was always chasing the idea of the perfect something—the perfect relationship, the perfect party, having the perfect job. But when I left school, I got a job in retail and was never super "on fire" about anything.
In relationship with both men and women I was dissatisfied by sex and life in general. Before I started to OM, most of the guys I dated were emotionally unavailable and incapable of meeting any of my needs. For example, for years I’d been attracted to this musician and when we finally hooked up, I became obsessed. I’d text and text and hang out in the lobby of his hotel and hope that he’d ask me up, offering massages, anything to get in the door. I remember feeling almost sick with yearning to have him pay me the attention I wanted and needed so badly, hoping for a speck of nourishment. But I never got it.
I came to OM by reading the book Slow Sex. I remember the idea of focusing on the feeling of sex instead of just the theater of it was a revolutionary concept for me. I was really interested in what that might look like in my life. I also was experiencing pain during sex and thought maybe OM would magically heal me.
About six months after reading the book, I finally went to an event and took an introductory class later that month. I didn't have any crazy, explosive experiences during my first few OMs. For me the most profound part was simply getting in the nest. Being in the nest was like a declaration that I was okay with my body. To let someone see me like that and have that level of intimacy I had to be okay with my body. It was an experience of ownership of my own body that I had never come close to before. And that was really powerful for me.
During my first OMs, I remember feeling a lot of sensation but being surprised by how hard it was to tell where those sensations were coming from. Frankly, I just couldn't tell what sensation was going on where. And I found it fascinating that I didn't have any sort of specificity and clarity about my ability to feel. Also, I would feel this super-hot sensation in the soles of my feet. They would feel like they were on fire for the whole OM. And though it wasn’t a sensation I wanted, and I didn’t enjoy it, I learned to accept it. I thought it was amazing that was happening in my body.One part of the practice of OM that I gained a lot of power from was learning to ask for adjustments in how my partner was stroking me. Asking for adjustments--lighter, slower, faster, a little to the left, a little lower-- is explicitly part of the practice of OM so I didn't feel like I had to hold back my desire or manage my partner's feelings. I learned to stay connected to my desire and ask for it in places I might have otherwise shied away. I gained sovereignty over my own desires. I let go of my expectations of having the perfect OM and needing to be liked by the stroker.
I also learned to strive for a sustained feeling of connection versus striving for any specific goal to happen. And this has really shifted things for me in my relationships. In the past I wanted a relationship to look a certain way and feel a certain way and be a certain thing. One thing about OM that's been so wonderful is it has taught me to make space for the possibility of the unknown. For example, my current relationship is with a woman who has been super supportive and connected, open and so available with me. And yet she’s thinking about moving. I’ve realized that has nothing to do with me and I am staying open to see what unfolds rather than automatically feeling rejected.
I used to feel such a wrenching desperation to get what I needed and I felt so trapped in that dynamic. Now, there's just no agonizing over things anymore. I can ask for the things I want, lean in to have that experience, and trust that it's going to be great. Even when it feels intense, I can trust myself and know that it's going to be okay. I have the ability to say what I need. I know that I have my own back.
I’ve started to trust myself—which has enabled me to look at my own character defects and the places where I create problems for myself, including the way that I relate to others. Instead of holding my old needy identity together I’ve started to loosen up and look deeply at things like, “Where am I vindictive? Where am I controlling? Where am I selfish and manipulative instead of just asking for what I want?”
I’ve also entered a process of sobriety that has led me to the conclusion that I do believe in a higher power like I used to as a kid. I can honestly say that OM led me to Christianity. My old identity and the tough exterior got stripped away enough that I could finally admit there's something there, a love that goes far beyond any potential human limitation. And that has led me back into the church and into social justice work and trying to be a benefit to my community.
I've asked for help, and found a whole community to back me. I don't need to pretend to be a tough guy, I have the support to overcome the obstacles in my path.