March 14, 2015, Pi day, I started practicing Orgasmic Meditation. It was a long journey up to that point, and now 8 months later the journey continues to be one of interesting and at times challenging curves, but always ones that lead me to some new part of myself.
Let me start at the beginning.
I started birth control at age 18. I was (and am) a very responsible person and did not want an unwanted pregnancy. What I wouldn’t know for nearly a decade was that an integral part of myself would be masked from me by taking that daily pill: my sexuality. I thought I was “just not a sexual person.” It seemed to match the culture of my loving but very prudently catholic family that none of me or my three beautiful sisters or mother identified as being sensual or sexual. So I thought that sexuality was just something for others. I didn’t need it. And so when I fell in love with my best friend while away at college at 19 and he gave me the ultimatum to kiss him or never see him again, I figured the lack of sexual attraction was a small price to pay for the comfort, love, and care I would get with him. Sexual attraction just wasn’t important to me, or so I believed.
Eight years later, when we split at age 27 I stopped birth control. Suddenly, in the opening of being single for the first time in my adult life and the lack of exogenous hormones in my bloodstream, something started to happen. I felt an experience in my body I never had before: turn on. I have a libido?! The realization rang through my body and I had no idea what to do with it. A string of codependent, needy, and sexually reckless relationships followed in the next two years. I didn’t know how to manage sexual attraction and all the feelings that came with it, including intense rejection.
Four months before my 30th birthday I began to recover from the debilitating depression that had overcome me in the midst of my previous breakup and the initial sexual awakening that followed. For the first time in my life I felt an okayness with dating. I was actually enjoying it. About a week after that feeling started I met a man who I was so physically attracted to and he was attracted to me. I had never had this before in my life. My libido surged. Something inside me was being claimed for the first time. I would think about him in the shower, while riding my bike to work and my body would fill with an electricity that started in my pelvis and moved up into my heart. One kiss from him would melt all the tension in my body, the embodiment of feminine surrendering into the soft sensuality of love.
But 3 months into our 4 1/2 year relationship things changed and he began to pull back. That thing inside me that had awakened and was claiming itself broke into panic. I’ve only just begun to feel this, and now it will be taken from me?! I raged inside, full of terror. Images of being a shriveled housewife, the companionate love of my previous 8-year relationship, comfortable and without the electricity that animates all of life, a dead relationship. I railed against it. For four years I worked to understand what was happening. Was it us? Was it me? Was it him? Individual therapy, couples therapy, a gym membership, a new wardrobe, throwing out all my granny panties, doing more individually to inspire novelty, inner divine feminine tantric work. I tried it all. But in the end the truth was that it wasn’t because I was broken or too fat or too codependent, it wasn’t because of either of our sad histories, or the fights we’d had or trust lost, it wasn’t even because we had gotten so good at being caring for one another that we lost the fire. In the end the simple truth was that he was just not attracted to me. That enigma of sexual attraction. The thing we have no control over, even if all the other pieces line up. And that thing is more important than any of us had cared to admit.
It was inarguable. And we ended it.
So, the day after we broke up I took the how to OM class.
I had heard of Onetaste for almost a decade, judging it’s participants as “emotionally unhealthy”, “psychologically acting out”, and just plain wrong in all their polyamory. But nearly one year before the end of my 4 1/2 year relationship a friend re-introduced me. She took me to their Turn-On events, in which a group of people sat in a room for an hour asking each other questions about how they feel, what’s important to them, and what their orgasm is like right now in their life. The first time I went to a Turn On I sat in the hot seat in front of the group. I answered every question with honesty and felt so alive to be so seen. But I wasn’t ready to OM yet. I didn’t know if this community was for me. Are they healthy enough? Grounded enough? Are they like me? What are they really here seeking? Is something being hidden? I couldn’t drink the koolaid until I had the answers. And I asked all these questions out loud. There was something the people there had that kept bringing me back. They seemed to genuinely care about awakening and were going about it in a way I’d never experienced before. Sure there was a good amount of spiritual bypassing and empty positive thinking happening, they weren’t so good at diving into the shadow as I had been trained to get comfortable with in my therapy training, but they had something and it was good.
For seven months I surveyed the group, going to Turn-ons almost every week. Raising my hand to ask questions, talking to people and working through my analysis of whether to involve myself.
At Onetaste, they say that OMing will speed up whatever process you are engaged in to get to the truth faster. If your relationship is a good one, it will speed to the inevitability of love, connection, and clearing all the inner obstacles within you to love as the fire of orgasm burns through your body. And if the relationship is doomed, it will lead you to that answer with a rapidity that your mind will struggle to keep up with. Better to let go of the mind and just trust the body. That soft animal that does not need to be good.
Before we broke up and I was still working to reclaim the sexuality in our relationship, I asked my partner to OM he agreed. We tried it once and both liked it. But the second time I was irritable, tired, and not feeling connected. He sensed this, as you do in an OM, sensing whatever is underneath the surface for both you and your OM partner, and he stiffened. After that OM he declared he hated it and refused to ever do it again. I was broken. My irritation had ruined our sex life. That’s what my mind told me. But in OMing the point is not to get anywhere. The point is only to feel what you feel. To be with it as fully in your body as possible. And to know that these thin membranes of skin do not protect us from feeling what those close to us are feeling. So to feel that too, with the raw openness of sensation. But I wouldn’t learn this until later. For now, I only knew that again the only door to that life-giving electricity in my body was once again slammed closed. For months I worked on this feeling of helplessness. I pounded the ground with my feet while jogging, stopping to drop to my knees and touch the wet earth crying out to God with tears in my eyes, “What should I do???!!!” I loved him. I was attracted to him. I wanted to be with him. But he didn’t want me in the same way and yet he needed me to be with him. And I wasn’t ready to let go.
Gut wrenching months went by and I finally was able to ask if he would be okay with me OMing with other people. I didn’t want to be sexual with anyone else, but I couldn’t be cut off from this part of me any longer. And I didn’t know how to access it on my own. It was life-giving, I could feel it, but it was scary too. Slut, whore, dirty, disgusting, profane, trivial, all these judgments about my need to feel my sexuality gripped me. I was a good girl. Loving, caring, responsible. How in the world would it be okay for me also to be sexual? And especially if my partner didn’t want it. Why couldn’t I just be okay with a loving asexual relationship. What was wrong with me?? I want too much.
But all these judgments didn’t keep my soul from continuing to pursue what it needed. Or my body from what it wanted. So after much turmoil I brought up the question to him. He pondered a couple more months. I lie in wait. Not a quiet, patient waiting, but an inner seething, pleading, grieving, trying to be happy and yet in this horrible limbo. When he finally agreed that he would be okay with me OMing with someone other than him I broke down. I collapsed into anger and grief that he would not claim me. I didn’t want him to be okay with me OMing with other people, I wanted him to want me, to find his desire for me and to tell me “You are mine! I want you and will dive into this with you, together.” But that’s not what he said. The truth of the absence of his desire for me emerged, and my inner fire raged against it’s damp smothering for another month or two before quietly accepting and giving in to the truth: he just wasn’t attracted to me.
And so we parted with love and in a deeper relationship to the Truth and one another. And so my sexuality was free to open.
The day of the how to OM class I hadn’t had much sleep. We had been up until almost midnight the night before grieving as we broke up. I was raw and open about it. Tears streamed down my face as a stroker demoed on a woman in front of the class. Her moans of pleasure touched the pain inside me that felt it would never get to have that experience. All of my tamped down desire and feeling sexually broken that had been placed in me from childhood poured out.
As I lay down for my first OM with a fellow gentle newcomer my heart started to fill with pain. He looked straight at my pussy (a word I cringed against for a year as Onetaste threw it all over and that still touches some deep shame inside of me). Without any requirement that I do anything but relax he told me what he saw. My pussy was observed with presence. At being noticed, the pain in my chest leapt into my throat and stuck there as a ball of heat. “May I touch your pussy?” he asked, a weak “Yes” coming from my mouth and the moment his finger ever so gently began to stroke the upper left quadrant of my clitoris tears poured from the depths of my heart, out of my throat, and through my eyes, running down my cheeks and filling my ears. “I am broken, I’m broken, I’m broken” my inner voice rang. My orgasm that day was not one of erotic pleasure, of the pornographic sexuality that I had learned was how a woman’s sex was supposed to look and sound, but rather was the gentle receptivity of a touch with presence that allowed me to feel all I was feeling while in connection with another human being.
The months that followed were tumultuous. Weeks of tears and grieving and not knowing how to receive or if I could trust were followed by weeks of irritating turn on filling my whole body. I didn’t know what to do with this sexual energy and it was distracting and frustrating. Then followed a period of sexual expression in which I fucked a partner every day, sometimes more until the relationship was ground into the dirt and erupted in flames from the needy, codependent, sexually repressed feelings moving their way through me on their way out.
After five months I became cleared out. I was no longer in such intensity, neither with grieving, nor electric sexual energy, nor exhaustion from trying to keep up the high. I had settled. The storm was over. And something new was in its place. A kind of calm equanimity. A new openness to feeling. An okayness with my sexuality however it showed up, as a tiger, a dark sleepy night, or worried and critical protector. It was still difficult at times, but there was a confidence in my body as an intelligent creature on its own that had been firmly planted and was beginning its first sprouts.
Now, seven months after that first OM it feels that OMing has some kind of special place in my life. I still don’t know exactly why I do it, but there is something that draws me to it and to the community. To people who ask, “How are you?” and practice saying what they want and hearing what you want with a simple “Thank you”. I continue to learn about myself, my mind, my body, connecting to others, discovering and communicating my boundaries, being okay asking for what I want and saying what I don’t want, sending people off with love when what they want is different from what I do. All of these are lessons I’ve learned and am continuing to learn and practice.
And now a new challenge. This taboo of sexuality. The projections and assumptions people make when they hear that I OM. The horrible realization that this might not be a part of me I can feel so open to share honestly about with others. And honesty is a deeply integral part of who I am. The fear that I may miss out on finding my life partner because he may feel threatened and insecure by this practice that has and continues to teach me so much. I can’t say I know where it will go, or even how long OMing will be in my life. One thing about OMing is that it teaches you to be more in the moment, responding to the way Life is flowing through you rather than grabbing onto the ways it was or the ways you wish it would be. So I’m finding I am less able to predict what I will or won’t do, because although I feel more myself than ever before, I also realize that it’s sort of ridiculous to think that this ever-evolving human spirit can ever bee 100% defined and predicted. So will I be OMing in a month? In a year? In 10? I don’t know, honestly. I can see the scenario in which I stop and only OM with my future life partner and husband, or the scenario where I am so involved in the practice that I am teaching it and giving lectures.
This precipice does feel scary. Like all precipices before it, I fear that if I let go I will fall into the pit and lose something very dear to me. But perhaps I can learn from the other times I have leapt or let go of the ground I am clinging to, as each time it has taken me to new heights and to new depths, in love, beauty, and peace. And it’s only been the holding on and fear of what is happening that has caused me to feel terror, isolation, despair, and helplessness.
To be continued….
Karen Wolfe, MFT offers depth therapy with practices to deepen your connection to your Self and to others for individuals and couples in the Bay Area and via video conference across California