A Woman Lit Up
by Kari Abadie Hayes

We never said “I love you” in my family. We never really expressed ourselves and weren't very open with our real feelings. Intimacy just wasn’t available. Whether it was from my family or society’s influences or both, I ended up fitting into the good girl mold. In other words, look good, focus on appearances, be pretty, don't really express yourself or have any power. 

My way of rebellion was eating. I would stuff myself to oblivion. I easily put on 40 pounds and it was my way of saying, “screw needing to be this perfect image.” By the time I left home and was living in London, I was really struggling with my body and my eating disorder. I was on a roller coaster of self-destruction with lots of highs and lows. During the highs I was taking drugs and living a very exciting London life, but then the extreme lows of binge-eating and depression would hit, with me eating whole massive cakes at a time. I couldn’t find my path. I was bingeing and bulimic. I was a workaholic and totally out of control.

I had a very difficult time being authentic in intimate relationships. I would date these really attractive men and be quite intimidated by them. So to compensate, during sex I would writhe around like a porn star in bed, ending up totally unfulfilled. I had this belief that men deserved pleasure and I didn't. 

When I was 24, I met Owen. The relationship was painful because I knew I wanted him to be the “one,” but I just couldn't be myself with him. I couldn't speak my truth—whatever that was—because I thought he might leave me. I faked orgasm the whole way through and just didn’t feel like I deserved him. We broke up after four years.

About the same time, I burned out at my London job and moved to San Francisco. I wanted to stop the craziness and had come up this idea of being an “lit up woman,” the kind of woman who was deeply intuitive, wise, powerful and filled with truth. It was a vision I held of myself in my mind. When I went to my first OM class I saw the women trainers wearing dresses and high heels, but it wasn't their appearance that got my attention, it was the energy they were emitting. They were looking people in the eye, holding their gaze, so present with them it was as if no one else was in the room. And all I could think was, “How do you do that?” I was just mesmerized. I remember them sitting in the front of the room and being so free with who they were and what they wanted to say, my mind was blown. And I realized, “I want to have that.”

My first OM I felt hungry for something, and by the end I felt so seen, I was filled. The fact that the stroker wanted nothing from me, that I didn’t have to give anything back, just amazed me. My rational mind was so challenged by the practice, but my body was yelling at me, “You have to keep giving this to me, please!” I think something in my soul knew it was healing and right for me.

Once I started OMing regularly, I remember learning how to listen to the voice of my orgasm. I'd always assumed from watching porn that your orgasm had to be a certain way. Just knowing that my orgasm had a voice that could be really soft, quiet, and still, sort of simmering away at the bottom like a waiting volcano that had so much power … to realize my body and my orgasm had their own rhythm and that I could connect with how they moved was just amazing. It was like a real softening that helped me connect with myself. 

At the beginning of my practice, I judged the men who came to OM as weirdos and geeks who just wanted to touch women's genitals. But the more present I became, the more I was with them in the moment, I developed this newfound respect for these amazing men who would OM with me. I felt their intention and realized they were in it for the same reason I was—to understand a woman and understand the female orgasm. Knowing these guys were helping me made me much softer towards men and a lovely equal relationship with them developed.

It was a big deal when I left out my hair extensions one day when I was headed to an OM. I always thought my hair was far too thin, so I used extensions. I remember leaving for my stroker’s house one morning, looking at the extensions thinking, “I don't need to be this image with him. I can just be myself. I don't need this anymore.” And I left them lying there at home. That was a big thing for me getting beyond the perfect image. I even decided to experiment and not wear makeup for a while.

It wasn’t long afterwards that I decided to cut all my hair off in a man's short style. My mum and my sister were worried about what people would think and figured I’d gone kind of crazy. But it just felt so liberating, to take off all the masks and tarnish the image, allowing people to actually see me more. 

Those wonderful women at the company that taught OM that I so admired, just owning their bodies ... I was softly becoming one of them. Becoming softer, taking the masks off and being real with people and appreciating men—it all happened as a result of OM. And the eating disorder I’d had from age 12 until I was about 32, I’m still living with it today—but things are totally different now. After OMing became a regular practice, I remember wanting to go and eat some cake or something late at night in the kitchen like I used to do … and I just remember my body saying to me, “My darling, we're not going to eat this. Just love me.” I heard my body say, “Love me.” 

People sometimes said about OM, “You get full with orgasm after some time,” and there really is a filling up that occurs. Through OMing and 12 Steps, dealing with my fear inventory and saying prayers in the morning, I just felt so fulfilled. I wasn't looking for something outside of myself anymore. My body wanted me to eat better, and the voice of my body got louder and guided me with such kindness and a connection that was very healing, 

When Owen and I got back together, he noticed such a difference. He knew I was OMing, and he commented on my radiance and how much more self-aware I was and grounded. He said, “Just keep doing what you’re doing!” 

I used to walk around before like a talking head, feeling detached. Now, I'm very in touch with my body, and I just gave birth to my second daughter. I know how to be connected with my body. I know to listen at a deep level and know that my body is working with me. I feel wiser and more grounded in general, as a woman. And it's such a beautiful feeling!

I remember walking down the street recently and this guy was walking towards me, and I looked at him. It was something I never would have done before. As he looked at me, I stared deeply into his eyes and I felt like a queen. I felt like this powerful woman owning her body who is not afraid of her sexuality. And I realized, I am now the turned on woman I always wanted to be.