Social anxiety kept me married to my work. I enjoyed my career as a software developer. It wasn't hard to talk to people in the context of the job. But outside of work, I felt so self-conscious I could barely speak. I felt as if I wasn't masculine enough to approach women.
I liked changing jobs regularly and traveling. But at one point, I had a break between projects that took me back to London. For the first time, I felt terribly lonely. All the people I knew were at the job, most of my old London friends were gone, and shyness kept me from meeting new people. I was desperate for connection.
I started going to yoga classes. An acupuncturist I met said that if I did some work with him he would give me a deal, and he actually ended up being quite good at reading what I needed. His prescription was to explore different forms of human connection. One of them was dancing. He also introduced me to a group of people who practiced OM. They spoke about their feelings so openly that I felt comfortable expressing myself freely around them. I was able to release some things I normally held back, which started to dissipate a lot of my social anxiety.
I wanted to try OMing, but felt really shy. In the initial sessions, I didn't feel much. Instead I was preoccupied, wondering if I was stroking properly, whether I should be doing something differently. Gradually, I started tuning in to the process, exploring the spot of highest sensation and learning to sense through my body what felt right. I remember a session that was quite wild, with streams of sensation like fireworks rushing through me. Once I had an out-of-body experience where I was looking at myself and my partner from all angles.
As I learned to feel physical sensations during OMing, I became more in touch with what anxiety feels like in my body in social situations. I learned how to focus on the tension that anxiety creates, feel the discomfort, and then let it run its course, like any other feeling. That process freed me to talk to people.
There was one OM where I seemed to be feeling exactly what my partner was feeling. It was definitely something that had never happened to me before. This revelation was one of many that helped me recognize and accept the parts of me that are sensitive, connectable, and sensual. Usually, we think of those qualities as feminine, but in OM, they're important to the stroker's role. Instead of ignoring that side of me, as I did in the past, I began to see it as valuable. I barely had any female friends before, and now I have so many that I've lost count.
My life is much less focused on work than it used to be. I'm still in transition, building a foundation of home and relationships. OM has brought out parts of myself that were hidden.