The team-building game was supposed to be fun, but I found it irritating. Instead of having me feel closer to my co-workers, most of what they said just made me hate them. I had to walk out in the middle of the exercise. This was just one example of many situations where I tended to get emotionally bottled up. Sometimes I'd be so overwhelmed by my feelings, I'd get angry and lash out. I had no agency over my reactions or my emotional state. My friendships were few and not very close.
I'm good at academics, and I've been able to find great jobs, but I've always had trouble with dating and relationships. I tried to use strategies, thinking if I did X, then Y would happen, and eventually it would lead to us getting together. But my strategies never panned out. I would inadvertently sabotage any chance of relationship by trying to play it cool with women who seemed interested in me, or I would be over-eager, scaring them away. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I was "supposed" to act, never actually being myself or following what I wanted.
My dad was the one who told me about OM. He thought it might be good for me, so I went to an event and met some people who practiced OM. I was amazed by how direct and candid they were. They asked me personal questions that felt like they had a genuine interest in me, and they shared vulnerably about themselves too. The level of depth and honesty was so refreshing. I wanted that.
My first OM was terrifying. I had no idea what I was doing. I almost gave up, but realized like any new skill I had to keep going to really get it. By the third time, I had stopped worrying about each step, and it started to feel less mechanical. I could pay attention to the sensations instead of the physics. When the session ended, I felt settled, looser, and more grounded, like I had taken a big exhale.
OM also helped me be more direct with people. The practice was so far outside of the realm of what I would ordinarily do, and I thought, What other internal rules do I have that I could break? I remembered my complex and unsuccessful strategies with women, and then I considered how we ask for an OM:
“Would you like to OM?”
“Yes.” Or, “No.”
It's so explicit and clear. I started saying to women, “I'm attracted to you, and I'd like to get to know you better. Would you be interested in meeting up?” Even if the woman said no, it's was so straightforward and simple, no games or strategies.
I had a series of OMs that left me feeling revved up and fiery. These sensations were intense and uncomfortable, but I practiced staying with them. I wanted to run away, but then I realized, Okay, here I am. This is what's happening. I was able to hold both feelings, the discomfort and the awareness of being present. The agitation was similar to what I felt sometimes outside of OM when I got overwhelmed and blew up. But in those cases, I didn't even notice the feelings until I was already over the top. OM helped me recognize the irritation sooner, so I didn't have to let it build up until I lash out. I could step back and pinpoint what originally upset me, instead of feeling so overwhelmed by my emotions.
Since learning to OM, I've had several relationships, both short-term and long-term. I've learned to express what I want and feel, which has led to more intimacy in both romantic relationships and friendships. Now that I’m attuned to my emotions, I can connect with those around me without the formulas or strategies -- just as myself.