Hidden Depths

August 13th, 2012

I’ve been taking a weekly Yin Yoga class which involves poses held for extended periods of time, and for me it involves surrendering to the discomfort instead of fighting it. Sometimes when I’m in the right mental space the process starts to become almost meditative and often quite moving. During a recent class, I found long-forgotten memories starting to flow through my mind in a river of images and sensations, rippling by like scenes from the movie of my life. One in particular that I hadn’t thought of in years was particularly powerful and touching. It was around 1963 and I was living in married student housing at Purdue University — two-story apartment buildings set in the middle of a flat, bare midwestern field. No shade in summer, clotheslines in the back, babies and kids everywhere. I was 20 or 21, in the early years of a tormented marriage with a violent husband, trying to cope with the stunning confusion of our first child having Down Syndrome and generally just hanging on. I realize now that I was in the process of acquiring layers of scar tissue that kept me numb to one onslaught after another, learning how to wall off my emotions in order to survive. I was pregnant for the second time and a good friend had taken me for a shopping trip to Indianapolis, and looking back I’m sure it was her way of giving me a respite from what everyone around us realized was an abusive relationship. I was always on edge, never knowing what might trigger an episode, but in those days, no one, including me, spoke up or made waves. I remember splurging precious dollars that rare day out on a purchase that was thoroughly frivolous given our lack of money and in retrospect, totally tacky: bunches of rubbery plastic fake fruit that I put in a bowl on our crappy formica table in a crappy generic beige apartment filled with cheap beige furniture. It was my attempt to bring some beauty, some hope into that apartment and my life. I was so proud of it! When that memory resurfaced, I was suddenly overwhelmed with tenderness and tears for that sweet, naive part of me that hadn’t yet succumbed to the dark. It’s always my first instinct to accrete layers of defensive strategies around a painful experience, to neutralize it like an oyster does with an invasive grain of sand. But in this instance, that process yielded a long-delayed gift from the depths of memory — a beautiful pearl of longing, innocence and original self that I thought was lost forever.



6 Responses to “Hidden Depths”

  1. This is stunning. And maybe the beginning of a longer story you need to write so you can free that girl, recover that self.

  2. Lindsey says:

    Powerful post. You have an amazing way of finding beauty in the saddest places. I wish I got all of that out of my yin yoga classes!

  3. nikki says:

    I have such a fear of writing longer … I used to write an essay every month for Skirt but not for years now. I think you’re right though…thanks for the encouragement!

  4. nikki says:

    I don’t get that in every one. Usually it’s just wondering if I will survive Saddle position. I think the time and circumstances were just right for a change.

  5. Your eloquence is beautiful, Nikki. Even through the pain. Sometimes during moments of stillness, something in us digs deep and congers up all kinds of long-repressed or forgotten memories, both good and bad. Amazing, isn’t it?

  6. nikki says:

    Thank you!

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