There's a theory that exists in yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy and various therapeutic forms that you can hold emotion or emotion-based memories in parts of your body--actual anatomical, physically locatable spots. In acupuncture theory, the locations will vary based on the types of emotional memories--memories associated with grief may be located along the Lung meridian, for example, whereas fear-based memories may be located along the Kidney meridian. In yoga practice, I've been told we hold our emotions in our hip joints.
This morning I took a completely fantastic end of the year power-yoga class immediately followed by a "Renew" class--one a fierce, faster-paced practice where I watched sweat rain off my head onto my yoga mat, and the next a calm, joint-opening, reflective practice. In the Renew class, we did a lot of hip-focused poses.
I was in a crossed-legged seated forward fold, trying to relax into the pose, and realized my jaw was tight. I opened my mouth to stretch it, making funny faces at my mat in the dark little cave of my own curled body. I remembered then that I'd been woken by Jam Guy in the middle of last night because I'd been grinding my teeth. He woke me up by stroking my cheek softly; I knew I was safe before I opened my eyes. I woke up in the complete certainty that I would open my eyes and see him blinking at me in the dark, his quiet face a study in gentle, sleepy concern. I woke up in the complete certainty that the hand on my cheek and the eyes watching me meant I am loved.
This waking-up-feeling-safe is a new thing for me. I am not, historically, a good sleeper; I am an even worse waker-upper. Often, I wake up with a panicky start, scaring the daylights out of whomever had to wake me. (My sister, on the other hand, could fall asleep on a guided tour of a noise factory, and trying to wake her up is like trying to get a cat out of a patch of sun by offering it a bath.)
So anyways, I was stretching my jaw in my sweaty yoga cave and remembering how sweet it had been to open my eyes with Jam Guy's loving hand on my cheek and his sweet, so-beloved face facing mine. And then I was hit with another memory with such suddenness it brought tears to my eyes.
It was a day when I was about seven. I was awake and my sister was asleep, maybe napping. My mother went to wake my sister up. I was watching closely as she moved near to my sister and stroked her cheek gently, murmuring her name as chimes of love, telling her tenderly it was time to wake up. This is what I remember. I remember that at that time in our lives, when my mother needed to wake me up, she would call to me from the doorway. It was a time in our lives when, for many reasons neither bad nor good, I felt that disparity in tenderness was evidenced in other ways. This is only what I remember, and these are old memories from the perspective of a child I am not anymore. I remember I asked my mother later if she would wake me up that way, too--by stroking my cheek and saying nice things. I remember her voice and eyes softening, and I remember she did wake me up a couple of times that way, but I don't remember it sticking. I don't know if she made a habit of waking my sister up that way either.
More than anything I remember feeling an ache watching that open demonstration of love. I was glad for my sister to be receiving it. I was. But I wanted it for me too.
As an adult I know now my parents were struggling with a lot of their own demons, and I know they loved us even if they didn't always show it in ways we could recognize. I know, too, that all I have wanted really in this whole life is to love and be loved back without parameters.
But maybe I am still that child. Because I know that my heart bloomed all over the place when I realized the full circle my life has drawn from that lonely pigtailed little girl to this woman who is soaked in love like a bit of cake in a rum trifle. Then, as now, I had dark and delirious dreams and craved a loving hand on my cheek to coax me out of them. The difference is now it is given to me, and I don't have to ask for it.
This year is closing, and I am having a little bit of a hard time letting it go. It has been so sweet to me; so many dreams have come true for me in the last twelve months. Remember when I wrote that this was going to be the year of abundance? It was for me. I am grateful to it, I bowed daily with that gratitude to that abundance. And I feel certain that we were building foundations for abundance, too, this year. I feel like 2010 will be a time to build towering structures on those foundations. We are good and married. The clinic is open. My sister's beautiful work is on the L.A. theater community's radar, my father has glasses that help him see far away. Dear friends have gotten married, have gotten engaged, are moving back to California, are moving into a sense of self. With an open heart, I look forward to what we all will build, out of our love, out of our ambition, out of our desires and destinies, as the new year rolls open.