By Melina Rudman
I settled self-consciously into the wide, silky blue band and waited for class to begin. It had been months since I had participated in a yoga class, and aerial yoga would be taking it to a whole new level. I closed my eyes and focused on my breath.
“Allow yourself to be supported as you take your postures deeper.” Jayne had a voice that was gentle and resonant; it filled the space and led us from one position to another.
“Wrap the band behind your hips and allow your upper body to fall backward.” I followed instructions, my shoulders fell below the level of my hips, and terror flooded my system. I jolted upright and stood frozen, my heart pounding, my breath coming fast and short.
“What is wrong with me?” I wondered. “What is this all about?” My body was in full fight-or-flight mode, and my mind provided no logical answer. I tried to sit in the cradle of the band, but could not convince myself to lift my feet from the floor.
I looked up to see Jayne in front of me; her voice low, “What is happening Melina? What is happening?”
“I don’t know. I am terrified.”
My words opened my tear ducts, and I began weeping quietly. “I don’t know, I don’t know.”
“It’s okay. You are fine. You are safe. Breathe with me.” Jayne led my breath with her compassion, and when my heart slowed, my mind realized what my body had registered in an instant: The 50-year-old yoga student had turned 14 again, trembling in the aftermath of assault. Where the accomplished woman had been, a girl now stood outside the town fairgrounds, shaking and shocked, waiting for her mother to pick her up and bring her home.
The grown woman was surprised; she had done her work to heal from the assault, but that moment, when hips were higher than shoulders, had sounded an unconscious alarm that woke the terrified child she had been, propelling her through time and space, leaving her where she would, once again, relive an event that shaded everything to come.
Linear time unspools inside us through memory, turning us into living time machines. A scent, a sound, a position, is all it takes to bring us back to another moment where the ghosts of events past comfort or haunt. But trauma does the opposite. Trauma pulls the past into the present, dangerously weaving time together so that the body experiences now what happened once.
On that day 2009 fused with 1973. On that day the terrified girl burst into her own aging body. On that day her shaken, older self drove them both home.
About the Writer:
Melina Rudman is a writer, spiritual director, retreat leader and avid gardener. She holds a BA in Psychology, and an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from Bay Path University. Her first book, Sacred Ground, will be published by Anam Chara Books in the Spring of 2020.