Monday, August 03, 2009




Someone wrote in a comment that they wanted to see the groom. Here he is, a few days before the wedding, looking very happy to receive a big hug. (This photo was taken by my stepmother, Samayadevi.)

Yesterday was our first Sunday without Dede. Sunday mornings are usually some of our sweetest times; Christopher with the front page spread out in front of him and a plate of breakfast nearby, me on the couch, Dede walking all over the paper, plopping herself down on the most interesting article, or sniffing at the eggs, finally finding a sunny place on the couch to nap while we read and ate.

I had signed up months ago to assist at an Impact self-defense class for young women this weekend. When Friday came I didn't want to go. I didn't want to leave Christopher, my foot hurt, my mind kept spinning back to Dede. But I had committed so I went.

It was hard to be there and good to be there. Three days of intensity. My foot hurt and I tried to avoid fighting the first two days. (Also, in all honesty, I felt like my form sucked and I didn't want to model imperfect form for them.) The young women rocked. The were so present with their emotions and with each other, so strong and fierce in their fighting once invited to get to it. Their stories inevitably reminded me of my own.

When the time came to do the "custom" fights, the fights where each student can choose a scenario she wants to revisit, I am always moved most by the women fighting their "inner mugger." The messages girls get about their own worthlessness are so pervasive, and they haven't changed or lessened in the decades since I was young. I feel most for the ones who believe they can't do it, can't fight, are too weak or uncoordinated or whatever, and then discover that they can.

This particular group was unusually open. They just went for it. Intimate stories came out quickly, tears flowed, the Kleenex box got passed around and they fought through it all. Girls are always getting told they are too tall, too short, too skinny, too fat, the wrong racial mix, too loud, too quiet, too sexy, not sexy enough, and on and on. Forty years of the second wave of feminism have not changed any of that, even though there's a new woman on the Supreme Court and Hillary made a serious run at the presidency. Our fiercest battles remain the ones within, our own personal spiritual struggles against the voices that tell us we're not good enough.

My own yoga was just a struggle to be present with my divided mind and hurting feet, to stay present in the class, to keep bringing myself back from other thoughts to the present. I held back from my own fighting the first two days because of my feet, and by the third day I was quite miserable. The instructor invited me to do an "extended"--a super-long fight--and despite my fears I just went for it. We all dedicated our "extended" fights to someone--these are the fights that push you and test you, because they teach that you can fight when you're exhausted, when you don't think you have anything left. I dedicated mine to Carla, whom I was thinking about all weekend. I was touched by how many of the girls dedicated their fights to their mothers. After I fought it was much easier to be present. Fuck my aching feet.

I had invited Gerry to the public celebration, and he came with his camera, and took a few photos (just of me and one other woman who had requested it.) By the end I was very glad to have been there, to have watched these young women come a little more fully into their power.

14 comments:

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Vicky said...

My dear, I have been away from your blog too long. How full the last four entries ahve been - how moving in so many ways. My heart is with you...

Alison said...

Thanks, dear Vicky. It has been too long. I gather you're having a very full summer also. So sorry we can't make the Woodstock party--it sounds like it's going to be wonderful!

Love, love,
Ali

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