My ability to invert fully has not been a high priority in my recovery; it’s been months since I even bothered trying. One effect of my post-concussive syndrome is that while I retain my ability to handstand, an attempt results in nausea, dizziness, disorientation–or a crazy-feeling bout of crying just because I feel weird.
I diligently practiced handstand nearly every day before leaving my abuser. I was afraid and wanted to be fearless. I felt powerless and wanted to be strong. I wanted to show myself the possibility of ease in a difficult situation. So every morning during my practice I would set a timer, float up and stay for a minute, then back away from the wall and do it again.
I pace the studio floor in the minutes before I expect my students for class. I’m remembering how I used to play in this room, standing on my hands. Maybe I can do it if Kevin* spots me, I think. Then then I’m even more agitated; Enmeshed much? I think. Actually no, I’m not losing my autonomy or sense of self in this relationship–but since the moment of doubt has entered my mind I’m stalking to the wall to prove it.
When I arrive I don’t hesitate for an instant–I plant my hands, lift my right leg, bounce lightly once and then kick up. As soon as my foot connects with the wall I pull it away–then there I am, standing on my hands. I take a few breaths and smile to myself, then bend my left knee and land softly. Standing again, I look around the room. I can see clearly. I am not dizzy or nauseous or frightened. I grin triumphantly–and then my first student arrives.
That class either absorbs my embodied determination or comes equipped with their own–they are magnificently steady.
*name has been changed