The Woman Who Runs With The Wolves

Having a lover/friend who regards you as a living, growing criatura, being, just as much as the tree from the ground, or a ficus in the house, or a rose garden out in the side yard… having a lover and friends who look at you as a true living breathing entity, one that is human but made of very fine and moist and magical things as well… a lover and friends who support the criatura in you… these are the people you are looking for. They will be the friends of your soul for life. Mindful choosing of friends and lovers, not to mention teachers, is critical to remaining conscious, remaining intuitive, remaining in charge of the fiery light that sees and knows.”

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I have spent the better part of my life looking for lovers and friends who support the criatura in me. I was listening to Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ The Woman Who Runs with The Wolves on CD last night and it occurred to me that I am struggling to be a wild woman in the midst of my over-domesticated set of neighbors, siblings and acquaintances. More like the wolf than her domesticated cousin, the dog, I am frequently seen as a troublemaker.   And just as often, banished for it.  It hurts.

I’ve ALWAYS been this way.

When I was a girl, it was always in me to explore things. At the time, I lived in New Mexico, in one of the finer subdivisions of Albuquerque. I recently wrote to a friend that while my sisters would lay out by the pool, I, as a 10 year old tomboy, would be walking on the cinder block wall that fenced in our yard. My next door neighbor friend, Barry, also ten, would walk along the fence with me too. This fence was 8 feet high in places (we lived on a hill so the fence level was staggered), so the risk of falling was substantial. Beyond the wall, behind our yard, there was a vast untamed field, filled with tumbleweeds and cactus, which made the risk of getting hurt on that side of the fence even higher. But we walked it anyway, the fear of falling was a sensation that made the pleasure of walking the fence even greater.

When my sisters swam, Barry and I would go out in search of blue-tailed lizards. I really wanted to catch one and make it a pet. Unfortunately, my mother was not too keen on the idea.  So we had to release the ones we caught.

When my family took us out to our property in the Sandia Mountains, I was always in heaven. From the Ponderosa pine trees and prickly pear cactus that ornamented the ground, to the rock formations that begged to be climbed on, to the vast view from the crest of the mountain that takes your breath away, these things are the things I have loved. I haven’t been there in 30 years. That is still a journey I need to take.

I’ve always had been a ‘wild child’. Not in the sense of being ‘out of control’, but in the sense of being close to the earth, of being in touch with my natural instincts. Nature, love and passion. This is what I have lived for. I never wore the right clothes, said the appropriate things, or chose the right things to do.

I could never pay attention to the rules…

Photobucket

In the picture above, taken in a reservoir in Colorado by my dad, when my sisters and a step-cousin of mine were looking towards the camera, there I knelt in the foreground, and in typical ‘wild’ child fashion, I was distracted by something off camera, probably a bird in the trees.  I could never pose properly for anything as a child.

Instead of doing my chores, I’d be daydreaming and exploring the outdoors. Instead of fitting in, I quietly stood out. Instead of drawing female friendship to me, I scared them away.

I’ve grown up among women that have tried their hardest to squelch the natural instinct, to extinguish the fire of passion that blazes within.

As I blossomed into womanhood, and in particular, when I started having children, I have had to actively defend my choices to other women. From simple, natural, instinctual things such as carrying my children close to me and breastfeeding anywhere (I was the first one in 3 generations to breastfeed) to more complicated things like how much room will I give them to explore their own worlds. You might be surprised at how my own sister, thought nursing my youngest until she was 3 years old was something dirty and shameful and told me so often. Every chance I could, I breastfed in front of her…just to flaunt my capability to do so.  Despite the tongue-lashing I’d get, I couldn’t resist it.  It was every right my choice how to feed my infant, and I would not be banished to the bathroom to do it.

I would frequently think, and sometimes have the courage to say:

For goodness sakes, woman, live and let live.  You have your ways, and I have mine, but I don’t criticize you for your choices, so please don’t criticize me for mine.

Giving up my career for my daughters was challenging in ways I was not prepared for. I had to defend myself to my grandfather, my mother and my female boss (who was also a mother) that I felt I was making the right choice when I quit my job as a supervisor in a medical genetics laboratory. They all sat me down and tried to talk me out of it. My boss was gentle about it, and worried I might be unhappy and also was pretty certain I might regret it. My mother was cruel about it and said I was stupid to give up a well-paying, secure job. My grandfather was somewhat less cruel, but still tried to talk me out of quitting. Shortly after I quit, I’d have nightmares that I doomed my family to destitution. I went into my mothering career with the support of no one except my husband.

It’s instinctual for women to live passionate, juicy lives with the men that they love (yes, really). It’s instinctual for women to live creative lives, creating fine things (be it clothing, or food, or things around the home or art) from her hands. It’s instinctual for women to nurture their young. It’s instinctual for women, like the she-wolf, to growl, snap, and bite at those who threaten her or her pack. But, civilized society has squelched this instinct. Society calls this woman who defends herself a bitch or the woman who loves passionately a whore, but perhaps worst of all, society calls the woman who tries to teach other women about their natural, instinctual gifts, pathologically crazy.

I know differently now.

I was recently compared to a bull in the china shop of my life by a well-bred woman.  I chafed at the criticism.  It stung.  But what I realize now is that I was riding the bull in the china shop of HER life.  And that disturbed her peace of mind.

In all actuality, I’m riding bareback on a horse in my life.  I’m actually riding naked on that horse, and I am one with that horse and we are galloping along faster and faster and the wind is blowing through my hair and on my skin and I’m deliriously happy.

Until I’m shamed out of it.

That woman is in the china shop of her life, polishing the dust off of the delicate teacups and saucers and looking out the window at me free and she’s disgusted with my freedom.

She is shocked and alarmed that I could be so bold as to challenge her perceptions.  I never accused her of anything, I simply told her how something struck me and it disturbed her.

People like me disturb others, but we don’t do it intentionally.  We just live mostly by intuition and instinct and it bothers some people because we forget our manners.

From a review of The Woman Who Runs With The Wolves,

Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. Though the gifts of wildish nature come to us at birth, society’s attempt to “civilize” us into rigid roles has plundered this treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls. Without Wild Woman, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative, trapped. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Jungian analyst and cantadora storyteller, shows how woman’s vitality can be restored through what she calls “psychic archeological digs” into the bins of the female unconscious. In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Estes uses multicultural myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories chosen from over twenty years of research that help women reconnect with the healthy, instinctual, visionary attributes of the Wild Woman archetype. Dr. Estes collects the bones of many stories, looking for the archetypal motifs that set a woman’s inner life into motion.”

I’m tired of civilized life. I’m tired of interacting with trapped people. I see them everywhere, but most especially among women. I hear them complaining of their jobs robbing them of time with their families and their vitality. I hear them complaining of their husbands, disrespecting them in the presence of other women, and from my male friends who are married (who I don’t see that often anymore), the men tell me of being deprived of touch and sex a few years into the marriage.  I see the yearnings in their eyes.  A few of them are drawn to my fire and passion and yes, it’s been confusing me for a long time.

Women need to learn the art of womanliness from other women. But they don’t. They are learning far more disturbing things from each other.

I have had to be a lone she-wolf for this reason most of my life.

It’s not so much that other women don’t understand ME (even though they don’t). They don’t understand their instinctual natures. They don’t understand what sex is good for (other than making babies). They might adopt the role of housewife and mother, but they don’t know what to make of these things. So I see a lot of pushing away of the instinctual natures of women. They push away their husbands, preferring to play head games with them.  They push away their children preferring to keep them in containers (playpens, strollers, infant carseat carriers that can be held).

To be truthful, with my first child, that’s what I thought I was supposed to do, too. It didn’t last long. My daughters resisted being penned up. The instinct to be in-arms with mama was strong.  Even as difficult as it was at times, I’m so glad they fought for their right to be held close.

My mother would often say, “put that baby down, you’ll spoil her”. But I wouldn’t. I’d feel miserable on the inside to be constantly chastised, but I kept my babies close. It felt right to me, and to them. They were always more calm in my arms.

I have been fighting all my life to preserve my instincts, when other women would tear into me about my way of doing things. This social pressure is incredible. I understand that this is fairly typical in America, and, I suspect, any country who adopts American ways. I have read that Brazilian women are now emulating American women, a trend that I worry about.  I worry how soon the passion and vitality will be squelched due to industrialization.  I don’t think they know what they are in for.

I read that article and I felt saddened.  Don’t be too much like us…there’s a terrible sickness here due to all this consumption.

I never understood this and certainly had no language to explain this to others.

Until now.  It’s taken me a long time to find lovers and friends and teachers in my adult life to help me understand and explain this.  Teachers like Dr. Estes, and Paulo Coelho, friends like B from Tennessee, P from Maine, and poets like Joe, my new poet friend who supports this instinctual nature.

I just wish I could find more people like these in my real life.  Because it’s important to me to have face-to-face contact and support with other wild men and women.  But I keep patiently seeking.  And, as Dr. Estes’ writes

It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while and looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Breastfeeding, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Creativity, Friendship, Hope, Inspirational quotations, Intensity, Literature, Natural Parenting, Observations from Life, Passion, Paulo Coelho, Sensuality, Soul. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to The Woman Who Runs With The Wolves

  1. g33kdad says:

    It’s really cool to see you able to get into words the compilation of thoughts and ideas you’ve been explaining to me over the years.

    I like the last quote by her. In essence it sums up the same thing I try to tell you when people or events get you down: “Don’t wrestle with a pig. It makes you sweaty, dirty and tired… and it just annoys the pig.” People that want to bring you down aren’t worth the time thinking about them

    • I know, Husband…

      It’s just difficult.

      Unfortunately, there are too many out there like that. It’s been so difficult to find other women with that spark of instinct, intuition and originality, that confidence in themselves to let me be me while they are being themselves.

      There are so few wolves around. I yearn for my pack.

  2. Smita says:

    I thought I am the lone-she wolf wandering for my soul-friends and soulmate. I am from India and have been in England past 6 years. The way you have described trapped men and women in societal laws, is so accurate, both in India and UK. All my life I have been fighting/rebelling against society pressure of how I should live my life. All my friends, extended-family, neighbours have always judged me against the prescribed rule-book and branded me an outcast. Only my parents stood by me and still is.

    Even though I am in my late 20s and mature enough to take care of my needs in a foreign country, people still advice me how I should live my life. I am not married yet nor in a relationship and everyone I talk to just ask me the same boring question?

    You are bang on the fact that all these trapped people moan about there spouses, kids, jobs/career or belittle us, because we chose to be different.

    Luv,
    Smita (happy to have found another mad person)

    • Smita –

      I am so glad you have the support of your parents. That is a blessing. I am glad for you for that. Keep your faith in yourself that you are doing what is right for you. When and if you find your way to make your own life, I hope you know there are a few of us out there, still who have not forgotten.

      It’s interesting, my female boss, too was from India. Very intelligent and good at her job. I saw her struggle to run two laboratories and take care of her children. Sometimes, when they got sick, she had the luxury of going home in the middle of the day to take care of them for an hour or two, then come back because she lived closed to the university we worked at.

      She was very well respected, but sometimes I’d find her in her office, poring over some papers, and she had a balding spot on her head. I once mentioned my baby girl had a bald spot too, from pulling her hair out one strand at a time. That’s when she too, admitted she had the compulsion to pluck her hair out when she was stressed.

      She ‘made it work’, but it came at a very high price.

      Yes, we mad, outcast, she-wolves need to be an encouragement to each other.

      Much love and blessings to you,

      Casey

  3. Tineke Brinks says:

    I found this blog through a comment on a blog from Paolo Coehlo. I nearly fell of my chair because I thought it was me I was reading about. I cannot even begin to say how happy it makes me to know there are more people (women) who have the same struggles and ideas about life as me. It has taken me a long time to accept who I am and not run away from my creative and mothering side anymore. It took my family and me to three different countries. We now live in the USA and I will continue to follow this blog.
    What really changed my life was the work of Julia Cameron, The Artist Way. Very helpful for us creative persons!

  4. Tinecke

    Thank you so much for your comment. Paulo has such a wonderful gift that he gives to the world through his writing and his blog. I so appreciate his work.

    Don’t you love that when you get startled in such a positive way?

    Yes, I do love Julia Cameron! I like The Artist’s Way, as well as Letters to a Young Artist, and How Not to Make Art (Or Anything Else You Enjoy) which is very humorous.

    And if you really like her work, another one that is great for creative people is Eric Maisel’s Coaching The Artist Within. I have an excerpt I will be sharing soon about creating in the middle of life’s happenings.

    One great thing I have found is how creative work is very ‘centering’. It doesn’t matter how stressed out I might be otherwise, working creatively relaxes and rejuvenates me.

    I’m so glad you got the chance to travel (because that is wonderful) and yet the chance to find yourself too (though, there’s always more to discover, is there not?).

    Best wishes to you on your creative and mothering life.

    Casey

  5. joesoares says:

    Good material. I am honoured that you have mentioned me on your writings.
    Thank ever so much, Casey.
    Smiles and happiness.
    Joe.

  6. You’re welcome, Joe.

    It’s been an honor to meet you, share with you some wonderful poetry.

    I appreciate you.

    🙂

    Casey

  7. Erik Andrulis says:

    “I’m tired of civilized life. I’m tired of interacting with trapped people. I see them everywhere, but most especially among women. I hear them complaining of their jobs robbing them of time with their families and their vitality. I hear them complaining of their husbands, disrespecting them in the presence of other women, and from my male friends who are married (who I don’t see that often anymore), I hear of them being deprived of touch and sex a few years into the marriage. I see the yearnings in their eyes. A few of them are drawn to my fire and passion and yes, it’s been confusing me for a long time.”

    You’re not alone in this regard. I think that the zeitgeist is self-trapping. It could be no other way, of course, as each field is self-selecting, self-idolizing, self-propagating, and self-bordering. Any attempts to interfere with those acts of selection, idolatry, maintenance, and boundaries cause individuals and institutions to defend themselves as if being a cell infected by a virus.

    But what folks don’t realize is that the only traps are the ones they themselves create and are. They themselves create their own realities, select their own jobs, define their own futures, marry their own mates. When they try to control their reality, the reality breaks down, as it is uncontrollable.

    Oh, to be unbridled, to be free, to be uninhibited as the naked rider on a galloping horse. That’s what they want to be, but not only can’t, but won’t. They won’t let themselves be free.

    And that’s what they see in you: Freedom. Or, written another way, that is what I see in Me.

  8. Casey says:

    “I think that the zeitgeist is self-trapping. It could be no other way, of course, as each field is self-selecting, self-idolizing, self-propagating, and self-bordering. Any attempts to interfere with those acts of selection, idolatry, maintenance, and boundaries cause individuals and institutions to defend themselves as if being a cell infected by a virus. ”

    I love the analogy, it’s fitting.

    “But what folks don’t realize is that the only traps are the ones they themselves create and are. They themselves create their own realities, select their own jobs, define their own futures, marry their own mates. When they try to control their reality, the reality breaks down, as it is uncontrollable.”

    It’s been interesting to me. I have spent a long time in correspondence with someone with whom I once made the analogy of being inside a prison, yet he was the one who had the key, and all he had to do was use it and step out of the threshold.

    Ironically, over time, as we both attempted to illuminate the dark places of our psyches, I found myself switching places with him.

    I entered into the relatively unassisted and dangerous territory of trying to self-heal trauma. I found myself creating situations in my present-day relationships in which I actually re-created old traumas which triggered old wounds, which bled profusely, and kept me just as trapped.

    I need/want to be perfectly frank, here.

    In short, I went nuts for a period of time.

    I acted out old scripts, re-enacted the scenarios of unfinished business, was emotionally and psychologically unstable as I re-processed ancient pain I intellectualized away as a child and young adult.

    I nearly wrecked my marriage and brought great harm to myself and, tried hard, but failed to protect my daughters at times from the fallout of years-long walled-off rage that covered profound pain and confusion from childhood.

    It’s important for me that you know I know suffering, intimately. I know self-created misery intimately. I know that more clearly and first hand, now. The one thing it gives me is compassion for others who are yet still blind.

    As Socrates said in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave:

    “Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the cave.”

    I also know if people were to really touch on their grief, their walled-off rage that suppresses their deep pain at what they allowed to happen, they too might “go crazy”. Hopefully not.

    I met someone online who told me that he had loving, fair and consistent parents.

    I realized I’ve been seeing a few more people who must have had loving, fair and consistent parenting. I see a gentleness in them AND their children.

    I realized I might have been shaped vastly differently in that kind of respectful and loving environment. I tried so hard not to carry on the dysfunctional legacy, all the while being blind to the ways I had indeed, carried out the dysfunctional legacy, just in an unrecognizable (at the time) form.

    For as much as I had been aware, I had my blind spots that could only be illuminated just recently.

    I think I’m even more free now than I had been when I wrote those passages. I had a tendency to swing between grandiosity and depression a tad bit. In some ways, not any superior than the bullies I’ve encountered throughout my life.

  9. julienmatei says:

    These words could be mine…

    “I’m tired of civilized life. I’m tired of interacting with trapped people.”

    They like it that way. There is safety in imprisonment.
    After all Freedom is their worst nightmare.

    • Casey says:

      Yes, Julien,

      I bet they could be your words.

      “They like it that way. There is safety in imprisonment.
      After all Freedom is their worst nightmare.”

      One of the things that has been shifting for me, very slowly I might add, is being careful who I do interact with and for how long. I have choices. I’d much rather be lonely for a time than to continue to beat my head against the wall not having the healthy and supportive friendship I seek.

      I can’t have a relationship with people who are trapped. I run the risk of upsetting myself if I continue to try to interact with them, casting my pearls before swine, so to speak.

      Julien, I’m glad I ‘met’ you. It’s interesting how mainstream culture, no matter the geographic location, is alienating and painful to the sensitive, divergent types like us who want to remain free.

      I wrote this to my friend T (TBS) yesterday.

      “i craved community…belonging…touch…and genuine Love and safety and healthy connections with other people.”

      And he wrote back,

      “In my estimation that is a natural and healthy hunger.”

      And I realized something. It IS a natural and healthy hunger, but it is rather poignant that I have to ask someone outside myself if it is. I already knew it, intuitively, but I still needed that to be validated.

      • julienmatei says:

        Yes Casey,

        “Being careful who I do interact with and for how long”…

        Interaction is action…- meaning that the subtle energy of “the other”, – outlook, fear, joy, frustration or fulfillment – will leave a mark in the subconscious mind, and eventually influence our action – our destiny…The truth of this is quite evident.

        How can you have a true and meaningful relation with people who are trapped…?-that´s the key question. With people who refuse to assume any responsibility for themselves…

        What do you do when most of the people – with very few exceptions – deliberately live to confine themselves, openly showing their contempt for Life, Freedom and for the one who has courage to live?

        No…they can´t receive anything, as they never gave anything for real…

        Like you, I have “craved community…belonging…touch…and genuine Love and safety and healthy connections with other people”…

        The situation in this country as regarding human connectedness is really dismal…Frightening in fact.

        There is something very insidious going on in people´s mind here. Due to inexplicable shame or incomprehensibly twisted complexes, they do everything imaginable to shun one another´s authenticity. It´s unbelievable.

        They refuse meaningful company. They hate people who make them think or feel something. It is unbelievable really….you are subtly or quite articulately ostracised, you become some kind of persona non grata if you have the nerve to be alive…Add talent and personality to the equation and you have the total picture of what means to be totally on your own…

        A total denial, yet they think about themselves to be free and allowing. Pure Hell…

        So of course…I recognize it in myself – there is a natural and healthy hunger…

        This isolation may have been a good life lesson for me, but I feel the natural urgency to move away from this country in order to give myself a fair chance to grow.

        The question is Where, when the whole world is in such turmoil…I count that Fate opens some doors, that I get so healthy so my intuition will lead me right…

      • julienmatei says:

        Just forgot to mention that I too am grateful for having met you 🙂

      • Casey says:

        [No worries on the typos, Julien, I edited for you. I sometimes drop words out of the sentence, or I repeat the same phrase in the same sentence. I used to be troubled by my little brain glitches, but now I’m just used to it.]

        “What do you do when most of the people – with very few exceptions – deliberately live to confine themselves, openly showing their contempt for Life, Freedom and for the one who has courage to live?”

        Well, honestly, I cried a lot. I wrote from time to time when the pain was sharpest and I felt so lonely.

        And when my friend T found me online, we became very close friends and had a very long correspondence with each other, much like Rainer Maria Rilke and Lou Andreas Salome – except I felt more like Rainer and I felt he was much more like Lou.

        I have to say that my life has been enriched by his friendship and he’s been encouraging during the times when I falter. He’s been a lamp in the darkness for me.

        Honestly, I have no strong, real life friends right now, though I have a LOT of acquaintances through my daughters’ friends’ parents and through my substitute teaching. I still have a few contacts in the biotech field.

        I’m warming back up to my husband, but it’s been hard since part of the trauma I’ve experienced was relationship trauma because for the longest time, he was one of the confined ones”.

        With all this being said, I’m growing ever more okay with being largely solitary. My husband didn’t share my passionate approach to life (he preferred not to feel too much). Seemed very uncomfortable with my intensity, or had a problem when I do silly things like walk on things in public where I’m not supposed to walk.

        I’ve given up wanting to find people like me and am rather growing more comfortable with Nature, with my art, writing and photography and my dear online community that I’m slowly building.

        This might change when I start going to meetings to meet other people in recovery from dysfunctional families. At least there I know people will be working on their stuff and not trying to fix me or judge my choices. And yes, I wouldn’t have thought to do it if it were not for T sharing with me either.

        I’m kind of looking forward to it.

        I wish you well in finding companionship and a new place to live, if that’s really what your heart leads you to do. I know that, while I’ve often wished I lived in different countries, what I REALLY long for is to live in a different era. Since that’s not going to happen, I just have to work with what I have.

  10. I do not have so much time right now to comment as extensively as the others but one thought occurred to me reading this… I have always associated the goddess Artemis with the essential feminine wildness and with the sign Cancer. It is wrong to assume, I think, that Cancerians are domesticated. Far from it, they are uncivilized in the most positive meaning of the term!

    • Casey says:

      No worries, Monika.

      I am pretty sure not many words are needed; there’s resonance, no doubt.

      I was always quite fond of Artemis. No wonder, right?

      Looking forward to more conversations…eventually.

      All the best,

      Casey

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