I've been re-reading Women Who Run with the Wolves and the words are so intimately written that they feel as if somehow my own thoughts already manifest on someone else's page.
The pages of this book contain so much that I have intuitively felt, especially for the last couple years, but haven't fully felt like I could express.
What even is wildness?
It is a certain indelible knowing that every women feels in her bones, no matter how faintly.
This knowledge may speak to us with barely a whisper, may have been all but eradicated in from our usual domestic spheres, but it is impossible to erase fully.
Wildness is etched in us, deep under our skin.
It is our creativity, our sensuality, our wellspring of life-giving gifts and self-nurturing actions.
There is a call to be more, not in the sense that we are not enough, but in the sense that we are actually whole already but currently hidden and ardently want nothing more than to allow all parts of ourselves to show.
There is a yearning for creative fulfillment, for equal and gratifying partnership, for purpose outside of ourselves.
The feeling is almost visceral.
But that same longing to allow ourselves to feel and speak as fully as we are carries a certain stigma and shame.
If you are not doing this now, I would be very surprised if you are not at least intimate with the feeling.
Though you may want to howl with adoration for all that you are and could be, instead you keep your mouth shut, your heart close, and your possibilities small.
Self-modification, a tempering of your personality to please.
But you are not a dog, content to please others for just an ear scratch—however well you play at seeming like one.
You are a wolf-woman. It is in your blood to hunt for sustenance, to run with a pack, to sense not just with brain but with whole body.
Unfortunately, I have noticed that there's a cultural phenomenon amongst women (myself included, from time to time) of lessening ourselves.
To serve others ceaselessly without giving enough consideration to ourselves.
To distance ourselves from our actual desires because our surface expectations are of something else.
To see ourselves as if afar deep in this unnamable creative yearning, and then continually suppressing that urge despite all we long for it.
As Estes says in Women Who Run with the Wolves:
“What are some of the feeling-toned symptoms of a disruptive relationship with the wildest force in the psyche? To chronically feel, think, or act in any of the following ways is to have partially severed or lost entirely the relationship with the deep instinctual psyche. Using women’s language exclusively, these are: feeling extraordinarily dry, fatigued, frail, depressed, confused, gagged, muzzled, unaroused. Feeling frightened, halt or weak, without inspiration, without animation, without animation, without soulfulness, without meaning, shame-bearing, chronically fuming, volatile, stuck, uncreative, compressed, crazed.” — Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves
If you are a women in this world, it is not only likely that you've experienced one of these symptoms, but that you have encountered many over your lifetime, sometimes at once.
Here's the thing: no matter how much repression your wild parts endure, they still survive, waiting for you to choose them, to act on whatever animal instincts call you forward with gut feeling and intuitive sense.
There are indescribable parts of myself that seem to urge and act of their own volition, both so completely of me and yet in some ways they felt foreign in years past because I kept pushing them out of sight.
Choosing your wildness over your ingrained domestication is a lengthy and difficult process, no matter how fulfilling glimpses of it may be.
Still, I urge you to make that choice, to remove your muzzle, let out a celebratory coyote yip, and even experiment with a long howl when it feels right and you are ready.
You don't need to do it all at once, but the more small acts of defiance commit and wild joy you emit, the more you will feel that long-lost creativity and calling sink back into your bones and seep into your flesh.
My question to you today is, what is one act of wildness you can incorporate for yourself now, today?
For me, I'm just returning from a backpacking trip in northern Montana with close friends last weekend. Wildness at its true pinnacle.
You never know quite how much you need the opportunity to be wild until you get it. And then, you sink into the stillness, the break from routine, and your whole body relaxes in a way it just can't when you're bumping up against technology and busy-ness all day.
Since then, I packed up the rest of my apartment and hit the road with my pup and hours' worth of podcasts (along with the Harry Potter under der Stein der Weisen audiobook) to move back to Colorado. I'm filling up my thirst for adventure and connection and heading in that gradual, dogged way toward a life that suits me best.
What will you do?
Maybe it's as simple as a daily walk outside to connect with nature. Maybe it is making time in your schedule for your artistic expression. Maybe it is planning that long-delayed road trip with your girlfriends for the hell of it.
Whatever it is, make a commitment to do it.
This is a binding, self-devotional contract with yourself, so decide to do everything within your power to carry out your missive.
Then, do not delay. Do it right now. Make room for it.
Give yourself permission to take care of your natural needs.