You know when you read two pages into a book and know it’s going to be one of “those ones.” You all know what I’m talking about. One of those books that goes on your life-changing list, your “must-read” recommendations, one you’ll return to over and over until the edges are creased, the cover abandoned, and the pages stained with coffee or tears or both.
I’m reading one of those now and it’s like light streaming through long-lost, forgotten rooms in my head. Women Who Run With the Wolves was loaned to me from a friend. After hearing the title from about three different people, I realized it was time to get serious about it, and it finally made its way into my hands two weeks ago.
And with the first sentence of the book, I knew I was in….”Wildlife and the Wild Woman are both endangered species.” The Wild Woman has certainly woven its way through the strands of this book and consequently into the brainwaves and psyches of those who pick up the book. As She, the Wild Woman, embodies the pen of the Jungian psychoanalyst author, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, She dares the reader to take a taste of her unbounded power, mystery and freedom.
And how needed She is. In our modern day world, women have become immensely successful “doers” following our masculine counterparts’ roles of previous decades to become driving forces behind business, star students, and intellectual adversaries. And bravo to us!
But at what cost?
I would never advocate for steps backwards towards the limiting roles of yesteryear. We’ve come so far….but where have we arrived? This “Lean in” mentality has erased the edges of the wild, intuitive nature that resides in women…the mysterious waters of emotion seem to have no place in our worlds any more, certainly not our workplaces, and that wild, mischievous glint you see in girls’ eyes under the ages of 8 or 9, seems to be erased by preadolescence as she realizes what takes to fit into the perfect tv heroine stereotypes presented before her.
And there’s no one to point the finger at or take to court on this one. We’re all to blame. We’ve all let the Wild Woman down, men and women alike. We’ve let her lapse to the back recesses of the collective human consciousness, feeding her scraps every once in a while, when we forget to forget she still in there, clawing at the edges of her barricade, looking for the streaks of light that peek through her cell window.
But can you blame us? She’s uncomfortable…dangerous even…this untamed version of the feminine, one who has not been “looted, driven back, and overbuilt,” as Pinkola Estes so aptly observes of the modern woman. The Wild Woman knows things we do not know, she follows the cycles of nature because she and it are one and the same, she is unafraid of shocking emotional displays, and she is certainly unafraid to be sexy, astute, and deeply vulnerable all in one sentence.
As I read, it deeply touches parts of me that I know lay dormant, and lay dormant for many women I know and work with. Deeply insightful, Pinkola Estes states “the deepest work is usually the darkest. A brave woman, a wisening woman, will develop the poorest psychic land, for if she builds only on the best land of her psyche, she will have for a view the least of what she is.” This “deepest work” she references, I know, is not only my goal as a ever-changing human and woman, but as a therapist who wants to present the broadest possible psychic land for use in my work with clients….to say, I have been there, and yes, there is a way back. It is all of our work, it seems, to touch parts of ourselves that are deeply uncomfortable, uncharted, downright terrifying. For what else can make the sweet parts of life sweeter but for the spice and the sour and even the occasional rancid. How else are we to differentiate the sweet without a full palette of flavors to choose from?
And so, I leave you with this: Where do you keep Her locked away, and can you let Her untame you…just a little? You won’t regret it.