The Wild Wolf Woman
Years ago, before I had kids, before I was married, and before I had read Women Who Run with the Wolves, I had a wolf dream.
It was a time of my life that I don't remember very well, but I do remember this...I had become tired. I was sick of dating, sick of the single life, tired of trying to understand what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Mostly, I was tired of being in that time of young adulthood when you don't know where your life is going, and that makes you uncomfortable.
I wanted to know. I wanted children, a husband, a house. I wanted to be settled.
In order get these things, I found myself chipping away at my wilder nature. My curiosity and my sense of adventure, my desire for self growth and spirituality began to become quieter in my consciousness.
It had become my experience that most people didn't appreciate or find attractive those parts of me, as much as the sweet, pretty girl that I could be. So, not consciously, I gradually lost my creative side and my ability to howl at the moon.
This is when I had the dream. In the dream, I was back in Alaska, where I had spent a wild and free summer with my college roommate the summer after our sophomore year. We weren't wild as in promiscuous, although I may write an entire blog on the unfairness that I feel called to make that distinction.
We slept very little, as it was never dark, we ate when hungry, bathed when we felt we needed it, and really just tuned into the longings of our souls. We drove around her small town and into Fairbanks in her lime green bug, listening to a tape of Jimi Hendrix most of the summer. I went for runs in the forest and we smoked Marlboro Reds.
We had jobs, but they were fun and laid back. In the mornings, we transplanted seedling in a greenhouse. The rest of the day, we drove into Fairbanks where she waited tables and I worked at an ice cream shop in Alaskaland. I had to wear a pioneer dress, but I played my guitar, read One Hundred Years of Solitude, and drank coffee. I even sometimes slept on the job. My 17 year old boss had shown me how to set up a mirror in the back room so that I could sleep and still peek now and then to watch for customers. You get the point.
So, in the dream, I was in the woods in Alaska with my friend. Suddenly, a huge white wolf approached me. It looked me right in the eye, and slowly came closer, until it gently put its front paws on me and brought me to the ground, where it cuddled me, for lack of a better word. I was becoming enveloped by the wolf. It's long white fur felt warm and comfortable on me.
Then, I got scared. The wildness of this untamed animal got to my head and I jumped up and ran from it. It pursued me as I ran through the forest and all the way to the airport to fly away.
I feel that the fear I felt in that dream is the same fear I was feeling at the age of 25. I no longer wanted to be wild and creative and free. I felt that I had not gained much from living this way. I wanted to be loved and no longer alone.
Shortly after having this dream, which I did not understand at the time but which always stayed with me, I met the man I was to marry. It wasn't that he swept me off my feet, but he was there, safe, and available. I always knew that I wanted kids and we were comfortable together. In 3 years, we were married and I got pregnant right away. The rest of this story is for another time, but the marriage didn't last.
In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarrisa Pinkola Estes speaks of different ages in a woman's life. Ages 21-28 are the ages of new world/new life/exploring the worlds. Ages 28-35 are the ages of the Mother/learning to mother others and self. Ages 35 -42 are about learning to mother the self/seek the self.
I read the book for the first time when I was expecting my second child. The second time, I was 35, and beginning to wake up to the fact that my marriage was not working, and that I was not thriving. I was a devoted mother, but I needed to mother my self. My light had grown so dim, that I hardly remembered the exuberant young woman I had once been.
My role as householder, mother, wife, and cook was a role I had always wanted. But I had lost myself. I was so far from my spirit that I hardly ever gave it a thought. I had run so far from the wolf that it probably didn't even remember me.
Slowly, with time, I began sneaking away quiet moments on my own. I started smoking one cigarette a night, after putting my kids down. Although, I don't smoke anymore and know that it's so unhealthy, this was my time to reconnect with my younger, wilder self. Along with my yoga practice and teaching yoga, those few minutes on my front porch became sacred times.
I had begun practicing yoga when pregnant with my son and begun teaching shortly after my daughter was born. I became separated when she was 3. The foggy pain of these types of life transitions is hard to describe. I would come to that halfway awake state in the mornings, remember my life, and wish I could sleep longer to escape the pain. I still have times of great sadness for a few days here and there, but these days of separation and divorce were unbelievably heavy.
My love for my children and my daily yoga practice kept me afloat, even though I usually practiced the same sequence every day. I think that I had to have something to depend on that would not change. My practice included a lot of strengthening, followed by nurturing forward folds.
Over the course of the next many years, I slowly learned many ways to bring the wild nature back. It is a focus of each day. Sometimes this looks like dancing in my kitchen, reading, and especially my yoga and meditation practice. I go on long vigorous walks or hikes. I spend time with friends who see me and nurture who I am. When my kids are not around, I love to cuss. Sometimes when they are too.
I now let my kids see my crazy, weird sense of humor and guess what? They love it. I find tasks around the house that require a creative solution and I get so much joy from finding it.
Once, in the midst of the divorce process, my then 6 year old son saw that I had built a rope trellis so that our vine could climb higher. He said, "Mom, you are so much awesomer than you think you are." I knew I was back on track.
I've been very private, up until now, about my divorce. I felt that some might see me differently, especially since I teach to so many pregnant women and mothers. I fear that judgement. But writing this blog might be one more step toward honoring who I am on a deeper level, and letting the wolf side of me have some airtime. I think I am still sweet and pretty. But more importantly, I am strong and fierce, and I will not pretend that I'm not.
I try not to look back and think of what I should have done differently. I believe that we choose our paths in life in order to learn the lessons that we need to learn in this lifetime. Also, I'm insanely in love with my kids and I genuinely feel that they are exactly the kids that their dad and I were meant to have.
But, I do wonder what I would say to my 25 year old self, when I was getting impatient with my life path. Maybe I would tell her to find richness and love in her friendships, creativity, and in her own wild self, and to try to be patient.