Women have lost touch with their inner wildness. We know it’s gone because we are suffering — dramatically, quietly, alone — but what we may not know is that it’s time to find it, reconnect to it, and own it, to save ourselves and the planet.
I sat with 38 year old Uma and I listened to her describe the trappings of her life — a stress-based career in advertising, two children in a small Upper East Side Manhattan apartment, sexless but amicable marriage, and a burgeoning interest in health and spirituality. She was on the precipice of some kind of change that felt frightening and disorienting. She came to me because of irritable bowel symptoms, chronic headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and rip-roaring PMS. I knew that within two months, after the noise of her neglected body quieted, her entire life would be exposed for the house of cards it is. It would all fall apart before she would be born into her truer self. I smiled, literally, imaging the Wild Woman who would emerge.
Uma has seen this Wild Woman. She saw her when she knew she needed to come off birth control and her doctor rolled his eyes saying she needed it. She felt her when it began to creep into her awareness that her job feels like a soulless hamster wheel. She met her that one night she went out dancing with her girlfriends and felt free and vital. She was even shocked by her when she felt excited by an alluring stranger’s lingering eye on her in an airport. But in these moments when she was most possessed of herself, her real self, she repressed it because there was someone or some institution or some structure that wouldn’t like it.
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You know when a woman is possessed of her wildness. You sit in her presence, or you even just pass her on the street or catch her eye in a crowded room and you feel it. In fact, what you feel is your own wildness reflected to you. Your want of it. Your need for it.
We have, for many centuries, been persuaded to starve our wildness, lock it up, hide it, vilify it. We think the Wild Woman is out of control when in fact she is life itself. Women have been brought deep down the path of the masculine principle: thinking, doing, organizing, planning, achieving, mastering instead of feeling, being, touching, dancing, loving, connecting, creating.
But we feel its absence. The absence of our wildness, and we are being called to reunite with it. This is waking up. And, if you’re reading this, this reunion may be well underway.
Without the Wild
Women divorced from themselves, from their wildness is putting our species, and this very planet, in peril. We have all lost our figurative homes, and national wildlife refuges and spring break vacations are no longer going to perpetuate the illusion that everything is fine. We must listen to the call back to the Continuum, wake up from our slumber, and feel the wrongness of this disconnection from ourselves. We have been normalizing abnormal. Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés knows something about this. In her epic Bestseller, Women Who Run With the Wolves, she writes, “normalizing the abnormal causes the spirit, which would normally leap to correct the situation, to instead sink into ennui, complacency, and eventually…blindness.”
Let me tell you about what I have learned from Dr. Estés, because her 500 page masterpiece contains our roadmap to ourselves…
We need our Wild Woman to come alive and claim our rightful experience in this one life. Without her, says Estés,
“…women are without ears to hear her soultalk or to register the chiming of their own inner rhythms. Without her, women’s inner eyes are closed by some shadowy hand, and large parts of their days are spent in a semi-paralyzing ennui or else wishful thinking. Without her, women lose the sureness of their soulfooting. Without her, they forget why they’re here, they hold on when they would best hold out. Without her, they take too much or too little or nothing at all. Without her, they are silent when they are in fact, on fire.”
Cut off from our source, we wither, we starve, we get depressed, tired, flat, stuck, contracted, scared, hopeless, lost. This is burnout, and I am here to tell you that burnout is nothing more than a mismatch with this natural order of self, other, and nature-connectedness.
With the Wild
Don’t you want to hear a voice rise up that says, “come…this way”?
To be in one’s wild nature means “…to establish territory, to find one’s pack, to be in one’s body with certainty and pride regardless of the body’s gifts and limitations, to speak and act on one’s behalf, to be aware, alert, to draw on the innate feminine powers of intuition and sensing, to come into one’s cycles, to find what one belongs to, to rise with dignity, to retain as much consciousness as possible.”
Yes! Right? Simply, yes.
How on earth does that happen? How do we get there? Here are three steps to Getting, Feeling, and Giving what you need to awaken:
If you know that you are lost, that is the first step to getting home. I describe intuition to my patients as a small, patient, but firm voice that you can hear in your quiet moments. It’s not the loud one saying NOW! DO THIS OR ELSE! It’s the one that often says things we don’t want to hear and don’t like, but it will whisper them over and over until you get quiet enough to hear. We have to learn this listening, and in my experience, honoring our organism and healing our bodies is the most powerful way to clear the noise and trust that that voice even exists.
“With these formidable psychic tools a woman takes on a shrewd and even precognitive animal consciousness, one that deepens her femininity and sharpens her ability to move confidently in the outer world.”
Find Your Pack
If the guru is inside, that guru needs to hear the chorus of the tribe. We are wired for community and our bodies, minds, and souls will only be fully calibrated in company of like minds. Have you felt exiled from your pack? Do your parents and siblings think you’re weird? Are you the ugly duckling in the chicken nest that doesn’t know it’s a swan? If so, the deep, soul-level comfort of like-minds, and open hearts is awaiting you. Your tribe may be outside of your blood relatives and even your oldest friends. In fact, letting go of some of these relationships will make room for new, more healing connections.
Understand that waking up invokes many many “no’s”. Estés says, “…to be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others, and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves. It is a tormenting tension and it must be borne, but the choice is clear.”
When we awaken to ourselves, our soul family hears that call and they come. These new friendships, romantic dynamics, and collaborative partnerships emerge from the fabric of your new life experience. The number of women who have seemingly fallen from the sky in the past few years of my journey assures me of the abundance of family there are.
Choose your lovers and companions for their ability to see the wildness in you and to love it. The swirling realness of it in all of its intensity and rawness…the you inside. Identify the relationships that drain your energy.
I spoke recently to a 78 year old woman whose loving husband of 35 years died five years ago. Since his death, she has come to life – traveling, living in a new community where they call her “the mayor,” doing yoga, dance, and touching a deep reservoir of joy. I have about an 80% divorce rate in my practice, by the time my patients move through the crucible of transformation. Reel your energy back in from the places in your life you are working — even subconsciously — to stabilize rather than allowing to die.
When you find these people, you will know because you will feel like you can be yourself and also that you can still be yourself even if you are nothing of the things you thought you were or that you needed to be. You will understand that your essence is a shared essence because it is the vitality of the planet and of life itself that you tap into. We share currents of grief, ecstasy, joy, and ease when we come together. They belong to the collective.
Find the Balance
Estés says, “Insist on a balance between pedestrian responsibility and personal rapture” and when I read that, my heart squeezed.
We must feel rapture, we must feel the show-stopping exhilaration of wonder. We have to have rapture. This rapture, I call the essential sensual, and it looks like simply feeling in one’s body.
We have to make room for cycles. The tides will be tides and we can pretend we are pushing the water in and out, but it makes more sense to sit and let tears well up as we take in the mystery of it all, on the shore. Death is part of the lifecycle here. Our very own bodies teach us about death cycles:
“From her very flesh and blood and from the constant cycles of filling and emptying the red vase in her belly, a woman understands physically, emotionally, and spiritually that zeniths fade and expire, and what is left is reborn in unexpected ways and by inspired means, only to fall back to nothing, and yet be reconceived again in full glory.”
Engage in the pedestrian. Live in the mundane, but understand that this must be contextualized by a greater commitment to your soulhome. To your solitude. To your connections. To your passions. Protect your time for these commitments as fiercely and unquestioningly as you would make time for your child’s illness. When I ask my patients to commit to a daily practice, I look them in the eyes, and I say, make it happen and make sure everyone in the house understands not to mess with you while it is.
It’s Time, Now, So Go…
If physical healing quiets the noise for you to hear the call of the Wild Woman, are you there yet? Commit to one month of your life to learn about yourself in a way you may never otherwise have the opportunity to experience. Do it. Just do it. And you will find that the skin you thought you were encased in for life begins to crack, revealing the real you beneath, here to experience joy, purpose, and wonder.
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