I read something yesterday that made me feel deliriously silly – I was so giddy, I did a solo samba in the wine aisle at Morrison’s on my way home from work. I also found it incredibly reassuring: it gave context to some of my more recent decisions which may otherwise be called rash, selfish, fearful.
It was a piece about a book called ‘The Women who run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. The Amazon summary of the original edition of this book reads:
“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 soul….”
(Stay with me – I know this might sound a bit like hippy over-intellectualising or just plain out there!).
The notion is that because we are ignoring our own natural impulses we are sinking into lethargy and even depression. That we have lost our ability to feel genuine wonder and rapture.
And I get that: I often ask myself why I don’t feel more joyful. I have everything I ever longed for in my wonderful husband and incredible daughters, but there is a piece that is missing…
Is it because we are conforming into roles defined for us and pursuing ideals created by someone else?
I know lately I was on a road I didn’t want to travel. I also know I have felt at my most liberated, my most rapturous when I have taken decisions that I “shouldn’t have” (or at least decisions that a responsible, professional and middle class mother of 3 living in Yorkshire’s Golden triangle wouldn’t have taken). In each of those instances I was responding to my instincts. It is only afterwards that those decision felt uncomfortable and that there was a growing sense of unease. Not because I felt I had made a mistake – right decisions for me, for us – but because of a gnawing feeling I did what many would not have done. I hadn’t conformed.
But this Wild Woman archetype validates my recent behaviour and quite frankly, I like her and would love to know her better.
So, when I took the decision in November not to be an employee in a law firm but to go it alone as a consultant, I wasn’t shirking hard work or responsibility, I was responding to my inner matriarch. I am a leader of our family unit and I am going to celebrate that in my working world too.
When I was secretly pleased to receive inappropriately flirty emails from a male client, I wasn’t disloyal – I was responding to the natural thrill of adventure (for the record it goes without saying that it did not for one instant mean I wanted to do anything about it; I just got a kick out of being pursued. It’s nature).
When I pulled out of a corporate transaction in February which undoubtedly impacted on my reputation with others and lost us a significant income for a short spell of work, I hadn’t lost my marbles: I was cavewoman. Our middle daughter L was having a hard time at school and I needed to be there for her. To have been caught in the middle of a deal with tight timescales and demanding clients would have left L without my comfort and protection. I could not leave our cave and the babies in it vulnerable and exposed, especially in dangerous times.
When I unleashed my inner Cambridge lawyer on L’s headmistress recently, I wasn’t crossing a line: I was a lioness protecting her cub as best she knew how. And I was fierce and awesome, no apologies.
When I published my first blog I was responding to my innate creativity and I feel liberated doing it. At a general level isn’t it always wonderful to sing and to dance? Doesn’t it make you feel free and alive? Writing and sharing terrifies me, but didn’t someone once say that excitement is just fear with breathing?
Okay, this might be a bit self-indulgent and maybe I am just looking for excuses but I’m going to roll with this one. I am going to roar, be instinctive, unleash my own Raquel Welch, get myself a copy of that book and I am off for some leopard print. Anyone want to join me?!
Thank you to Pinterest for the images.