Sometimes, when we’ve had to become very wise very early in life, when we’ve had to grow up quickly, or make ourselves into a partner or a parent when we were not quite finished being a child, or childish, or gotten to spend much time alone, we might go a little off the rails later on.
When we make vows and promises and covenants and pacts in our youth, we often have to break them again sooner than we thought we might. This is not a thing to feel ashamed of – when we can’t stop a thing from falling apart, when we realize love really isn’t all we need to get by, it simply is what it is.
But when it happens, whoever unmakes the vow or cuts the tie, whoever allows things to fall, or perhaps even fights for them in vain, the one who breaks or is broken away from, this one might scatter for a little while, and do this other thing where they seem to run in five directions all at once, all of them terrifying and dangerous and risky and apparently willfully alarming and self-destructive.
When this happens, we might be tempted to rush in and save these ones from themselves. We see the wild abandon and the tightrope walking and we cry out, stop! It isn’t safe! Come back, come back! Be small for a while! Let us protect you from yourself!
Grief for lost self is a peculiar creature. It has this way of making us long to force the unfinished parts of us back into process. It may drive us towards dangerous people and dangerous places, because we long to feel something other than numbness and loss. We want to be wild again. We have unfinished business out there. We grew up too soon. We want to feel like conquerors, instead of like the conquered. Grief makes us feel around for the young, vulnerable, untested aspects of our psyche and grasp them tightly, kissing them tenderly on the forehead, before we drag them out on the town to get tattoos and meet dangerous strangers wherever they can be found.
Breaking a promise we made in our youth is often a kind of death to hope. But it can be the rebirth of the self that stopped exploring the wild, wide world when that premature promise was sealed.
If we do not finish our exploration of the wilds when we are young, the wilds wait until we are free again. Then, if we allow them, they come back to claim us.
For all the women who were not allowed to wander, to wonder, to become their full, wild selves, the time is come. The wilds have returned for you. You have only to set yourself free.~ Jo Hilder
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