Healing from Divorce: Recovering the Wild Woman.

American culture confuses the wild woman as the dim-witted party girl who stays out too late and defies modesty conventions. This woman has been instinctually injured and would not survive two days in the wild. She is also a caricature and a projection of our own negative introjects about what makes a woman “wild”.     

And so who is the wild woman? And why do you need her if you are to recover from a painful divorce or break-up?

 A number of years ago, a friend’s wife recommended a book to me that would eventually change the course of my life dramatically. I thought the title was strange, but years later I borrowed it from the little Jungian club I was a part of because I just had to. Women Who Run With The Wolves. It is about recovering the Wild Woman:

             The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that               is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so                 much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a                 sane life, that is a door (Clarissa Pinkola Estes).

 It is the wild woman, the instinctual woman, the woman who feels connected to herself, to nature, her children and her lover that will save you. She is keen, she is perceptive, she is unpredictable, she is loyal, she is fierce, she is sexy, she is kind. She is compassionate, she is creative, she is patient.  She is a wolf-mama whose snarl lets predators know she will kill if her pack is threatened.  She is unabashedly sexual because she knows her body, the feminine body, is the body that gives life to the earth.  This wild woman is the one who will heal you because she knows the ancient ways.

 There is a saying that is frequently attributed to Frida Kahlo, the spicy, independent, and colorful painter, “take a lover who looks at you like you are magic.” The phrase was actually written by Marty McConnell, a contemporary poet, who imagined what Frida might say to her in the wake of her separation from a painful relationship. Women like Frida have also been my ghostly mentors, too, Marty. In a time when you feel like you don’t know what direction is up and what is down, you look to women who have done it differently. Because you are different. If you are a divorced woman, you don’t fit the mold of, “be quiet and keep it together.”  You shattered the glass house.

 But when the dust settles and the smoke clears, you begin to see that you are not so alone. That greater, more fabulous women than you have walked the same path of “alone-ness” and have discovered more connection to themselves and others than they ever imagined possible.

 Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell
by Marty McConnell

leaving is not enough; you must
stay gone. train your heart
like a dog. change the locks
even on the house he’s never
visited. you lucky, lucky girl.
you have an apartment
just your size. a bathtub
full of tea. a heart the size
of Arizona, but not nearly
so arid. don’t wish away
your cracked past, your
crooked toes, your problems
are papier mache puppets
you made or bought because the vendor
at the market was so compelling you just
had to have them. you had to have him.
and you did. and now you pull down
the bridge between your houses.
you make him call before
he visits. you take a lover
for granted, you take
a lover who looks at you
like maybe you are magic. make
the first bottle you consume
in this place a relic. place it
on whatever altar you fashion
with a knife and five cranberries.
don’t lose too much weight.
stupid girls are always trying
to disappear as revenge. and you
are not stupid. you loved a man
with more hands than a parade
of beggars, and here you stand. heart
like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
heart leaking something so strong
they can smell it in the street.