As I was doing some reflective work in Women Who Run With The Wolves relating to the reclamation and rediscovery of women’s souls, I discovered this image.
In my mind, this is what can happen when our dreams, goals, and aspirations are relegated to the dunghill, the trash heap, the landfill.
We were once lively dancers, brilliant artists, wonderful wordsmiths, prolific sculptors, versatile teachers, dynamic speakers, innovative mathematicians, eclectic designers, imaginative engineers, gifted medical workers, master chefs, gifted attorneys, quality builders, and (insert your dream here) – in our spirits, in our souls.
Then something happened…
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The Quest For The Wild Woman
In the last article in our series of “Women Who Run With The Wolves” reflections, I suggested we continue with asking ourselves the questions we need to ask ourselves in order to reclaim ourselves. Before we get into that discussion, however, I need to backtrack a bit.
If you read the story of Bluebeard, you know that the husband goes away on an extended trip. Before he leaves, he encourages his wife to invite her sisters to stay with her while he is gone, and gives his young wife a set of keys which opens all the doors in the three-story castle in which they live. He suggests that she can do anything she wants to do and open any door to the 100 rooms inside the castle she wants. But there is one key he tells her she cannot use, and gives no reason why.
The young wife and her sisters open all the doors with the keys her husband gave to her. But there was one last door with one last key. And they decided to use that key to open that last door. When they opened the door, they discovered its darkness inside. Once they lit a candle to discover what was inside, they were aghast,
“…for in the room was a mire of blood and the blackened bones of corpses were flung about and skulls were stacked in corners like pyramids of apples.
They slammed the door shut, shook the key out of the lock, and leaned against one another gasping, breasts heaving. My God! My God!”
As I re-read Dr. Estes’ analysis this past week, I realized I didn’t fully “get it” the first time. Bluebeard gives his young wife a set of keys, all except one which opens that which is superficial. These keys and doors represent being, as Dr. Estes explains,
“…too easily lured with promises of ease, of lilting enjoyment, of various pleasures, be they promises of elevated status in the eyes of her family, her peers, or promises of increased security, eternal love, high adventure, or hot sex.”
Bluebeard’s admonition not to use the forbidden key to open that last door represents, as Dr. Estes further expounds, represents,
“…the one key that would bring her to consciousness. To forbid a woman to use the key to conscious self knowledge strips her intuitive nature, her natural instinct for curiosity that leads her to discover ‘what lies beneath’ and beyond the obvious.”
What does the door represent which the key opens?
“The door in the tale is portrayed as a psychic barrier…Women strengthen this barrier or door when they discourage themselves or one another from thinking or diving too deeply…”
But what is behind the door? It was at this point that I got a fuller understanding that the blood, the bones of corpses, the skulls represent the “devastations of [a woman's] life…the loss of life’s energy.” Specifically, as Dr. Estes interprets it,
“When women open the doors of their own lives and survey the carnage there in those out-of-the-way places, they most often find they have been allowing summary assassinations of their most crucial dreams, goals, and hopes. They find lifeless thoughts and feelings and desires; ones which were once grateful and promising but now are drained of blood. Whether these hopes and dreams be about desire for relationship, desire for an accomplishment, a success, or a work of art, when such a gruesome discovery is made in one’s psyche, we can be sure the natural predator…has been at work methodically destroying a woman’s most cherished desires, concerns, and aspirations.”
This is the point when during my re-read that I got my “a-ha!” It was at this point that I really began to understand, deep within, what the carnage behind the door represented, and the fact that the door as a barrier is reinforced through my own thoughts and actions. I had dreams, hopes, and goals that I’ve pushed away, that I’ve allowed to die. The problem for me, though, is recovering much of that. In other words, it’s been so long that I’ve had these aspirations that they’re unrecognizable in some sense. As it is difficult to identify a corpse, as it is difficult to know what bone goes where, it is also difficult to reconstruct those dreams and goals. Nevertheless, I must do it. This is where I’ve been reflecting much of this past week.
So how do we reconstruct and reclaim? By asking those questions Dr. Estes suggests we ask of ourselves? We must ask ourselves four questions:
- What stands behind the door?
- What is not as it appears?
- What do I know deep within my soul and spirit that I wish I did not know?
- What of me has been killed, or lays dying?
These are difficult questions. But we must “ask any and all questions about oneself, about one’s family, one’s endeavors, and about life all around” if we are to restrain the predator, stop the killing of our souls, and move forth into being the women God called us to be. I’m intentionally going through that process as we speak. I’m hoping it won’t take me too long.
I realize it’s taking me a long time to get through this chapter, but I’d like to spend one more week here. While you are discovering for yourselves “what’s behind the door,” asking the four essential questions Dr. Estes presents, I’d like to complete this chapter next week by examining the clues we receive that signals something is wrong within our souls. Those clues, as Dr. Estes suggests, comes in the form of dreams.
Thanks for indulging me in this chapter’s study. Let me know what you think, where you are, and how you’re doing with the study.
As my husband and I were recently editing his soon to be released book, I asked him a question regarding some of the dialogue between the mother and father of the main character in the narrative, where the father “politely interrupts her” during a discussion with their young son. As I thought about the fact that the father “interrupts” the mother, I asked my husband, “Why does the husband have to ‘politely interrupt’ his wife? Why couldn’t he have waited until she finished what she was saying?”
My husband, the insightful man that he is, replied,
“Because that’s what men do…”
I couldn’t help but to crack up!!!
Any reactions ladies? Men, what do you think?
As I stated in last week’s “Five Faves” post, this week I am featuring posts I discovered from blogs participating in “The Ultimate Blog Party” thrown by the folks at 5 Minutes For Mom. I met alot of great people with some great blogs. Here are 5 posts that I particularly enjoyed.
Favorites #1 – In “Vulnerability Exposed” at Experiencing The Journey, Rindy shares her personal experiences with Post-traumatic stress disorder, understanding that, as a Christian, God is thoroughly present with her in her sufferings. This is a message that everyone needs to hear, understanding that we will all experience difficulty, but that God is always available to see you through.
Favorites #2 – This next post is a little different than the subjects I usually post about. Nevertheless, it’s important, as it deals with the importance of having and using wisdom when dealing with one’s personal finances. In this post, “5 Things I Learned From Casey Serin, The Guy Behind, ‘I Am Facing Foreclosure’” from The Digerati Life, Silicon Valley Blogger features the story of Casey Serin, “…a 24 yr old ‘would-be real estate mogul’ from Sacramento CA. After going to a few seminars I bought 8 houses in 8 months in 4 states with no money down looking to fix ‘n flip. I made some mistakes and am now millions in debt, trying to avoid foreclosure, sell quickly, repay everyone, and share my lessons to help others in trouble.” This young man’s story evidently is well-known in the blogosphere (I am clueless about this guy), but Silicon Valley Blogger is taking a different spin on her reporting about him than traditionally taken. In addition to the lessons learned, the story in and of itself is fascinating.
Favorites #3 – As a Christian woman, one of the scripture passages that always intimidated me was Proverbs 31:10-31, what many refer to as “The Virtuous Woman.” The standard that is set up here was always one that I found to be somewhat unattainable, so I stayed away from it often. Nevertheless, I discovered a post that puts a “modern” spin on Proverbs 31:12, providing easy and fun tips that I (and anyone else) can actually put into practice. Jay at Echoes of Eden gives us “Ten Ways To Do Him Good,” listing 10 practical ways to bless your husband.
Favorites #4 – Has anyone out there ever experience rejection? Kuanyin from The Art of Living and Dying writes about her experience of receiving few visitors/commenters from the party in her post “I Threw A Party And No One Came.” If any of y’all have been rejected at any time in your lives, male or female, Kuanyin provides an interesting take on the subject.
Favorites #5 – As a woman (or a man), what would your reaction be to the following statement? “American women seem to think they are the only women on the planet. They think that God will only bless their country and that somehow they are more important than everyone else. They think they’re better than women every where else.“ Lindsey at Enjoy The Journey writes about our misunderstandings of one another stemming from ignorance in her post, “Shattering Stereotypes & Battling Ignorance”, as she recounts experiencing being stereotyped within her own family.
As always, check out the posts, comment on their blogs, and let me know what you think about this week’s “Five Faves.” Until next time…
“We must never cease from exploring. At the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive at where we began and know the place for the first time.”
“The Secret.” Jesus of Surburbia. Drug addiction. Anorexia. Alcohol addiction. Bulemia. Sexual addiction. Workaholism. Misogyny. What do all these terms and concepts have in common?
Let’s take these examples. According to an article appearing in Salon.com entitled “Oprah’s Ugly Secret” written by Peter Birkenhead,
“The main idea of ‘The Secret’ is that people need only visualize what they want in order to get it — and the book certainly has created instant wealth, at least for Rhonda Byrne and her partners-in-con. And the marketing idea behind it — the enlisting of that dream team, in what is essentially a massive, cross-promotional pyramid scheme — is brilliant. But what really makes ‘The Secret’ more than a variation on an old theme is the involvement of Oprah Winfrey, who lends the whole enterprise more prestige, and, because of that prestige, more venality, than any previous self-help scam…”
Now I’m not coming down against Oprah. I happen to be a fan. I thoroughly appreciate the fact she tries to make a difference in the world on a day-to-day basis. I absolutely believe she seeks to help people learn and grow in wisdom and understanding. Evidence of this is the recent opening of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. She is doing vital work to help a generation of girls rise above the rim of oppression so they can help others in their country and throughout the world do the same.
Nevertheless, Birkenhead raises some interesting questions:
“I kept wondering what would happen if professor Sam Mhlongo, South Africa’s chief family practitioner who famously said that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, read about Oprah’s connection to ‘The Secret’ and found support there for his claim. I wondered if the students of the academy would read “The Secret” and start to believe that their parents deserved to be poor, or that the people of Darfur summoned the Janjaweed with ‘bad thoughts.’ Will the heavier girls be told, as readers of ‘The Secret’ are, that food doesn’t cause weight gain — thinking about weight gain does? Will they be told to not even look at fat people, as ‘The Secret’ advises? Oprah is already promoting these ideas to her television audience. Why wouldn’t she espouse them to her students?”
My reaction to these lines was “Wow. Incredibly profound. Frightingly true.” With regard to “The Secret,” Birkenhead continues by saying,
“‘Secret’-style belief is a perfect product. Like Coca-Cola, it goes down easy and makes the consumer thirsty for more. It’s unthreateningly simple, and a lot more facile, sentimental and, perhaps paradoxically, intractable than the old-fashioned kind of belief. This modern idea of faith isn’t arrived at the old-fashioned way, by asking questions, but by getting answers. Instead of inquiry we have born-again epiphanies and cheesy self-help books — we have excuses for not engaging in inquiry at all. Let other people schlep down the road to Damascus; we’ll have Amazon send Damascus to us.”
In other words, many are looking for a quick-fix to their problems, and “The Secret” provides a pain-free way of going about the fix. As Birkenhead says,
“The kind of faith that couldn’t be reached by shortcut, the confidence of the great doubters and worriers, of Moses and Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ, has been replaced by the insta-certainty and inflated ‘self-esteem’ of ‘The Secret’s’ believers.”
To me, it means we avoid the pain that permeates our lives instead of reaching down deep to discover its root. Instead of doing the work to dig it out, we seek to patch up the pain. And while those open wounds continue to ooze the blood and fluid signaling something is wrong, we put more bandages on them, seeking any kind of relief we can find.
It’s the same with the phenomenon behind the popularity of Jesus of Surburbia, (legal name Jose de Jesus) which ABC featured in their Primetime special “The Outsiders” this past week. In Jim Avila’s report, “When asked to explain who he is, de Jesus responds: ‘Jesus Christ…the second manifestation, the Second Coming of Christ.’” In fact, one of his followers said, when Avila asked her who this man who was leaving the building was, replied, “There is only one God, and he just left the building.”
What de Jesus espouses is a “no sin, anything goes” message. According to the report,
“‘Before the presence of God, there’s no more sin,’ [de Jesus] says. And with no sin, de Jesus teaches his followers, there’s no devil and no need for prayer, because after Jesus of Nazareth died and was resurrected, one can literally do no wrong in God’s eyes.”
As a Christian who studies and teaches biblical texts for a living (who was taught by credible biblical scholars at Emory University), the above claim is absurd. There is no where the Bible makes such an assertion. The claim scripture does make is that Jesus paid the price for sin; however, as the apostle Paul teaches, while sin does not rule us when we believe in Jesus as Savior, we still must not become a slave to it.
Nevertheless, it is provocative and appealing to believe sin does not exist, because if there is no sin, not only is there no accountability to anyone, a person can try to relieve whatever pain exists by whatever pleasures are available for him or her to do so. (I am contending that just because a person believes there is no sin, emotional, psychological, and physical pain within the soul still exists.) That relief can take the form of excessive alcohol and drug use, licentious use of sex, immoderate overeating, becoming a “workaholic”, inordinate use of the internet, inflicting abuse (whether emotional or physical) on another, or any other activity that masks and buries that which causes us to act out – pain. (I argue that just because a person believes there is no sin, that doesn’t at all suggest that emotional, psychological, and physical pain goes away. ) Once again, just like “The Secret,” these are quick fixes. But they don’t get at the actual problems which plagues a person’s soul.
Nevertheless, in his book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, Stephen Covey says,
“Einstein put it this way: ‘The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.’…If you want to make minor, incremental changes and improvements, work on practices, behavior or attitude. But if you want to make significant, quantum improvement, work on paradigms…[those] perception[s], assumption[s]…frame[s] of reference or lens[es] through which you view the world.”
And as anyone who has undertaken this kind of self-analysis knows, this is not a quick-fix to growth, peace, or happiness. A person going through this type of examination may take three steps forward one day, only to fall two steps back the next. But that person is still ahead of the game being yet one step closer to his or her destination of being healed.
So I go back to the initial question – “The Secret.” Jesus of Surburbia. Drug addiction. Anorexia. Alcohol addiction. Bulemia. Sexual addiction. Workaholism. Misogyny. What do all these terms and concepts have in common?
The need for a quick fix.
Is it possible.
I don’t think so. Because ultimately, they leave us unfulfilled and deeper in the holes in which we found ourselves in the first place. But as T.S. Eliot says, we must continue to explore, continue to search, continue to plow through in search of the healing we need so that we can be the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, workers, and children of God He intended for us to be.
In addition to Women Who Run with the Wolves, I have also begun reading Stephen Covey’s The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. He begins Chapter 4, “Discover Your Voice – Unopened Birth-Gifts” with the following poem:
There are so many gifts
Still unopened from your birthday,
There are so many hand-crafted presents
That have been sent to you by God.
The Beloved does not mind repeating,
“Everything I have is also yours.”
There are so many gifts, my dear,
Still unopened from your birthday.
One of the reasons I have pursued blogging is to exercise my voice. However, I don’t think I’ve discovered it entirely – I think this is a work in process. Indeed, I feel, as Hafiz says and Stephen Covey cites, that my voice is a gift from God, but I’ve not completely opened it yet. So I’ve taken my husband‘s advice and am starting my study with The 8th Habit. While I won’t be doing a series as I’m doing with Women Who Run With The Wolves, I will share what I’m learning as I go through. It is my hope and prayer that my voice will come through loud and clear by the time I complete the study (it will probably take me a year), and I hope, if you’re looking for yours, I am able to inspire you to find it.
God has given us all gifts – it is up to you and me to open up these “hand-crafted (by God) presents”! Find your voice – the world will be a better place when you do!
The Quest for the Wild Woman
As we continue our discussion and reflection of Women Who Run With The Wolves, Dr. Estes begins Chapter 2 entitled “Stalking the Intruder: The Beginning Initiation” by saying,
“In a single human being there are many other beings, all with their own values, motives, and devices.”
These different aspects of who we are, such as “being” insightful, playful, intuitive, inquiring, strong, loyal, adaptive, brave, loving, passionate, can all be hindered by an opposing force – the predator. This predator
“severs the woman from her intuitive nature…leav[ing] the woman deadened in feeling, feeling frail to advance her life; her ideas and dreams lay at her feet…”
To explain the concept of “the predator,” she elicits the story of Bluebeard, which, if you don’t have the book and would like to follow along, can be read here. In her analysis of Bluebeard, she enlightens us, stating that Bluebeard is “…filled with hatred and desires to kill the lights of the psyche.” She further states that this predator is a natural part of who we are, “a derisive and murderous antagonist that is born into us,” but in order for a woman to recapture and retain who she is as “Wild Woman,” we must know and restrain this predator using her intuition. We must, “recognize it…protect ourselves from its devastations…and ultimately…deprive it of its murderous energy.”
Dr. Estes writes that this is a lesson/story that applies not just to the naive woman (represented by the younger sister in Bluebeard) whose intuition is not yet developed, but it also applies to “the older woman who has not yet completely learned to recognize the innate predator.” Whether young or more mature, women need to be taught how to recognize the predator.
Why might it be difficult to recognize the predator for the one who is naive, whether young or older? Basically, according to Dr. Estes, she hasn’t been taught. There was no training during that woman’s youth of the intuitive side of her nature. Her intuition was stifled by not learning to see that which may be harmful. In which case, she is open prey to the predator.
Interestingly, this plays out, often, in a woman’s choice of men, Dr. Estes says. If a woman chooses men who are harmful to her (whether emotionally, physically, or both) over and over again, one can observe that the woman may feel that “if she just holds on…a little longer,…the [feeling of paradise] she seeks will appear in the next heartbeat.” Interestingly enough, her intuition has already sent out “red flags” to let her know that she should not proceed with the relationship. But because she holds out hope, she ignores those big red flags and bright flashing lights that say, “NO! STOP! GO BACK! DO NOT PASS GO! DO NOT COLLECT $200!”
Here is another example, that of a woman addicted to drugs:
“…a woman involved in a chemical addiction…has at the back of her mind a set of older sisters who are saying, ‘No! No way! This is bad for the mind and bad for the body. We refuse to continue.’ But the desire to find Paradise draws the woman into the marriage to Bluebeard, the drug dealer of psychic highs.”
Dr. Estes continues by saying,
“Whatever dilemma a woman finds herself in, the voices of the older sisters in her psyche continue to urge her to consciousness and to be wise in her choices. They represent those voices in the back of the mind that whisper the truths that a woman may wish to avoid for they end her fantasy of Paradise Found.”
So how do we, as women, find our way out? How do we recognize and restrain that predator that “mindlessly degrades and destroys a woman’s potential”? The key to transformation is to ask the right questions. As my husband says,
“The better the question, the deeper the understanding.”
But we must recognize that while it may be painful to unlock that door that those questions lead to, we must be willing to push past the pain. We must not be afraid to encounter the pain. We must not be fearful of discovering the worst of what we’ve experienced to encounter the best of who God made us to be. If we don’t do this work, if we do not “look into these issues of [our] own deadness and murder, [we] remain obedient to the dictates of the predator.”
Personally, I can so relate to this chapter. Not by any fault of my parents’, I was not taught what some might feel are the basics of being a woman. In other words, my father didn’t teach me what boys were like, nor did he teach me what to look for in men. He didn’t really even talk to me about them at all. All my mom said all throughout my teenage years is, “Just don’t come home pregnant.” And my parents surely didn’t model what a marriage relationship was supposed to be. But like I said, I don’t blame them for that because they didn’t know. Books about relationships and marriage were not popular with their generation, so they didn’t acquire the knowledge we have at our fingertips today.
So I identify with “the older woman who has not yet completely learned to recognize the innate predator.” This woman, “…has begun the process [of discovery] over and over again but, lacking guidance and support, has not yet finished with it…[yet] are at last readying for a final and decisive battle with it.” Nevertheless, I am ready. Over the past few years, with the support of my husband, I have really been forced to unlock those doors. I have had to take a look back at harmful relationships that I placed myself in while big red flags were waving and bright red lights were flashing inside. I have had to examine how the pain I endured as a result of those relationships seeped into my marriage. I have had to admit that I made some really stupid mistakes because of my ignorance. It sounds kind of stupid, but it’s my reality. But if I don’t take a close look and open myself up for God to do “open heart surgery” within my soul, I will never become what God created me to be.
I mentioned earlier that the right questions need to be asked in order to begin to reclaim who we are, to recognize the predator in our souls. In our next discussion, I’d like to continue with Chapter 2 and explore what those questions are. So stay tuned…
In the meantime, if you’d like, share your experiences with “the predator.”
Alright, it’s time to go to the party! You know, the Ultimate Blog Party!
The great thing is that the party lasts for the next six days, through next Friday! So there’s no need to feel like you’ll miss out on anything – except being eligible to win some prizes if you don’t go and sign the Mr. Linky…
Before you go, I’d like to introduce myself to those of you who don’t know me. I go by KWiz, and I started this blog back around Thanksgiving 2006. I’ve been married for going on six years, I’ve been a mother for almost three years, and I’ve been teaching Old Testament and New Testament at an independent school in Georgia for the past six years. My husband is great because he inspired me to start Women Walking In Wisdom’s Footsteps™, and both my husband and my daughter provide much inspiration to what I write about. I’m having a great time with this blog, have met a lot of great people, and hope I will meet more of you during the next week and beyond.
So come to the party! Everyone is invited! Hope to see you there!
(By the way, if you’ve come here by way of the party, you can get to the main page of my blog by clicking “Home” at the top of the page or clicking here.)
I’m now a “Top Momma”! What does this mean? It means that I made the front page of TopMomma! And if you’d like, you can go to the front page of TopMomma and click on the eye – you know, the one that looks like this:
The more people click, the longer I get to stay on the front page. In other words, it will help drive more traffic to my blog. And what mommy can’t use more traffic to her site?
Moreover, if you’re a mother and you want more traffic to your blog, you can also make the front page of Top Momma by submitting your blog as well. So go to TopMomma, submit, and see what happens!
Here are my Five Favorites For Friday (I might need to change this category to Four Favorites For Friday…” Take a look at my four favorite posts of the week:
Favorite #1 – It is now Spring Break for me, and I certainly have needed it. My First Favorite For Friday is a post written by Maggie of Ramblings Of Maggie entitled “I’m Not Dead!” complete with an image that sums up how I’ve been feeling the past two weeks. I’m sure many others feel the same way. I’d like to know, where did you get that image from?
Favorite #2 – Crunchy Carpets is reading a book entitled Good Kids, Bad Habits which she reviews at her blog. She says, “If you are more like me – a woman who can barely remember to feed herself and goes mental at thinking up healthy food 7 days a week. If you are a mom who struggles when it comes to activities or finding balance, or has no control over their chaotic households – then this book can be an inspiration.” Go to her blog and take a look at her insightful review.
Favorite #3 – When I came upon this post the other day, I said, “Wow…what an interesting way to look at prejudice and racism.” It’s all in how you define “colored.” Check out what Maria discovered about the word at her blog Maria Finds (the blog name is so appropriate!) in her post “You Calling Me Colored?” I chuckled.
Favorite #4 – This one is for all of us who blog. How many times have you written a post, published it, and looked at it again only to see you’ve misspelled a word or two or five (so simple, right?), used the wrong punctuation mark (ridiculous!), forgot a word (oh, come on!), wrote a sentence fragment by accident (yikes!!!), or used “to” instead of “too” (okay, so basic!)? It’s happened to all of us who write – I know it’s happened to me. Laura Spencer at Writing Thoughts has written some very practical suggestions entitled “Five Proofreading Tips That You Can Use Right Now By Yourself.” While her suggestions are geared toward “writers,” all of us who blog are writers. Take a look at Laura’s post and try implementing her suggestions right now! (By the way, if you spot any typos or egregious errors in any of my posts, please let me know!!!)
Next week, my favorites will be coming from blogs whose owners are going to the Ultimate Blog Party! If you want to join in the fun, click here.
See you next week. And, of course, when you check out the posts, please leave comments!