By Deb Avery
Born to please others.
I thought this was my reason for being for the first 25 years of my life. Growing up in the South—the buckle of the Bible Belt—it was all I ever knew.
I then got married, moved away and began meeting new people—different, interesting people. Soon traveling and devouring books on every religion, culture, philosophy, history and literature, opened my eyes and mind more and more with each book I closed and each person I would meet. I was compassionate to a fault with everyone else, but was a harsh judge and jury to myself. Loving oneself was as alien to me as having an elongated skull and huge black eyes. But slowly, and over several years, that changed.
That’s when the real work began.
When my wild self decided she no longer wanted to hide herself in the normalcy of an oh, so nice , people pleasing girl, there was much—so very much—resistance from those in my life who wanted to keep a domesticated, clipped clawed and muzzled wild one. At this point, however, the collar, leash and muzzle had grown too small and was quite painful. I pulled, barked, and sometimes even snapped at the hand which had controlled the treats and the punishments for many years. All this accomplished was even more control and more punishments.
Then, after 15 years of marriage, something miraculous happened.
I became a mom for the first time. When I held my son, I finally understood unconditional love. For I knew in my heart that nothing cause me to stop loving him. There was nothing that could break the bond of love between a mother, who carries and nurtures her child long before she meets him, and that child. I knew right then and there that his life, his needs and desires were his—and his alone. I would teach him to think for himself, grow strong and brave, and then let him choose his own pathway; for whichever pathway he chose, it would be the one to take him where he needed to go.
That first year was busy tending my son’s needs and learning what being a mom entailed, but soon I began to notice another child in our presence. It was my own child self there in the corners of my psyche. For the first time, I felt compassion for the ragged, dirty, little girl hiding in the dark.
I would soon learn that she was a buried treasure.
I coaxed her out over the next few years and eventually she learned to play, laugh and run free with my son every day. They kind of grew up together, my son and this other child, but she still had open wounds, and she was very skittish at times. She was so afraid of causing further pain to those open wounds.
Time went on and life was bittersweet. During their time alone, the girl child and my son were happy; safe. At other times they had to hide. They had to learn to keep their normally effervescent personalities camouflaged from others. The girl child was an expert after all these years. She taught the son well. They learned to survive and be relatively happy in there own little world.
It worked—for awhile.
Soon the day came when the woman saw her son’s claws being clipped painfully short. She saw the heavy collar that the alpha male was going to place upon her now prepubescent wild child, and she could take no more. For she herself was being caged in much smaller quarters than ever before.
She found herself and the children with their backs to the walls of the cage, and as anyone who knows and understands wildlife will attest to; never corner a wild animal, and never, ever, try to come between a mother and her child.
She came out fighting, snarling and gnashing her teeth. This time she wasn’t backing away. She was fierce in her determination to protect—to survive.
Claws, once cut to the quick, had grown longer, sharper, hidden from judging eyes by her thick fur. It was intense. She was merciless in her fight for the survival of her son, and the wounded girl child. She gave it her all, holding nothing back.
It was a fight that only she—heavily wounded from the battle—her son, and the girl child would survive. She tended their wounds for some time to come and eventually, they would heal over.
Today, the three of them run freely in the forest and meadows. Although they all carry scars, their wounds are healed, with only aches and twinges late at night, or during times of storms. Life is good in the wild. There are still dangers with predators and traps, but their instincts and survival skills are strong. Their fur grows long and thick shinning in the moonlight as they run freely in the forest and meadows. The silvery scars only enhance their beauty and character much like intricate tattoos upon their bodies.
They run wild and free, their howls strong and clear, echoing throughout the land.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak