Thursday, October 25, 2012

The little red howling time has come

Do you remember the tale of the red shoes. I first discovered it in the wonderful Women who run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It is a book I read and reread as I felt a close affinity with the wild woman that lies dormant in each one of us. The tale of the red shoes is maybe one of addiction and obsession but to my mind there is another subtler version that we often fail to recognise. We don those red shoes unwittingly and sometimes quite willingly but then they take over. The red shoes become an intrinsic part of ourselves and it is impossible to take them off. Vivianne Tuffnel writes : Look at your Red Shoes? Are they pretty anymore or do they drive to do things you don't like admitting. Can you take them off and throw them in the river or the fire or does the thought make you shudder. One may wonder why the these thoughts came to my mind today of all days.

A few days back was my 38th wedding anniversary. A day to celebrate some would say. Well I spent the morning in the kitchen cooking the husband's favourite dishes for a small dinner with friends. Did I do it willingly, happily, joyfully? Maybe I did. Frightening isn't it for one who things she has defended her free spirit with passion and against all odds. Then how did this happen. It all started with the husband suggesting a tête-a-tête 'romantic' dinner. I liked the idea as I cannot remember when we had such a treat. I was one of those who had a 17 day old baby on my first wedding anniversary! Ominous of times to come, to say the least. Then, surreptitiously the man of my life mentioned his favourite dish. one I cook rarely as it is tedious and not the healthiest. And then wonders of wonders the  tête-a-tête 'romantic' dinner mutated into a small dinner at home with of course the favourite dish on the menu. The chef of the day was you guessed right: me. The romantic do turned out to be a noisy dinner with nothing I liked on the menu. none of my friends that came at the end of an exhausting day! And yet I did it all with a smile as I have too many times in the past. You see like all women, I too one day got tempted by red shoes and wore them willingly without knowing that they will take my life over.

We all wear those red shoes when we fall in love, get wedded, become a mother. The red shoes do not have to be an obvious addiction or obsession. They can be subtle and crafty luring you to a life of happiness and plenty. But they came with at a price as they come with the atavistic baggage of a past where men hold the winning hand. And by the time you realise the dangers and pitfalls, it is too late, you cannot take them off and cast them away. Just like in the fairy tale. To get rid of them you have, according to the fairy tale, to accept to be maimed. A huge price to pay.

I will not pay that price. I want to find a way to take the shoes off without being maimed. I need to get free of them in my head. The first step is again taken from Estes's book. I need to make my scapecoat: a coat that  details in painting, writing and with all manners of things pinned and stitched to it all the name-calling a women has endured in her life, all the insults, all the slurs, all the traumas, all the wounds, all the scars. It is her statement of her experience of being scapegoated. ( Women Who Run With the Wolves Chapter 13) And instead of destroying it, place it somewhere I can see it every day and say to myself: Wow.You must be some woman to have borne all this.

Yet instead of learning to love yourself and make yourself heard when needed, you just fell into the trap of the beautiful red shoes you so willingly adorned one day. That is what I did too but the time has come to change and what better way than to follow the rules of Estes's wild woman:

1. Eat

2. Rest

3. Rove in between

4. Render loyalty

5. Love the children

6. Cavil in the moonlight

7. Tune your ears

8. Attend to the bones

9. Make love

10. Howl often

and as she so aptly says in the very end of her book, it may greatly help to begin with number 10!

My howling time has come.

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