Escaping the Cage

I have always been a highly civilized person. For the most part, I am considerate of others. I am never intentionally rude or bad mannered or insulting. I am not uncouth. I don’t make scenes in public (or private, for that matter). I seldom raise my voice. I listen more than I talk. I dress modestly. I use correct English and am not given to crudeties or foul language. If it’s in my power and nature, I almost always do what others ask. I try to be helpful. In other words, I am tame.

Wheprisonn I was young, a lot of this tameness came from being fearful of doing the wrong thing. I grew up in a shifting emotional atmosphere where from one minute to the next, I didn’t know how I would be treated, so I did the only thing I could — be a good girl. I obeyed. I never talked back. I keep my rebellious thoughts to myself. I did what was expected of me, often before such expectations were even expressed.

As an adult, I continued to be tame. I seemed to know instinctively that any fierce disagreement would only lead to fiercer disagreements, escalating until one of the parties killed the other. Of course, such hostilities generally don’t end in death because somewhere along the line, one of the combatants gives in. Since I knew that in any conflict I would be the one to give in, I never took up the battle in the first place. If I were going to give in, I figured I might as well do so before any damage was done.

I’m still tame, of course. By now it’s not just a habit, it’s who I am. Kind. Conciliatory. Even-tempered. I do experience anger once in a very great while, but those infrequent outbursts flare up quickly and die just as quickly.

Still . . .

There is a untamed side to me — an inner savage, a wild woman, a primitive and elemental being — that I get glimpses of once in a while. I first noticed this untameness when grief descended on me with the all the power of Thor’s hammer. I had no idea I was capable of such feral emotions. Even if I had wanted to, I could not have controlled my grief as I had always controlled my emotions. Grief came in an instant then grew and grew until there was so much pain I wanted to scream. And so I did. Mild-mannered me, tame me, good girl me screamed my agony to the winds.

For the past four years, ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I’ve been feeling an itch for “more.” I have never known what this undefined “more” is, but I’m getting an inkling that it is my wild side. I’m not sure how to unleash the wildness, though. Perhaps just by being aware of my connection to the earth. Perhaps by letting the winds take me where they wish. Perhaps by being spontaneous.

As John O’Donohue wrote in Aman Cara, “To be spontaneous is to escape the cage of the ego by trusting that which is beyond the self.”

To escape the cage. To be wild.

Oh, yes.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

8 Responses to “Escaping the Cage”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Go for it, Pat! Let out the beast…in a safe environment doing an activity that wont get you in trouble. Did that last sentence seem contradictory in any way, shape, or form?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Not contradictory. Being a wild woman isn’t about trouble or danger, it’s about the woman embracing her connection to life, being the person she was meant to be without the bonds of societal conventions or other people’s expectations. It’s about finding the things that call to her from the soul rather than what beckons her from without. It’s about extending her reach, to want what up to now has escaped her. It’s about finding what feeds the hungry beast inside her. It’s about striking out on her own, trusting her instincts yet relying on experience. It’s about the having the courage and boldness to go where she must. Most of all, it’s about living a natural life, following her own rhythms, being true to herself.

  2. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    Jung would say the wild woman inside you is your ID. It is the spontaneous part of everyone. It comes into being when we come onto being and the rest that makes us up comes later. Growing up I was mild-mannered. I suspect that if I had gone into sport more often and had my head handed to me more often I would have had more girlfriends. I have always thought that strange. I suspect that some girls growing into women want to be wild by proxy. Hence bad boys and knuckle-scrappers have a certain popularity.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s an astute comment — I always wondered why girls liked the “bad boys.” I certainly never did, but I can understand wildness by proxy. Makes a lot of sense.

  3. Holly Bonville Says:

    I grew up in a volatile household too. To this day, I will do just about anything to avoid conflict. You never knew what the trigger would be. I just about turned myself inside out to avoid pulling that trigger, which more often than not, failed. I live a pretty tame life, but am not a mouse. I don’t allow people to abuse me, and won’t. I had enough of that as a child. I am now looking for something more too. We walk a similar path on the same timeline. It is very interesting to compare.:)

  4. Carol Says:

    Many of us reach a point in life when we’re no longer nurturing others and finally have the time to nurture ourselves. I was content as a daughter and later as a pastor’s wife, mother and business woman — all rightful and satisfying identities in their time — but I love being able to indulge my passions now that those roles have evolved and I have more freedom. My husband is supportive of my pursuits. Admittedly they aren’t extreme ones that involve escaping to Bali or spending a truckload of money, but most of the days now I’m doing what I *want* to do, not what others expect of me. The thing, of course, was figuring out what it was I wanted to do. What’s *wild* for me probably isn’t the same thing for you. 🙂

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: