The Lone Wolf Archetype and the Illusion of Independence

How many of you know people who embody the archetype of the lone wolf? I expect most of us do. There is something so attractive-even sexy-about being that independent, bad sandbox player, a little unsafe and mysterious. This can seem attractive enough to drive us to become it, as well as to seek it out in partner form-which can be problematic for a multitude of reasons.

The lone wolf is alone for a reason. They see their independence as primary to their core character. They are proud of their disconnection, or, rather, the perspective that grants them the feeling of disconnection. This perception is the foundation for many of the ills of this world, and always has been. This perception is exactly what I want to tear down in my work with Wild Communion.

Wild Communion is about Integration. And integration is about the acknowledgment of ALL connection. We, as humans, are simply part of the natural world. To see what we have formerly considered to be the natural world-the trees, grasses, clouds, landscapes, and animals as anything other than parts of ourselves is falsehood that has created many levels of this problematic disconnect.

More and more, I am hit with the realization that there is no such thing as being alone in a healthy way, even in the human world. Yes, humans can be difficult, almost impossible, at times. But that does not mean we check out. Yes, it is hard work, navigating the wilderness of relationships. Yes, it hurts, and there are compromises. Yes, there are sleepless nights and worries about how our authentic selves will be received.

I am no stranger to this. Five years ago, the wilderness swallowed me up. I lost my bearings and wandered, not aimlessly, but in a direction I had never intended to wander. I headed toward a divorce, a break from my childhood faith, along with a million other schisms, it seemed. My extended family struggled. But no one reached out for clarification. At that point, I expect no one really wanted to know what was going on. I began to clearly recognize what fear looked like in my mother’s eyes. And I did not like it. But I did not have words…yet. I wanted to “make things better”, but had no idea how to do so. The bubble had popped and there was no going back. But, how was I to go forward?

I set my aim to going back to school, knowing in my core that at the end of that degree was the end of my marriage. I think my then-husband knew as well. He was completely unhelpful during my schooling, with all kinds of reasons as to why he couldn’t show up for me like I showed up for him for his 20 years of schooling. We now have two lawyers and nearly 30K in lawyer’s fees between us now. There was to be no happy ending, with us co-parenting and living as friends, no matter how hard I tried.

The wilderness I live in now is very different than before. Before, it was lonely. I was the only person there. My husband was the barrier between me and my family, making sure I knew how incompetent and entitled they all were. He had created an illusion of my separateness and my family had no recourse. My husband was also the barrier between me and what I now understand to be God. The church ensured that in language as well as in action. I was not to access that power alone, and if I did, no one was obligated to hear me. That was very clear.

As much as an island as that created for me, I was there with my children, living a life that I had been very deliberate in choosing. Yes, my husband had chosen that life as well. But I LIVED it. I cared for a hobby farm, milking goats, making cheese, bartering for hay and healthcare coaching from herbalists and other off-center wisdom keepers. I homeschooled the kids and learned herbal medicines to help them stay healthy, raised and cooked healthy foods and made sure they learned all necessary life skills. I did not teach them everything. Because, as all of you parents know, it is better to facilitate their learning through other adults starting when they are in middle school. It was an adventure every day.

Being a lone wolf was never an option for me. I needed a village to help raise my kids. As a child, I was part of the village that helped raise my siblings. As an adult, I am now part of many villages. I am part of the village that helps to raise my children, my children’s friends, and my boyfriend’s children. I am part of the village that supports my parents, siblings, friends, and co-workers. I am a woman who cracks a joke to see others smile, chats in the check-out at the grocery, and offers to help with whatever is needed. I was raised to feel the duty of community-building and I am grateful.

This desire for strong community was one of the blessings of my having been raised Mormon. The drawback was a neglect of the development of a healthy sense of self, but community…that I could do. Of course, being the creative I am, I wanted far more than a church community and still do. I wanted to raise my children with other families. I wanted to share material things, build lives and relationships, and help each other with the challenges of life as well as share in the joys. I had no idea what a commune was when I was younger, or even as a young mother. But looking back now, that was my dream. I think my subconscious knew that my husband was not going to show up in a way that supported our life and that I was going to need help.

That help came, but not in the way that saved my nervous system from being damaged, nor my adrenal glands from being fried. Help came in the way that allowed space for me to reformat my life, my dreams and goals, and to see what was truly real and valuable. It allowed me to see God in a way I had never before seen her.

The lone wolf is dangerous. His archetype is dishonest and disconnected from the reality that we are “All One”, as Dr. Bronner says all over his packaging. We are. It is true. My way of connection is not yours. Your way is only yours to discover. There is the rub as well as the relief. We cannot follow someone else’s path to wholeness and connection. We must find our own way; a way that is challenging as well as fulfilling. Only we know if we are living in an authentic way and finding the treasures that life holds only for us. May we all do the work to find connection with the human as well as the more-than-human world. There is grief out there, to be sure, but there is also joy. And that joy is worth seeking for.