April : Danielle

“Do not cringe and make yourself small if you are called the black sheep, the maverick, the lone wolf. Those with slow seeing say a nonconformist is a blight on society. But it has been proven over the centuries, that being different means standing at the edge, means one is practically guaranteed to make an original contribution, a useful and stunning contribution to her culture.”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to fit in. I had this intense, insatiable desire for others to like me. No, love me.

As a little girl, I was consumed by the feeling that something about me was unlikable. Unlovable. That only the muted version of myself was acceptable and that anything above that was ostentatious and unsightly. Sadly, some of my earliest memories are filled with these nuances of self-suffocation, subtly and not so subtly changing my behaviour, my language, my clothes, so the people around me would accept me.

I have clear and vivid memories of opening gifts during the holidays and consciously squelching the delirious squeals within me, ecstatic that I had just opened a gift I had been dreaming of because I knew an open display of too much happiness, too much excitement, too much joy meant that I was calling too much attention to myself. That good girls are quiet and that their joy is implied, not visible.

I carried this story with me all of my adolescence, confusedly dancing between the desire to be seen and the desire to be loved, the two seemingly incongruent. I was tortured inside, knowing that the woman that was growing inside of me was incompatible with the girl I presented to the world in order to feel accepted. I assumed that this is how all women must feel and that embracing that was a rite of passage.

“Though her soul requires seeing, the culture around her requires sightlessness. Though her soul wishes to speak its truth, she is pressured to be silent.”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

I passed through college with this same mindset, though it was compounded by the fact that, now, nice girls should not only be polite and accommodating, they should also be perfectly manicured and effortlessly beautiful. Cue the tanning beds, fake eyelashes and bar-hopping. Everywhere I turned I was presented with a new ideal I was expected to meet, a new notch in an ever-growing belt of hypocrisy.

And even still, I could hear a faint and distant call within me. “This isn’t real.” And not in some “Women who wear makeup and go out to bars aren’t real” kind of way, but in the sense that the girl I had created didn’t actually exist. She was a fractured compilation of every story I had ever been told about how a woman should be. Quiet, subdued, polite, sweet, unassuming, over- accommodating. Compliant.

A few more years passed by and I now found myself, a woman in her mid- twenties, with no identity outside of the usual suspects: devoted wife, good friend, helpful sister and daughter. Though now, there were a few more lively characters to add to the bunch. Deep and abiding depression. Bone aching anxiety. Chilling, consuming panic attacks that would visit me daily, sometimes for repeat dances should my internal dancer allow it.

I knew I couldn’t go on in this way. I was desperate, and in my desperation, I threw up a cry for help. A call to action. A prayer, of sorts.

Allow me the grace to crawl out from this hole and I will dedicate my life to unearthing the woman I was sent here to be. And, (because nice girls always throw in extras) once I am able to stand on my own two feet, I will help other women do the same. I will allow myself to be consumed only by the desire to be unchained, unapologetically wild, devoted to unveiling the parts unseen in myself and every other woman I come in contact with.

Now, I didn’t have an Eat, Pray, Love moment where I heard a voice confirming my order, but what I did have was a quiet stirring inside me. A gentle re-calibration akin to rebooting my internal computer. The information was still inside, the old files, the trashcan, the pictures that could stand to be deleted. But what was new was these old files, old experiences, had been removed from my desktop, revealing a blank space to create from. A second chance, not to create the woman I wanted to be, but to meet the woman underneath it all.

Day by day, I became a little bit stronger. I was still experiencing panic attacks, still plagued by dread and doubt, but the space between the sadness became bigger. I could breathe deeper. Sleep longer. Love harder.

I could feel myself climbing out, and once at the top, I saw the landscape had changed dramatically. Here was a brand new world, whose only expectation of me was that I devour it. That I chew my way through every experience, no longer afforded the luxury of cowering in fear or politely declining. I had made a deal, I couldn’t go back to the little girl I once was. I could only go forward, reborn into the woman I had asked to become. To show other women that there is a way. There is a way to capture and keep the beautiful, soft, sweet parts of ourselves but that it need not be at the expense of our wildness.

“Bone by bone, hair by hair, Wild Woman comes back. Through night dreams, through events half understood and half remembered...”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

The rest of the story is contained in a chapter I am still writing, though this one has a decidedly different tone. Triumphant. Humble. Hungry.

Once riddled with anxiety, too afraid to leave my home, I now travel the world taking in every damn wild experience I can get my hands on. And through my work (because nice girls keep their word) I am helping other women do the same. I still carry the wounds of feeling weird, strange, unlovable with me too, and I even pull them out and look at them from time to time. Hell, sometimes they pull themselves out. Now, however, I am able to see them for what they are and put them back where they belong - on the shelf next to all of the other stories I was told to believe about myself that I know now to be untrue. And now (because a Wild Woman is whatever the fuck she wants to be) I welcome all parts of myself to the table, without shame.
Without fear.

Only Love. 

Danielle is a peace hunter, truth teller, dream weaver.

A lady of the wild Canadian woods, her goal is to marry the seen parts of her farm-fresh reality to the unseen cosmic reality she knows to be true.

Moments are passed collecting eggs, mixing potions and simmering in sisterhood.

Using Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology, Yogic Philosophy and Wild Woman Wisdom, she guides her fellow humans down the path towards radical self love and the discovery that magic does indeed exist.

Come play at Daniellebertoia.com 
Or follow her on Facebook & Instagram !

(Photocredit : Fancy Free Photography & Jason Yokobosky Photography)