Wolves are actually lovely creatures. We need wolves in our world; I saw a video awhile ago that illustrated how big an impact just re-introducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park has been. The wolves changed the ecosystem in a trophic cascade that literally changed the course of a river. Wolves are good creatures to have around.
But not if they appear in people form. Because sometimes? There are people wolves. And just like the story of Little Red Riding Hood, you don’t always realize sweet grandma is a wolf…until you start to question her teeth. But then it’s too late.
I have a friend who told me he sees three kinds of people in the world: sheep, wolves, and shepherds. Sheep are sweet. They wear rose-colored glasses, believe in goodness and kindness, and never harm a thing (except grass). Wolves are dangerous. They’re sheep that have been so damaged, so hurt, they no longer remember. They feed off the sheep, they enjoy hurting the sheep.
And then there are the shepherds. Shepherds are sheep who’ve grown strong. And they know how to recognize the wolves. They carry big, strong sticks and the wolves are afraid of the Shepherds because they know the Shepherds will use the sticks. The wolves avoid the Shepherds because they know the Shepherds will kill them, and not out of pity. The wolves are too damaged.
There’s also that old Cherokee story – you know the one, the one about which wolf will you feed. Everyone has a wolf inside them, we are all sheep and we all have wolves inside us. One is the kind of wolf that causes trophic cascades. They live, they hunt, they only take what they need. And the other is the stuff of fairy tales. Damaged. Ego. Greed. Lies. They are bad. They are cunning and charming and hard to resist. But once they’ve got you, the second you no longer meet their needs or they’re bored or they just can’t help it…they devour you.
I asked my friend, “Am I a wolf or a sheep? Because I’ve hurt people in the past, and I worry.”
He said, “Wolves enjoy hurting others. They take for their own selfish pleasure, and they enjoy hurting others.”
I don’t enjoy hurting others. Let’s take online friendships, for example. I’ve unfriended and unfollowed people online. Never to hurt. Always because something freaked me out or I was scared or I was looking for a way to end some kind of pain someone else was causing me. I know unfriending and unfollowing hurts. But if you’re in a “friendship” that is making you feel bad, then you react to it. I will try much harder in the future not to do this to people I meet online…but now? In the future? I will be much much less open to getting to know people I meet online.
Because I’ve met wolves.
One stalked me. One used me. Both said they loved me. That guy I dated for awhile, the one I wrote about here? He wasn’t a wolf. He was a sheep gone haywire. But not a wolf. I know what a wolf is now. I know how they deceive to get close to you, to devour you. And if you stand up to them, if you say NO, WOLF! STOP! They go in for the kill.
Wolves. Of the dark fairy tale variety.
Here’s the thing about fairy tale wolves though: they’re cowards. The wolf that stalked me? Pure coward. The wolf that used me? Man, y’all. That one was rough. Two years. TWO YEARS of friendship. I loved his family. I gave them my heart and my gifts and my time. I believed him when he said, “I love you.” I thought he would be one of my roots. And then I recognized what he was…because my Shepherds took off my cloak and made me look. Showed me the deception. Showed me the manipulation. Showed me the teeth.
But I still loved him; it’s hard to unlove someone. Isn’t it? When you’ve placed them into your heart and tucked them in as permanently as you can. It’s hard to unlove. And so I said to my friend, the one who taught me about wolves, sheep, and shepherds, “But I thought he was one of my shepherds, he helped me with…”
And my friend said quietly, “Shepherds do not harm the sheep.”
“But he really walked me through and comforted me during…”
“Shepherds never harm the sheep.”
And when I saw the wolf in shepherd’s clothing had blocked me – sunk his teeth as deep and as hard as he could into me then run away laughing, changed an avi picture to one of him smirking, made sure to note on a webpage about one of his blogs something about trolls (fairy tale wolves that hunt at night) – I knew for sure. This was no Shepherd, though he presented himself to me (for two years, TWO YEARS) as one of my most dependable Shepherds. And when I’d question, he’d smooth. And when I’d get upset, he’d soothe. In between, he’d poke, he’d twist, he’d manipulate and toy with me…and then I’d question and he’d smooth. And then I’d get upset and he’d soothe.
I think it’ll be a long time before I trust another man again. My wolf is afraid of me. I’ve got shepherds around me, and he’s afraid. So he’s gone back to his pack, laughing but afraid. He’s worried I’ll come after him, I’ll troll him. I’ll expose him. I’ll blow him out of his hiding spot. He kind of knows I’m not going to hurt him. Other than flipping out on this blog and on social media, did I even ever go after my stalker? Nope. But wolves. They’ve got to cover their asses just to be sure. Wolves are fucked up sheep full of self-hatred. I have a lot of self-hatred, but not quite the kind wolves appear to have.
But here’s the thing about wolves – they don’t understand love. They use the word to deceive, to get close. But they don’t understand it. They don’t love. They don’t know how. They may do good deeds, heroic things even. They may feel love for their pack and their pups. But they don’t love anyone other than themselves, ultimately. They just enjoy hurting others.
Lucky for the wolves, I’m not a shepherd. I’m a sheep. So they’ve got nothing to fear from ME, other than me writing a blog entry they’ll hopefully read and know EXACTLY who I’m talking about (this is YOU, stalker-wolf and writer-wolf).
But one day I’m going to be a Shepherd. I’m not going to feed the Evil Wolf inside of me; I’ve been a sweet, peaceful sheep my whole life…a melancholy sheep, one prone to depressive woe-is-me’ing. An angry sheep, because I’m tired of the other sheep bossing me around and criticizing where I eat the grass and how I eat it. But I love peace and kindness and joy. I care about other people. I’m empathetic. Both my wolves accused me of lacking empathy, when they were the ones causing my hurt and sadness, my fear or anger. They were the ones manipulating, using, and hurting me…I’d get mad and be accused of twisting a knife in them. Damaging THEM.
That’s a wolf. That’s how you know you’re dealing with a wolf. When they start accusing you of doing the things they’ve been doing to you.
Yeah. I’m gonna be a Shepherd one day. And those wolves will need to be afraid, very afraid. Because Shepherds kill quick and they don’t wait around for wolves to change; they know they can’t. Hope I don’t run into any of my wolves one day…when I’m a Shepherd.