Practicing the Art of Being Wild ‘n Free

Practicing the Art of Being Wild 'n Free

By: Susan Schiller

For centuries the bald eagle has been a symbol of freedom in our country. This past weekend my husband and I paddled a canoe for over 20-miles down the lazy Tongue River, in eastern Montana. The Tongue River borders the Cheyenne reservation and we didn't see a single human during the 8-hour excursion, but we did see over a dozen eagles out fishing and hunting. This mama eagle and her fledgling teenager posed as statues as we passed directly under their perch. Fearless, they held their ground and didn't flutter a wing.

And that's the way we're designed to live: fearless! We the people… fearless…. wild 'n free. Independent but also inter-dependent. Resourceful. Diligent. Powerful. Americans. Land of the free. Home of the brave. Sort of… or maybe not.

On the other hand, my husband and I saw many Great Blue Herons, and every single heron flew quickly away from us. A heron is a large, powerful bird – but it doesn't have the same confidence of the bald eagle. It is quick to flee. We passed ducks, beavers, wild horses, and more animals, who all ducked, dove, stampeded, or took flight…  only the Bald Eagles had no fear of us.

The bald eagle symbolizes a nation of powerful, fearless people…. right?

Size and strength make no difference. In fact, the wild horses started a stampede shortly after our canoe rounded the bend! The earth trembled with the thunder of hundreds of hooves pounding the damp ground. It inspired a deep sense of awe and wonder in my soul to witness these massive creatures powerfully lunging across the river and up the muddy bank.

Being "free" and "fearless" don't always go hand-in-hand, but it would be nice!

A century ago, 90% of Americans owned their own homes and businesses and most had a 6-month reserve of food and savings – an emergency fund. We were a free people, not without troubles or problems, but our foundation was strong.

Could it be that we Americans have been gradually worn down, dumbed down, and forced to become overly government-dependent… just like the victim of a sociopathic husband? Is it possible, do you think, for a whole country to be subjugated right under the noses of nice, good people, the cultural equivalent of a sociopathic household?

Maybe the world can learn something from survivors of sociopathic abuse. Because if there is nothing else we have learned, it's that nothing is as it really seems to be. Our illusions have been shattered. We no longer trust appearances or the charming, eloquent speeches. We know it's a fight originating from within ourselves to be free again.

We know we can never do business with, live with, or tolerate a sociopath in our lives again.

One out of every 25 people is a sociopath. That's a conservative statistic. Sociopaths gravitate toward positions of respect and authority, so it's highly likely that you are living, working, or negotiating with one of them on a daily basis.

Married life with a sociopath is like living under Hitler. Survivors of sociopathic abuse have lived with their own personal "Hitler" in the concentration camp of their mind for decades, in many cases. It's nearly impossible to escape without outside help. To go from subjugated to wild 'n free is a huge leap, and it takes practice.

It may take decades of practice for survivors to truly become "wild 'n free" – fearless.

Subjugation is the end-goal of a sociopath's abuse. His tried and true methods are so smooth and gradual that often the victim is not aware that her freedom is being sacrificed on the altar of this tyrant. This is a systematic abuse; not haphazard or accidental. It's intentionally designed to thoroughly and completely wear the victim out, inside and outside.

If "freedom" could be measured on a spectrum, subjugation would be on one end and "wild 'n free" would be on the opposing end. When God created us, He made us to be completely, totally, entirely, 100-percent free. Wild 'n free.

If you think you've never been the victim of sociopathic abuse, please think again. Look around at the people's faces in your circle of friends and family. Who do you see that is truly wild 'n free? Can you name at least five people who are relatively fearless?

I believe survivors of sociopathic abuse have something unique to share with our brothers and sisters. We have seen more evil face-to-face than most people ever will. Our illusions have been shattered. We will never be "innocent" or "naive" again. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that one simply cannot live with a sociopath, do business with a sociopath, go to church with a sociopath, or share any of your heart or brain space with a sociopath!

I believe America can learn from survivors of sociopathic abuse. I believe our churches can learn from us. I believe we can turn this around by creating change from the inside, and that it begins with education.

Education is the difference between Now and Wonderful.

In the meantime, I'm still practicing the art of being wild 'n free. Are you? If you could choose, which animal, would you say, most closely resembles your own character?

As for me, I think I'm a beaver right now… hard-working, diligent, but I dive under water and out of sight at the least sound, incredibly shy… but my goal is to be fearless and to fly!

Your turn… please do share in the comment box below – I love to hear from you πŸ™‚

All my love,


Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate her way out of hell to a rich and satisfying life. In her lifetime, Susan has served in duties ranging from home school mom – to pastor –  to full-time deliverance minister – and to Midwest regional prayer coordinator for a large international ministry. These days you can usually find Susan soaking in her favorite hot springs pool, reading a book (or several), blogging, baking bread, or hanging out with her family and friends. You can get a free copy of Susan's upcoming book, "On the Way Home" by registering here.

Copyright 2012, Susan McKenzie, Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline and bio, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica Stone August 28, 2013 at 7:54 am

Oh my goodness – this is such a great article and oh, so true!  What has happened to Americans?  Thankfully, God is still on His throne!!  I love the shot of the wild horses – I can relate to them (besides loving horses in their majesty and power).  I feel like I've been a squirrel, shifting back and forth – you know, like they do when they hit the edge of the road – "do I go?  do I not?" – for such a long time.  Now, I'm more like the horse – learning to run in my own power without others holding power over me… and jumping to fly like an eagle, trusting that God will carry me on His wind!  Awesome article!  


Susan Schiller August 28, 2013 at 8:17 am

I love your heart, Jessica… don’t forget how squirrels play. It’s almost like they can fly, the way they run up and down the trees. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Jessica – I hope you get to fly today πŸ™‚


marvia August 27, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Love that question about which animal are you.  I think I might just be a beaver too for some of the same reasons.  Here's to living more boldly and bravely!


Susan Schiller August 28, 2013 at 6:32 am

With all that you get done, Marvia, there has to be a lot of beaver in you… but I’m sure there’s much more – thanks for taking time to come by today! πŸ™‚


Agnes Knowles August 27, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Hi, Susan,  I also live in area populated by eagles and herons and a variety of other "wildlife".  Nature certainly has its food chain and I think the creature who flees is not necessarily fearful, but rather just smart.

As for my animal counterpart… I think a variety pack, no one animal but traits from several.  I do love being free though so certainly no cage for me!


Susan Schiller August 27, 2013 at 6:58 pm

That is true, Agnes… I like your “variety pack” option… with no cages! Thanks so much for coming by today and sharing πŸ™‚


Sharon O'Day August 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Brilliant comparison between what is happening to our country … and the lessons you've learned about sociopathic behavior.  (The link to leadership is particularly poignant.)  What we shouldn't forget is that sociopathic behavior is not ONLY found in people already in power — it's often found in those who lack power but want it desperately.  One in 25?  I know I've met my fair share!  πŸ˜‰  I don't have a quick answer to what animal resembles me in character; I'll have to let that one simmer and get back to post it later.  Thanks for taking us on your wonderful weekend journey, Sue.  Hope having us in the canoe with you didn't make the paddling too difficult!


Susan Schiller August 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Hi Sharon,

Another way to look at it, is that 24 out of 25 are not sociopathic….

You make a great point here, that sociopathy is often found in lesser characters who would like to be in power but who are too insecure. Thanks for coming along with me on the weekend journey and sharing πŸ™‚


Linda Honea August 27, 2013 at 11:51 am

Susan,  the words "my husband" stand out to me in this story.  It's like I hear your voice loving, enjoying and honoring this man with these special words.
Your words are like a lighthouse on a distant shore, beckoning us all to hope, to stand and to live!


Me again Linda Honea August 27, 2013 at 11:55 am

OOOPS!  I forgot to say which animal I resemble…
I see and fly like an eagle, but there are times I try to clothe myself in "sparrow" feathers, hanging out on the ground and under bushes.


Susan Schiller August 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I can relate to that, my sister…. let’s hang out with more eagles, I say…. it’s the best way to keep flying high πŸ™‚

Thanks so much for sharing, Linda <3


Susan Schiller August 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Yes, he is a husband worthy of honor and respect, love and so much more than I know yet how to give!

((((( Linda )))) Your man is coming for you!


Lorraine McNulty August 26, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Wow such a powerful post!
I live on a lake and we see Great Blue Herons most days. They are majestic birds indeeds. We also see eagles and beavers.

You know the strange thing is they all seem to live together in harmony. Something we can learn from them maybe?


Susan Schiller August 26, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Yes, Lorraine – it’s amazing, isn’t it, that they all live in harmony. It sounds like you live in a very beautiful, peaceful place on earth! There is so much to learn from nature – what an extraordinary teacher even the smallest creature can be for us. when I want to learn something, I like to go outdoors!

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing, Lorraine!


Keri Kight August 26, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Wonderful post Susan.  I would love to see wild horses in person; how beautiful that must be.  They surely are free.  

A few years ago, I was in a relationship with a emotionally abusive, controlling boyfriend, so I understand what it's like to feel like you're in a cage.  When I finally broke free of him, it felt awkard at first, like I didn't know how to walk on my own.  It did take a few years before I felt like myself again.  I now mentor women on how to gain their voice back, and realize who they really are.  

Thank you for sharing.  πŸ™‚


Susan Schiller August 26, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Wow Keri… you’ve lived a few lifetimes in your 1st quarter century alone! It does take a few years to recover, doesn’t it? Identity and finding your voice definitely go hand-in-hand and are so important in the recovery process. I’m glad you’re out there making a difference! Way to go πŸ™‚


Sharron August 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Wow, powerful post!  Things are truly not always as they seem.  It is in those times, we need to trust our gut. Thanks for sharing 


Susan Schiller August 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Hi Sharron… it’s great to meet you, and thanks for reading and sharing! πŸ™‚


Merle Gibbins August 26, 2013 at 11:59 am

Loved your story Susan, thanks for sharing.


Susan Schiller August 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Thanks so much, Merle – I appreciate you stopping by πŸ™‚


Jeanne Costello August 26, 2013 at 9:29 am

Susan, I saw your wild horses photo on FB and loved it. I wish you had that in a video. I have noticed about all these pretty birds like herons how fearful they are, because I try to take photos of them. I love that picture of the wild horses even more than the eagles. The eagle is such a prophetic image though. They can see a mouse on the ground from the longest distance – I think it might be 3 miles…and they are so focused!I love that they never moved. I bet you are in good shape to paddle 20 miles in a canoe! You're amazing! 

I see myself as a wild horse. My hubby thinks I would definitely be a wild animal and picked the antelope….fast and out of the box he says. 


Susan Schiller August 26, 2013 at 9:42 am

Hi Jeanne!

It’s so good to see you again πŸ™‚

I had to laugh when you said, “I bet you are in good shape to paddle 20 miles…” Oh no, no, no! πŸ™‚ We had a good current, going most of the way, which helps a lot…. but more than that is my husband who faithfully paddled long after my arms gave out! In fact, I laid down in the bow and fell asleep for good long while!

I used to be in good shape and I really miss being active, but if my husband has his way with me, I’ll be in good shape again one day! Soon!

Thanks so much for coming by, Jeanne – I miss you!!!


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