Best Self Magazine

Interview: Glennon Doyle | The New Activism

Glennon Doyle, Momastery, photo by Bill Miles

Glennon Doyle

The New Activism: Truth-Telling, Showing Up & Getting Real

May 5, 2017, New York City

Photographs by Bill Miles

Nobody is more ready to show up than anybody else. It’s just that some people show up before they’re perfect and before they’re ready.

Kristen:           Hi Glennon. Welcome to New York City!

Glennon:         Oh thank you. I love it here.

Kristen:           Thank you for sitting down with Best Self on this rainy Friday morning. If you could just bear with me, I would love to gush over you for a second as I introduce you to our audience.

Glennon:         I think I can handle that.

Kristen:           Glennon Doyle is a writer, momma, dreamer, sought-after speaker, love flash mob revolutionary, online community leader, Sunday school teacher, activist, truth teller, hope spreader — who calls herself a ‘recovering everything’, and believer in all things ‘brutiful’. Not beautiful, brutiful, which I’ll let her explain in a moment. In between all of that, she has written 2 New York Times best-selling books, Love Warrior, and Carry on, Warrior. Glennon is the founder of Momastery, an online community reaching millions of people each week. She is also the creator and president of Together Rising, a nonprofit organization that has raised millions of dollars for families around the world and has revolutionized online giving.

I’m so excited to sit down with you today, Glennon. Let’s start with ‘brutiful’.

Glennon:         I figured out early on that the most important parts of life, for me, would be sobriety, relationships, love, and faith. These things are so beautiful and also so brutally hard. All at the same time, beautiful and brutal. The thing that I tried to do for so long is numb out the brutal. That’s what addiction is — it’s a hiding place from pain and numbing out. If you numb the brutal, you don’t get to experience the beautiful. At some point along the line, I just said, “Okay, I’ll take all of it.”

Kristen:           When I was reading this beautiful book of yours [holding Love Warrior] and simultaneously drying out my highlighter, I was thinking to myself: I’ve got to interview her.

I believe in timing. I actually feel very fortunate that I’m getting to interview you at this point and time in your life, because in many ways I feel like you are more cracked open, more activated, more recklessly telling the truth.

Glennon Doyle, photograph by Bill MilesGlennon:         Oh yes. God, it’s good to be in your 40’s. I would not go back to 30 or 20 for all the money in the world. I feel like in the beginning, we just live for everybody else, and we’re just trying to fit into all of these boxes and trying to be what the world wants us to be. And then when all of that falls apart — we’re free.

I feel so free. I feel freer and freer every year.

Kristen:           We’re actually lucky if it falls apart and we’re lucky if we travel through it, right?

Glennon:         Yes.

Kristen:           Most people don’t realize that there’s such a long period of time between handing in a manuscript to your publisher and finally seeing it on a bookshelf. Especially writing a memoir, which chronicles a moment in time of your life, a lot of life happens in between.

Glennon:         That’s hard for some people with Love Warrior, because that is the story of my life, and specifically the implosion of that marriage and then the healing of my marriage. It ends with my husband — my now ex-husband — and I seemingly redeemed, our marriage redeemed. In many ways it was, but then books end and life goes on. When Love Warrior came out, that story had been written two years beforehand. I was on the road with people who had just finished my book and were so hopeful for my marriage. I had to say, “Oh no, no, no. That’s over.”

So, when you are a writer and you’re releasing books, you are always on the road representing yourself from years ago, which is interesting.

Kristen:           Let’s go back for a minute — I don’t want to gloss over this story. On the outside, your life looked perfect. Setting the stage: you’re married, happily married. You’ve got three kids, a doting husband, a writing career, and then BOOM. Life cracks open.

What happened?

Glennon:         12 years into the marriage, 3 kids, career taking off — my husband told me one day in therapy that he had been unfaithful to me throughout our entire marriage. So, it was a bad day! [smirking sarcastically]

Kristen:           That’s a boom.

Glennon:         I was doing what so many women do, which is that I had my entire identity wrapped up in the roles that I was playing. I was a wife. I was a mother. I was a writer. At the time I was a relationship expert, so I remember thinking, “Well, that gig is probably over.” [laughing]

Kristen:           Time to take a look at the Classifieds.

Glennon:         I think as women, we think that the way we’re supposed to grow up is we’re supposed to become things. So I became, I became, I became.

We end up like those Russian nesting dolls. We’re just putting on bigger and bigger costumes until we lose ourselves. The beautiful thing about getting an eviction notice from your life, like I did in that therapy session, is that we don’t get evicted from our lives unless we’re also being invited to a truer life, a better life.

Kristen:           Those sirens are ringing for you. [NYC street sirens]

Glennon:         I would say angels. So, that was a hard eviction, but what I figured out is that we cannot, as women, put all of our identities in the people that we love or the roles that we play. We cannot put our worth and our identity in things that can be taken away from us.

So, the reason why you look at me now and think that I’m free and strong is because women who’ve been to rock bottom in their lives get to experience fully and learn the truth about life — which is that the only things you really need are the same things that can never be taken from you. That’s why women who have been through it are the brave ones who can laugh at the days to come. Fear just dissipates when you lose what you think you need and you realize you didn’t need it in the first place.

           You did try to save your marriage by going to therapy

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