Best-selling author and Momastery bloggerGlennon Doyle stopped in Kansas City on her book tour. The tour is for Love Warrior, a memoir that was already out of date when it was published four years ago. The book was billed as a redemption story about her marriage to Craig Melton. He confessed that he had been unfaithful throughout their marriage, and this book is a memoir about what happened next. However, less than a week before the book launched - as an Oprah selection, no less - she and her husband decided to divorce. Everyone in her circle said that announcing the divorce before the book launch and six week tour would be "career suicide". But Glennon insisted that she tell people because pretending that her marriage had survived chronic infidelity when it actually hadn't would have chipped away at her integrity - and that would be "soul suicide". A tad cheesy, but I do agree with her on integrity. Your character is everything and once its compromised, it's gone.
Glennon Doyle, a buzz. Sorry it's out of focus! She was literally buzzing with energy.
The first question she fielded was so insightful, I thought it was a plant. A woman in the audience asked her what it was like, touring to promote a book that was so out of date, considering that she divorced in part because she realized she was gay and in love with Abby Wambach, to whom she's now married.
Abby was in the audience, in fact, just a few seats away from me. Glennon sort of slid out of her chair, pretending she was utterly exhausted from talking about how devastated she was after her divorce, a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the irony of selling a book about putting her first marriage back together, when she's now married to the love of her life - but her spouse is not her husband. You can see how a gal might get tired of it, and an audience, too. But that just speaks to her authenticity and charisma. I'm guessing 99% of the people in that room own the book (myself included, although I haven't yet read it), but no one there felt like she was trying to make another quick buck by going on tour to support the paperback. Even though she has moved on in her life to a much happier place, the experiences of her first marriage are still valuable and relevant.
I loved hearing her talk about her love story with Abby. I'm fascinated by how people meet, how they find each other. You know the end of When Harry Met Sally, where the old couples talk about how they met as the credits roll? I love that.
Glennon and Abby meet briefly for the first time at a dinner with several other writers. She joked that having dinner with writers is awful because writers aren't good at small talk and mingling - they write precisely so they don't have to interact with people. So, she was suffering through this dinner, which was part of a larger event like a conference or publishing forum or something, and in walks Abby. I don't think Abby behaved in a special, attention-seeking way. She didn't strut into the room or announce herself - she was just late to dinner. When Glennon saw her, she stood up, arms out to her side, palms out, as if trying to suppress the urge to raise them over her head in triumph, and she said out loud, "There she is!"
Her spirit knew that she'd just found the love of her life.
My spirit *never* knows.
Even if my spirit did know, if I were to do that the first time the love of my life entered a room, he'd think I was a crazy woman and would sit as far away from me as possible. I am not adorable, petite, sparkly Glennon - girls like that can get away with these things. I sparkle, sure. But so does an inferno at a fireworks factory.
Truth be told, it was a rather unmemorable first meeting. She said they talked for about 10 minutes in the hallway after dinner, but that's all. They met briefly and they parted ways. But as with all great loves, that was all it took. The Universe just needed to make an introduction. The rest would take care of itself.
This was not long after Abby had been arrested for drunk driving. I don't want to put words in her mouth, but based on what Glennon said, I think Abby was feeling sort of wounded, like she had disappointed people she cared about and wasn't sure she could redeem herself [SPOILER ALERT: anyone can be redeemed]. Glennon's reaction was "That's it? You got arrested for DWI? That's, like, a Tuesday." This is because Glennon has had a very tough road herself and has made the same bad decision more than once. I think fully acknowledging your own failings makes you more empathetic. Glennon was perfectly positioned to understand the self-loathing Abby might have felt, and she could support her by reminding her that she didn't need to beat herself up about it. You screwed up. Pay your penance, learn the lesson, and move on - but be better for it. That's how you redeem mistakes: you learn from them.
After meeting at that dinner, Abby went to Paris for a job with ESPN. They fell in love with one another by writing letters. How incredibly romantic! They fell in love despite never spending time alone together, without touching one another. Hands were never held, lips were not kissed - it's positively Puritanical. And yet.... Love.
When Glennon realized she was in love with Abby, she knew she had to divorce Craig. Not so she could marry Abby, although that did happen, but because she didn't want to teach her children that you stay in an unhappy marriage because it's marriage. She said a small part of her would always hate Craig and she didn't want that to fester - and you can't hide the emotional truth from your children. No matter how many times you say "Mommy and Daddy are happy," the kids will know if that isn't true. She quoted Carl Jung, saying “The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents.” Damn. That is powerful. I wish more parents knew that. I'm not trying to encourage divorce - but children are happiest when their parents are happy, and sometimes not being married to each other truly is best for all concerned. Glennon is teaching her children that she can have happiness and love with Abby while still respecting and caring about their father. She wrote on her blog, "you can forgive someone and love someone and at the very same time know that you cannot be with them anymore." There's a certain elegance to that, like the autumn leaf that knows when to let go.
By all accounts, everyone - Abby, Glennon, Craig, and their 3 children - is happy.
Glennon also talked about going from celebrated Christian mommy blogger to a pariah in the eyes of many Christians because she's gay and married to a woman. She said she always disavowed the Christian church's teaching that God thinks homosexuality is a sin and gay people will go to hell. She said that if you attend a church that teaches this, you must stand up and leave because someday, you might find that you have a child or sibling or best friend who is gay and that person will always wonder what you really think unless you've always been unwavering in your embrace. You can't sit in a pew while a minister tells you homosexuality is wrong and then tell you child you love them no matter what, because your child will remember your tacit acceptance of that hateful sentiment. You must stand up and denounce bigotry and homophobia whenever you encounter it, because someday you may realize they're talking about someone you love, maybe even you. I couldn't agree more.
This led to a broader discussion of "being Christian." Glennon says that Jesus challenges us to change ourselves so that we can be more like him. This is an interesting perspective and one I hadn't considered. I don't know why, exactly. It's so simple, so obvious. Jesus wants you to be like Jesus... to be more like Jesus, we must change. If we go about our daily lives, it's unlikely we will be asked to feed the hungry, aid the poor, or heal and comfort the sick. We can only do those things if we are purposeful - if we go out of our way to encounter a hungry, poor, or sick person. We must, at the very least, change our routine, and then our actions.
The only things that scripture mentions that don't require you to change, according to Glennon, are abortion and homosexuality. She said the people telling us what scripture means are generally older, rich, white men. Careful: that is not to say they are priests or pastors. How often do people in leadership (think city council, school boards, Congress) say homosexuality is wrong because the bible says so, or abortion is wrong because it's murder. It's easy to rail on those two issues because they don't require you to change. A heterosexual is never going to be gay; no man will ever have an abortion. But asking someone to give money or time to help the hungry, poor, or sick - that asks them to change something in their own life, to sacrifice something of themselves. She said they focus on the scriptural elements that don't require them to change (abortion & homosexuality) because it's a grand distraction that makes people forget about everything else that scripture says we're supposed to do: aid the poor, the refugee, the elderly, the sick. She said that anyone who says they're Christian should first make sure they're changing themselves, sacrificing something in their life. Otherwise, they probably aren't doing it right. Food for thought.
All in all, an inspiring, renewing hour spent with Glennon. Better than church!