I just finished listening to Glennon Doyle Melton’s new memoir, “Love Warrior.”
For five days her voice accompanied me on my commute to college, my head nodding at seemingly every other sentence, my mouth shouting “Yes!” at frequent intervals, while my hand slammed against the steering wheel in wild agreement.
It has never been my experience before to feel sadness on finishing a book, but after this one I wanted to hit replay immediately. It was as though I had been speaking intimately with a new best friend all week, and then suddenly she disappeared.
That, I think, is what makes Glennon Doyle Melton so popular: she speaks the truth to a depth many of us don’t dare allow ourselves to travel to, and we’re all starving for that kind of openness and authenticity. That’s why we want to hang on when she’s done; we want to experience that same truth and presence in our own lives.
I recently heard it said by author and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Greg McKeown that the biggest new discovery of this century won’t be anything to do with technology—it will be the discovery of self ( tweet that!)
There has been a strong existential movement over the last few years towards self-discovery and finding our authentic sense of place in the world. We want it all, but in wanting —and sometimes having—it “all” we have lost ourselves. And so as we search for balance and meaning, we are learning to figure out how to be our most authentic selves in the world. Because in the search for it all, we’re sometimes ending up with nothing of any real value.
The reason why people are raving about Love Warrior (apart from the fact that it happens to be the latest pick in Oprah’s book club) is that it breathes truth into who we are and our collective search to be seen, known and loved.
“Love Warrior” breathes truth into who we are and our universal need to be seen and loved.” (Tweet that!)
Melton leaves few stones unturned in telling her story. She details the most intimate actions in every area of her life, from bulimia and drug addiction, to alcoholism and a broken marriage.
Whether readers agree with Melton’s willingness to put it all out there for public consumption or not, they can’t help but admire the courageous way in which she delivers invaluable life lessons between the folds of her pages.
Anyone who opposes such flagrant vulnerability may benefit from asking the questions, “Why do I think she revealed too much? When did I learn that keeping my whole self under wraps is the best way to live? What scares me about speaking my own truth in this way?”
Like it or not, Melton’s bold and courageous voice is shaking people awake.
Why speaking our truth is so hard
I don’t reveal myself in my writing to quite the extent Melton does, but I do go far enough that people often comment on my bravery. This tells me most people don’t feel able to speak their truth in the same way. This wouldn’t matter if we were being open and authentic in our daily lives, but I don’t believe most of us are. Western culture living seems to be more about hiding and hustling than showing up (tweet that!)
I wonder, if we all were authentically open with what we really think and how we truly feel, would we be communicating on a vastly different level? A real and honest level?
Often we don’t speak our truth—even with those we are closest to—because we are afraid of the consequences. We’re afraid of what people will think and how it will affect our relationships. The irony is, the closest and most successful relationships are between people who are showing up as their most authentic selves.
What guilt has to do with it
A major theme running through all our lives is guilt. There are two types of guilt, one of which will slowly kill you (tweet that!)
The first is the guilt that comes from wanting to please others but feeling unable to do so. The second, is the guilt that comes from wanting to be true to ourselves but feeling that we don’t have the time or need to put others first. Whichever we choose, we are usually letting either other people down, or ourselves. We can’t win.
But which one will kill you? Letting down yourself.
We can’t please everyone all of the time. But if we lose ourselves in trying to do so, who and what do we ultimately become?
One of the strongest themes in Melton’s memoir is authenticity. Her journey takes her from a place of being completely lost and alone, to discovering who she is. Once she finds meets that person, she refuses to let her go, no matter what the cost.
Try the following writing prompts to give you an idea of where you are on your own journey with truth, guilt and authenticity:
- What is your immediate reaction to this kind of book, where a person reveals everything about themselves on the page?
- In which areas of your life do you feel you are most authentic?
- In which areas of your life are you afraid to speak your truth?
- Do you tend to feel more guilty if you are letting others down or letting yourself down? (Tweet the prompt!)
Share your thoughts in the comments, and if you’ve read “Love Warrior” I’d love to hear what you think!
Image credit: Amanda Tipton