|Meet Basil, our new "office pug." He didn't quite understand the concept of sitting with a book, but he'll get the hang of it.|
"So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn't sit for even one, that's the journey of the warrior." - Pema Chodron "When Things Fall Apart"
Avid readers of Glennon Doyle Melton's blog "Momastary" already know the ending to the story of Glennon and her husband Craig's marriage. In Melton's latest book "Love Warrior: A Memoir" (selected as Oprah's most recent Book Club pick), she delves into her painful past to make sense of the devastation of her marriage.
I don't want to spoil too much about this book because it's worth a read. Melton has legions of devoted fans that may have gotten hooked on her truth waterfalls from her popular blog or from her other New York Times Bestselling book "Carry On, Warrior." Melton has a way of connecting with her readers. She's an Amy Schumer Trainwreck meets Brene Brown's power of vulnerability meets Gloria Steinham. She's not afraid to write the whole ugly truth and she's not afraid to own her story of pain and renewal. She's a highly sought after speaker, and her TedTalk is one of my favorite of all time. I like that she is real and unfiltered. That she writes like a friend telling another friend about her pain and occasionally her joy.
Unlike the collection of essays about parenting in "Carry On, Warrior" that had a charming, playful parenting bent, "Love Warrior" is serious business starting with Melton's slide into bulimia and alcoholism. As a young girl, she finds bulimia in attempt to keep herself small and beautiful. Even after a stint in a mental hospital, she never shakes the habit of binging and purging. In high school and college she turns to alcohol to numb herself from intimate relationships. It's easier to be numb than to feel deeply.
When she meets Craig with his dashing smile and his charm and good looks, she can't believe he is truly interested in her. Their relationship is anything but simple. After she gets pregnant and he takes her to an abortion clinic, she leaves her alone to recover while he goes out for the evening with his friends. The second time she gets pregnant by him and she finds herself at rock bottom on the bathroom floor, she decides that she will have the baby with or without him and that she will turn her life around with or without him.
He decides to stay and marry her. She decides that the can stay and that she will marry him.
That should be their happy ending, but when you have two people - one that only communicates and feels with his body (Craig) and one that only communicates and feels with her head (Glennon), there are bound to be issues, especially when both of them have addictions and secrets and sordid pasts, but only one of them has chosen to be real about them.
What follows after the discovery of Craig's secrets is a story of how love can pull us together and tear us apart. How marriage can be lonely and hopeful all at the same time. How you can marry someone and be with them for years, but never really know them and when you do get to know them how you may not want "for better or for worse" with the person you thought you married. It's a story about finding yourself at rock bottom but finding a way back to who you were truly meant to be.
I loved so much of this book especially that Glennon has a way of writing that speaks to her reader's soul. There were also parts of the book that felt a bit sermonized for me. You need to be okay with all of her God and Spirit talk to fully appreciate her journey. At times the dialogue is so stilted that it was painful. I can only imagine that those real life conversations were just as hard between her and her husband as they tread the delicate path of finding true intimacy with each other after almost losing each other and the family unit that they built.
As she tries to heal from her brokenness Glennon finds yoga as a way to get present in her body again. She finds God as a way to reconnect with her spirit. She learns to breathe. She learns that she is a warrior - a love warrior.
The first 75% of the book had me completely hooked, but at times the long sermonizing and repetition of the second half of the book felt like too much. It's not that I think she is wallowing in her misery (because she's definitely had a hard go of it and she has so much to teach the rest of us), but I wish there could be some joy from time to time. Yes, the story is one of hope and overcoming incredible sadness to try to reconnect with yourself and your marriage, and so that entails a bunch of questioning without a bunch of answering. I get it.
If you are like me, by the end of this book, you are rooting for both sides of the marriage - Glennon and Craig. You hope for them individually and hope for them together. Avid readers of Glennon's blog, "Momastary" already know what becomes of their marriage, but I'll save that for you to find out.