Untamed by Glennon Doyle

“Every truth is a kindness, even if it makes others uncomfortable.”

– Glennon Doyle

Doyle’s unusual and courageous memoir changed me. I’d heard about her (and judged her) before reading her. Her book is laid out in short, poignant chapters each one warming me and building on the one before. Her sentences, bold and beautiful, uncover not only herself but me. I found myself in her story.

Doyle’s memoir gives me a vocabulary for our current culture. She gives me words to say what I want: I want to create an island where there is only love in. Only love out. I want to find and trust my Knowing. I want to be wild and brave. I want to learn how to watch grief without turning away. I want to always name God myself, name her, Her. I want to tell my children that God is not “out there somewhere,” unknowable, but within them. I want to make change in the world with my broken heart. I want to show my family what it is to listen and trust my Knowing so they don’t learn to ignore and abuse themselves. I want to celebrate who they truly are. I want to untame myself.

I read a letter I wrote to my children after reading Doyle’s memoir. A letter that said what I’ve been wanting to tell them for so long: that I’m worried religion will teach them to silence their Self – the divine within them; God. First, always, listen to the Knowing inside yourself, your beautiful, divine self.

The book also brought to my memory a moment where I saw my child hold grief. She didn’t push it away, she didn’t ignore it, she didn’t even tell it to be smaller or less. The moment was in a small church classroom, at Jake’s funeral; my husband’s little brother’s funeral. I was busy with the flowers, the children, the crowds, the schedule, looking for my husband. Finally, I found him in the small classroom sitting on a table, sobbing. Our five-year-old daughter stood on the table, holding him, holding his head to her chest with her little plump arms. I wanted to say, “Shhh,” as if that was a comforting sound and not an onomatopoeia to shut up because his grief made me uncomfortable. But Hazel just let him grieve. Let her dad feel all of it and express it uncontrolled. She held his untamed grief like a wise angel.

Doyle’s memoir opened up my memory, letting my memory, my daughter, teach me.