#1 New York Times Bestseller
Oprah's Bookclub 2016 Selection
"Riveting…a worthy investment…this book has real wisdom."
—New York Times Book Review
"Provocative….I adore her honesty, her vulnerability, and her no-nonsense wisdom, and I know you will, too."
The highly anticipated memoir by bestselling author Glennon Doyle, Love Warrior tells the story of her journey of self-discovery after the implosion of her marriage.
Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out—three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list—her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.
Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another—and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they’ve been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, commit to living true—true to themselves and to each other.
Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.
About the Author
Glennon Doyle is the author of the New York Times bestseller Carry On, Warrior and founder of the online community Momastery, where she reaches more than one million people each day. She is also the creator and president of Together Rising, a nonprofit organization that has raised close to five million dollars for families around the world through its Love Flash Mobs, which have revolutionized online giving. Glennon is a sought-after public speaker, and her work has been featured on The TODAY Show, The Talk, OWN, and NPR; in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Glamour, Family Circle, Parents Magazine, Newsweek, Woman’s Day, and The Huffington Post; and in other television and print outlets. Glennon lives in Florida with her family.
Read an Excerpt
I was loved. If love could prevent pain, I'd never have suffered. My leather baby book with Glennon branded on the front is one long poem written by my father and filled with pictures of my tender-faced mother holding my pink, flaky, braceleted hand. About my birth, my father wrote:
It really wasn't a cry That first noise It was a fanfare Announcing a marvel That will never Be Repeated There are no satin sheets There are no handmaidens No emissaries with jewels No trumpets or announcements Where are they!
I was loved. Just like my daughter is loved. And still, one evening, she sat on the edge of my bed, looked up at me with naked brown eyes, and said, "I'm big, Mama. I'm bigger than the other girls. Why am I different? I want to be small again." Her words came out jagged, like she hated to break this to me, like she was ashamed to reveal her hidden truth. I took in her tears, pigtails, lip gloss, and the dirt on her hands — left over from climbing the banyan tree in our front yard. I scanned my mind for a response worthy of her, but there was nothing to find. Everything I'd learned about bodies, womanhood, power, and pain scattered upon hearing how my little girl said the word big. Like big was her curse, her irrefutable condition, her secret, her fall from grace. Like big was something inevitably unfolding inside of her that threatened her contract with the world.
My daughter was not asking: How will I deal with my body size? My daughter was asking: How will I survive being this particular type of person in this particular type of world? How will I stay small like the world wants me to? And if I keep growing, how will anyone love me? I looked at my daughter and I did not say But you do not look big, honey. She didn't, but neither do I. I've never looked big a day in my life. No matter. My daughter and I pay attention. We know what the world wants from us. We know we must decide whether to stay small, quiet, and uncomplicated or allow ourselves to grow as big, loud, and complex as we were made to be. Every girl must decide whether to be true to herself or true to the world. Every girl must decide whether to settle for adoration or fight for love. There on the bed, in her pigtails and pain, my daughter was me — the little girl I once was, the woman I am now, still struggling to answer the questions: How can I be expansive and free and still be loved? Am I going to be a lady or am I going to be fully human? Do I trust the unfolding and continue to grow, or do I shut all of this down so I fit?
I am four years old and my father is a football coach at our neighborhood high school. On game night, my mom bundles me up in a fluffy coat, earmuffs, and mittens. When she's done, she kneels in front of me and admires her work. She is pleased. She moves her hands to my cheeks, pulls my face toward hers, and kisses my nose. Together we wrap my baby sister, Amanda, in a puffy snowsuit. Amanda is our gift, and my mom and I spend all day wrapping and unwrapping her. When she's dressed, we take turns leaning over and kissing her cheeks while she kicks and giggles — her arms jutting straight out from her sides like a starfish.
We pile into our van, drive to the high school, and listen as leaves crunch under our boots during our walk toward the stadium. As we climb the popcorn-littered stairs, the drum of the marching band fills my chest, the smell of hot dogs fills my lungs, and the roar of the crowd fills my head. The night is thumping chaos, but my mittened hand is safe inside my mother's and she guides me forward. When we reach the entrance, the ticket ladies smile, put their hands over their hearts, and say, "Aren't you three the most precious things?" They wave us in, because we are the coach's girls, so we don't have to pay. Mom and I smile at the ladies, say thank you, and together we join the crowd under the bright stadium lights. When they see us, the students and parents collectively hush and step aside. A path appears. Quiet reverence is the world's response to my mother's beauty. When people see her, they pause and wait, full of hope, until her eyes rest upon them. Her eyes always do. My mother takes her time with people. Strangers give her their attention and she returns it. She is a queen who reigns with kindness. This is why people stare. They look because she's lovely, but they stare because she's love. I am always studying my mother and I am always watching other people watch my mother. She is such a beautiful child, strangers say to my mother daily. I have to learn what to do because beauty is a responsibility. People expect so much of it, it seems.
My childhood beauty is apparent in pictures: golden brown ringlets to my waist, porcelain skin, a smile as wide as the horizon, and bright hazel eyes. When strangers admire me, I practice returning their attention. I understand that beauty is a form of kindness. It is for giving away, and I try to be generous. In an attempt to maintain balance, my parents often remind me that I'm smart. I'm an early reader and, at four, converse like an adult. But I soon realize that smart is more complicated than beautiful. Strangers come close and pat my curls, but when I speak to them with confidence and clarity, their eyes widen and they pull back. They are drawn in by my smile but repelled by my boldness. They recover quickly by laughing, but the pulling away is done. I have felt it. They wanted to adore me and I complicated things by inserting myself into their experience of me. I begin to understand that beauty warms people and smart cools people. I also understand that being loved for beauty is a tenuous situation for a girl. Years later, when I become less beautiful, when I no longer have regal ringlets to pat or perfect skin to admire, when I'm no longer small and simple and precious, I wonder how I'll ever be worthy of offering or receiving love. Losing my beauty will feel like a fall from grace, rendering me useless. It will be as if I have not kept my end of the deal and the whole world is disappointed in me. Without beauty, what do I have left to warm people with?
But for now, the three of us are still perfect. We snuggle into the stands and cheer for our team together. When the game is over, I run onto the field because my dad is looking for me, always looking for me. I run through the players' padded legs toward my father and he lifts me up above his head. His players step aside to give us room. We spin until the stadium lights and the crowd blend together and the whole world is a blur. All that's clear is my dad below me. He puts me down, and while I steady myself I see that my mom and sister have made their way to us. As she approaches, my mom shines all her brilliance at my dad. She is brighter and more powerful than all the stadium lights combined. My dad hugs her with both arms and then takes our starfish baby and kisses her cheeks. The four of us are an island. This celebration happens after every game, whether we've won or lost. We are my dad's victory. We turn and process out through the crowd — no longer an island, now a parade — and people smile and wave and the four of us hold hands and sing the high school's fight song all the way back to the van.
I'm ten years old and trying to disappear into the corner of the velour couch in my grandmother's living room. My cousins chase each other from room to room, a tornado of squeals and skin. It's summer and most of them are wearing bathing suits, as if that's easy. Their bodies are light and wispy and they seem to float and flit together, in a unit — like a school of fish. They play together but playing requires a loss of self-consciousness and togetherness requires a sense of belonging. I have neither, so I can't join them. I am not a fish. I am heavy and solitary and separate, like a whale. This is why I stay sunken into the couch and watch.
As I clutch my now-empty bowl of potato chips and lick the salt off my fingers, an aunt passes by and notices me. She looks from me to my cousins and says, "Why don't you want to play, Glennon?" She's noticed that I don't belong. I feel ashamed. "I'm just watching," I say. She smiles and with kind amusement says, "I like your eye shadow." My hand goes to my face as I remember the purple eye shadow my cousin Caren applied that morning. On the car ride from our Virginia home to Ohio, excitement swelled in my chest because this would be the year I'd return a different girl. During this trip, Caren would make me over, change me into someone who looked like her, smelled like her, flitted like her. She would make me beautiful again. So that morning I sat on Caren's bedroom floor surrounded by curling irons and makeup, waiting to be transformed. When she finished, she held up a mirror and I tried to smile while my heart sank. My eyelids were smeared with purple and my cheeks were pink, but I just looked like me wearing my cousin's makeup. And that is why my aunt looks amused instead of impressed. I smile and say, "I was just about to wash it off." I put my bowl down and pull myself up and off the couch.
I climb my grandmother's stairs, walk into the bathroom, and lock the door behind me. I decide to take a bath, because the bathtub is my hiding place. I start the water and the downstairs voices fade. When the tub fills, I peel off my clothes, climb in, and float there for a while. Then I close my eyes and sink beneath the surface. I open my eyes to my underneath, underwater world — so quiet, so far away, so safe. My hair swirls around my shoulders and I reach up to touch it. It feels like silk, and I imagine I look just like a mermaid under here. I come up for air and then back under, back underneath. Eventually the water gets cold, so I let it drain out slowly and watch my body reappear. There it is again. I can never keep myself from reemerging. I start to feel heavier and heavier against the porcelain tub, as if gravity is increasing exponentially, as if I am being sucked toward the center of the earth. The water is only inches deep now and my thighs are spread out wide and huge and I wonder, Is there another girl in the world this massive? Has anyone ever felt this heavy? Eventually I'm pinned to the bottom of the dry tub — naked, exposed, beached. Being underneath never lasts. I pull myself out, dry off, get dressed, and go back downstairs. I stop in the kitchen to refill my bowl of chips before I settle back into the couch.
The television is on, turned to a show about a woman thirty years older than I. She kisses her children good night, climbs into bed with her husband, and lies with her eyes open until he falls asleep. Then she climbs out of bed and walks quietly out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. She stops at the counter and picks up a magazine. The camera zooms in on the skeletal blond cover girl. The woman puts down the magazine and walks to the freezer. She pulls out a carton of ice cream and a large spoon and she starts eating the ice cream, frantically at first, spoonful after spoonful, like she's starving. I have never seen anyone eat like this before. She eats the way I want to eat, like an animal. Eventually the madness on the woman's face is replaced by a faraway look. She keeps eating, but robotically now. I look at her and with shame and joy I think, She's just like me. She's going underneath. She finishes the carton, wraps it in a bag, and shoves it to the bottom of the trash. Then she walks into the bathroom, locks the door, leans over the toilet, and vomits up all of the ice cream. The process looks painful, but afterward she sits on the floor and seems relieved. I am stunned. I think, This is what I've been missing: the relief. This is how to disappear without getting bigger. This is how to make the underneath last.
Within a few months, I'm bingeing and purging several times a day. Every time I sense my unbelonging, my unworthiness — every time my sadness rises — I numb it frantically with food. Then, instead of sadness I feel fullness, which is as intolerable as sadness. So I purge it all out, and this second emptiness is better because it is an exhausted emptiness. Now I'm too tired, too wracked, too weak and worn to feel. I feel nothing but light — light-headed, light-bodied. And so bulimia becomes the place I return to again and again to be alone, to go underneath, to not feel so much, to feel it all, safely. Bulimia is the world I make for myself, since I don't know how to fit into the real world. Bulimia is my safe, deadly hiding place. Where the only one who can hurt me is me. Where I'm far away and comfortable. Where my hunger can be as big as it is, and I can stay as small as I need to.
There is a price to pay for sinking into bulimia, and that price is sisterhood. Until I choose bulimia, my sister and I share one life. There is nothing that is mine or hers. We even share one security blanket. I lie in bed snuggling my corner while the blanket stretches across the room to her bed, where she snuggles her corner. We sleep like that, the blanket connecting us, for years. One night she lets her side fall to the floor and I scoop it up, but she never asks for it again. She doesn't need our blanket anymore. She is less afraid than I am.
My sister's legs are long and she uses them to move through the world easily and beautifully and confidently. I can't keep up, so I build bulimia and live there. Like our security blanket, bulimia is mine and she can't have it because she doesn't need it. If there was a picture of my life's path you would see our footprints side by side and then you'd notice that one day I sat down in the sand and refused to travel any farther. You would be able tell by her footprints that she stood still for years, wondering why I was too afraid to keep walking. Wondering why one day we were together and the next we were each alone.
Now I'm thirteen and I'm in the front seat of my dad's truck. He's looking at the road and explaining that he and my mom found more cups in my room. Each night I bring two cups to bed with me — one filled with food and one to fill with vomit. I leave the cups underneath my bed, and their stench is a constant reminder to all of us that I'm not better. My parents' desperation is growing. They've sent me to therapy, medicated me, pleaded with me, but nothing is working. My passenger seat is pushed up farther than my dad's seat, so all of me feels huge and thrust too far forward. I feel bigger than he is, which seems like a breach. My hair is frizzed and orange and my skin is broken out so badly it's painful. I've tried to cover it with makeup, and now the brown liquid drips down my neck. I feel ashamed that my dad has to drive me around, claim me as his own. I want to be small again, small enough to be taken care of, small enough to disappear. But I am not small. I am big. I am unwieldy. I feel obnoxious and impolite for taking up so much space in this truck, this world.
My dad says, "We love you, Glennon." This is embarrassing to me, because it simply cannot be true. So I look at him and say, "I know you're lying. How can anyone love this face? Look at me!" As the words burst out, I hear them and see myself say them. I think, Glennon. This performance is embarrassing. You're even uglier in your angst. I wonder which voice is me — the one feeling the feelings or the one scoffing at my own feelings? I have no idea what is real. I just know that I am not beautiful, so anyone who says he loves me is saying it because it's in his contract. My dad looks shocked by my outburst and he pulls the truck over and begins talking to me. I do not remember what he says.
I survive middle school the way a whale might survive a marathon: slowly, painfully, with great effort and conspicuousness. But then, over the summer between middle school and high school, my skin clears up a bit and I find clothes that hide my barely existent heft. That summer I have an epiphany: Maybe I've studied schools of fish long enough to pretend to belong to one. Maybe the beautiful girls will have me if I just wear the right costume, smile more, laugh right, watch the leader's cues, and show no mercy, no vulnerability. Maybe if I pretend to be confident and cool, they'll believe me. So every morning before I walk into high school I tell myself, Just hold your breath 'til you get home. I throw back my shoulders, smile, and walk into the hallway like a superhero in a cape. To onlookers it appears that I've finally found myself. I haven't, of course.
Excerpted from "Love Warrior"
Copyright © 2016 Glennon Doyle Melton.
Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
"Love Warrior reaches a depth of truth and power and emotional gravity that is rarely seen in the world, and even more rarely spoken aloud. Glennon's story about the resurrection of her marriage (a tale of a woman daring to come into her body, and a man daring to come into his mind, and the two of them daring — with outrageous courage — to trust each other) is something beyond merely inspirational; it is epic. Melton has, indeed, become a Love Warrior. This book will change lives."
—Elizabeth Gilbert, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Magic
"This is a book about what it means to be human—to wrestle with love, hurt, addiction, vulnerability, intimacy, and grace. Love Warrior blew me away. We can all find pieces of our own stories reflected in Glennon's powerful words. We are so lucky to have her courage and wisdom in the world. We need this kind of truth-telling if we are ever going to find our way back to each other."
—Brene Brené, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Rising Strong and Daring Greatly
"How can I do justice to this book? Moving and brilliant and funny and shocking and heartbreaking and inspiring, Love Warrior raises provocative questions about just what is possible for a person, a marriage, a family, a life. At the heart of this story is the insistence that we don't have to settle—we can explore our shadows, and we're not just going to survive it, but we're going to come out the other side a whole new person with new love, new hope, new strength, and maybe even a new marriage. This is a big, stunning, buoyant, honest, raw glimpse into the life of an astonishing woman, but it is also a punch in the face to anyone anywhere who believes that this is just how it is and it's not going to get any better."
—Rob Bell, New York Times bestselling author of Love Wins