Oprah Talks to Love Warrior Author Glennon Doyle Melton
For months I’d been hearing from friends and colleagues about Glennon Doyle Melton— how she was a truth teller, someone who had helped countless people through her online community, Momastery, and in her work with Together Rising, the nonprofit she founded to serve people who need help getting through hard times. SuperSoulers like Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, and Rob Bell were using words like epic to describe her work. I was eager to find out what all the fuss was about, so I settled in with an advance copy of Love Warrior, Glennon’s second book. Immediately, I was struck by her candor. It was as if I’d been given access to a friend’s intimate journal.
Glennon hit rock bottom 14 years ago—or so she thought. She was so hung over, she couldn’t pick herself up off the bathroom floor. Suspecting alcohol wasn’t the only reason for her nausea, she took a pregnancy test. It was positive. Only a few months earlier, she’d had an abortion. She was still seeing the same guy, Craig, though they hadn’t thought of the relationship as serious. But that day, Glennon felt something shift inside her. “What happens next,” she writes of that moment, “does not feel like a decision, but a discovery.... I will have this baby.”
Glennon had begun numbing herself as a young girl. She overate, which satisfied her momentarily, then disgusted her. That led to bulimia. In high school, right before the homecoming parade, where she was being honored for leadership, she was hospitalized for her eating disorder—and released in time to ride in the parade. At college, Glennon resumed her self-destructive behavior, regularly drinking so much that she’d black out and doing cocaine. After graduation, the attempts to escape herself—to escape feeling—continued. But it wasn’t until that day on the cold tile floor that Glennon realized there was something she wanted more than numbness: motherhood.
￼From top: Glennon helping her sister prepare for her seventh- grade dance; in her college partying days; with Craig on their wedding day; nine months pregnant. Photos courtesy of Glennon Doyle Melton.
She cleaned up her act and got sober. Glennon married Craig, had the first of their three children, and became involved in her church, teaching Sunday school. She started blogging and wrote her first book. But she was still hiding. From intimacy. From the possibility of being hurt.
Then came another wake-up call. More on that in a moment. First, though, let me tell you how Love Warrior made me feel. I read it as a testament to the power of vulnerability. Through it, Glennon shows us the clearest meaning of “To thine own self be true.” It’s as if she reached into her heart, captured the raw emotions there, and translated them into words that anyone who’s ever known pain or shame—in other words, every human on the planet—can relate to. She’s bravely put everything on the table for the whole world to see. That’s why I had to share her book with you.
￼OPRAH: There’s so much I want to say to you that I’m not sure where to begin. We’re just meeting for the first time, but reading Love Warrior made me feel I know you.
GLENNON DOYLE MELTON: And I’ve loved you for so long!
OW: From the outside looking in, people thought you and your family were perfect. And then boom: You found out your husband was keeping porn on the family computer and had been having one-night stands for years.
GDM: Yes, there was the part of me on the outside, the pretty, shiny part. I’m out there saying the things I’m supposed to: “I’m fine.” “My marriage is great.” “My kids are great.” “I’m fulfilled.” It’s like a Disney film.
OW: And what’s on the inside?
GDM: Inside I’m scared, lonely, and confused.
OW: You’ve said that, especially when it comes to little girls, the world doesn’t want to see the ugly, afraid, secret version of who we really are.
GDM: Absolutely. We’re told that to be successful girls, we have to be small and quiet. Yet to be successful humans, we have to become big and have a voice. There’s an inherent contradiction. And there’s something else: People need truth the way they need air. They’re desperate for it. Even when you risk rejection, telling your truth clears the field for others to tell theirs.
OW: Before you learned of your husband’s infidelity, you’d been feeling a lack of intimacy and connection, and blaming yourself for it, right?
GDM: We were in therapy, and I thought we were going to talk about something mundane. And then Craig made a confession: I have to tell you something. I’ve been unfaithful. There have been other women—lots of them.
OW: And what are you feeling then?
GDM: Landslide. Like everything is being pulled out from under me. We separated that day. I felt like someone had handed me an eviction notice from my life. That’s what crisis does. It comes into your life, and you have to watch everything you thought you needed fall away.
OW: Yes, but then what’s left?
GDM: The things that can’t be taken from you: faith, hope, love. And that’s when fear disappears.
OW: Down there at rock bottom.
GDM: Yes—rock bottom is an identity changer. I was a mom and a wife and a writer, and those things were good. If you ask a woman who she is, she’ll tell you who she serves and sometimes what she does. But that isn’t the whole story.
GDM: That’s a precarious position. If you’re only identifying as a wife, what happens if he leaves? Or as a mother, when your children go off to college? When crisis came in and stripped me of that perfect-mom-and-wife thing, I found a truer identity—I no longer felt I was faking it.
OW: So that loss, that grief, eventually enabled you to feel stronger.
GDM: I really think things have to die for new life to emerge. I think of love and marriage in the same way I do plants: We have perennials and annuals. The perennial plant blooms, goes away, and comes back. The annual blooms for just a season, and then winter arrives and takes it out for good. But it’s still enriched the soil for the next flower to bloom. In the same way, no love is wasted.
OW: If you’ve had love in your life, however it showed up, it was there to elevate you, to change you, to make you better.
GDM: That’s exactly right.
Glennon working in the “cloffice” where she wrote Love Warrior. Photo courtesy of Glennon Doyle Melton
OW: What are you most proud of now?
GDM: My sobriety. For the first half of my life, I was so afraid of pain that I ran from it in every way I could. I didn’t think I could handle it. Now I think of pain as having life-changing properties. When I was 10, I started feeling uncomfortable emotions. Fear. Jealousy. Anger. Loneliness. This wasn’t in keeping with the pretty little girl everyone found adorable, or with my comfy childhood, including the most loving parents imaginable. But because we are encouraged to talk about only the shiny, happy feelings, I thought something was wrong with me. I didn’t know this was just a natural part of being human.
OW: Everybody runs away from those feelings. We should be running toward them.
GDM: Pain is mandatory for all of us. It’s what teaches us. Suffering is what’s optional. That’s what happens when we try to skip over the pain.
OW: Shortly after the Oprah show went national, I got a letter from an Ann Arbor, Michigan, viewer named Carol. She wrote: “Watching you be yourself every day, Oprah, makes me want to be more myself.” Since that was what I strove to do every time I went in front of an audience, I took that as the ultimate compliment. And Glennon, that’s what you do for me. You make me want to share my truth. You make me want to be more myself. Thank you.
Read a preview of the book here.
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