What would it look like if you faced your partner and your children with your entire authentic self? Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Love Warrior, became an alcoholic in high school as a way to hide her sensitive nature and numb from the hurts of the world. Years later, after a drunken hookup, she finds herself pregnant and decides to marry the father.
Love Warrior is a riveting memoir that follows Doyle Melton as she gets clean, marries, parents, and separates. What makes this memoir stand out is the incredible depth of honesty and insight that the author shares with readers as she struggles to shed the Representative–her facade–that she has relied on for most of her life.
It is this Representative that is very skinny and teeters on high heels and smiles all the time. It is this Representative that behaves in all the ways Melton Doyle is convinced that women must. But as she learns, maintaining the Representative in a marriage is impossible and exhausting. She and Craig struggle to get to know each other’s real selves. She writes:
There is so much laughing and crying during that first year of our son’s life. The laughter and tears are each of us bursting through our own skin to get to one another.
Doyle Melton knows she must work hard to embrace her own imperfection–to love it–so that she can finally let her Representative go. However, after she is betrayed by Craig, she grapples with what it means to be in love with another person anyway:
…is love not a feeling but a place between two present people? A sacred place created when two people decide it’s safe enough to let their real selves surface and touch each other?
The common reaction to a marriage falling apart is to do everything to try to save the marriage, especially when children are involved. This, however, is not the route Doyle Melton takes. Instead, in the face of infidelity, she realizes she must do everything to try to save herself. Her true self. The true self that she worked so hard to uncover in the first place. The insight is startling.
Devastated and furious by her husband’s betrayal, she wonders what is the role of a mother with a broken heart? Is it to hide this pain from her three young children? Drape the home in false cheer? After all, suffering should be reserved for grownups, shouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it best to conceal the awful truth from her three kids for as long as she can get away with it? For the sake of the children, of course.
But at this point in her journey, Doyle Melton is too strong, too brave. She has released her Representative, no longer using alcohol or purging to escape what hurts. Now she muses:
Maybe my job as Amma’s mother is not to protect her from pain, but to hold her hand and walk into it with her.
Short sentences like this are everywhere in this novel and pack quite the punch. When Doyle Melton decides that her job as mom is to help her own children live their truths, she has truly committed to the Journey of the Warrior. This concept says the purpose of life is to embrace the mess of it, the struggles, the loneliness; the juice of life–the lessons of the journey–are here.
As a woman, Doyle Melton has begun to live like a warrior. Ultimately, she decides that her job is to raise warriors, too. For parents whose natural inclination is to protect their children’s sweet intact hearts at any cost, this book is not to be missed.
Love Warrior won’t provide shortcuts to improve your own life, but the raw confessions of this author will certainly inspire you to embark on your own Warrior’s Journey and say goodbye to your Representative once and for all.
Glennon Doyle Melton is the founder of Together Rising, a nonprofit that provides assistance for people with nowhere else to turn and Momastery, a blog that has become “a worldwide online gathering place for people who are tired of making life harder by pretending it isn’t hard.” Love Warrior is an Oprah Book Club selection.