I was driving home from my audition this afternoon in Dublin and decided to listen again to Elizabeth Gilbert’s conversation with Glennon Doyle which I’d heard last summer. At the time Glennon was promoting her new book Love Warrior, which documents the fall out from her husband’s admission of infidelity and the rebuilding of their relationship. Shortly before the book released, Glennon revealed that her marriage was ‘complete’ and that she and Craig would be divorcing. Not exactly good news for her upcoming book release but her commitment to authenticity and truth trumped her need for book sales and public validation. In November last year, she announced her engagement to USA women’s soccer legend Abby Wambach. They were married last month.
What struck me today was something she said about serving the people who read her blog posts and books and being a fearless truth teller. This is a woman who has had more reason than most to hide away, put on the smiley face and keep her secrets to herself. But she has instead made her own struggles very public in order to allow others to know they are not alone. It doesn’t come without a cost and she’s had more than a little push back at times and had to deal with vicious trolling and even death threats.
But she certainly inspires me.
I read her book last summer when things were beginning to feel like they were coming to a head for me. I was waking up every morning with a feeling of dread, it felt like there was a well of tears sitting on my chest that I couldn’t even release. I couldn’t think straight. I felt in a complete fog with no idea how to get through it. What struck me most reading Glennon’s book, was how she seemed able to know what to do next at each turn of events in her life. She got a hunch to do something, she did it, and it led her to the next breakthrough or stepping stone on her path to freedom. I began to long for that deeper wisdom, that inner knowing, that wild intuition.
I’ve had a couple of conversations recently with different women in different contexts and I recognise that sense of not knowing how to move on, the confusion, the fear and the lack of wisdom. I have listened to stories of relationship breakdown, work overload, financial pressure, family issues – the stuff of life, basically. And the common denominator is a gnawing sense of aloneness in the midst of it all. Glennon calls it the ‘hot loneliness’ and describes how we do everything we can to avoid sitting with it, when what we need to recognise is that it’s the neccessary path to our transformation. (Her talk at Oprah Winfrey’s Soul Sessions is well worth 20 minutes of your time. Check it out below.)
I got my taste of the ‘hot loneliness’ in November 2016 when I had a breakdown and you know, it actually felt like a relief to just stop running. I remember lying on a bed in my doctor’s office, putting my hand against the wall and just allowing the black curtain of despair to settle around me like a blanket. I remember sobbing to the doctor that I couldn’t see the future, and knowing that sounded crazy because who can see the future, but up till then I had always been able to visualise the possible outcomes that my life might entail. I had literally and figuratively come to a dead end. I could see no further. I had to feel the exquisite pain of everything I was trying to outrun, and so begin my journey forward.
Letting go of my idea of what the future should look like, letting go of my avoidance and looking for ‘easy buttons’ to numb me from my pain, this is what has allowed a deeper wisdom, a greater intuition and a stronger compassion to emerge. I’ve been amazed to discover light on the path, not much mind, just enough for me to take the next right step, but it’s been taking me in directions I never thought possible.
So back to yesterday, and listening to Glennon and Liz (I know, it sounds like they’re my friends but if they knew me in person, I feel certain we would be!). Glennon talked about how she never consciously sought a platform or an audience. She said at one point she had 12 followers to her blog and she just decided to serve them, write for them. Now she has millions and she does exactly what she has always done; shown up and told the truth to whoever wants to listen.
I’ve struggled over recent months with how best to use this site. I’m passionate about connecting women, championing women, celebrating women in all their glorious manifestations but I think the most important thing is that I want you to know you are not alone. That I’m writing this, compiling this and seeking out fellow travellers for you. This is not an easy button, quite the contrary, I hope this will be a place you can come to and be real about where you’re at and see stories of hope and rising that can encourage you on your path.
In the space of 6 months, my whole world has been turned upside down. We’re moving house, country, schools in a few short weeks so there’s huge temptation to numb out and avoid the pain of goodbyes and endings so perhaps you’d strut alongside me for a season and I’ll do the same for you.