Of all the self-help/self-development/fix your life books I have read recently, Glennon Doyle’s Untamed has been most impactful for me. Truth be told, I had never heard of her or read her previous memoirs. But I was searching my local library for an audiobook that was available to sign out without a waitlist. This popped up on the first search page and I thought I’d give it a try.
Maybe it is because there were so many times while listening to the book that I stopped to think: Seriously? How did she get inside my brain? Or maybe it is because, like the author, I have found myself trading one mask for another, trapped inside roles that I created based on someone else’s vision of what I should want.
If this is you, I would highly recommend this book. If you need further convincing, here are seven quotes that resonated with me on an entirely visceral level.
“This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.”
I like how Doyle reminds us that as women, we often feel like we need permission or approval to make a decision. Raise your hand if you have ever turned to Google to find answers to something you are struggling with: Should I end the relationship? What should I do if I hate my job? Google, how should I fix my life? I am so, so guilty of this. I have forgotten how to trust myself rather than turning to everyone else to tell me what to do.
“It’s not the cruel criticism from folks who hate us that scares us away from our Knowing; it’s the quiet concern of those who love us.”
This is so true. I am prepared to deal with strangers who disagree with my views and say mean things. I can chalk that up to a difference of opinion or someone having a bad day. But it is a sucker punch to the gut when someone we love and care about turns to us and quietly says, I think you are doing the wrong thing. It makes us stop, and question, and doubt, and maybe even change course, even if it means abandoning our truth.
“A woman becomes a responsible parent when she stops being an obedient daughter.”
And with one sentence, clarity. I realize that carrying a mountain of guilt and a desperate need for approval has not only been debilitating for me, it has impacted my own parenting. This might seem painfully obvious, but when Doyle discussed our responsibility to only let people on our “ island” who are healthy and accepting of our family, it brought me up short.
“But good enough is what makes people drink too much and snark too much and become bitter and sick and live in quiet desperation until they lie on their deathbed and wonder: What kind of life/relationship/family/world might I have created if I’d been braver?”
On my wedding day, someone told me that I just needed to be good enough. A good enough mother and a good enough wife. I ignored the little voice that said: “Really? That doesn't seem quite right.” But what if good enough really isn't good enough? I've been taught to accept what I have with gratitude. What if this is making me sick? What if this has caused me to abandon myself?
“Every time you’re given a choice between disappointing someone else and disappointing yourself, your duty is to disappoint that someone else.”
I probably need to frame this and put it on several walls in my house. And then resist the urge to tear it down out of guilt.
What if a responsible mother is not one who shows her children how to slowly die but how to stay wildly alive until the day she dies? What if the call of motherhood is not to be a martyr but to be a model?”
I make no secret that I lost my identity when I became a mother. I know I'm not alone. I also know there are few of us willing to do much about it because this is how we are trained. Doyle’s point here is that maybe, by continuing to live a life that drains and empties us, we are doing our kids a massive disservice. Not only are we failing to teach them how to truly live, but we are also failing to show up for them as our best selves.
“There is a life meant for you that is truer than the one you’re living. But in order to have it, you will have to forge it yourself. You will have to create on the outside what you are imagining on the inside. Only you can bring it forth. And it will cost you everything.
And this is the million-dollar question. Are we willing to give up everything, to let it all burn, to create the true and beautiful life we want? How scary does that feel? Is this what has been keeping me up at night?
I am always on the lookout for new and life-changing reads. Feel free to comment with recommendations and suggestions!