TThe marriage was not unbearable, but it no longer seemed fair. The light bulb moment came when she realized she needed to think about what she really wanted, rather than what society had trained her to think she wanted. Plus, she realized that staying in an unhappy marriage meant she wasn’t the parent she wanted to be: following her heart would cause her family grief now, but it had a noble purpose. Today her ex lives within walking distance and they share parenthood. She’s out and she wants to tell the world how it changed her life.
Who is this woman? Well, it could be Adele, whose new album reveals why she decided to leave her husband Simon Konecki, and what that means for their nine-year-old son Angelo. “It wasn’t fair to me anymore… I didn’t want to end up like a lot of other people I knew. I wasn’t unhappy, but I would have been unhappy if I hadn’t put myself first, ”she said in a recent interview.
But it’s also the story of someone else – Glennon Doyle, the writer who went from being a Christian mom-blogger to a feminist mentor, and who was hailed by Adele as her go-to emotional guru. Oprah and Reese Witherspoon also sang her praises; and Doyle campaigned for the white women’s vote for Joe Biden (another fan). Her close friend Elizabeth Gilbert (from Eat Pray Love glory) predicted that Doyle’s star would rise even further and called her “the next Gloria Steinem”.
“I had been conditioned to believe that a good mother never hurts her children and that she certainly does not break up her family,” Doyle writes in her new book, Be untamed. “I decided to stop showing my children how to die slowly and instead show them how to live courageously. I have become their model, not their martyr.
When Doyle’s book was published 18 months ago and has become an instant New York Times bestseller, Adele took to Instagram to share her thoughts. They were, one might say, positive. “If you’re ready, this book will shake your brain and make your soul scream,” she wrote. “I am so ready for myself after reading this book! It is as if I have just flown through my body for the very first time.
So the first question to ask Doyle on our Zoom call is, does she actually know her superfan Adele? “Well… oh my God, I never know how to answer that question,” she said in a firm, determined voice. “I’m not going to comment on that: but I’ll tell you that I love Adele!” I’m super excited for her album and I only see good things for her. He’s a model to go off the menu and indomitable, and I think the new album is all about his ferocity.
I have the impression that she knows Adele; indeed, it would be strange that the two women didn’t connect, given that they both live in LA and are clearly a joint fan club. Doyle – petite, blonde, perfect looking in a cream sweatshirt for our conversation – is new to LA: she moved four months ago from Florida, she tells me, after living there for many years. Why the switch? “We lived in a very Trump-y neighborhood,” she says. “It was OK until it wasn’t. People in Florida didn’t even believe in Covid. There is a line in Savage who says, about my marriage, why am I staying here when the doors aren’t even locked? And I finally thought about Florida, why are we staying there?
Ex-husband Craig moved in with them and “now lives five blocks away; children run between the two ”. It sounds like Adele’s post-divorce life: Simon lives across from her and Angelo.
Doyle’s credo is that women are chained everywhere, but that they can break free realizing that they can think outside the box – think outside prison – and make up their own minds about how they live, who they live with and how they behave. . Like Adele – or maybe Adele is like that because of Doyle’s example – she’s “off the menu.” And once you find that you have to order off the menu in part of your life, says Doyle, you realize that few of life’s menus are to your liking. “My sexuality, my faith, my professional life, my views on gender, my mothering, my daughter… I have to get off the menu with all of this,” she says. “In all of these areas of my life, I had to go off the menu to find what suited me. “
Adele was drawn to her writing because she identifies with it all, Doyle explains. “I think what Adele found [in Untamed] and what a lot of women find… is herself. So many women feel exactly the same, locked in by gender, sexuality, religion. And you get to this point in your life when you say, fuck it. I can’t please everyone, so I’ll try to find a life that works for me.
So far quite reasonable: but some readers of Savage criticized him for taking privilege as the norm. Doyle tells me her co-parenting with Craig is “ridiculously beautiful,” and Adele’s setup seems just as dreamy: but how many divorced women can afford to include their ex-husbands in their family trailers, like the wealthy Doyle and Can Adele clearly do it?
Doyle is candid about how lucky she was. “The reason I was able to quit my marriage was because I had enough money in the bank to start over,” she says. “I had insurance and all the things that people need and all of the things that everyone should have.” I read him a line from his new book, which is an interactive journal inviting readers to record their own ideas on how to get wild. “The more courageous we are, the luckier we have,” she writes. Certainly, I ask, the truth is more likely to be the other way around: the luckier we are, the more courageous we can be. To my surprise, she agrees right away: in fact, she says, she almost recoils when she sees people reading her books (there were two previous memoirs before Savage, retracing his recovery from drug addiction and eating disorders). “Sometimes I see someone reading one of the previous books and I feel like I’m looking at someone looking at your senior high school photo. It’s like… why? Her life and her books, she says, are a continual reinvention. “I write the most deeply personal things and generally the more personal the more universal it seems.”
And indeed, the story at the heart of Savage and in the introduction to Be untamed is a cracker of a tale, expertly told (it’s currently in development into a TV series). Almost six years ago, Doyle arrived in Chicago for a literary festival; and her whole world changed the moment a footballer called Abby Wambach walked into the room. “Suddenly a woman is standing where the nothingness was … she stands still there … taking inventory of the room.” I look at her and take inventory of my whole life. This moment, writes Doyle, brings her back to her wilderness; it reminds her that society has tamed her, but that freedom is still there. She tells her therapist, who tells her that she cannot trust her feelings: “Good mothers don’t break their children’s hearts to follow theirs,” she writes. But soon after, she realizes that the opposite is true: “My children don’t need me to save them. My children must watch me save myself. Although she has never kissed a woman, she calls Abby, whom she has not seen from Chicago, and tells her that she loves him and that she has decided to leave Craig for her.
Today, the two women have been married for four years: so what does it feel, I ask, to be unleashed?
“I feel like the same person,” she says. “But I think I’ve gotten to the point where the biggest problem of my life is me. I am not in any relationship, religion, identity, professional life that seems wrong to me. Life is still tough out there in nature. “Sometimes people think our story is Juliet and Juliet, it’s a fairy tale, but it’s always a marriage, it always forces us to face our shit constantly, it’s always about uplifting teenagers. “
“We can do hard things,” is sort of a mantra for Doyle: it relates to her battle to escape addiction, but also to the story of how she left her marriage. What then about the “hard things” about staying in a long term marriage? I have been married for 33 years, to the same man; I don’t feel like a martyr, a victim. I don’t feel in chains, but it has certainly been, as Doyle might put it, “really hard.” Plus, and maybe it’s interesting, there were times when I wasn’t quite sure why I was staying, and I’m sure he felt the same – and yet, in his late 50s, we are happier than ever. Doyle says that although in her own case, she thinks she was “a coward” to stay in her marriage after finding out that Craig had had affairs, “Sometimes doing the brave thing is so singular, only you can. understand it. Sometimes the bravest thing is to do what’s right for yourself. There is no difficult and easy thing in life. It really is about “pick your hard”.
Get Untamed: The Journal is published by Vermilion for £ 12.99. Buy a copy for £ 11.30 on guardbookshop.com