Untamed by Glennon Doyle: Inspiring me to feel

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Untamed by Glennon Doyle is on my highly recommend to-read list for 2021 if you haven’t already. This book spoke to my soul, as most of her books do, and it inspired me to start feeling my feelings. There is a small spoiler for one of the chapters so beware as you read.

Finishing what I start

I’ve started this new thing recently where I finish the books I read before I start another one.  I used to be die-hard about this…I literally couldn’t stomach the thought of not finishing a book.  Then, motherhood happened which is a good excuse to get you out of stuff and I also started reading some really deep books.  

The kind that sort of punch you in the gut and make you take a good, hard look at yourself.  They make you real uncomfortable with the parts of you that you’re real uncomfortable with. And they sort of just put those parts out there on display for you to gawk at and wonder why you are the person you are.

Oof…I’ve read a couple of them in the past year or two that I just couldn’t finish.  I’d get to a part that would make me uncomfortable, not admitting how yucky it made me feel and then I’d start avoiding the book.  I’d let it sit there on my nightstand, staring at me, making excuse after excuse as to why I didn’t have time to read.  

The books would sit there until I finally got brave enough to just put them away and grab another one from my pile.  There was probably about a year that I couldn’t finish a book because they were all making me so uncomfortable.

Showing me pieces of myself that I wasn’t ready to look at or heal.  I was just fine leaving those pieces of me deep down in their depths, thank you.  When I saw Untamed by Glennon Doyle get released, I knew it was going to be one of those books.

Making a commitment to commit

I’ve recently come to this place where I see how many commitments I make to myself that I’m sidestepping.  I make a commitment and start strong.  It goes well for a couple of days. But something will happen and I stop doing the committed thing. Then I think to myself, “Well I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”

There are lots of pieces of me that don’t like to stick to what we try.  Being a beginner at things isn’t my favorite.  Winning and doing things right are also at the top of my list.  So you can see how sticking to things I commit to (and am ultimately bad at at first because…beginners aren’t the best at things) can be sort of a problem.

Committing to myself is a new thing I’m trying in my 36th year and one of those commitments was that I was going to finish my books, even when they make me uncomfortable.  And I also promised myself that I’d just lean into what came up.  I read these books so that I can discover more about myself.  Find these pieces of me that are ready to be seen, heard, and then loved to death.

Enter Untamed by Glennon Doyle

untamed glennon doyle

My sister bought me Untamed by Glennon Doyle for my birthday, in September.  But I wanted to keep my promise so I finished up my other book first.  So Untamed has been sitting on my dresser and I’ve stood by as my friends all read it.  They’d post pictures of it in Insta stories with pieces underlined saying things like THIS PART.  And there it was calling me,  calling my name on its perch on my dresser with its beautifully untamed cover.  

This book was going to absolutely rock me, and I knew it.  I knew I had to be ready for it.  And I knew that whatever it brought up in me, I was ready to heal.

It’s kind of funny, both of the books I read before starting Untamed, The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav and No Self No Problem by Chris Niebauer, ended in the same sort of fashion.  Basically saying that we get to choose how we experience our lives.  We can let the things that rock us take us under, or we can get curious about them.  We are put here to embrace our lives and circumstances for what they are. And we can do so with the joy of a child unwrapping Christmas presents if we choose.  

Those books literally prepared me for what was going to be uncovered as I started to read Untamed.

How Untamed rocked my world

The first couple of chapters wowed me. Of course they did, Glennon Doyle is phenomenal.  She literally speaks to my soul with her books.  But the uncontrollable emotion I felt as I read the chapter about the first key? It rocked me.

Pain is not tragic. Pain is magic. Suffering is tragic. Suffering is what happens when we avoid paid and consequently miss our becoming. That is what I can and must avoid: missing my own evolution because I am too afraid to surrender to the process. Having such little faith in myself that I numb or hide or consume my way out of my fiery feelings again and again. So my goal is to stop abandoning myself — and stay.

I tried to keep reading but I had to put the book down because somewhere in that passage, I’d started uncontrollably sobbing.  Sobbing like my world had just been cracked open and shattered into a million pieces.  And maybe in a way, it was.

FEEL my feelings without numbing?  Do you mean even the bad ones?  The uncomfortable ones that feel heavy and icky like my chest has a hundred-pound brick on it?  Those feelings are supposed to be felt too?  

The funny thing is that my body knew what to do as I read that chapter.  It knew exactly how to FEEL even when I’d been doing my level best to push those feelings down for years.

I sat there and FELT with ugly tears and snot running down my face and soaking my pillow.  Feeling for the first time in way too long.  I felt sad, scared, alone, abandoned, hurt, unloved, and unworthy.  

And you know what?  I didn’t die.  I wasn’t swallowed in a pit of despair.  And I didn’t turn to a bottle of wine to help me tame the rawness that came after.  It was the first time in my 36 years that I let myself feel it all, even the shit that came after.

Feeling my feelings, even the shit that comes after

Maybe the “shit that comes after” feeling my feelings is what’s the scariest for me.  Dealing with the consequences of how we feel.  The fallout from our displays of emotion… “What will people think of me?”  Or having to apologize to the people you hurt from your fits of anger.  Knowing that maybe the things you said will change your relationship in unfixable ways.

I grew up thinking that the only emotions that were okay to display were happy and mad.  Happy was easy because it’s fun to feel.  Mad?  My mad came out in the form of nasty, nasty words.  I know how to cut you deep and cut you fast.  So my outward displays of emotion usually left a gaping hole in the person who got the brunt of them.

And here’s the thing…mad is always covering something else up.  Hurt, rejection, fear.  But I never understood how to feel anything but mad.  My childhood wasn’t filled with lessons on how to deal with big emotions and I had a lot of big emotions.  

So I learned to numb my pain.

Feeling feelings is a new one for me.  I have been in a constant state of trying to avoid them for most of my life.  And reading that chapter in Untamed by Glennon Doyle made me realize that my feelings are burning to get out.  They have always been there, scratching at the surface.  

And I’ve been so scared to feel them for fear of not making it through.  But I’ve realized recently that I can feel my feelings and not succumb to them.  They won’t wrap me in a dark shadow and take me deep down to where I can never get out.  They are here to support me, to show me what needs to be healed and shifted.  

Feelings are meant to be FELT.  And that can be really, really scary because of our pasts. 

But even Tara Brach says every feeling fully felt is pure bliss.  So I’ll be over here, practicing feeling my feelings until they all feel like bliss.