Glennon Doyle Melton: First the Pain, Then the Rising (Transcript)

Glennon Doyle Melton at SuperSoul Sessions on Oprah Winfrey Network

Full text of author Glennon Doyle Melton’s talk titled “First the Pain, Then the Rising” at SuperSoul Sessions on Oprah Winfrey Network.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: First the Pain, Then the Rising by Glennon Doyle Melton


Oprah Winfrey:

When I first read Glennon Doyle Melton’s book “Love Warrior”, I felt like I knew this girl. She was funny and she was wise, and she felt like a friend.

To me, Glennon spoke for so many people, who don’t feel brave enough to speak their own truth. And after sitting down with her on “Super Soul Sunday,” I now call her a “Super Soul Visionary,” she is. Glennon Doyle Melton’s session is titled “First The Pain, Then The Rising.”

Glennon Doyle Melton:

Hey, babies! Hello, Super Soulers! Holy cow, here we are.

Okay, so I have a couple questions for us today. The first one is this.

  • How would our lives and our relationships and our world transform if we stopped being so afraid of pain?
  • What if we just once and for all decided that we were strong enough for the pain in our lives?
  • So instead of hiding from it, we just rushed straight toward it and allowed our pain to become our power?

So, I’m a person who hid from pain for the first half of my life. When I was 10 years old, I looked out at the scary world and I decided that I was too weak for it. So, I dropped out of life and into bulimia, and then alcoholism. Until I was 25 and found myself on that bathroom floor, shaking and holding that positive pregnancy test and finding myself decide that (if) I wanted to be a mother.

But at that point, I’d been an addict for 15 years, so I didn’t even know how to be a human being. So I decided that my best bet would be to just fake it — to just look around for other women who seemed to be “Adulting” successfully and just copy them.

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So, my criteria was that I looked for women who were wearing scarves. Right? Because I feel like if you are the type of woman who gets up early enough to, like, stop and look in the mirror and be like, “Self, you know what this outfit needs, is a scarf.” And then you have bought a scarf at some point and you know where to find said scarf and once you find the scarf you know how to do that tying thing, then you are just crushing life, you know?

So, I became a scarf wearer, and I became a wife and a mother and a writer and an activist because I thought that growing up meant becoming things, right? And then 12 years later, my husband told me that he’d been unfaithful to me our entire marriage. And that’s when my un-becoming began.

So, I went back to therapy and I sat with my therapist and I said, “Look, I’ve never been in this much pain in my life, and I need you to help me figure out how not to waste it. I have to use this pain somehow”. And so, I started working really hard in therapy and I let my therapist take me back all the way till I was 10 years old, and I dropped into bulimia. And here’s what we discovered together.

So, we’re all born whole, right? We’re trinities, just like God — body, mind, and spirit. And the healthiest of us live out:

  • lives of the body – physical lives,
  • lives of the mind – intellectual lives, and
  • lives of the soul – spiritual lives.

But what happened to me so young is that our culture gave me so many confusing and objectifying messages about my body that I just started disassociating from my body. Right! Because good girls don’t desire, good girls don’t hunger, good girls don’t even grow. But I did hunger, and I did desire, and I did grow.

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And so I started to become ashamed of my body, and you can’t love and claim anything that you’re ashamed of. So, I just voted my body off the island of myself. Right?

And then, a similar thing happened to my then-husband Craig — when he was 10 years old — well,

when he was born, he was whole too — body, mind, and spirit. But while the world tells girls that good girls don’t hungry, don’t desire, the world tells little boys that brave boys don’t feel, don’t cry, don’t make themselves vulnerable in any way, and so Craig did cry, and he did feel. And so he started to become ashamed of his emotions, so he voted his emotional self off the island, right!

So, you see, we’ve got women trying to love men with our minds, but they don’t live there, and we’ve got men trying to love women with their bodies, but we don’t live there.

And it’s like everything that we’ve learned about femininity and masculinity makes it nearly impossible for real men and real women to be fully human with each other, which makes it nearly impossible for us to really see each other, which, of course, makes it impossible for us to really love each other. And I know these things are huge generalizations, but I’m just saying them because they’re always true. Okay.

So, my therapist said, “Listen, Glennon, I don’t know if we’re gonna save your marriage, but we’ve got to save you. We’ve got to host a reunion for you. We’ve got to, like, vote your body back on the island.”

And I said, “That sounds really hard. Do you have any more pills?”

And she said, “No more pills, Glennon. We’re going to do the work.”

We’re gonna do the work, Glennon. So…hate the work.

So, for me, part of the work was to go to yoga, okay. So, yoga ended up saving me, but I hated it at first ’cause it was so woo, woo, you know? So, one morning, during the separation, I was just in so much despair that I was actually scared of myself. Like, I felt like if I started crying again, I just might never stop, right.

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So I picked myself up off the bed and I went to yoga, and I walked into the yoga studio, and my instructor — my regular instructor — wasn’t there. So, the receptionist pointed me towards this new room. And I sat down in the room, and, you guys, it was one million, billion degrees in the room. And I was so annoyed because my life was so hard already, and now I didn’t have any air-conditioning, right?

And then, the instructor walks in and she says…“Welcome to Hot Yoga.”

And I was like, “Holy hell, this is on purpose.

Like, they’re doing this on purpose. And then she says the following, like Oprah, “Now we are going to set our intentions for the class.”

And I’m like, “Okay!?”

 So, the first lady, okay, on the most no-good, very bad, terrible day of my life, has the nerve to say this sentence — “My intention is to radiate sunlight to all sentient beings”.

And everybody else had some crap like that, and all I could do is glare at them and think, “Well, my intention is not stab all of you to death.” To death!

But when they got around to me, I was already crying, and I said, “Look, my intention is just to stay on this mat and try to handle whatever is about to happen here without running out the door.”

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