“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle is an inspiring memoir that challenges societal norms and encourages us to live authentically, passionately, and in an untamed way. Through her own experiences and reflections, Doyle prompts us to confront the expectations of society and instead embrace their true selves.
The book is divided into numerous short chapters, each of which is a standalone story or reflection that collectively portrays Doyle’s journey towards self-discovery and liberation. She utilizes these stories to provide insights and advice on a range of subjects, including relationships, feminism, parenting and faith.
The book begins with a poignant metaphor of a cheetah at the zoo, a creature born to be wild but tamed by her environment. Doyle sees herself, and women in general, in the story of the cheetah – conditioned and restrained by societal expectations and norms.
She suggests that, like the cheetah, women are tamed by society from a young age to conform to specific roles, compromising their authentic selves in the process.
Doyle shares her personal story, starting with her struggle with bulimia and alcoholism and continuing through her journey of self-discovery and healing. She opens up about her relationship with her ex-husband Craig, recounting the trials and tribulations of their marriage, her discovery of Craig’s infidelity, and the consequent breakdown of their relationship.
Despite their divorce, Doyle portrays Craig in a positive light, acknowledging their shared commitment to raising their children.
She also discusses her relationship with Abby Wambach, a retired soccer star, and their whirlwind romance. Abby’s entrance into her life forces Doyle to re-evaluate everything she knows about herself, love, and her place in the world.
Doyle chronicles her process of leaving her marriage, coming out as gay, and building a new life with Abby.
The author discusses her ongoing journey of parenting, being a ‘gay Christian’, and addressing white privilege. She challenges societal constructs around womanhood, motherhood, religion, and sexuality, urging readers to break free of these constrictions to embrace their true selves.
She encourages mothers not to lose their individuality, imparts wisdom on raising confident and assertive daughters, and explores her relationship with God and religion, wrestling with the incongruities between her faith and her sexuality.
Doyle’s revelations about society’s expectations and norms are also tied to themes of activism and social justice. She acknowledges her white privilege, discusses racism, and encourages her readers to become more socially conscious and active in making societal change.
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What can you learn from the book?
1. Embrace Authenticity Over Conformity
Throughout the novel, Doyle emphasizes the importance of being true to oneself, even if it means breaking away from societal norms and expectations.
For example, she describes her journey to leave her husband for a woman, an action which ran counter to many cultural and societal norms, but ultimately led her to a more authentic life. This lesson encourages readers to seek their true selves, even if it means disappointing others or stepping out of their comfort zones.
It invites a deeper contemplation on what societal expectations are inherently restricting and which of our behaviors are dictated by those norms versus our own authenticity.
2. The Power of Unlearning
Doyle shares many instances in the book where she was compelled to unlearn beliefs and narratives that had been ingrained in her from a young age. She breaks down her experience with religion, where she had to challenge her beliefs and eventually formed a spiritual connection that was personal and devoid of dogma.
This underscores the importance of questioning what we have been taught, a process that can lead to personal growth and transformation. As readers, we are thus encouraged to question our own beliefs and narratives, opening up the opportunity for profound personal evolution.
3. Facing Pain Brings Growth
Doyle suggests that pain and discomfort, when faced directly, can be pathways to growth. Her struggle with bulimia, addiction, and her tumultuous journey to sobriety represent painful yet transformative phases of her life.
Rather than encouraging the avoidance or suppression of pain, she argues for leaning into discomfort and using it as an opportunity for personal growth.
This perspective can change the way readers view their own struggles and hardships, encouraging resilience and personal development.
4. Feminism and the Emancipation from ‘Cages’
A strong undercurrent of feminism runs through “Untamed.” Doyle uses the metaphor of a “cage” to describe how societal and cultural expectations can limit women and people of marginalized identities.
She shares her own journey of liberating herself from these “cages,” a process that involved realizing her own wants and needs and pursuing them unabashedly.
This lesson urges readers to identify their own “cages” and seek emancipation from them.
It is a call to dismantle patriarchal structures that limit individuals, particularly women, from realizing their full potential.
In summary, “Untamed” is a passionate call to action for women and all individuals to break free from societal expectations and norms, encouraging them to live truthfully and authentically. Through her personal story of struggle, self-discovery, and love, Doyle illuminates the importance of embracing one’s inner voice and true self.
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