This excerpt from Glennon Doyle’s Untamed get’s it exactly right. Let's burn the memo that selflessness is a woman’s pathway to goodness. This book should be required reading for every woman of our generation.


“I began to live as a woman who never got the world’s memos. I burned the memo that defined selflessness as the pinnacle of womanhood, but first I forgave myself for believing that lie for so long. I had abandoned myself out of love. They’d convinced me that the best way for a woman to love her partner, family, and community was to lose herself in service to them. In my desire to be of service, I did myself and the world a great disservice. I’ve seen what happens out in the world and inside our relationships when women stay numb, obedient, quiet, and small. Selfless women make for an efficient society but not a beautiful, true, or just one. When women lose themselves, the world loses its way.

We do not need more selfless women. What we need right now is more women who have detoxed themselves so completely from the world’s expectations that they are full of nothing but themselves. What we need are women who are full of themselves. A woman who is full of herself knows and trusts herself enough to say and do what must be done. She lets the rest burn. I burned the memo presenting responsible motherhood as martyrdom. I decided that the call of motherhood is to become a model, not a martyr.

I unbecame a mother slowly dying in her children’s name and became a responsible mother: one who shows her children how to be fully alive. I burned the memo insisting that the way a family avoids brokenness is to keep its structure by any means necessary. I noticed families clinging to their original structures that were very broken, indeed. I noticed other families whose structures had shifted and were healthy and vibrant. I decided that a family’s wholeness or brokenness has little to do with its structure. A broken family is a family in which any member must break herself into pieces to fit in. A whole family is one in which each member can bring her full self to the table knowing that she will always be both held and free. I decided to let my family’s form become an evolving ecosystem.

I unbecame a woman clinging to a prescribed family structure and became one clinging to each of her family member’s right to their full humanity: including me. We would break and rebreak our structure instead of allowing any of us to live broken. I quit buying the idea that a successful marriage is one that lasts till death, even if one or both spouses are dying inside it. I decided that before I ever vowed myself to another person,I’d take this vow to myself: I’ll not abandon myself. Not ever again. Me and myself: We are till death do us part. We’ll forsake all others to remain whole.

I unbecame a woman who believed that another would complete me when I decided that I was born complete. I let burn my cherished, comfortable idea of America as a place of liberty and justice for all. I let a truer, wider perspective be born in its place, one that included the American experience of people who don’t look like me. I wrote myself a new memo about what it means to have strong faith. To me, faith is not a public allegiance to a set of outer beliefs, but a private surrender to the inner Knowing. I stopped believing in middlemen or hierarchy between me and God. I went from certain and defensive to curious, wide-eyed, and awed; from closed fists to open arms; from the shallow to the deep end. For me, living in faith means allowing to burn all that separates me from the Knowing so that one day I can say: I and the Mother are one.

The memos I’ve written for myself are neither right nor wrong; they are just mine. They’re written in sand so that I can revise them whenever I feel, know, imagine a truer, more beautiful idea for myself. I’ll be revising them until I take my last breath. I am a human being, meant to be in perpetual becoming. If I am living bravely, my entire life will become a million deaths and rebirths. My goal is not to remain the same but to live in such a way that each day, year, moment, relationship, conversation, and crisis is the material I use to become a truer, more beautiful version of myself. The goal is to surrender, constantly, who I just was in order to become who this next moment calls me to be. I will not hold on to a single existing idea, opinion, identity, story, or relationship that keeps me from emerging new. I cannot hold too tightly to any riverbank. I must let go of the shore in order to travel deeper and see farther. Again and again and then again. Until the final death and rebirth. Right up until then.”

Jaimi Brooks is a licensed marriage and family therapist, women's group leader, founder of The Well Lived Woman, and creator of the Values Deck.



Connect with the WLW community by asking for or offering resources like business services, recommendations, or support of any kind.