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The Day Glennon Doyle Met Abby Wambach

The Riveter, in partnership with Park Place Payments, just launched an incredible new iHeartMedia podcast, What’s Her Story with Sam and Amy. The first two episodes take you through a wide-ranging conversation with one of our favorite Riveter speakers, Olympian and pay equity champion Abby Wambach, and best-selling author and advocate Glennon Doyle. The married superstars share with us the story of the day they met, the slice of magic, and what it’s like to “recognize” someone you see for the very first time. You can read the story here – and be sure to download the full conversation today! 

Glennon, meet Abby. 

Glennon: I was in Chicago about to launch my book, Love Warrior, about my first marriage recovering from infidelity. The tagline of the book was “an epic marriage redemption story.” And I was sitting around a table with a bunch of other writers who are all also launching books because it was this big event for a bunch of writers who were putting out memoirs in the fall. 

And then there was this weird moment. All of us talking at the table stopped and everyone looked at the door. So I looked over at the door and there was this human. Standing in the doorway. And she was like 12,000 feet tall. And she was wearing this like dark gray trenchcoat and this red blood scarf. And she had this platinum crazy hair, shaved on the side. And she was like a guy and a girl. And like, beyond and in between; like I know I’ve never seen anything like this. And it wasn’t just me; all of the writers were just staring at her. Because it was like the mockingjay had arrived at our nerdy book party. We were just like, this person is too cool to be in this room with us, but everyone else handled their shit a little bit better than I did. 

This is what happened next, which has become family folklore, but there’s no awkward situation that I can’t make more awkward. It’s my spiritual power. So if you can imagine like this big table with all of these writers, and then it was the weirdest moment of my life. Just everything in me was like, there she is. Like just an absolute and total recognizing, even though I’ve never seen her before. But it was not a meeting. It was a recognizing. And then suddenly I come to consciousness and I’m standing up like this at the table with my arms thrown open towards the door.

And then I notice that everyone at the table is staring at me and I have to figure out how to get from this position back to my chair. So what I decided to do is to just bow deeply and just hope that everyone thought, well, this is just her weird writer’s thing. She just bows when people walk in the door. So I bowed and then just sat down. 

Abby: So from my perspective, I walk in. I’m a little bit late, which is very uncommon. I hate being late for stuff. I notice everybody’s there and I look up and this weird woman is standing up, ams stretched out. And so because of her awkwardness, I now have to find my way around the whole table because nobody else stood up. Just Glennon. And this is not like a huge room by any means.

There’s not like tons of space in the back of chairs. So I gotta side step my way around the table. And I finally get to Glennon and say hello.  And then I sat down in my seat and we weren’t seated next to each other, but I just remember being like, that was very, very interesting, odd even.

I was next to this children’s book writer, feeling like, well, I want to sit next to her [Glennon] for some reason. Why do I want to sit next to her? This is weird. And then after dinner, we had to walk to the stage where the actual event was taking place. And in the literally three minutes it took us to get from the back room dinner table to the stage,I told Glen my whole story and she touched my arm and for sure that was like a lightning bolt for me. That shocked me. I wasn’t consciously aware of it. I think my heart and my soul knew way, way sooner than my brain.

And then I heard her speak and she made me laugh and cry and laugh again and cry again. I’m hearing her talk so truthfully about her former marriage, her book Love Warrior and addiction. 

At the time it was about your current marriage. So. Did, were you aware when you were talking, like, did you kind of change the speech a little because Abby was in the room.

Glennon: That’s so interesting that you asked. No one has ever asked me that question in my 49,000 interviews about both of these books. But in fact, I did change it. My speech that was largely about my marriage redemption became something different in the moment. It was largely just about all the things that I would think that would make Abby think I was cool.

Abby: I went back to my room that night. And she had given me a copy of Love Warrior. I read it from cover to cover that night. I’m a very slow reader, and I would rather listen to a book on tape than read it. So I was very dedicated.

And then when I got to the end of this book, she didn’t really talk about the redemptive part of [the marriage] in her speech. So I was a little bit like this is not right. This is not how the story ends. Very shocked. And so when I got an email from her days later, I thought, we’re just going to be friends, you know? And that didn’t last.

You had never touched, you’d never been on a date and you broke up your marriage without even having experienced this. What if you were not connected? Was there a fear? Like what if this isn’t what I think it’s going to be. 

Glennon: Yeah, it didn’t matter though, because it was not just like a love story. It was not just like, oh, am I going to stay in this marriage or marry Abby? It was very clear to me after meeting and after having discussions on email, that this was a reckoning with myself. It was like, oh, I’m just pretending this thing is something that it’s not anymore. 

It was like hearing from a part of myself that I had buried so long ago. And there she is. And pretending that things are good enough and pretending that this is a life and pretending that this is a marriage and it wasn’t am I going to love Craig or Abby? It was: Am I going to abandon myself? Or am I going to abandon the whole world’s expectations of me and just leave this? So it wasn’t like I’m leaving because I know this is going to work out. We’d never spent 10 minutes alone together. It was I’m going to leave because I can’t pretend anymore, regardless of whether this works.

Abby: It was the only thing that made sense at the time. Like thinking back on it now I’m like, we were probably literally insane. Like our brains were so lit up that we couldn’t make the right decisions based on external expectations. We were only operating on a soul level. You know, scientists would say your brain lights up in certain ways and that your prefrontal cortex actually is an enabler of making certain decisions when you fall in love.

But the truth is, I think it’s even deeper than that for us. It was like a recognizing or remembering. When I walked in that door and we fell in love, it was like, oh, THIS. Because I had up until that point, I’d been such a hopeless, romantic, and Glennon was … she’d never believed in love in her life.

So for me, I always kind of knew that this was possible; that this person was out there. And Glennon was like, that’s just horseshit. Like, all your romantics can go straight to, you know where. But at the end of it, I’m so glad that we didn’t listen to the world’s expectations of what we should have done in that moment, because I truly do know. And it wasn’t easy by any means. It was worth it. 

Glennon: Yeah. And I think in life, you just get a few slices of magic, you know. If you believe in anything beyond the everyday mundane. I’m like, here we go. And we’re doing this life we’re supposed to do. It’s like every once in a while magic cuts through.

You can hear more about this incredible story and so much more when you download parts one and two of Glennon and Abby on What’s Her Story with Sam and Amy

[This interview was edited for print.]