Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach want you to know we can still do hard things

Sitting with Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach feels like you are taking a deep breath. Whether talking about the deliberate, politically driven design of separating gay existence from faith or pondering the “radical” act of transparency that comes with discussing mental health, these two are committed to candid, collectively and simply tell stories. Wednesday marks a year since that dedication fueled the launch of their podcast, We can do difficult things In it Doyle, Wambach and Doyle’s sister Amanda (known as “Sister”), bring on guests like ALOK Chanel MillerMegan Rapinoe, Gabrielle Union, and Tarana Burke to tackle stories of identity, activism, sex, navigating trauma and everything in between.

Vanity Fair chatted with the duo about the show’s evolution, fragility, and systemic oppression. They also give an inside look at one of their upcoming projects: the TV adaptation of Doyle’s novel untamed.

Vanity Fair: It’s been a year since you launched your podcast, We can do difficult things. How do you feel?

Glennon Doyle: I feel really grateful. I can’t believe I get to do this with my sister and my wife, my two favorite people on Earth; from my couch, my favorite place on earth; doing my favorite thing, exploring ideas and being a bridge between interesting people and my community. It’s a lot of crazy work and I take it very seriously because it’s a great honor and privilege to tell these people’s stories. I have never done that. I’ve only messed with myself, so it feels heavy at times.

Abby Wambach: You know, I was so nervous about quitting football. There was so much purpose in what I was doing. It wasn’t just about me, it was about that little girl or boy in the stands. We were activists who didn’t always know. We were working out, but what we did was revolutionary in many ways. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to replicate that sense of purpose for the rest of my working life – obviously having a family and being a woman have a purpose of its own. This year made me understand that what I did on the football field gave me a platform to do this one work.

doyle: Also, writing a book is very lonely for me. It disappears from my life. And I finally love my life. Writing another book didn’t feel like what I wanted to do, and social media certainly didn’t [either]† This was two years ago. It was a serious time in our country. We needed nuanced, in-depth conversations. We needed another medium where we could have more gray fixes and more direct conversations.

And how do you decide which stories to tell?

doyle: At the very beginning, we asked our community – we call them the pod squad – who do you want to hear from? I think we had 13,000 people on a spreadsheet of 17,000 responses. We had a wealth of people – from people with 10 million followers to brilliant minds with six. If you want to know how we do it, there’s a lot of crying and grinding. I’m with [each interviewee]† I have days where I think, Okay, today is the day I think about Chanel Miller – read everything she’s ever said, go for a walk, and just think about her. I feel like I spend a week with everyone.

Wambach: I walk into the room and she will read someone’s book and I think, “What are you doing?” And she’ll say, “Oh, I’m just hanging out with so-and-so.”

The podcast strikes a balance between being incredibly vulnerable, candid and intimate on a very public platform. How do you exist within that thin line?

doyle: It would feel hard if it wasn’t [our platform] was built. But I started writing when I got sober after being lost for a long time due to food and alcohol addiction. I found the magic of recovery: we have nothing to be ashamed of. We can talk about all our difficult things. We live in the service of others. That’s how I built relationships and a career.

Wambach: It’s one of the things that was such a draw, for me, for you. I came from a world of women’s football. I had a little fame, but I didn’t really tell the world who I was, what the demise of my addiction to alcohol was. When I met [Glennon], I learned that I really just had to be honest about sobriety. That is it; that’s all I had to be. And on the podcast, it’s still a little unnerving when you’re about to disclose personal information.

One time I wanted to talk about my experience of walking into public restrooms and being mistaken for a man – which happens about 95% of the time. I had a feeling it would have been embarrassing to share it because it’s embarrassing right now. But the response I got from presenters like me, who have had exactly this experience, has made my experience of walking into public restrooms completely different.

You know, I lost my father to suicide. And he was also unfaithful in my parents’ marriage. And I have strong opinions about it, but other people stumble a little over their words when I bring it up. But walking on tiptoe about your own experiences, that is Lake terrifying.

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