She was a child, just eight years old when she started singing in bars to support her struggling family with the bills. She knows what it’s like to sit in a school classroom on an empty stomach. She’s also forced herself to stay awake at night so that her parents wouldn’t hurt each other while she was asleep.
After growing up into a woman, life still wasn’t easy for Shania Twain. But every single one of those horrifying experiences has taught her one thing. “I was born to be a fighter and a survivor,” Twain said, overcoming all the trauma that she’s been through, according to Good Housekeeping.
Growing up in Canada was difficult for Twain as she and her mother endured years of abuse at the hands of her stepfather, Jerry Twain. When she was 4, she was adopted by her stepfather who left her with haunting memories.
“[It was] overwhelming for any child to never know what to expect from one day to the next,” the singer said in an interivew with Nightline, as reported by ABC News. “It could happen anytime. But also you don’t know if they’re going to survive it.”
According to The Guardian, she said, her father often abused her “physically and psychologically.”
“I was worried about my father killing my mother,” Twain recalled. “I thought they’d kill each other. My mom was quite violent, too. Many nights I went to bed thinking: ‘Don’t go to sleep, don’t go to sleep, wait till they are sleeping.’ And I would wake up and make sure everybody was breathing.”
Her family struggled with no money whilst experiencing a lot of violence. Remembering the times when she would have to go to school starving, she said, “It’s very hard to concentrate when you’re stomach’s rumbling.”
Seeing her classmates have packed lunches made things even worse for her. She said, “I would certainly never have humiliated myself enough to reach out and ask for help and say, You know, I’m hungry. Can I have that apple that you’re not going to eat? I didn’t have the courage to do that.”
The end of high school pushed her to travel to Nashville and as her career was climbing up, she found out that her mother and stepfather were killed in an accident in 1987.
Along with the overwhelming grief, Twain was left to raise her younger siblings by herself whilst dealing with the challenges of showing her talent to the world.
Her very first album was produced with the help of Robert “Mutt” Lange, who not only played a major role in many of her songs but was also the man she fell in love with and married. “When I met Mutt for the first time, I knew that I loved this person.” she said. “I felt like I had already loved him.”
But eventually, she started feeling like something was wrong in her marriage with Lange. She said, “When I started to get lonely, then I knew that something wasn’t right. I’m married to someone I love, and I’m so lonely…I didn’t want to live that way.”
What made the pain unbearable was knowing that her husband cheated on the close friend, Marie-Anne Thiebaud who was the very woman who Twain would confide in.
“Whether she was part of the cause … of the breakup or whether it was just me leaning on her because it was already breaking up, I really don’t know which came first,” Twain said. “What I do know is she took advantage of, you know, the weakness in the relationship between Mutt and I.”
The Grammy award-winning singer’s marriage, which lasted 14 years, came to an end when she got a divorce in 2009.
The betrayal and the pain she experienced after separating from Lange pushed her to dwell on her parents’ death. “I started peeling back the layers of pain I was in and all the other griefs and disappointments and challenges came to the surface,” she said. “And I thought: ‘I’ve been through worse and it’s time to put it all into perspective.’ When my parents died, I experienced a much deeper grief than even the betrayal. I was just out of myself. When you add shock to grief, it does crazy things to your mind. And that really helped me through – this was not nearly as bad as my parents dying. I survived that and I don’t want to give this so much credit.”
Twain went on to tell the world about her stories through her memoir, From This Moment On, hoping that it may offer a helping hand to anyone who might need it. She said, “I’m neither embarrassed of who I am, where I come from, what I’ve experienced, I’m not ashamed of it.”
After all the tragic experiences she went through, she was finally able to find true love once again in her life. And as ironic as it may seem, it was Marie-Anne’s ex-husband, Frederic Thiebaud who restored her faith in love again. They got married in 2011.
“I fell in love, I can’t believe it because I didn’t ever want to know love again,” she said. “I’ve always believed in love. I temporarily lost my hope in love, and it was temporary thank goodness.”
Frederic Thiebaud would call his new bride “sunshine” and didn’t hold back from showing her a number of romantic gestures. He said, “To express my love, words are not enough. I’m more in love with her every day.”
The 54-year-old singer is now at ease with everything that life has thrown at her, strengthening her to bravely say, “Whatever scars I have, I’ve earned. I’m comfortable in my own skin.”