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Video: Shania Twain: Infidelity ‘interrupted my vocal power’

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    >>> rose to fame in the 90s with her hit album "come on over." it's the best-selling album of all time by a female musician in any genre. after selling more than 75 million albums worldwide she took a break to raise her son but the break was cut short when the end of her marriage grabbed headlines. she writes about it in her new book "from in moment on." shania twain , good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> when i saw the book i thought, this is a private lady. i have never read a lot where you opened up about yourself. you do in this book and you call it an emotional cleansing for you. why the change of heart ?

    >> i would say it's a periodic change of heart in a sense. it's a phase i'm going through. it's a period of my life where i need to focus on that. i wouldn't say i will be an open book for the rest of my life and career. but it's something i feel i need to face head on at the moment.

    >> why do you say that?

    >> because i am genuinely a very private person. they are too closed and up to now probably more closed than what was good for me. and i also feel that a lot of that was just a bit of fear and anxiety and maybe worried about what people would think all the time, get criticized for it and now i'm at a point where i feel sharing and giving testimony to things i have experienced in life will do more good for others than it would do keeping it to myself. it also forces me a little bit out of my comfort zone which is necessary for part of the healing. do one thing scary every day.

    >> your life became public fodder in the tabloids and you write about it in the last 50 pages. it's about what happened to your marriage and you're up-front. you talk about your best friend maryanne who had an affair with your husband. that led to divorce and you write something i think a lot of women will relate to. if i can read this to you. my friend was now a back-stabber. my husband was her new love interest . they were talking about my intolerance of grief. but like any death it would take time.

    >> you know, when that story hit the tabloids it was already out. so that was embarrassing for me. i thought, wow. i have been thrown into the public eye with something i'm very uncomfortable with. but i think it's time that i maybe just face things that are uncomfortable head on and get them over with. that makes it easier to move on on many levels. since it was already wide open i thought, you know, i think it's time to address things, get it over with and sort of come clean in certain ways.

    >> how did you pick up the pieces ? you described it as a death. it really was in many ways.

    >> very slowly. i started writing the autobiography. first of all, i started writing and obsessing about the break-up of my marriage. i couldn't get past it. when grief carries on too long into your second year, for example, you have to start looking a little bit at getting help. it's hard for me to reach out to others. i have to learn how to do it better. but i did turn to books and learning and doing research about grief and the death of love and life and those things. i started to realize that i was obsessing and i was stuck. so i thought, okay, writing is something i do naturally as a form of expression. but i need to start writing about something else and force myself into another subject. why not start at the beginning of my life and write from there. it put what i was obsessing about, the end of my marriage, into perspective as a portion of my life and not something that represented my entire life. so it was good to spread it out and put it into perspective in writing.

    >> there was a happy ending. ironically enough you fell in love with your ex- best friend 's ex-husband and your now happily married which is a big plus. i think people find so many things they never knew. you had a difficult childhood in rural canada. your family was poor. you lived in homes with no heat, very little food and your mom was abused by your stepdad. sometimes she'd have bruises and you applied the makeup to cover them. what did that experience do to a little girl ?

    >> it makes you feel very insecure. it was an unstable environment off and on. that's the thing. you never knew what to expect next. it would go through a good phase and a bad phase. i think it keeps you on your toes and worried more than anything about what's around the next corner.

    >> do you ever think back -- and unfortunately we're running out of time . it was 400 pages, lots of information. how did you go from that to become the superstar that you are?

    >> that's why i had to write a book. i felt i needed to unravel this life of so many extremes. how did it all get packed into one 45-year-old life?

    >> you haven't figured it out?

    >> well, i had to walk through it to figure it out really.

    >> are we going to hear you sing again?

    >> i hope so. you will. you will hear me sing again. absolutely, i will sing again. i love to sing. i have to get a grip on that because throughout my whole life all of these anxieties, fears and uncertainties have affected the muscles around my larynx. but to make a long story short it's interrupted my vocal power and expression. so i'm getting a grip on that through the whole process. in fact, writing the book has been helpful. the television series has been helpful as well. walking through it all as well. the self-therapy, throwing myself into, you know, healing and self-motivation.

    >> get your voice back in every way. thank you very much for joining us. the book is "from this moment

TODAY books
updated 5/5/2011 1:08:26 PM ET 2011-05-05T17:08:26

Shania Twain rose to fame in the 1990s with albums "Shania Twain" and "Come on Over," which became the best-selling album of all time by a female musician, and the best-selling country album of all time. The five-time Grammy Award winner has spent a lot of time away from the public eye since then, but signed on to do a docu-series on OWN, which will debut May 8. In her first book, "From This Moment On," the singer recounts her difficult childhood in rural Canada, her efforts to keep her siblings together after her parents died, her rise to stardom, a betrayal of trusted friend and the joy of her second marriage. Here, Twain writes about how she learned how to stop being in "survivor mode," read the excerpt: 

I have to say, it’s been satisfying bringing myself up-to-date with myself, if you will, through writing this book. I can see now that I was missing out on some wonderful feelings and emotions from the memories of my youth as a result of closing the book too tightly behind myself — leaving the chapters to collect dust on a shelf so high above arm’s reach that it would take too much effort to reopen them down the road. Much to my relief, in some instances I can say there were things I thought would be a lot scarier than they actually were when revisiting them, and it surprised me how things seemed so much smaller in retrospect. It’s like the giant tree at the end of your grandparents’ driveway, which you thought only Jack from "Jack and the Beanstalk" could ever be brave enough to climb. But when you go back as an adult, that towering tree might now be dwarfed in comparison to the magnified lens you once saw it through as a tiny child.

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Before I started writing, this pretty much summed up my attitude toward the past: “That was then; tomorrow’s another day.” I did that because some of my past was painful, and this outlook helped me stay afloat. Now I see that in closing off part of my past, I also missed what was happening to me in the present. I was always in a rush toward tomorrow. Sometimes addressing things openly at the time they happen prevents “getting stuck” later on.

Listen to an audio excerpt of Shania Twain’s book

I was unhappy. My life had been a fight for security, a place in the world, the chance to pursue my goals. From a very young age, I grew up with the mind-set of a survivor, like a boxer in the middle of the ring, constantly spinning and turning, ready to punch anyone coming at me. Life was not going to knock me down! I had to make it. So I didn’t let anyone close enough to find a weakness that could undermine me. I lived in this survivor mode into my adult years and through the ascent of my music career. Long after I’d achieved success and security, I still kept my dukes up, as if no one told me that the fight was over or that I was at least between rounds. It was exhausting living in this defensive state, and other than being tired of it, I also slowly began to feel more confident that life wasn’t necessarily trying to beat me up all the time.

The bell still sounds for my defensive survival mode now and then, but I practice not responding to it. I now find it more worthwhile trying to accept that my days will unfold as they will. That’s not to say I’ve become complacent. I’ve just redirected that strength to pursuing the fun stuff.

I also no longer sweat the discomfort of sharing the past, the present, or the voyage along the way. And I don’t see any point in keeping my story to myself, as explaining about life with my parents, for example, might inspire and give strength to many suffering men and women out there who can relate to and benefit from my parents’ challenges, and from the courage they displayed during some of the more difficult times. It would be a shame for their life’s experiences to have died along with them. Better to remember even their pain as a source of inspiration than to forget them in vain. My parents were conscientious people with good intentions. If they were alive today to reflect on the years when my brothers and sisters and I were growing up, they might not feel that they’d lived up to their good intentions. There were plenty of times when the Twain family didn’t have enough to eat, lacked warm clothes in the frigid Northern Ontario winters, and lived in a cramped, rented apartment or house with no heat. The perpetual undertow of financial instability took its toll in other ways, as it usually does, compromising my parents’ love for each other at times and no doubt feeding my mother’s recurrent bouts of depression.

Image: "From This Moment On" by Shania Twain
Atria Books

Because of the unpredictable periods of instability in my childhood home, I didn’t feel that I could really rely on my parents to be consistent caregivers or protectors of me. I didn’t know what to count on from one day to the next — calm or chaos — and this made me anxious and insecure. It was hard to know what to expect, so it was easier to just be ready for anything, all the time. But I understand and forgive my parents completely for this because I know they did their best. All mothers and fathers have shortcomings, and although there were circumstances during my childhood that to some may seem extreme, if one could say my parents failed at times, I would say they did so honestly. They were often caught up in circumstances beyond their control. If my parents were here today, I’d tell them what a great job they did under the conditions. I would want them to feel good about how they raised me. I would thank them for showing me love and teaching me to never lose hope, to always remember that things could be worse and to be thankful for everything good in my life. Most important, they taught me to never forget to laugh. I thank them for always encouraging me to look on the bright side; it’s a gift that has carried me through many challenges. They may not always have been the best examples, or practiced what they preached, but it was clear they wanted better for us. That in itself was exemplary.

Ultimately, I am responsible for how I live my life now, and what I make out of it. In fact, I am actually grateful for what I’ve gone through and wouldn’t change a thing — although I admit I wouldn’t want to live it over again, either. Once was enough.

From "From This Moment On" by Shania Twain. Copyright © 2011. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive


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