• Plano Mom

    I was eight. You just described me. My Daddy left anyway. I cannot believe you posted this. And that you got it so right. I don’t know all YOUR problems, but you’ve got it right. The question is did you help me in time to save my own marriage.

  • Truthful Mommy

    I think many of us have an inner little girl who has been pushed down and to the side. Mine is about 6.The entire weight of the world lies squarely on her shoulders because she had no functioning adults to talk to.I won’t go more into it because this is your post:) But I just wanted to let you that you are not alone.The problem with pushing the inner little girl to the side is that she pokes through and appears at the most inappropriate and unexpected times.I feel your pain.Sounds like you are doing all that you can to handle this.You are the best at what you do,professionally.But don’t forget, YOU (personally) are what feeds the success.Take care of you.Piling more shit on the little girl is not going to make the feeling stop.Take a deep breath.Acknowledge that little girl. Have a good ugly cry for her.She only wants to be heard.Once you truly feel those feelings, give yourself permission to move on and forgiveness..you won’t have to worry about her making taking over and dragging you back to someplace you have moves so far beyond.I pray that this pain passes quickly.You are an amazing woman and deserve all the good that is coming to you.You just need to realize that and embrace it.*hugs*

  • Katie Kat

    I was 11. I’ve never quite gotten over it either. Always felt like I had to pull everyone together and be the parent to my mom (which she nurtured). Thought my dad died when I was 25 because I was mad at him for the divorce and never told him. It’s hard. The dark is unforgiving… we, however, have the capacity for great forgiveness – please do that for yourself.


  • Katie Kat

    P.S. I hate it when people say (basically) “You don’t have the right to be depressed because you have a great life.” Depression is an equal opportunity offender my dear! Just beccause you have such wonderfulness in your life doesn’t mean your brain knows how to deal with it! Good or bad, it’s all about how you cope. Hang in there – you DESERVE all the goodness you get. Hope our collective good karma helps!

  • Ezza

    Dooce! Dooooooooooooce!

    Lord, I never comment because the sheer volume of commentary on your blog often renders my contributions redundant. In this instance, I haven’t even bothered reading any of the other responses at all.

    Life is hard and lame and crap and stupid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Life blows goats and sometimes you just want to chuck the whole thing in because human existence with an intelligent mind is such a chore. Responsibility is oppressive and the need to fulfil the expectations you set for yourself is consuming and hideous. Clarity of thought and understanding of self is a gift that we don’t all have. And those lucky few that have their shit together all the time and are never challenged by their lives or their sidelined by psychoses can just go and smoke a big fat one.

    We are all defined by the shitty, shitty things that happened in the past. Own the shittiness of your shit. Don’t let anyone belittle your shit, or take your shit away from you. Be strong and continue to face these things head on. You can come to understand yourself. You will never be cured, you can only manage this. You inherited it and there is no choice but to own it.

    Normal people are BORING.

    Boring. Boring. Boring.


  • Jen

    I’m sorry you’re hurting, but I’m proud of you for sticking with therapy and doing your best to work through everything. Big hugs to you, Heather! Thank you again and again for your openness and honesty. There is a song I listen to sometimes when I’m feeling the way you are – it’s called “Tender” by Blur. It pretty much sums up how I feel, but it’s a hopeful song. “Come on come on come on, get through it…” You’re going to be okay, I know it :)

  • juliejackson

    That was a really nice personal insight and I’m glad you shared it. Sometimes your life looks so perfect I can’t imagine you have any problems. That was touching.

  • Little Nikolette

    Hang in there Heather. Everyone has some kind of demon hanging around – but not everyone has the courage to face it or to tell the world about it. :) Keep on keepin’ on.

  • danioz

    I have absolutely NO professional qualiifications but I have a theory about people…
    I believe that people get stuck in the age that they experience their first big stress. For example all hunky dorey in my house, then my father dies suddenly at 53. I was 18 and I really feel that that is the age I am stuck in. One of my sister’s was 16 and she is definitely stuck in that age when it comes to stress!

  • sweet december

    It was very brave of you to post this. And reading through the comments quickly, I can see that many people agree. I feel responsible for my parents unhappiness and it’s very hard to move past it, even though I know that it is not my fault.

    Keep strong and keep pushing forward. I hope you are able to work through it. You have accomplished much in the past years, raising two great girls and maintaining a company. You should be proud of yourself. It does get better.

  • Nadia V

    Thank you for this post. It is disheartening to look around and see all that is good, yet still feel so shitty. (at least for me). However, I’m not as brave as you to go and talk about it. With a stranger. Nope, not there yet…

  • jaclyngelb

    Heather, once again your bravery inspires. Good for you for speaking it out loud. If you want to skip the years on the therapist’s couch and seriously just get this shit out of you, check out the Hoffman Process in Northern California. I struggled for years trying to overcome the ghosts of my childhood (which having children brought into painfully clear focus). Ten excruciating days at Hoffman and I walked out free. In all ways. It’s an unspeakably beautiful gift, to truly let it go, while forgiving your parents (and yourself) with absolute love and compassion…

    Blessings to you and the fam.

  • irretrievablybroken

    Can you spin it differently, in your own head, perhaps? I’m often accused of being a pollyanna (even by professional headshrinkers) but it does seem to me that divorce can sometimes be–dare I say it? Good.


    I hesitate to butt in, and of course everyone has a different reaction to things experienced in childhood, and I am certainly not trying to imply that I am some model of positive thinking, or a paragon of righteousness. And I have my own reasons for wanting to believe that divorce is not evil, since I am presently inflicting it on my own children, alas. But even though my parents’ divorce was wrenching and awful, I am who I am because of that divorce. Same with you. And you’re quite something. Does that help in some small way? I hope so.

  • jmwrestler

    You are not alone! My ten year old self took responsibility for my two year old sister’s death because I didn’t move her car seat back up to the middle seat in the van and then we were in an accident and she was killed. Therapy certainly helped, but I didn’t get that until I was almost 30. And even still…that 10 year old that’s responsible for her family screams at the 30 something woman. **hugs** I wish you all the strength to power though!

  • tiffanyincali

    Thank you so much for sharing such intimate parts of yourself. I think we all have skeletons from our childhood- good for you for taking them head on. I think most people feel crazy for dwelling on the past and allowing it to haunt our present, but rest assured, that’s what makes you ‘normal’, as absurd as normal is.
    Thanks, Heather, for letting us in.

  • maeghan

    Many hugs, Heather. My parents divorced when I was young, too (after a murder/suicide in our family, no less). It was the beginning of the end for our family, really, and I still struggle was a lot at this stage in my life with everything that happened 20-odd years ago.

    All I can tell you is that you’re a gorgeous, wonderful human being who is doing the best for her kids. They seem happy and healthy and it’s all due to you and John. You’re doing all the right things and you make the world a better place by doing what you do best.

    Lots of love and thoughts to you and yours.

  • NHMaman

    Anyone who feels the need to be perfect and be human (or be a parent, for that matter) is dealing with the impossible.

    In large part because my father dropped dead of a heart attack when I was 9, I feel the need to live every moment to its fullest–whatever that means! It’s a bit close to that perfectionist ideal.

    We all wish you success in dealing with all that plagues us as humans.

  • maureenp

    I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time. I appreciate you sharing it, though. How brave you are.

  • lobsterandi

    You are doing well. It’s okay to sometimes need to be reminded of that.

    I give you a gold star for keeping going, even though you don’t want to sometimes. :)

  • boomama

    I’ve been thinking about you and about this post ever since I read it yesterday. And I just wanted to let you know that I’m praying for you. Big hugs to you from Birmingham.

  • Jules K.

    You are incredibly talented. You will overcome this the same way you attack your writing–with grace, passion, and honesty. And maybe all caps.

  • themomdane

    Look, lady. Keeping my family from falling apart by doing completely unrelated things like getting good grades and doing a funny valley girl voice (dating myself here) is MY job. Now it takes shape as producing beautiful children who force people who hate each other to spend time together and pretend they don’t want to punch each other. My job, I say, and you can’t have it!

    Seriously, though. Big hugs. As you may remember from Rader Institute ads from your days in LA: “It’s not your fault. You’re not alone.”

  • jennyleggett

    Grieving the loss of the childhood you didn’t have but wanted is such a hard emotion to get in touch with. Hang in there with yourself, you’re doing all the right things. And, heck, even if we were dotting every i and crossing every t, our kids are going to have a laundry list of topics for their therapist, so keep on keepin’ on, that’s life. :)

  • tasheffka

    Things that really suck about depression: you can’t see everyone around you in all that darkness. You are not alone. Your terrified 10 year-old girl and mine are standing not too far from each other. And you’re right. It’s not her fault. She did not fail and you have not failed. And yes, I know, that that doesn’t always sink all the way in, but maybe in the way that Chinese water torture finally breaks you, maybe enough people saying this and repeating this will let a little light in. And if a little light can get in, lots and lots of light can, too.

  • tolley.heather

    So I’ve been following your blog for the past couple years. I’ve never commented because I guess I figure it will likely get lost among the mass of other comments from the throngs of your admirers. :-) But in the off chance you read this and it makes a difference, I actually registered in order to post a comment.

    I just wanted to let you know how awesome I think you are. I don’t really follow blogs other than those of my close friends and family, but I always look forward to reading yours. I would love to be as witty, clever, and funny as you! I also appreciate your honesty. Particularly with this post. It is so helpful (to so many people, judging by the amount of comments) to know that other people struggle, in spite of the fact that “people are dying of cholera in Africa!” and we all have it relatively good over here. But we all have our own struggles nonetheless.

    I’m 23, and when I think of women that I want to emulate you are on the top of my list. I would ellaborate as to why, but this is already starting to feel too much like a love letter. Hang in there. You rock.

  • lfp

    unfortunately, you are SO not alone. having a child has poked me in every single wound, HARD. The way I was parented in my childhood has led me to not trust other people, OR my own instincts. I need to do both those things as a parent, and just as a human being!

    they finally divorced when I was 25 and it was such a relief, like the first word of truth spoken instead of all the gaslighting & putting on the successful face for the community.

    I’m fortunate to have a therapist I really click with, and I’m working on offloading all the crap, and helping that inner little girl, that perfectionist control freak, grow up. it’s a long road, and I think having a child accelerates it, or intensifies it, at least for me.

    thinking of you and wishing you peace along the path. it will get better, and you’ll have hard patches, but it will never be the same you going through it.

  • indy1016ja

    Ah, Heather, I’m so sorry it’s dragging you down again.

    My parents divorced when I was 10 and it took me until about 30 years later to truly deal with issues related to it. It’s one of those things that even though you can intellectualize the fact that it wasn’t your fault, there’s still that hurt child deep inside.

    I know this part of it is hard and horrible and makes every part of you feel raw, but it’s all good and important work and it will help.

  • Hoper9897

    I know somewhat how you feel. I am truly blessed with a wonderful family. But, even after 28 years, I still feel the abandonment of my father signing his rights away and walking out of my life. The feeling of not being good enough, not being wanted by the one person that should always want you has carried over into every faucet of my life.

    Stay strong Heather. We are all pulling for you.

  • RAGE against the MINIVAN

    This post resonates with me in so many ways. I have also been fighting my own demons in a season that, by external measures, should be full of joy. It is staggering how childhood hurts can encroach upon our every adult interaction.

    I do think that being in the “public eye”, so to speak, and having others dissect your life and success as if you are not a real person with real feeling, must add an extra measure of stress. I can’t imagine how you cope with all that noise and I think you show incredible grace and strength by weathering it as well as you do.

  • megrit411

    I am sorry you feel that way, sorry you have that cloud, that dark, dark cloud hanging over you. I’m glad you have a husband who understands you and is there for you. You also have an online community here for you too. Thank you for sharing. HUGS!

  • ckat22

    I wish I had better words, but the best I can come up with is: “I feel yah, Sistah!”

    It took months of far too intense therapy before I could admit that my parent’s failings were THEIR responsibility, not mine. And that, no matter how good their intentions, their choices negatively impacted me, and when I made excuses for them, it was the same as taking the fault onto myself.

    Funnily enough, putting the responsibility (and yes, blame) where it belonged IMPROVED my relationship with them.

    I spent decades believing my parents’ divorce didn’t really affect me – because I knew it wasn’t my fault and I didn’t want them to get back together (the 2 most common problems for children of divorce). I now know that there are a million different ways divorce impacts a child. I wish you the best in your journey to resolve this and all other challenges you choose to tackle.

    And finally (cause this isn’t long enough!), thank you, thank you, thank you for all you have given me over the years – joy, laughter, comfort and education (to name but a few gifts) …

  • green.grass

    I have been reading your blog for years, but just registered because this post really resonated with me.

    Thank you for sharing this post. I’m struggling too.

  • Tania D

    You are a brave woman to admit publicly that your dark cloud is still following you. I hope you can shake that dark passenger, get the help you need and that you can shed some of your pain real soon. You are very talented and I have been reading you for seven years or so.

  • arecipeforsanity

    I can’t thank you enough for this. I’ve struggled with major depression for many years, and you hit the nail on the head. At my core is that child who is still hurting, who couldn’t fix her family, who feels like a failure. Thank you for being brave enough to share all that you do with us, and thank you for writing this. Through your words, I feel like I can finally express how I feel.

  • dragonfish

    there are so many times I wish that I could call you Heather. I am sorry that you are struggling. thank you for being honest with all of us, and thank you for reminding at least me that I’m not the only one who has spent her whole life trying to make sure everything is ‘perfect’ for everyone around her. I’m SO afraid of medication, and I’m so afraid of admitting I’m broken. My only words for you are that you are NOT alone. all my best to you always.

  • josita

    Another person registering just to comment on this post.

    You are allowed to fuck up. Without, you know, trying to be the VALEDICTORIAN of fucking up.

    Hugs, hugs, hugs to you.

  • schmackie

    Thank you Phoebe Fay for what you said… (#72)

    “This is my biggest fear, that it will come back, no matter what I do. I’m afraid I’ll be smack dab in the middle of my life being AWESOME, and that horrible darkness will sneak in and steal away my ability to feel the good.”

    As a wave of anxiety passed over me last night while making dinner… came smack dab out of nowhere… I couldn’t put into words WHY THE HELL “HE” was back… I compare him to “Smoky” like on Lost… it’s this black smoke that comes through me and sucks all the self-worth right out of me… and brings all this doubt and fear with it…

    Then I came on and read this post. And I read everyone’s comments. And I felt human again, and smoky was gone.

    Thanks Heather. Thanks community.

  • ladyofthelake

    @dooce – Beautiful, brave, honest post. This is why we read you, not for your BRAAAAND but for your honesty in good times and in times when you need to let something out. It’s refreshing in some kind of way. I’m so sad that you are hurting and am feeling a motherly type of proud feeling that you are working through it (hope that’s not to creepy!).

    When I read your post I felt as @Mir did. I won’t go in to all of it but know that I needed to feel sick to my stomach and hurt so that maybe, just maybe I can help my kids to not hurt as much in the coming months. Thank you for responding to Mir. Once again you have helped us. I only hope that you can feel the Doco love and it will help you too.

  • mrs r

    I’m late to the party here, but wanted to add my admiration and support. Heather, you’re amazing and very generous to share your life with the whole interweb. I’m sorry you’re struggling right now – know that you have many, many people in your corner, hoping and praying for you. I’m one of those.

    My parents never divorced but I’ve always been the mediator and still feel responsible for making sure things go smoothly, no matter who I’m with. On the up side, that means I have a well-tuned ear for empathy, can see many sides in any given situation and most of the time can help one side see other points of view – skills that have made me a good reporter. But feeling responsible for making sure everyone is happy and feeling like a failure when things go awry? Not the most useful skills at all. I’m trying to avoid teaching my son those traits and hoping my husband and I can learn sane ways to communicate effectively. Thanks for helping in that respect.

  • thegrumpymama

    I couldn’t post the other day because I forgot my password and only had a minute. So. Late to the party. But, I still needed to add my voice to the collective voice. Love you, Heather. I struggle every day too. Not for the same reasons, but some days are awfully black and lying down and giving up seems preferable to the struggle. You bring joy to my life. You are one of the puzzle pieces of my day. If the world lost Heather Armstrong it would be a much darker place. Keep doing what you are doing. Keep trying. We are here, standing behind you.
    Another Heather (Heather Ann)

  • Victoria_Girl

    I love you.

  • Byrde

    That’s a good way to spend an hour. Because your therapist is right.

  • kkinney

    That part about I’m-not-allowed-to-have-problems-because-someone-else-somewhere-else-has-it-worse… that crap thought most definitely has contributed to my mental health…well, the lack thereof.

    It sucks and I’m sorry and I pray tides turn soon for you. I’m reading David Richo’s “When the Past Is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds that Sabotage our Relationships” and trying to figure out what it is that I don’t know I don’t know and how that makes me act and react the way I do. Life is amazing, but @#$% it is HARD.

    As always, thanks for caring about your readers and sharing this part of your life with us. The number of people you help is awe-inspiring.

  • momof8

    You know we love you. I wish we could make it all better. We are here.

  • HeckYes

    Reading this was kind of painful because I know how you are feeling. My family also had huge challenges and as hard as I tried I couldn’t prevent bad things from happening. It scars you. I hope you can get to a better place soon. You have a lot of demands on you, and you are kicking ass! XOXO

  • caratjane

    Been working for a long time to get past my own frozen in my 12 year old self. My husband has been consistently for 17 years unable to accept my experiences as “excuses”, which caused me first to be very resentful, but eventually to appreciate it. Finally, when I finally felt able to talk to my dad about how I felt, HE HAD NO IDEA — NO IDEA about my feelings of inadequacy, frustration, fear, etc. No idea. I was floored. Here I am – a 40 yr old woman acting like a jackass for the past 20-25 years to get this man’s attention/approval, and he didn’t realize how it was affecting me at all. I want you deeply to get there… it is life changing and freeing.

  • PrestonK

    When you say that the internet saved your life, I can see why. These comments are awesome. Not only for you, but for everyone reading. Turns out the internet is not just a porn machine.

    There’s not much I can add, except “huggies” (as someone really cute once said :)

  • diana jade

    One of the things that made me work hard on my marriage, sometimes just clinging to it, is seeing how hurt you are by your parents’ divorce. I have three kids, too. It’s not easy, it’s worth.

  • Lisa_J_D

    Hey, although it sometimes seems a complete impossibility, there is light at the end of the tunnel – I promise. Been there, done that – sometimes revisit – but now I always manage to come out the other side. It’s taken a long long time, and lots of love, but you can do it. There’s a lot of love in your life and that will make all the difference.

    Thank you for being so open and honest, it helps to know that other people go through this – and for those who are new to it all, to know that you survive it. Big hugs, take the time and smile at all the love coming your way from people.

  • Laura A.

    Been there. Done that. And you are not alone. But just for day, I am not letting the Bell Jar win. Just for today I am going to move until I feel better and I am going to work on myself so I can give my best to my family. Hang with me.