• Hipkat

    Heather, I hope you are feeling stronger and gaining hope from all of these comments. As I read through everyone’s stories, I realized that no one gets through childhood unscarred, no matter how it looks on the outside. My folks never divorced but never got along. Polar opposites whose marriage I never understood. I put myself in the job of mediator. I was their carrier pigeon, relaying messages that began, “Mom said to tell you …” and flying back with “Dad says …” My brother damaged himself in the opposite direction, removing himself entirely and living shut up in his room, hiding from the noise. I’m not an introspective person and hadn’t thought about this for a long time. Hearing all of these stories helps me so damn much. It helps me know that I’m doing the right thing when I’m honest with my kids (“Mommy’s feeling really crabby right now so I need you to chill!”) and when I apologize to them when I lose my cool. They’re happy, goofy little nuts and I’m continually amazed at how awesome and loving they are. Heather, hang in there. You are loved.

  • reikigirl73

    As always, I have found comfort in your words. Helps to know I’m not alone in trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be learning from my life.


  • suesheeme

    I clicked the link to login to comment to you on this and it sent me to the URL that says, in part, “destination=bounceback”. (Thank you Jon.)

    And you will. Bounce back.

    Love and hugs. I am here, watching and reading. You will never be alone in your struggles and your dreams.

  • dwindrem

    Heather, I cannot tell you how many days you’ve made me laugh, think and cry. Sometimes all at the same time. Mostly it just feels like you get me, which is very strange because most of the people closest to me don’t seem to get me AT ALL. I am the one who keeps things going whose help is needed (whether imagined or real) to fix all that is wrong in my family. It is truly exhausting. For me I think it’s about the one male in my life who was supposed to love me know matter what (my father), never having anything to do with me or my siblings. I am the youngest and I to this day think of it as my responsibility to keep everyone’s balls up in the air – it’s just not possible. I learned this lesson when my brother died after years of drug abuse and untreated mental illness. Yesterday I sobbed thinking of your post and listening to the Fray – How to save a life. I wasn’t able to save his and I feel responsible. I think becoming a wife and mother has saved me in a lot of ways and it is certainly what keeps me going when the black cloud threatens.

    You are a true inspiration. I am wishing you much peace.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart, much love.


  • Pluckychick

    Dear Heather,

    It sucks. You’ll cry. You’ll cry some more and you will get better. And better. Without having to be perfect. And you will start to feel good without guilt. You are so very not alone.


  • The Bold Soul

    First, thank you for your honesty about this.

    Second, I can relate. My parents divorced when I was 10 (oldest of 2 daughters) and while I didn’t feel responsible for their divorce, I DID feel responsible for my mother’s happiness for, like, 30 years afterward. Mom barely dated after her divorce and never remarried, my sister married (a great guy) after she graduated college and had kids right away so she had her own life, and I think I felt like it was MY job to keep mom happy, entertained, or whatever. Trying to be perfect for her was part of how I tried to keep her happy… but I have never, EVER felt good enough. I know she loves me, but she’s not happy with herself so she can’t be happy with me or anything else. Took me a long time to figure THAT out (and a lot of therapy).

    Wasn’t until my mid-40′s I realized I was wasting my own life trying to make someone happy who will, sadly, never BE happy, because she doesn’t want to be. Then I took my life back, moved to France because that was MY dream… and THEN I met my husband. He was worth waiting for, but I do wish I hadn’t wasted so much time and energy trying to fill a void in someone’s life when really? It wasn’t my job. Especially for someone for whom nothing is EVER good enough.

    Let it go, Heather. It wasn’t your fault, it wasn’t your job, and you don’t need to hold onto that stuff any more. It serves no purpose.

  • Emmadoula

    Thank you for your courage and incredible post. I often wonder if I’m the only one who is scared and feels the pressure to “not fail”. I’ve been stuck in career/life decisions for a while, because I’m so scared to move forward. Your post helped me see that I’m not alone. You are amazing and I look up to you so much. You are funny and witty and incredibly smart and inspiring. Acknowledge the 10 year old within and tell her that all will be well. While you do that, I’ll go talk to the 8 year old within me who is so afraid to just “be”. I wish you all the best. Thank you for being real.

  • zchamu

    It wasn’t you. It wasn’t.

    Remember: being imperfect is what has brought you to here. Wonderful, glorious, messy here.

  • yetanothermartha

    I haven’t ever written here, but I want you to know that I have shared this experience. My parents divorced when I was 10. I am a bit older than you so I had the lucky break of being the first child in my class who had a divorce … I am an overachiever that way. Mental illness runs in my gene pool, and my parents were no exception. So, talk about not handling it well, divorce and wackadoodle parents (who drank, too, so there’s that). Thankfully I have had excellent therapy in my life … 3 years of intense 5-day a week analysis when I was a kid (no, we didn’t have psychotropic medications back then, and they were doing the best they could to help me deal with the drop to my knees sobbing panic attacks), and 8 years of really, really good therapy in my 30s and 40s after the birth of my son. My shrink is the smartest man I know and he made me face the bullshit I was trying to bask in. I will take medication every day for the rest of my life. I have done hard, slogging, awful, nasty, onion peeling, self discovering, teary, panic attack filled work with him. And. Here’s the good news, Heather. It gets better. I remember the days and weeks and months like you have now. And, for the most part they are gone. I still struggle when something, some interaction with my dad, calls up the old responses. But, my shrink pronounced me a while ago, “You are essentially a well person.” Keep exercising, keep doing the therapy, keep taking your meds, keep talking to Jon. Love your kids, take the time to enjoy a moment or two. And, it will get better.

  • Csection47

    Thanks for posting this. It helped me realize that I’m not doing so well lately either. It really helps to read about your honesty about yourself. I’ve decided that if it is ok that you’re having problems then I’ll have to deal with myself too.

  • CalypsoRodeo

    Hey sweetie. I’m coming out from the depths of lurkerville to tell you, I LOVE YOU. I could have written those lines myself but they would be just a jumbled up miss mash of words that make no sense.. kinda like this comment..
    Seriously. I LOVE YOU HEATHER. Thank you for giving so much of you on this forum/medium/blog thing. You’re amazing. Thank you for being the voice of the clinically depressed, the broken, the destitute.
    You’re so smart and funny and quirky and every time I read your entries, it propels me to do better, document more, and write the nitty gritty, the raw, the stuff no one dares to let out. And that right there.. is where healing and forgiveness happens. LOVE YOU.
    Praying that you can take that ten year old girl, give her a big hug and let her know it’s gonna be okay…

  • Little Nikolette

    Just finally finished reading all the comments. I think you posted this just in time for alot of us. I just started therapy again a few months ago. I no longer think of it as some kind of fun thing I get to do, I think of it as gut-wrenching work – you mean it doesn’t work to just push my feelings aside and tell myself everything is hunky-dory? I have to revisit all the things that make me feel like shit? Gee what a let-down.

    But besides the whole demon-on-my-shoulder bit, I also have read so many comments that remind me of my responsibility for my 2 daughters. Yikes, I have not been making very good choices as to how I act and react with them. Sometimes I do really well, and other times I wish I could open my mouth and just suck things back like I’d never said them. I’m hoping the therapy I get for myself will lessen the amount they have to get when they’re grown.

    And some have just made me cry (Thanks Emmadoula).

    thanks again Dooce. I hope to be able to read your blog for a long time to come.

  • LoveLis

    Thank you. I’ve been off medication for seven years and while I always told myself that this is something I have to deal with my whole life, at some point I forgot that. The last six months have been hell and I’ve wanted to give up, but today I made the appointment to talk about meds again. I just… this post was at the right time for me. And I’m amazed by your strength. Just… thank you.

  • Kristyne

    Heather, thank you for reminding me that as a mother, my children are so much more affected by the things I say and do than I’ll ever know. You’re lovely.

  • tristanslc

    Okay… just so you know I re-registered for your site because I couldn’t remember my credentials, and I’ve linked it to my Facebook and I’m… I’m… I’m… it was a little frustrating but it’s worth it because I FINALLY get to post this comment:

    ** hugs, Heather **

  • jen.yaya

    Wow, thank you for writing this. Again, a chorus of ‘you are not alone’.

    My parents are still together… but holy crap there were times I wished as a teenager they weren’t. Their marriage has always been difficult. Separated multiple times, in & out of counseling for years. I’m the oldest of three girls and at 30 I’m finally realizing that even up until this past year I have been trying to be the glue. If I could just be so incredibly, immaculately perfect then somehow everyone will just miraculously stop being selfish, start caring about one another, and start being understanding and honest. Then everything will be fixed… if I can manage to do just the right thing always, not mess up anything ever, and make the wisest decisions ever in the history of the world… ever.

    That shit is exhausting. Therapy has helped. Along with the occasional use of anti-anxiety medication. I am SO not alone, and I know it because of this website. Having a sexy husband doesn’t hurt either.

  • Amanda Patchin


  • FancyCooks

    As always…thanks for posting. You’re not alone!

  • kacyd

    wow girl….you are amazing and anyone who says otherwise can SUCK it..lots of xxoo

  • OKMom

    The Mom in me wants to hug you. One step forward, two steps back. Two steps forward, one step back. You’re getting there!

  • kellyelizardbeth

    I try really hard not to link to myself in comments, but this is something that has been *so close to my heart* and on my mind this week.

    I love this, really. Thank you.


  • cherylps

    The courage in this post is so amazing. Thank you for speaking your truth out loud so the whole world can hear it. You are not alone, and you looking honestly at this stuff helps others do the same. Thank. You. – Cheryl

  • KateH

    Many, many hugs… gentle or fierce or both.

    And a sprig of mint, if you’d like. Or a wedge of lime. Or how about a wedge of grapefruit? That could be amusing as the wedge is, um, wedged into a glass of sparkling water (is sparkling ok? we can do flat water if you’d prefer!). Or the grapefruit wedge could be perched on the glass’ edge and topple the whole thing over, giving the critters something to lap up and Leta something to scream about and Marlo something to slap her wee hands down into.

    Or just the hugs.

  • Ms. Pants

    Echo, echo, echo. Thank you. My parents have never understood that I’ve always felt like I’m responsible for keeping them together and happy. Hell, I’ve never understood it. But I’ve been scared to death for decades that they’d divorce and it would mean that I’m worthless. Thus far, they have stuck it out, but I’ve found other things to prove my worthlessness. And thusly, my therapist has agreed (in my head, at least) to build me a padded room in her retirement sanctuary should she ever need to retire.

  • tokenblogger

    If your therapist gets the ten year old in you to grow up — please send me her business card.

  • kaethend

    I am. right. there. with you. Except I’m two.

    Last week in therapy I described it as a tiny, hard, shiny, black knot. One of those knots you can’t even start to pick at to get the ropes undone because it’s so tight and hard and shiny.

    And then there’s this Space all around it. This wide, open Universe with all this space.

    I’m trying to find the bridge between so I’m not so caught in that knot all the time. So I can spend more time in that open, forgiving Space.

  • ADDGirl

    my parent’s divorce was hard on me and I was 17! I know it was harder on my younger siblings, and I’m glad you posted this. Sometimes it is easy to forget that just because something is common, doesn’t make it easy.

  • LynnFlynn

    They say (Who is they? I will never know.) that when something tragic happens to you when you’re young, you tend to feel that age for the rest of your life. My dad passed away suddenly when I was twelve. To this day, I still feel like an insecure twelve year old. I think, “I don’t want that person to drive to work, because what if they get in a car accident and die?” I am always worried about people leaving and never coming back. Do I know that this is silly and that I’m doing nothing but worrying myself sick with these thoughts? Absolutely. I’ve been trying to change that with anti-anxiety meds, but you and I both know that no amount of meds can completely suppress those thoughts.

    I think I speak for your true fans who care about you when I say that we are completely fine with you taking time off from blogging to get your shit together. Your family needs you way more than the internet does. We all want to see you happy!

  • Laura Jones

    You’re amazing, talented, intelligent, and I enjoy your blog. I hope the people in your life help you stay sane when the internet (and I include myself in this category) is insane. I used to feel that way about feminism as if I failed because I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I’m glad you blog about being a mom although I understand you run a business. I hope the darkness lifts soon. Hugs.

  • April McGel

    Thanks for this post. How many times has my therapist said, “April, stop lying to yourself.” But the perfectionist (8 yr old self) has a really hard time hearing it. Sending love and healing your way (and hoping some of it bounces back to me).

  • Round Rock Gal

    Wow! So heartbreaking. You have broken through so many other barriers, you will get through this as well. And it will be well documented, and we will all be the richer for your thoughtful prose.

    Sending you a well deserved hug!

  • katliz

    “…that dark demon has returned and is trying to convince me that it’s not worth climbing over the next obstacle. Give up. Lie down and cry. Stare at the ceiling until every limb goes numb”

    That same demon took up what seemed like permanent residence in my head through the end of February. Two months of therapy and a return to meds handed him his walking papers for the most part – he peeks in at least once a day – but I’ve slowly returned from being his indentured servant. I don’t have that singular event or time in my life wherein I can pinpoint the energy on which he thrives, but he’s there.

    I know that a stranger on the internet can’t tell you anything your therapist hasn’t, so all I can do is tell you that you’re not alone. And those worst, darkest days a few months ago where I almost gave up? Know where I went to feel as if I wasn’t alone?


    Your life isn’t the only one your readers have saved. You’re worth the fight, and your work is worth the fight. You are loved, valued and appreciated more than you’ll ever know.

  • Cecily

    That shit stays with you. For DECADES I thought the fact that my father left when I was 21 months old had little effect on me. Ha! It touched on every single relationship, ruined most of them, and because nearly unbearable when I watched my husband interact with my daughter at that same age. It’s gotten more manageable now – thanks therapy and twelve step programs and antidepressants and mood stabilizers! But I have a daddy-shaped hole in my heart that will never go away. It’s like my addiction, in a way – just another thing I have to learn to work around. You know?

    Sorry you’re hurting, sweetheart. I’m thinking about you.

  • Caloden

    That demon is an absolute bitch to shake, but kudos to you and Jon for facing it on a weekly basis. Even if you can grasp the logic behind it, butting up against it on a daily basis is an ongoing, life long pursuit.

  • iPattie

    Thank you for sharing this with us. And wow — I had no idea how you continue to be affected by your parents’ divorce. Best of luck to you, and I hope therapy helps you ultimately develop a way to cope with it so it doesn’t affect you as it has been.

  • Mir

    So I realize this isn’t part of your day-in-the-life (nor do you have any obligation to answer this, ever), but any tips for those of us who have kids and got divorced in terms of saving them from a similar realization in their 30s? Because reading this today depressed the crap out of me. I know you didn’t write “Hey, YOU BROKE YOUR CHILDREN,” but with my particular pair of crap-colored glasses, that’s kind of what I read.

    P.S. Apologies for making this all about me. I really do appreciate that you shared that, and am just wondering if you feel like it gives you any footing in terms of extrapolating out how not to end up feeling similarly. Sigh.

  • libers5

    so sorry to hear you are struggling, and glad to hear you are working on it. it’s important work, stay with it.

  • radiantlisa

    Thank you so much for posting this – it gave me a much-needed epiphany about my own emotional state.

    So sorry to hear things are rough right now – I’ll be thinking good thoughts for you.

  • Jessica Eiden Smedley

    You are not alone.

  • kristanhoffman

    It sucks that you even have to give us a disclaimer, that your problems can’t be your problems without being measured against someone else’s.

    But look, you are a strong and beautiful and brave woman, and you share stories that resonate with us all. I hope you know that if Dooce ended tomorrow, that would be more than enough, and that you and your family would find a way to be just fine.

  • kristanhoffman

    Also, katliz’s comment (#16) made me cry. (Which proves my point exactly.)

  • ZachsMom

    Oh Heather, I can SO relate. My parents divorced when I was 19 years old and in the past 16 years, every time I had to tell someone they were divorced or even thought about it, it made me cry. I think as children no matter how old you are, it hurts to see your parents split up and to some degree you internalize it and make it somehow your fault.

    I finally saw a therapist last summer and she told me they were immature and selfish in how they handled it by putting me in the middle and that I had to let it go. (we also did this weird tapping thing all over my face and arms but don’t ask about that, I didn’t get it). I also did a lot of talking to my older brother who is wise beyond his years and that was helpful. We’ve never spoken about their divorce so it was good to get a different perspective on the whole thing. I would totally recommend speaking to a sibling about it if you think that would help. A spouse is nice to talk to but they didn’t grow up in your house so they can’t really “get” it. Be gentle with yourself, it wasn’t your fault. (easy to say, so hard to understand).

  • caits

    Inspiring and thoughtful. Just add some 12-year old tween hormonal angst into the mix and you’re preaching to the choir (was tween even a word 15 years ago? And yikes! That was 15 years ago already?).

    It’s so funny (not funny haha) how our little selves just take it all on our own shoulders in those situations and suddenly we convince ourselves that our behavior is THE ONLY answer to fixing this. We were so wrong, but even admitting now that we weren’t the cause or the fix seems impossible.

    Just know that there’s a lot of us – people stuck at THAT age when THAT happened – and we’re rooting for you and hoping to see you overcome (because maybe that will mean we can do it too).

  • decsmom

    First time commenting: Don’t worry, Heather. I know that little girl. Except she’s 7. And in 2 years her mom will get cancer. And then 2 years later she’ll lose her mom. And she has a little brother to worry about. And she has to live with the father she barely knows and she feels like she doesn’t “belong” to anyone. Until later. But we all have our struggles. And it’s okay to talk about the STRUGGLE of it. And no one’s struggle is better or worse, it’s just OURS. Thanks for sharing so those of us with those little girls inside feel a little less alone. We should start a play group.

  • moremadder

    Thanks for the reminder that I needed to look into getting back into therapy this morning …

    Also, a book recommendation: Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child (http://www.amazon.com/Drama-Gifted-Child-Search-True/dp/0465012612/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303750838&sr=1-1). It’s not about polymaths. It’s about children who were gifted at being strong and developing coping mechanisms, and now that they’ve grown up those coping mechanisms are hurting more than helping. Good stuff.

  • Camels and Chocolate

    This is why I love you so: You’re so brutally, painfully honest that every person reading your prose can also feel your pain. I’m sorry you’re hurting, but glad you’re working through it. You do have A LOT on your plate–I don’t think anyone would ever deny that fact!

  • kentuckienne

    I’m sure you thought it was just you, but I read your post and thought you were talking about me. I have the same “Why am I so unhappy? People are dying of cholera in Africa!” response, and the same conviction that things that happened when I was very young were somehow my fault. And it is so very hard to change after years of thinking that way. Thank you for letting us know that we are not alone in feeling this way.

  • SugarShopSweets

    So sorry.

    It is such a tragedy that there isn’t a way to make the thoughts of it disappear. I have begged my therapist to make my bad memories disappear but sadly there is nothing to do…

    Hang in there and keep doing your best. I hope opening up your heart and sharing helps it heal

    Kindest Regards

  • jen dalley

    Thanks for posting that.

    We LOVE you! (see those caps?)
    Keep pushing…

  • missusclark

    And here I was thinking, “Wow. This woman’s really got her shit together!” Your business keeps your family, you have two young, healthy, active kids, your house is clean, you keep up on pop music (what year is it, anyway?) you get to the gym *daily*, you’re amazingly funny and you take great photos. If only you knew how us lesser mortals envied your talents…

    You accomplish so much, with such style and grace, Heather. Of course it’s not your fault.